That Marvin’s Magic has detailed a return to its roots some 30 years into serving the magic tricks market with some of the scene’s most enduring products, makes for an interesting narrative for the industry treasure.
When it comes to magic, it’s often the best measure to assume there’s very little room for coincidences. Magic is so often, instead, an exacting science in manipulation of its audience, mastering expectations and exploiting what is already predetermined.
Likewise, when it comes to the business of magic, there’s very little coincidence that Marvin’s Magic has just seen one of its most successful years to date amid ‘booming international sales,’ just as the magic scene in general enjoys what has been called a “global renaissance.”
The matter that Marvin’s Magic’s sales resurgence correlates with the booming magic sector at a time in which the company highlights its own return to its core values, after re-acquainting itself with the desire to push innovation over price, is so beautifully serendipitous, you’d think it had all been planned.
“Magic is more popular than ever,” says Marvin Berglas, founder of Marvin’s Magic. “There have of course been several magic themed fantasy films, while there has been more magic online and on TV than ever before.
“Marvin’s Magic has enjoyed considerable growth this year. This year, whenever we created new products, we refocused and concentrated our efforts on our core values of quality, innovation and amazement. This clearly paid off as our sales increased by 25 per cent.”
Now, if predetermination is something you happily subscribe to, then ready yourself to apply it thickly, as it would seem that the fate of the founder of Marvin’s Magic, Marvin Berglas was sealed from the very start.
Born into quite possibly the UK’s most famous magical family – excluding the fictional ‘Potters’, of course – Berglas has been steeped in magic all of his life. His father, David Berglas, was the first magician to have his own TV series back in the ’50s and ’60s, marking an achievement that won him the adoration and acknowledgement of the biggest names in the entertainment, from David Copperfield and Derren Brown, to Penn and Teller – while his actress mother herself was a RADA alumni.
Despite his parents’ efforts to afford Berglas a ‘normal upbringing,’ the now internationally-acclaimed magician, business owner, and past VP of the Magic Circle had an obvious and apparent draw to the business of showbusiness.
“I think it’s just something that is in your blood,” Berglas tells ToyNews. “It’s something that is carried through in whatever I, or whatever we as a business do. The way we present ourselves and the presentation of our products – it’s all a big part of what Marvin’s Magic is about. It’s definitely ingrained in me, and it has probably all come from my early years.”
It was his father’s mantra that ‘Nothing is Impossible’ that provided Berglas the inspiration to start Marvin’s Magic 30 years ago, a business created in order to “make great magic more accessible” for young minds and those with a predisposition for putting on show. It’s an ethos that has since endured the three decades that Marvin’s Magic has successfully coloured the toy industry not only through its portfolio of magic tricks and products, but through its approach to retail and the ‘retailtainment’ that Marvin’s Magic prides itself upon.
It’s only to be expected, of course. However successful a business Berglas has built around him in Marvin’s Magic – including a Marvin’s Magic Academy hosted at a very high-end resort in Sardinia – he has maintained a close relationship with the art form that put him where he is, performing VIP events on the regular.
“I am lucky enough to be more selective about the shows I do nowadays, choosing to perform at high-profile events for sports clubs and sports personalities,” Berglas explains, “and for the last decade I’ve had a regular with the Barbarian Rugby team whenever they do a UK tour, along with having huge connections with Arsenal as their resident magician for over 26 years.”
Whether performing for Rugby World Cup winning giants or the time he was chosen as the demonstrating magician for Hamley’s when the retailer closed off its London store for a Michael Jackson visit, at the heart of what Berglas does is his love for the audience reaction.
“The powerful thing about magic is that – if it is good magic – it’s like people are children again. Really good magic can make the hair on the back of your neck stand up, and that’s a powerful tool to have,”
says Berglas. It goes without saying then, that this is what the entrepreneur aims to deliver with each trick in the portfolio.
“We have always adopted the theatrical principal that you are only ever as good as your last performance, and as such we are always striving to do better, whether that be through our demonstrations, our product inventiveness or our collaborations with high profile retailers and brands,” he says.
When it comes to retail, Marvin’s Magic has two types of business. The first takes the form of the company’s approach to in-store theatre, demonstration and retailtainment. And it’s fair to say that Marvin’s Magic is a pioneer in the field.
“We are proud to run our demonstrations in some of the most prestigious and high profile stores around the world. Many have tried and failed as it’s not just a case of being loud, wearing
a baseball cap the wrong way round and calling yourself a crew or squad,” he quips.
“Today, to get a shoppers’ attention, make them stop, keep them interested enough to watch and hopefully then buy, is a real skill set. We use the same showbiz disciplines as someone on stage, where you have literally a few moments to stop, hook, and show them.”
In the same way an audience will make their mind up about a stage act, philosophises Berglas, the same is true of one of his company’s demonstrators. If part of what makes an act spectacular is its lighting, scripting, and make up, then so too, does successful demonstration require the same behind the scenes expertise.
“It all takes careful planning with a range of many talented people, from recruitment, training, management and motivation, scripting, rehearsal and repetition. It doesn’t happen by accident,” says the entrepreneurial showman, evidently never too far away from his showbiz hat.
Part two of the Marvin’s Magic construct is in its product itself, an area that has been held in high esteem by retailers and consumers alike for the best part of a generation. And it should go without saying that this is Berglas’ bread and butter.
Having spent a lifetime tinkering and engineering tricks and performances to act out on the global stage, there’s something about the product design process that feels innate to Berglas, who admits that, alongside Marvin Magic’s creative director, Justin Monehen, harbours a passion for playing an active role in the company’s product design in his other role as the company’s head of product development.
The fact that Berglas is not only the past vice president of the Magic Circle, a Gold Star member of the Inner Magic Circle, and sits on the Exposure Committee, it perhaps feels an obligation that he keeps a watchful eye over exactly how his portfolio of products are designed, presented and ultimately marketed.
“We don’t give tricks away,” Berglas explains. “People have to invest time to learn. If you put tricks in a book of magic, that’s OK, because someone has to buy and read the book, and invest in learning the trick. With our magic tricks, we are ensuring they are the right type of tricks for the right age, and they have to be invested in. We are very protective about keeping the secrets in the right way, which is why we say on each package that ‘fellow magicians agree to never reveal the secrets within.’”
With such evident attention to detail and passion for the products, as well as magic as an entertainment form, it should come as little surprise that Marvin’s Magic products are consistently among the top ten list in some of the best retailers across the globe, whether that’s full magic sets or its newly released arts and crafts products featuring ‘a touch of magic.’
Investment into its future like this comes easy to Berglas who is now making preparations for the launch of its 2020 grand unveiling: a new-look brand titled Magic Made Easy.
“It highlights our Great British design and has our guarantee to amaze. It’s also great for building confidence, hand-eye coordination and developing presentational skills,” says Berglas. “We’ll also be launching The Ultimate Magic range, which we are confident will be a best-seller, as it is really striking with some really incredible magic tricks included.”
On top of this, Marvin’s Magic will also be partnering with Rubik’s for an innovative project that will mark its 40th anniversary.
“It’s with great pride that they want to collaborate with us,” he states proudly. “As part of their 40th anniversary celebrations, Rubik’s wanted us to create some innovative and unique, mind-bending magic product. We have some truly amazing and original ideas with our creative team really thinking outside of the cube.”
It’s quite the narrative that both Berglas and his team of youthful performers and developers at Marvin’s Magic weaves for 2020, and as the team prepares now for the biggest show in the toy industry calendar in London Toy Fair, it would seem we’re about to embark on yet another thrilling chapter in the company’s history with magic.