When last I spoke about my new routine “Funhouse,” the piece ended with the magician giving away one of several mini balloon animals or mini plush toys to a lucky spectator. Both items had previously been magically produced and were displayed on either side of the stage.
While I liked the idea of having a special giveaway at the conclusion, I wasn’t totally happy with the timing and manner it occurred; The special items are produced and displayed but the giveaway was not “earned” by the spectator, as in a real carnival games situation.
So I decided on a third, final act, one where the spectator must play a quick carnival game to receive a prize that was previously produced by the magician. Smallini would present an actual mini carnival game, with prizes on either side to be won by a lucky spectator now turned player!
What would this game look like? How would it be played?
Remembering a tip from the Pinbox3000 guys about how to make small targets using office binder clips, I fashioned a wheel on the 3D printer with eight handles for as many clips/targets. The targets snap back nicely with a flick of the finger.
The game’s housing came next; First designed in Tinkercad, then laser cut cherry hardwood on a Glowforge. The glued-on lettering was cut out of a lighter shade of hardwood.
The duck and rabbit targets were also 3D printed and hot-glued to the binder clips.
The original idea was for the wheel to be motorized, but although I did get a working version, it proved to be too large and bulky for the Suitcase of Wonders stage. So the final Mini Toss has a hand-crank in the back for manual turning of the target wheel. It works smoothly, looks great and I find it fun to turn the wheel myself. Plus, the hand crank is smaller than the motor, and it is detachable for travel.
The whole Mini Toss unit, at about six inches square, fits perfectly on the stage with the prizes displayed on either side, waiting to be won by the player. The only thing left was the bean bags to throw at the targets. I found some well-made one inch sized mini bean bags made by a woman on Etsy. They are just right for tossing with your thumb and forefinger. The only issue is sometimes the targets don’t always fall back after being hit. Thinking the bags might be too light, the Etsy seller is working on a version of the bean bags that contain three pennies instead of the usual resin pellets. Hopefully, this added weight will be enough to knock over the targets consistently.
When I ran through this routine with the newly added Mini Toss at the end, it was a revelation. The added real (no magic) mini carnival game at the end gives reason and purpose to the previous two acts - the prizes are produced first, magically, then they are won, legitimately, in a carnival game. The routine now seems like you’ve had a little evening out at a mini magic carnival, presented by, me, Smallini.