How the "My Pet Ghost" toy works

Some of you have seen a toy popping up in the Halloween decorations aisle of most of the stores that you've visited. It's called "My Pet Ghost." It recycles an old stage trick and puts it in a bottle. We'll show you how a ghost appears and disappears inside a jug.

I was walking through a drugstore, checking out if there was any good Halloween candy sales on, and I noticed a shelf full of plastic jars. On the jars were printed, "My Pet Ghost." Each one of them had the ghost's name printed on it, and a window into the interior of the jar. Each interior had a little scene inside that looked as much like a room from Hogwarts as it could without getting hit with a copyright lawsuit. It was shadowy, but there was no ghost. When you pressed a button, lights inside the jar flickered like lightning, and a ghost appeared.


How was it done? It's a miniature version of pepper's ghost, a stage magic trick. There's no hidden ghost image on the scene. There's just a clear piece of plastic. (You can see the square outline of it in the video.) At the 0:26 - 0:28 mark of the video, the person tilts up the bottle and you can see the light source above. On that light source is a white image of a ghost. The ghost is so bright that it lights up the clear plastic below, which is angled to reflect the image out at you.

You can see the same thing at every window you pass. Most of you have noticed that, as you pass lit windows, you can't see your own reflection. As you pass dark windows, you can - especially if you yourself are in bright light. The same percentage of photons reflect back at you whether the window is light or dark. If the window is lit up from inside, your reflection is drowned out. It would be like someone putting a flashlight in front of the sun and asking you to see it. If the window is dark, the photons look bright and solid in comparison. It's used on stage a lot and on one episode of We Come From the Future, we turned one of our producers into a ghost to show you how the trick is done. The My Pet Ghost people just found a way to miniaturize it.

If you want to see more amazing visual tricks, including our very own alien abduction, check out this week's show of We Come From the Future. I have to say, the effects are amazing.



What a pity they ruined my favorite illusion with crappy ghosts.

Now I almost want to find one of these abominations just to rip it apart and replace the ghost with something else.