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Topic: Predict-A-Total
Message: Posted by: Magic Mark (Apr 14, 2021 02:45AM)
My local Ring acquired a Predict-A-Total type of effect via an estate donation. I purchased the effect but, as can be common with estate pieces, no instructions. I’m happy to pay $4 to Abbott’s for the $4 downloadable instructions, but Abbott’s requires a $20 minimum (a ridiculous policy when purchasing a download).

I’m not sure if this was made by Bob Mason or Abbott’s. It might be a homemade unit (or, at minimum, the frame might be homemade).



Whoever made it did a great job. Any ideas, anyone?

If anyone has a copy of the instructions to share, please PM me. Thanks.

Message: Posted by: Magic Mark (Apr 14, 2021 05:03PM)
A fellow in the Abbott's Magic Collectors group on Facebook has confirmed that this Predict-A-Total was made by Bob Mason. He has one that is constructed identically (slot screw heads and nuts on black plastic board) and he purchased it directly from Bob many years ago.

Andy Martin's site includes one attributed to Bob Mason:


That one is different enough from mine that I didn't think that Bob Mason could have made mine. Maybe the one that Andy shows is the model that Bob made for Abbott's?

Maybe the one I have predates the one that Abbott's sold?

At any rate, I'm pleased to have a Bob Mason original. The oak stand was not originally included with the effect, I have no idea who made it.

Message: Posted by: Julie (Apr 14, 2021 06:49PM)
Bob Mason's original--as sold through Abbott's--matches the one pictured on Andy's site in my experience.

Note the shiny black plastic display board: The problem with this display board is that the friction caused by the circular yellow plaques will leave unattractive and suggestive scuff marks on the plastic board with use.

After awhile either Bob Mason or Abbott's began supplying the board in a green pebbled version. The pebbled texture eliminates the scuffing problem when the yellow discs rotate and most definitely was a positive improvement.

There may have been other incarnations of the board, but I'm not familiar with them. I do remember The Trickery at one time was selling a hybrid set that came with a clear plastic display board. This was touted as an "improvement", but I do not remember the creator(?) or any other details.

One more side note: We wound-up with both an original set (bought from Bob at an Abbott's Get-Together) and the green pebbled set (I THINK this, too, came from Abbott's some years later). This means we now had TWO matching sets of round yellow plaques with a number 1-9 hot stamped on each.

Someone named Dave came up with the idea of switching an audience mixed stack for a cold stack and proceeding with the experiment. I don't know how much this adds to the effect, but we always thought it added quite a bit.

It's an excellent performance piece!

Message: Posted by: Magic Mark (Apr 14, 2021 07:13PM)
Thanks, Julie.

The fellow on Facebook provided photos of the pegs (screws with nuts) on his display board and the numbered discs. They are identical to mine. They do not look like the parts displayed on Andy's site. This person says he purchased his directly from Bob Mason.

So, either this version predates the ones Bob sold through Abbott's or Bob made some changes later.

BTW, my display panel is textured on the side with the pegs.

Did you get the plastic mixing box with yours? Bob originally offered (either for extra $$ or included, not sure which) a mixing box for "false shuffling" the discs. I'd love to see a photo of the mixing box.

I plan to use a 3-way change bag for mine.

Message: Posted by: Magic Mark (Apr 14, 2021 07:42PM)
Here is a very large closeup of an area of my display panel. You can see the texture in the black plastic.


You can also see that my number discs are 3mm thick solid plastic.

Message: Posted by: Julie (Apr 14, 2021 10:16PM)
Hi Mark
I'm not sure, but I seem to remember the "mixing box" was just a plastic box, similar to those used to store items in your refrigerator. The lid snapped on. I also remember seeing a cardboard box about the same dimensions with the lid attached. The principle behind the mixing with either is similar to that of Eli's Dice Box.

We bought our first PREDICTATOTAL from Bob when he was performing at Abbott's Get-Together as one of the acts AND he was also selling his trick from behind the counters. At that time there was no mixing box supplied. This may have been because he was selling a TON of them and just did not have enough boxes. It's been so long ago that I cannot remember.

Another answer to the mixing box question may be that whatever routine he was showing may not have required a mixing box. Over the years Bob Mason developed at least FOUR different routines/handlings for Predictatotal. One of these didn't even require executing "The Move".

In any case, you've got a goodie that I am sure you will enjoy performing for many years to come.

Have FUN!

Message: Posted by: Magic Mark (Apr 14, 2021 11:20PM)
Thanks, Julie. I found Predicta Total on page 240 of Abbott's catalog #21 (1976). No photo of the prop but the description mentions a "yellow plastic mixing box". So, in 1976 Abbott's was including the mixing box.

The description also mentions that the discs are plexiglas, which matches the one that I own (unlike the metal discs for the one that Andy Martin features).

Conversely, the description mentions nine "chrome" pegs. The pegs on mine are far from being "chrome". I don't know if that description is typical magic catalog hyperbole or if they pegs were, at some point, chrome.

Here's a photo of the listing in the Abbott's catalog:


If that is difficult to read, here is a much larger version:


Thanks to a fellow magician via Magic Collectors's Corner on Facebook, I also have a two-page "Predicta Total Extra" that contains Bob Mason's Personal Routine ideas dated 1974. It describes how the discs are placed in the mixing box to fake mix them. Bob also describes a manual false mixing of the discs as suggested by Dai Vernon.

As mentioned, I plan to use a 3-way change bag to "mix" the discs and then select them "randomly" from the bag.

Would be nice to have an original mixing box to go with the proper, however. Or, at least see a photo of it.

Message: Posted by: Magic Mark (Apr 17, 2021 02:31PM)
Additional magicians on both Abbott's group and the Magic Collectors' Corner group have confirmed that what I have is the earliest version of Bob Mason's Predicta Total. They say the one pictured on Andy Martin's site is a later version, made & sold by Abbott's.

The 3-way change bag turned out to be a poor idea. With only 3 discs per compartment, the "mixing" didn't make sufficient sound (discs clicking together) to be a convincing mix. Instead, I practiced Bob Mason's false mix by hand (which uses a false mix of playing cards principle). That seems a much better way for performing the "mix". It also creates a spot to screw up, but it's worth practicing to get it down because it looks nicely convincing.

I performed the routine for my wife and she was blown away. I started the routine with the oak frame out of sight on a shelf inside my nite club table. I held the panel in my left hand while removing the discs with my right. Then I "shuffled" the discs before putting them back (where my wife chose) with the panel in my left and discs (one at a time) in my right. That's when I reached for the stand. I transferred the panel from my left hand to my right and, in so doing, did the "move" with my right hand as my left hand reached behind the table to get the stand, bringing it up to the table top. Then I slid the panel down into the stand with my right hand.

This is a powerful effect. One of the better additions to my collection, I feel. It will be interesting to see reactions from my friends and spectators.

Message: Posted by: ThoughtThief (Apr 24, 2021 11:58AM)
Predict-A-Total is terrific. It was a favorite of the late great John Mendoza. Yours is nicest production model of it I've seen, Mark.

Message: Posted by: Magic Mark (Apr 24, 2021 11:38PM)
Thank you, TT. The oak stand is a nice touch, though a little big. The way I'm performing it (as describe above), I suspect that some spectators might think the oak stand has some trickery in it. Okay by me if they think that. :)

I sure would like to know who made the oak stand. Since you mention John Mendoza I am wondering if possibly Terry Starwalt made it? As I understand it, Terry was John Mendoza's go-to guy for anything to be made of wood.

There's no markings of any kind on the stand. Bummer.

I've been performing the effect via Zoom and FaceTime. A week from today will be my first chance to perform it in person. Can't wait.

Message: Posted by: Magic Mark (Apr 25, 2021 09:33PM)
I was able to exchange an email with the person that donated the Predicta-Total to our Ring. He said he'd had it many years and has owned several. However, he does remember purchasing a Predicta-Total or two directly from John Mendoza. So, he said it is possible that the oak frame/stand was acquired at the same time from John. He's not 100% certain this particular one came from John but wherever it came from, the oak frame/stand was included with it.

Since John Mendoza has a history of having extra wood props made to go with existing props, I am inclined to believe this one came from John. But I have no proof.

Message: Posted by: Magic Mark (Apr 27, 2021 12:30PM)
I was able to get in contact with Terry Starwalt (John Mendoza's go-to guy for wood projects). Terry did NOT make the oak frame/stand. So, the search goes on to discover the history behind the piece.

Message: Posted by: Magic Mark (May 3, 2021 01:03PM)
I performed Predicta-Total for friends on Saturday night. It was the first time we've had friends in our home since the end of February 2020 (all of us have been fully vaccinated). Our friends loved the effect. It completely baffled them. As I was placing the last 3 reversed (blank side out) discs (per the routine), I asked if they'd rather switch the last discs for some other disc in the row. They decided to make 2 changes. After I'd turned the discs face forward and they'd totaled the three 3-digit numbers, I emphasized the fact that had they not switched the disc positions there would be a different total, right? They agreed. They were absolutely floored when my prediction matched the total!

This is a really powerful routine. Very visual too. Simple props that can be examined (I passed out a couple of the discs at the start of the routine).

I think this is the best $40 I've ever spent on a magic prop.