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  • Writer's pictureMadison Hagler

Hide-A-Key by Chris Rawlins

Chris Rawlins may be a name you’re not familiar with. He’s a bit of an underground legend who mainly specializes in limited edition mentalism releases. He has recently crawled out from underground and surfaced with a new release called “Hide-A-Key” this is his first “magic” release, and it has been wildly popular with magicians across the globe. 

This product allows you to make a key vanish from your key ring. It is taking a gimmick coin magicians use and love and applying it to keys. You receive a special gimmicked key, another special gimmicked key, and a normal key. These keys come packaged in a gorgeous, sleek, thin box (with a magnetic lock). It oozes class and quality. On the box is a QR code which takes you to an unlisted YouTube video explanation. The explanation video is over 2 hours long, and there’s a bonus video featuring a routine by Greg Wilson which lasts another 1.5 hours. 

I will say, I found the main explanation video to be a bit long for my liking. There were several moments when I got a bit bored and felt the need to fast forward to get the point. I think it could have benefited from a bit more editing. I wish the explanation video was as sleek as the packing. Don’t get me wrong, it looks great. It was shot in a studio. And it sounds great. Everything is crystal clear. I just think Chris belabors the point a time or two. 

The video begins with an intro to what you received in your packaging. It’s rather short and sweet and to the point. Then Chris shows various prototypes over the two years of developing the product. Some of the prototypes were too thick, too tight, had rough interiors, or were too polished. Eventually, Chris switched manufacturers to get to the final product and final box. I thought this was cool to see the different iterations of the item. It’s clear this is something Chris has been working on and perfecting for quite some time and it wasn’t a case of having an idea and rushing it to market. The final product is clearly something Chris has worked hard to get to. 

A lot of magicians’ main concern with this gimmick is that it doesn’t lock. That was one of my main concerns as well. It turns out, Chris made samples that locked but went against it because you can never truly hide the edges of the gimmick like you can with a coin. So even if it did lock, he wouldn’t feel safe handing it out. He considered adding magnets, but that would have made the key thicker, and the slow-mo vanish wouldn’t have been possible. However, the main reason it doesn’t lock is that if it locked, the get ready would have taken longer and required something extra. Since this doesn’t lock, you can carry it in your pocket all day, pull it out at a moment's notice, and be ready to go. 

The next part of the video discusses what kind of keychain to use (he prefers a twist and pull type.) However, Chris didn’t provide a keychain with the set because he mainly wants you to just add it to your real keychain. There are benefits to using a keychain with a quick release for some of the routines, but really, whatever keychain you use for your real keys will work. 

Next up, Chris walks you through how to do the get ready. It’s super quick and easy. He then walks you through the main slow-mo vanish. This is the one where the middle key slowly melts away as the keys are rocked on the keychain. It’s the most visual of the vanishes and it looks better in person than it does on camera. He then discusses how to make the key vanish in spectator’s hand. 

The next few minutes of the video is silent footage of the vanishes just discussed. It is clear this is b-roll that was shot to use in the trailer. There is no music, no narration, just silent demos of all of the vanishes taught. It’s a bit odd and feels out of place, but it does help provide a visual to the conversation from before. 

Next Chris teaches some different displays you can use after the key has vanished. 

Then he teaches how to load the key in multiple places. He teaches how to load the key on someone’s shoulders, under someone’s watch, in someone’s pocket, wallet, or purse, and Noel Qualter provides a genius idea for loading the key in almost any place under the disguise of a prediction. It’s a great idea which I think will truly fly under the radar and go undetected. 

The next 20 minutes of the tutorial is multiple performances for real people. We see the full performance beginning to end, and then we watch the performance again, this time with Chris doing a voiceover explaining how he loaded the key and touches on some important points throughout. It’s a great way to see just how effective these various techniques are, and you get a real sense of the flow. 

After watching the performances, Chris realizes that he hadn’t yet explained the kick back routine. So he takes the time here to fully explain it. It’s more complex than the others with the key appearing, vanishing, and reappearing. 

The last 30 minutes of the tutorial is a brainstorm session between Alex from Propdog, Noel Qualter, and Chris. They discuss many thoughts and routine ideas. 

The tutorial ends with credits. 

As a bonus, you also receive a 1.5 hour video conversation between Greg Wilson and Chris Rawlins. Greg teaches a full parlor routine he created where keys vanish, appear, change, and more. The presentation revolves around keeping your extra key safe, and it has some great visuals with one of those fake rocks that are made to hide keys. It’s a phenomenal routine which is very Greg Wilson. 

Overall, when I saw the product come out, I thought I knew what I would be getting. Well this surpassed all my expectations. The quality is superb and the instructions are far more thorough than I expected. Truly no stone is left unturned. This is a great piece of EDC magic that you can throw on your keychain and perform at the drop of a hat.

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