The 2007 Vanishing Radio
By Professor Spellbinder
This past summer I got into a discussion on one of the forums
about how no real improvements in the Vanishing Radio effect have
come from those making the props for commercial sales. The
Vanishing Radios being produced dont really reflect the
modern radios that are available in stores. Instead they tend to
look like the same vanishing box that started with Robert Harbin,
the inventor of the effect. Of course, when he invented it (c.
1930s), radios actually did look like wooden boxes, so it
made perfect sense.
The only improvement magic dealers and prop builders made to the
effect was to have the radio collapse into a tabletop. The
problem with that method, as I pointed out in the forum, is the
flush effect the radio makes as it vanishes. It
invariably sucks the covering cloth inward, giving away the
movement of the radio. Besides, I pointed out, it is time that
the radio prop begins to look like modern plastic boom-boxes
instead of non-existent console box radios. Better yet would be
to vanish a real radio purchased from a radio store.
I took on the challenge myself, since no one else seemed
interested. I was intending to produce a vanishing portable TV
set, but right now the current state of the art TV is being
transformed from a box into a thin picture frame
challenge there! So I returned to the vanishing boom-box idea and
this is what resulted.
My $40 K-Mart radio. Jim Gerrish took the photos for this article
so you'll see his hands all over it.
I decided to add the signing of the radio to authenticate
that the radio produced is the same as the radio that vanished.
This is done by having the spectator sign a piece of masking
tape, which is attached to the handle of the radio before it
vanishes, and which is verified as being attached to the handle
of the radio when it is pulled from the box.
One more drawback to the commercial vanishing radio effects I
wanted to avoid- the overly careful placement of the cloth on top
of the radio. To make the covering of the radio seem at all
natural (why dont you just make the thing vanish visibly,
hey, Mr. Magic Man?) the cloth should just be thrown over it in a
The entire effect now boils down to this:
1. Display the radio, show all around, turn it on, change the
2. Cover the radio with a cloth in a
3. Lift the radio into the air by the handle. Take the signed
sticky tape and attach it to the radio's handle.
4. Lift the cloth, change the station one last time.
5. Toss the cloth in the air; the radio has vanished and the
6. The sound of the radio can be heard coming from a box which
has been in plain view all along (and yes, it can be a nest of
boxes if you think that will improve the effect!).
7. A spectator opens the box and retrieves the radio, complete
with signed tape on the handle.
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