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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Deck the Halls » » Pictorial Review: Colored Reverse-Back decks (Magic Makers) (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

EndersGame
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*** MAKING MAGIC WITH COLORED PLAYING CARDS ***

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Magic Makers

Under the helm of owner Rob Stiff, and located in South Dakota, Magic Makers is a company that is a magic wholesaler. In other words, they specialize in all kinds of magic related products, like magic tricks, decks of playing cards, instructional videos, pranks and novelty items, and more. Many of their products are imported from manufacturers in Asian countries including China, Taiwan and Thailand, which helps Rob achieve his goal of selling high quality products to retailers at low wholesale prices. As a result you'll find that Magic Makers products are stocked by magic retailers around the world, and they are also readily available to the mass market via sites like Amazon, often at a very reasonable price.

For examples of some of the magic products produced by Magic Makers, see the reviews I've published elsewhere, including the following effects: Instant Magician Kit; Packet Killer DVD & Gaff Deck; Ultimate Gaff Deck Kit; Game of Aces; Chase The Ace; and Magic Compass.

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Rob Stiff

Rob Stiff brings something interesting to the business world of magic, because he also has experience and expertise in cinematography. For example, he was involved in the filming of the 2015 horror film "The Girl in the Photographs", for which he is credited as second unit director of photography.

His camera experience holds him in good stead with Magic Makers, and he has produced some of the most lavish and well-produced video trailers for magic effects that you'll ever see! See a collection of these impressive videos here. Many of them are like miniature movie shorts, and have been produced with a very high degree of professionalism!

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Specialty Decks

But in this review, I'm especially interested in the decks of playing cards that Magic Makers produce. Now certainly they produce the regular and full range of trick decks that you'd expect from a magic wholesaler, like one-way decks, stripper decks, Svengali decks, Brainwave decks, Mental Photography decks, and more. Their specialty decks also include modern classics like the Invisible deck, and various marked decks. They also carry a number of excellent packet tricks, my favourite being Packet Killer, which comes with a complete gaff deck and a terrific instructional DVD featuring Simon Lovell. These will certainly be of interest to those who enjoy performing magic, whether professionally or as amateurs.

But in addition to the above, Magic Makers has also produced a number of colored Bicycle decks, and it's this range that I'll be focusing on in this review, as well as several other specialty decks they have created: the Black Spider and Black Scorpion decks, the Faded decks, and the Tetra deck. These will certainly be of interest to magicians as well, because each of these decks typically comes with gaff cards, plus information and links to free video tutorials about performing a magic effect with the deck. But these decks will also be of interest to the average person who enjoys playing card games, and just wants to enjoy an unusual-looking or attention-getting deck of playing cards that handles well and is of a good long-lasting quality.

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*** COLORED REVERSED-BACK DECKS ***

This series of colored decks are like standard Bicycle decks, except for the colors. The back of the playing cards features a color scheme that is the reverse of the normal colors, much like you'd expect from a negative photographic image. They have been produced in a range of colors, including red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and black. I've just got the black and the orange decks, so those are the ones I'll be covering below.

Note that the ones currently available are actually second generation colored decks. The original colored decks from Magic Makers were the same, but had standard card backs that weren't in the reversed/negative colors. I do think the second generation decks with reversed backs are improvements, because it gives the back a look that is more consistent with the face cards, and it makes the entire deck (front and back) look more visually stunning.

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== BLACK REVERSED-BACK ==

The Deck

The Black Reversed Back Deck has the immediately familiar look of a traditional Bicycle deck, starting with the tuck box.

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In many respects it looks like a standard Bicycle deck in black. But when we take a closer look we notice that all the colors are reversed and in the opposite place you'd expect.

So for example, the card backs look just like a red or blue backed rider-back deck, except what is normally white is now black, and what is normally red or blue is now white.

A similar effect has been applied to the face of the cards. These have an all-black canvas to complete the black look, and while the pips for the Hearts and Diamonds still are in their familiar red, the pips for the traditionally black suits of Spades and Clubs are now in white. This ensures good visual clarity, and yet makes for a very striking and different look, which contrasts sharply with the jet black of the cards themselves.

While the number cards will remind some of Ellusionist's Black Tiger deck, the court cards have a different and unique look. They use a simplified color scheme that relies on white, yellow, and red, again with a black background.

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Magic Extras

Besides your standard 52 cards, the Black Reversed Back deck comes with four gaff cards: a double face card (Joker & Queen of Hearts), a partial card, a card case gimmick card, and a blank face card.

The packaging provides a secret link that will give you all the information you need to maximize your use of these gaff cards. This is an excellent resource, that consists of several parts:
- downloadable PDF, containing a page of written instructions for using all four gaffs in simple routines.
- downloadable videos, with teaching materials for Card 56 (Elevator Card, aka the card case gimmick), and the Vanishing Deck effect.

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Blank faced cards and double backers can be used for a wide range of wonderful effects, and the included instructions give you a simple routine for each to get you started. These gimmicked cards are considered staples in the world of gaff cards, and countless other routines can be found in magic books or resources available online.

Particularly interesting to me is the partial card, which can be used to create a vanishing deck effect. But my favourite card here is probably the card case gimmick card, which you can use to create the illusion that a card passes straight through a deck box. It's called "The Elevator Card", and a short performance and explanation video by Simon Lovell can be seen on Magic Makers page for this deck.

See the official video trailer for this decks, which also includes several great effects using the gaffs here.

== ORANGE REVERSED-BACK ==

The Deck

The Orange Reversed Back Deck has a similar look to the Black Reversed Back deck, except with orange being the featured color on both the card backs and fronts.

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The card backs have the standard rider-back design, but in orange, and again the colors have been reversed, so the borders are orange instead of white, and the rider-back design has also been reversed.

The face cards feature a full bleed vivid orange look, in which the traditionally red suits employ white for the pips, while black is used for the pips of the traditionally black suits.

The court cards again have the classic look, but have a full orange background, and a simplified color palette of white, yellow, red and black results in a whole new look!

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Magic Extras

Besides your standard 52 cards, the Orange Reversed Back deck comes with four extra cards: a double-face card (Jack of Spades & Four of Diamond), a double-backed card, a normal Joker, and an alternate Ace of Spades.

As with the Black deck, the packaging contains a secret link to a Magic Makers webpage with instructional materials. This brings you to a page with two videos featuring Rudy Hunter:
- a three minute clip explaining how to perform "A Changing Card" (using the double-facer)
- a five minute clip explaining how to perform "Double Card Prediction" (using the double-backer)
Both are very easy to learn and perform, and yet are quite powerful effects, especially for the amateur.

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== OTHER COLORS ==

Besides the two decks covered above, there are also "reversed back" decks in different colors that are available, e.g. yellow, red, green, purple. Each deck comes with its own unique set of gaff cards and downloadable PDF with instructions.

For example, the four cards in the Red deck are a Joker, double index card with a black back, a red/black double backer, and a blank face card; tricks taught include a pocket to pocket transposition with two cards, and a more challenging effect called the 10:30 card trick, that does require knowledge of a special count. The Yellow deck includes a Joker, a blank face card, and the two gaff cards needed to perform the Million Dollar Monte (aka Three Card Ultimate Monte) routine - although only written instructions rather than a video are provided. The Green deck includes a Joker, a double backer, blank face card, double blank face card; and the PDF instructions detail a card printing effect, plus Ted Annemann's Initialed Card Telepathy, and a couple of other effects.

Here are some official video trailers for the reversed back decks in other colors: red, yellow, green, and blue.

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*** CONCLUSIONS ***

What do I think?

Gamer friendly: While custom decks can be very beautiful, it can happen that the degree of customization is such that the unusual aesthetics and design is a big distraction that hampers the playability and function of the cards, or makes the suits hard to distinguish. It can also happen that a custom deck has a polished and unique beauty that makes it a shame to risk having it damaged by wear and tear, and as a result it sits safely on the shelf of a collector - never to be used. The decks featured in this review have enough customization to make them interesting, and yet they have a classic look that makes them very much familiar to anyone who has experience with traditional cards. In other words, they're standard enough to be very playable for games, while still unique enough to stand out.

Magician friendly: At the same time, these decks are excellent choices for magicians, for similar reasons. Magicians don't want to be using something that looks so radically different from a normal deck that it screams "trick deck", or that the spectators are so distracted by the design of the cards themselves that the magic effect itself needs to compete for attention. These specialty decks get that balance just right. At one time it was common for magicians to stick to Bicycle decks, so as to avoid any suspicion, but we are now moving into a new era where a saturated market of crowdfunded custom playing cards has makes it more normal for magicians to be using custom decks of playing cards, and non-standard decks can also be used for magic without arousing suspicion. These decks still retain the Bicycle connection and design, and yet offer a fresh and colourful look that makes them eye-catching. These decks also come with gaff cards and video instructions for routines that magicians will really appreciate, so they have added extras that make them ideal for those with an interest in magic, even if you are just an amateur.

Instructional materials: One thing I really do appreciate these decks is that they not only come with some gaff cards, but they also give you written instructions for performing tricks with them. Better yet, they also include a secret link to video tutorials online that teach you how to perform some magic with the deck, and especially with the gaff cards included. For an experienced magician, these tricks might seem fairly basic. But for the person with relatively limited experience in the world of magic, they are fantastic, and will allow you to perform some real miracles. They aren't very difficult, and the instructions are easy to follow, and the card tricks themselves can be learned without any real difficulty. I only wish that videos were provided with every deck - for example, the Black Spider and Black Scorpion decks strangely only have printed instructions.

Bicycle brand: The Bicycle brand and rider-back design is instantly recognizable, and is a classic and reputed design. This gives these decks an immediate credibility and recognition factor. Even people who haven't seen these colored versions before will make the connection to the standard Bicycle deck, and this will make them quickly feel at home with these decks, despite the ways in which they differ from what they might be used to. The Bicycle brand also gives these products an element of official respectability - you get an immediate sense that they are something authentic, and not merely a home-made deck that someone has printed themselves.

Bicycle quality: The decks themselves have been manufactured and printed by the United States Playing Card Company (USPCC), an industry leader in the world of playing cards. That means that the quality of the printing and the cards themselves is excellent. Informed creators of playing cards will inevitably want to choose a reliable publisher, and USPCC is known to be one of the very best. Like other USPCC produced decks, these have durable cardstock, clear printing, and are a quality product. One challenge with full bleed black cards is that they can show signs of wear more quickly than white cards, but that's an issue with all black decks that isn't unique to these; and fortunately there are ways to deal with this (for example, see the Black Deck Book from Ellusionist for some good suggestions).

Handling: USPCC produced playing cards are known to be of very good quality in terms of handling, and it is a big reason why many magicians and card flourishers will only use Bicycle branded cards. They have the usual air cushion style embossing, plus a protective coating that makes them last longer, and handle nicely. As a result, the cards have just the right amount of friction so that they shuffle nicely, and spread and fan consistently and evenly. Magicians, cardists, and gamers alike will find these more than satisfactory, and certainly much better than the cheap and inferior decks typically found in department or corner stores.

Inexpensive: A deck of customized playing cards typically costs around $15 these days. Obviously the above decks don't have the same degree of customization as a more artistic deck, but this is also reflected in the lower price. Typically you can find the above decks online for around $5-10 each, which is very affordable for a quality deck of playing cards, especially if it includes extra gaff cards that can be used by magicians.

Availability: Because Magic Makers is a large wholesaler, their products are readily available from a range of websites and online retailers, including big names like Amazon. That means that if you see some cards here that you want to get for yourself, they're not going to be hard to get hold of.

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RECOMMENDATION

So are the decks of playing cards from Magic Makers for you? These aren't glamorous works of art, like some custom playing cards today are. But they have just the right amount of customization to make them stand out and turn heads at the table, while at the same time they are familiar enough to be ideal for use in playing traditional card games, or in the hands of a magician. The extras that come with these decks will make them especially attractive to magicians, professional or amateur. But you certainly don't have to be interested in magic to enjoy these decks - they're great on their own as vibrant show-case decks that will stand out as memorable playing pieces for everyone who sees them.

So grab yourself a deck, and start making some magic of your own - whether performing some card tricks, or just playing some great card games with these!

Want to learn more? Magic Makers: www.magicmakersinc.com

Here are direct links for all the decks featured in this review:
- Black Reversed Back: Visit publisher page or purchase on Amazon
- Orange Reversed Back: Visit publisher page or purchase on Amazon
- Black Spider: Visit publisher page or purchase on Amazon
- Black Scorpion: Visit publisher page or purchase on Amazon
- Faded Blue: Visit publisher page or purchase on Amazon
- Faded Red: Visit publisher page or purchase on Amazon
- Tetra 4 Way: Visit publisher page or purchase on Amazon

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