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Poof-Daddy
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Bikes, Bees, Tally - Ho's, Studs, Fox Lake... these were all brands many of us grew up with. Like many in the US, I have seen mainline magic cards (with gaffs and specialty decks readily available) go from Fox Lake (bridge size) to Bicycle Poker size and plenty of new gaffs every year. Even if you are a purist who would never let a gaff card touch your deck, there are many new decks being pumped out monthly with various quality control.

Some of these decks are really cool (I personally like the Professional cards with Skull and Bone design by CARC) but I digress, too many to choose from out there.

A while back, The United States Playing Card Company decided to not let their Ace of Spades or 808 Rider Back Design be altered in any way to "protect copyright" with no exceptions for the purpose of magic. They instead came out with the 809 Mandolin Back (similar in design but not close enough for most of us) to be sold as the new "magicians deck" and allowed gaffs to be made. That was the first mistake IMO. Secondly, the drastic box design change from Rider Back to Standard (which is funny because even the box art isn't standard Smile ) and package their less expensive 2-packs together in 1 cello wrap which must be discarded since it only holds 2 packs side by side. (No more single deck "protection") unless you pay the premium for a single pack. I personally feel a little bit abandoned by the brand I held loyalty to for years. The cards seem to have lost some quality over the years but you can still pay a little extra for Turner Gold Seal Decks (the main deck I use up till now).

I have stayed loyal because I feel they are the cards people are used to seeing and have even argued the point. Along with the fact a lot of laymen think any deck we use is a trick deck of some sort. Now the door opens to "where do we go from here?) I cant get some of the gaffs I want in the design I want it in. (I am one who can handle any borrowed shuffled deck but I do like to wring in gaffs as well as packet tricks from time to time)

After a lot of reading, talking to other card magicians I personally know and thinking a lot on the subject... I realized the answer was there. I had not given enough thought to what 1 person (took a leap of faith) and gave me (us) an answer to the problem. A few years back when all these changes were taking place in the world of magic cards, one man, Christian Schenk aka Card-Shark, introduced the Phoenix Deck.

We have been given a deck made for magicians by a magician. Many problems have been addressed in the design that Bicycle never would have done. There are subtleties built into the face and back that would only be noticed by us as magicians. There are several common gaffs available and more to come. Marked decks work for leftys as well as the rest of us. Parlor Size was introduced (a bit larger than poker but not a "jumbo" deck) more visible for larger groups. Double Deckers and many well known specialty decks.

I have put enough thought into this that I have decided to take my own leap of faith (or plunge so to speak) and switch over to Phoenix Brand solely. It is my belief that we as magicians need to support others who add to the art. That doesn't mean just buying the latest coin or card DVD or effect of the week but supporting those who design things to make our jobs as entertainers easier. Card-Shark has done that as well as participating in our online community. When was the last time Bicycle posted on this forum?

I have used Phoenix cards (if I do Prism, I stick with those decks for the set) for a couple years. They handle every bit as well as bikes. Faro perfectly straight out of the box. They are quality cards. Check out the site for the hidden front and back one way features and the whole story on how the design was made for magicians. (A reverse engineering tecnique so to speak). http://www.card-shark.de

I have a lot of time to read, surf the net, check out reviews... since I have had a lot of medical problems the last couple years and my way of thinking has changed, so I am making the move. I hope you will at least give thought to supporting our own (at the same price line by the way). Remember, its Magicians Helping Magicians around here.
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inigmntoya
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I like the Phoenix decks and have a few, but for those worried about people seeing something other than Bicycle cards thinking "trick deck", I think there's still a problem.

What do you tell someone who says "those are nice cards, where can I buy a deck?" They're not at Costco, Walmart, or the corner drug store, and you can't point people to Card Shark's web site either. In a sense, they're like the old Fox Lake cards you mentioned. Only trick cards came in Fox Lake boxes and you could only get them from sources that sold magic tricks.

_OTHER THAN THAT_ I can't think of many reasons not to at least give the Phoenix cards a try.
Vlad_77
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Poof Daddy,

Great post! I would buy Phoenix decks but for now and the foreseeable future I am well stocked with Bikes, Tallies, Bees, WPTs, original Studs, as well as lot's of gaffs. Which is a good thing because here in the EU we have the dreaded VAT (value added tax). It s**ks. In The Netherlands, the VAT is a whopping 21 percent?! And the worst part? The people do NOT get to vote on tax referenda as we do in America. Do you remember the HELL that was raised in Alleghent county when the vote was passed to increase the sales tax for five years to 7.5 percent to help fund PNC and Heinz Field? Imagine a 21 percent sales tax! And that is on practically EVERYTHING. So, you and I are from Pennsylvania which when I left had a 6 percent sales tax. With that in mind, a pack of cards here costs me 15 percent more than in the states! It's obscene. An Alienware gaming computer costs 1,000 MORE here for the same model I could get in the US.

So yeah, if I could afford Phoenix decks, I'd pick up a few bricks but, over here, that means taking out a small loan or snagging 10 gigs a week. If any Dutch magicians know of a source I am missing please tell me.

UGH. I like the people here but the money thing in the EU is a travesty.

Sorry, had to vent. Smile

Slainte,
Vlad
BarryFernelius
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Quote:
On 2014-02-06 13:26, inigmntoya wrote:
I like the Phoenix decks and have a few, but for those worried about people seeing something other than Bicycle cards thinking "trick deck", I think there's still a problem.


In my show, the patterns on both faces and backs of cards change in an impossible manner. The deck becomes animated and cuts all by itself. A card that someone selected by thinking of it appears between two other cards--while the deck is out of my hands. Finally, a signed card does lots of impossible stuff, ending up in a sealed envelope. The spectator himself tears the envelope open and removes his signed card.

If the magic is sufficiently strong, people are going to suspect a "trick deck" during the show. It's my job to do what's necessary to convince them otherwise. Merely using Bicycle cards is an insufficient solution to this problem!

Honestly, there are much better ways to convince people that you're not using a trick deck. Therefore, in my show, I use cards that a) look right for my character and b) are pleasing to me, for whatever reasons strike my fancy at the time.

As usual, your mileage may vary, etc.
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Chessmann
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Spectators will always know that

- you had a trick deck

- you did something tricky (SOH) with the deck

To me, it doesn't matter. If you don't want them to think its a trick deck, follow with an effect that shows that (they handle the cards, or whatever). At the very least, they will be confused! Smile

As long as they are entertained, I don't necessarily care which they think it is.
My ex-cat was named "Muffin". "Vomit" would be a better name for her. AKA "The Evil Ball of Fur".
Bulla
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I first came across Phoenix decks in Walmart. I thought the quality was good. Unfortunately they stopped carrying them. I agree with Barry. I like to use decks that laymen probably never seen before because sometimes I think that it adds a certain uniqueness to the performance. Because my style is more on the flourishy side I don't get people thinking that its a trick deck. They understand that it's skill, sleight of hand and years of practice to do the things that I do. If you like the bee stock, you can buy the world series of poker cards that are in bee stock with borders. No one ever suspects these cards as being trick cards.

I'm all for supporting those who add to the art and I really like the Phoenix decks. I'll most likely order some. The Mandolin decks I thought were also good and that too was a deck created by magicians for magicians.
Poof-Daddy
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Quote:
On 2014-02-06 13:26, inigmntoya wrote:

What do you tell someone who says "those are nice cards, where can I buy a deck?"



For that I have a fairly simple solution that I have used for many years. I always buy several bricks and can therefore always have a few unopened extras. If it is a client, ie a bar or restraunt owner / manager, I just give them a couple decks (its built into my price anyway so I'm really not out anything) if its your everyday spectator, I will gladly sell them one or two. Almost any profession has materials or items specific to their profession that the general public cant just go to walmart and get. Examples - Trucking Company, sells clothing for drivers and employees with company logo, Scaled collectable model trucks, pens, coffee cups... Pipeline workers, specialty safety equipment... for those of us in magic - the cards we use, and giving or selling a deck at cost can go a long way to disproving a trick deck theory.


Vlad, yes I do remember. I thought there was going to be riots in the streets. That has got to be the worst county to live in (financially anyway) I was from Westmoreland co which was a lot less expensive to live. I miss Latrobe. When I came to Ohio, I couldn't believe how much cheaper the cost of living was.
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Don't spend so much time trying not to die that you forget how to live - H's wife to H on CSI Miami (paraphrased).






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Card-Shark
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Hey Vlad, I can imagine if you compare prices between Europe and USA back and forth that you see a hugh difference between some products. On the other hand I can imagine that your income is also reflecting the same thing, so all should balance out.

I visited Switzerland and was shocked about the prices for food and dining. I got the explanation that all employees have a minimum loan that would be at least 15 $ and more. So you can imagine that a McDonald's menu was not available for less than about 15 $ (as far as I remember). It all ends up the same as long as you stay in the same system: left pocket - right pocket. You might be happy about higher income (compared to other countries) but then the cost is as well higher. It all equals out.

Regarding the Phoenix Decks: I hope with 3 Euro including VAT it will not cost you a fortune. This price also reflects the shipping over the big pond and customs I have to face.

I try to keep the Phoenix Decks as "normal" as possible for lay people. That is why some of the built in features are not announced on our website http://www.phoenixdeck.com. I might even enforce that and will remove more info that should not be seen by muggles.

For that I have set up a website called http://www.release-the-power.com, where you can watch an online DVD about the production of playing cards and all built-in features of Phoenix Decks.

For higher availability: I could also offer them through Amazon, would that help?
Last but not least: would you ever consider to ask a musician where he got his instrument from??? Maybe he knows a good source for a Stradivari.... Smile
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inhumaninferno
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Quote:
On 2014-02-06 13:26, inigmntoya wrote:
I like the Phoenix decks and have a few, but for those worried about people seeing something other than Bicycle cards thinking "trick deck", I think there's still a problem.

What do you tell someone who says "those are nice cards, where can I buy a deck?" They're not at Costco, Walmart, or the corner drug store, and you can't point people to Card Shark's web site either. In a sense, they're like the old Fox Lake cards you mentioned. Only trick cards came in Fox Lake boxes and you could only get them from sources that sold magic tricks.

_OTHER THAN THAT_ I can't think of many reasons not to at least give the Phoenix cards a try.


Magician's paranoia. I've used all kinds of decks and never had anyone ask where they can buy a deck. However, use some imagination as there are many dodges.
landmark
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I think it matters to what uses you put your deck.

If you do effects that depend on a faro--or if you're just starting out learning to faro--I highly recommend the Phoenix decks. They will give you confidence that you are going to hit it perfectly each time.

The stock is high quality and lasts longer than Bike stock IMO. The visibility of the Aces is also much enhanced over Bikes.

OTOH, if you do effects that depend specifically on the finish of the cards i.e. effects with a second deal or bottom deal, you should try out a deck before committing yourself to a larger stock. The finish feels different from Bikes and that may be a good thing or not, according to your taste. I know at least one magician who doesn't like them because of that. But I do think anyone interested in cards should at least give them a try.
Muddy Dench
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I've always used Tally-Ho. I've tried lots of other types, just like the feel and look of Tally's. The Phoenix do look nice, and I will try them at some point. Right now though, I am well supplied with decks for the foreseeable future and have several gaffs I use made in Tally's (like Devano deck), so it would be hard to switch.
Tree
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My recommendation is going out to CARC Pro decks,
hands down the best I've ever worked.
Every deck so far Faro's perfect out of the brick/box with the slightest pressure.
Tally's Bee's Bike's don't compare.
I have 2 decks of Phoenix Masters and the CARC are way better IMO whatever that's worth.
Poof-Daddy
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Quote:
On 2014-02-08 09:25, Tree wrote:
My recommendation is going out to CARC Pro decks,
hands down the best I've ever worked.
Every deck so far Faro's perfect out of the brick/box with the slightest pressure.
Tally's Bee's Bike's don't compare.
I have 2 decks of Phoenix Masters and the CARC are way better IMO whatever that's worth.


I have a couple decks of those. didn't notice any difference between them and my Turner Gold Seal Bikes except that they cost me more (the CARC PRO). And I really don't see a diffrence in the Phoenix Decks. They handle just as well to me.
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Don't spend so much time trying not to die that you forget how to live - H's wife to H on CSI Miami (paraphrased).






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Card-Shark
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Maybe he has still the Phoenix Decks from the first run. Gosh, they were terrible, USPC nearly ruined my business when they did that to me. Not only that I had put all my money into the project, I stopped selling them as soon as I found out that there was an issue with the cards that you did not immediately noticed. I immediately had to order a rerun on the bigger press from USPC where tripple the amount of decks I planned were the minimum production amount. To cut a long story short: I survived, I had to fight about 18 months to get (partially) right and a little compensation from USPC. The decks since the second run improved more and more as I could convince all the guys working at USPC to do their best when it comes to Phoenix. I was there again on Monday and Tuesday and I think that the next runs will even be better! I think I finally spoke with every single person who handles my cards from design, print to general processing.

The early adopters of Phoenix Decks from 2009: please get in contact with me, I would be happy to let you play with the newest quality of Phoenix cards and convince you that only the best cards in the world can be compared with them.
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Cain
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Quote:
On 2014-02-06 13:26, inigmntoya wrote:
I like the Phoenix decks and have a few, but for those worried about people seeing something other than Bicycle cards thinking "trick deck", I think there's still a problem.


I've long used Bikes exclusively (red & blue) and will continue to do so. In retrospect, now that I think about it, I wonder if the jokers are the strongest proof that it's no different than the deck grandpa used to play solitaire. It seems jokers are the most recognizable card -- and why not? A king peddling a bicycle is a memorable image (along with the U/S dollar sign in the corner). They were the most memorable card to me growing up. The bicycle is vital to the iconic branding, and I don't think people pay much attention to the angels on the back or even the name "Bicycle" on the front of the case (Ellusonist had a trick awhile back where the box read "3 of Clubs"). Apart from the Ace of Spades and Jokers, most decks regardless of brand look pretty much the same. And even the ace will look the same to laypeople because they expect it to be larger.

I want to say I've heard it all from spectators regarding Bicycle cards coming out of the box. At one time I never included jokers, and people would occasionally say, "no jokers?" In one pack I had two identical non-Guarantee jokers (this was before the Turner cards hit), and someone questioned it. I used to include only one joker, and people would make small talk, "where's the other one?" although others were more naturally suspicious "why's there only one?" Of course, for the majority of people you can take out Tally Hos and say, "these are Bicycle cards," and they'll shrug "OK." If for some reason you want to convince someone you're using Bikes, you can remove bike jokers from a Tally Ho deck, and I doubt anyone will notice the difference.

ETA: what I'm saying is that if for some reason I wanted to use something other than regular bikes, maybe for gaffs, or for faro quality, or whatever, then I'd switch the Mandolins.
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writeall
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Commit to a brand? Heck, I can't even commit to a color.

I wonder if I'm the only person who believes some effects are better presented with blue backs and others in red. Don't ask me to explain it, and maybe I'm crazy, but I can't even pick a "best color."
Bulla
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Quote:
On 2014-02-08 14:24, writeall wrote:
Commit to a brand? Heck, I can't even commit to a color.

I wonder if I'm the only person who believes some effects are better presented with blue backs and others in red. Don't ask me to explain it, and maybe I'm crazy, but I can't even pick a "best color."


That is true. Like the color changing deck, I feel it's more effective to go from blue to red.
Atom3339
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Tally-Ho's have proven themselves to be the best for me for quality and price over and over again.
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Artemis17
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@Atom3339, have you tried Phoenix yet? They are at least cheaper than the Tally Ho's, and I assume that there are much more gaffs possible with Phoenix than with Tally Ho's, and Christian is the only one card brand owner and creator available on the forum.
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I have a few bricks of Bikes left but I will definately change after they're gone. I like the quality of Phoenix but I'm not a huge fan of the backs nor the aces. No biggie though.

I also like Tally Ho's but I kind of have a feeling they will take the same downhill path as bikes... Don't ask me why...

I'll propbably use Phoenix (as I already do now and then) for serious card work and for table hopping and such I'll stick to whatever brand I like at the moment. Here in Scandinavia there are no set brand of deck that people are used too. As long as the deck doesn't look too fishy no one will question it.
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