Marvin’s Magic’s big innovation for this year is i-Magic, a type of trickery enhanced via the use of a smart phone and a dedicated app. Company founder Marvin Berglas tells Billy Langsworthy why it’s the future of magic
How was 2014 for Marvin’s Magic?
We had a great year. What was exciting was we had a lot of new customers join our already good customer base. They came back and said they did really well with our stuff so we expect to do even better this year.
We opened up in a lot of international areas and we’ve done great business in Australia, the Middle East and Scandinavia. We’re now exporting to 64 different territories.
Every kid, at one time in their life, has been given a magic set. Our job is to make sure their experience of magic is a good one. If people don’t know much about magic and they get a set with tonnes of different pieces and bad instructions, by the end of Christmas Day, that’s the end of their experience with magic.
What do you attribute that success to?
We exceed the customer’s expectations; we give them suitable props for the age and size of the kids’ hands with instructions that work. From that, it gives them playground power because it builds social skills, interaction skills and dexterity.
It’s the total antithesis to all computer games because it’s all about family values and the kids get to express their personalities. We’ve started so many magicians off over the years, literally hundreds of thousands, if not millions, all around the world.
We started off as a demonstrations company and a lot of the guys have gone on to become great demonstrators and top professionals. We’ve had an amazing array of people come through our ranks. We are now the benchmark for retail entertainment and that is so important in transforming the experience of shopping.
I come from a showbusiness background. My mum was an actress and my dad was the first TV magician in this country so showmanship has been instilled in me. I’ve put those qualities into our demonstrations to make them enthusiastic and eye catching. It puts smiles on people’s faces.
Why do you think magic still carries such an allure for children?
If you’ve got a skill in anything, be it sport, music or any form of entertainment, you can be the life and soul of the party. But it’s important to be good.
For example, it’s better to have a good violinist because if you have a bad violinist, it’s better to have no violinist at all.
Magic should only start at six to eight years old. From there, we give them confidence through the early years to our Mind Blowing Magic, which is more edgy, street magic. Then we have a range of executive magic that is suitable and impressive enough for adults, but easy enough for an aspirational kid.
What’s new for 2015?
We have our latest innovation with Marvin’s i-Magic, which are cool boxes of tricks that are great in themselves, but can also interact with our app. We think we had the product of London Toy Fair with it. It’s blown people away. It’s smart magic for smart devices. We think it’s the future of magic.
And how important is i-Magic to the company moving forward?
Marvin’s i-Magic is absolutely the way forward. It’s an interesting concept and I think it’s the future of magic. We’re pushing it one section further. We’re not doing technology for technology’s sake. It’s innovative.
And we’re first to it.
Magic has been around for thousands of years and I’m interested in taking it to the next level. Retailers need to carry magic and more of them are not just stocking boxes, but dedicating whole sections to it because they know it’s a growing thing.
Are you confident 2015 can be just as successful as last year?
I don’t just think, I know 2015 will be even better. I’d be very surprised if we don’t have another 20 per cent increase.
You have one foot in the magic industry and one foot in the toy industry. Is the world of magic happy to promote the medium via ‘toy ranges’?
We’re the only magic officially recommended by the Magic Circle who promote excellence in magic. I think they’d rather have a company like us, who understands magic, promote magic.
You picked up the Outstanding Contribution Award at this year’s Toy Industry Awards. What did that mean to you?
It was fantastic. It was a fantastic surprise and a wonderful accolade from people in the industry.
I’m slightly on the periphery a bit as we’re quite niche, so to get something based on our retail entertainment, they said we’re the benchmark for that, and because it was nominated for by the likes of Hamleys and Harrods, was fantastic.
What’s interesting is that I feel like I’ve done the double because last March I got the Outstanding Contribution to Magic Award from the British Magic Society. It’s the oldest magic society in the world and past presidents judge it.
To get two in two industries within a year is quite something.