About Phantom Saucer
Phantom Saucer is a child’s magic trick. It gives the illusion that the saucer is floating in the air under the child’s control. The packaging comes with the saucer disc, instruction sheet, and “Phantom Code” card.
The official website is phantomsaucer.com, which was registered in June 2011. Below is a screen shot from August 2014.
When ordering online, Phantom Saucer costs $10 plus $5.99 shipping for a total cost of $15.99. You can add a second saucer to your order for another $6.99. You’ll also receive a $15 “As Seen on TV Rewards Card” which can be applied to purchases of other Telebrands products.
Phantom Saucer can now be found in stores for less than the price offered by the official website. When I first spotted it locally, it was being sold for about $10. The image below shows Phantom Saucer on a shelf at a local KMart.
By December 2014, Phantom Saucer can be found in some stores such as Walmart and Toys R Us for as low as $5.
How Phantom Saucer Works
Spoiler Alert: The information below describes how the trick behind the Phantom Saucer works. If you don’t want to know the trick, scroll to the Conclusion.
Phantom Saucer comes with a code which unlocks a video demonstrating the illusion. Below is a short description of how the trick works.
A thin string is included with the saucer. This string attaches to a small ball, which is then inserted into the top of the saucer. The other end of the string attaches to a small piece of “sticky putty” which the child attaches over one ear. The string then runs from the ear to the space between the thumb and index finger of one hand. The saucer is dangled between these two fingers, and controlled by the child.
The string is quite thin, about the size of a strand of hair, and is not easily seen by casual viewers.
To perform the trick, the child must spin the saucer, and while dangling it between the thumb and index finger, convincingly give the illusion that the saucer is floating in the air under the child’s control.
The distance of the saucer from the hand can be controlled by lifting the arm as well as changing the distance of the hand from the body.
In the commercials, children are seen using both hands, one above and one below the saucer. The bottom hand is simply for show in order to minimize the appearance that the saucer is simply dangling from the hand above.
You can watch this video of an extensive demonstration of a similar product.
While the trick itself is straight forward, I did encounter a few potential problems during my Phantom Saucer review. Below are some of the potential pitfalls I noted while using Phantom Saucer.
- String. While the thickness of the string lends itself visually to an effective trick, it also feels very tenuous, and can be easily broken. The string can also be tangled if the magician is not careful when putting it away. Caution must be used to preserve the string for long-term use.
- Putty. The sticky putty did not always stay in place, which effectively ruins the trick if it falls off during a demonstration. You could wrap the string around your ear, but this is uncomfortable, and not likely to be embraced by a child.
- Technique. This is a skill toy and a certain amount of technique is required to perform the trick effectively. Beginners may find themselves bumping into the saucer, or moving the toy in a manner which gives away the fact that it is dangling from a string. The commercial makes it look easy to create the illusion, but not everyone will find it simple to perform.
- Materials. The saucer portion of the toy is made of what appears to be cardboard, and does not feel especially durable. It could be easily destroyed by a rambunctious child.
- Play Value. How long this toy holds the interest of the child will vary from person to person. Some children may bore quickly, while it may keep others entertained for hours. Parents should be prepared to be repeatedly “amazed” by the trick, even when it isn’t performed well.
The instructions note that wearing dark clothing and decreasing the lighting will increase the illusion. I can confirm that this is true. One might assume that the string is clear, but it is actually a dark color and could stand out in front of a white shirt.
Alternatives to Phantom Saucer
Perhaps the closest product to Phantom Saucer I could find is called My Mystery UFO. It looks remarkably similar and uses the same technique.
There is also what appears to be a generic version of this trick in a product sold as “Magic Floating & Rotating UFO Toy.” That product can be found online for under $10, and in some cases under $5.
Despite lukewarm reviews and being marked down by local retailers, Phantom Saucer has been seen advertising again in December 2014. Its initial marketed surge, as seen in the chart below, was in June 2014.
Phantom Saucer is an effective illusion in the hands of a child capable of performing the trick properly. While some children may find it to be a wonderful experience, there may be those who find it frustrating to master. It takes practice to perform the trick as convincingly as shown in the television commercial. Online reviewers have given the product somewhat unenthusiastic comments.
It does not seem appropriate for younger children, as a certain amount of dexterity and patience may be required to perform the trick off successfully.
I would also not recommend this for rambunctious (perhaps “destructive” is a less PC, but more accurate term) children, as the materials are not made for rough play. If you decide to purchase Phantom Saucer, be very careful in handling the parts and keeping the string untangled.
Perhaps my biggest concern with the product is that of the materials. In the end, spending $16 – and waiting three weeks – for what amounts to a cardboard toy and a piece of string leaves me unenthusiastic in recommending it for purchase online. Fortunately, it can be found at a relatively inexpensive cost if you shop around locally.
Have you used Phantom Saucer? Let me hear your opinion in the comments below.
Originally published August 2, 2014
Revised December 4, 2014