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Reviewer EndersGame
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Magic Makers

Under the helm of Rob Stiff, and located in South Dakota, Magic Makers is a magic wholesaler specialize in all kinds of magic related products, like magic tricks, decks of playing cards, instructional videos, pranks and novelty items, and more. Their products are stocked by magic retailers around the world, and are readily available to the mass market via sites like Amazon, often at a very reasonable price.

But in this review, I'm especially interested in the decks of playing cards that Magic Makers produce, besides the regular and full range of trick decks that you'd expect from a magic wholesaler. They have produced a number of colored Bicycle decks, as well as some other interesting specialty decks, including the Black Spider and Black Scorpion decks, the Faded decks, and the Tetra deck. Each of these typically comes with gaff cards plus links to free video tutorials about performing routines with them, so they'll especially be of interest to magicians. But they'll also appeal 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.

So let's check out some of the specialty playing cards that Rob Stiff and Magic Makers have produced!



The idea of creating a deck that has a vintage look is not new, and there have been several takes on giving the traditional Bicycle rider-back deck a "distressed" and worn appearance, as is the case with these Faded decks from Magic Makers.


The Decks

Arguably the most recognizable and familiar deck in the world is the classic Bicycle rider-back deck, typically available in red and blue. With the Faded series, this traditional look has gone through a speedy and artificial aging process, to create a thoroughly worn and vintage look, sometimes also referred to as a "distressed" look. The result is that the deck looks as it has been delivered across several decades, and yet despite the very real appearance of age, the cards themselves are in pristine condition!

Two versions of this deck have been created, both corresponding to the red and blue originals. Here's the Bicycle Rider Back Faded Red Deck.


And here's the matching Bicycle Rider Back Faded Blue Deck, which is identical except for the use of blue instead of red.


Here's a closeup of the card-back, showing the worn/distressed look, which is identical on all the card backs.


The faded look is applied not only to the card backs, but also to the tuck box, and of course to the faces of the cards as well.


Here's a closer look at the detail from the Ace of Spades.


Magic Extras

In addition to the standard 52 card deck, you do get some extra cards with the Faded decks as well, including a single Joker with standard Bicycle artwork.

But best of all are the three cards needed to do the Million Dollar Monte routine (aka Ultimate Three Card Monte). There's the two gaffs and an extra three of clubs, so you can even remove these cards permanently from the deck and carry them around with you separately as a packet trick if you wish.


The secret link for this deck brings you to a Magic Makers page where you can download an instructional video for this effect. It's quite short, has no speaking in it, and runs at less than four minutes. So if you're unfamiliar with this effect, you'll need to check out some performances to see how stunning this routine can be. But it does do a good job of explaining the handling of the cards, which is one of the hardest aspects of this trick. The Ultimate Three Card Monte is an effect that I've personally enjoyed performing a lot over the years, because it can be quite mind-blowing for spectators, and is well worth the effort to learn well!


Fanning decks are typically designed to enhance the visual aesthetics of card flourishing, particular when fanning cards.


The Deck

The Tetra 4 Way Fanning Deck has been produced with the card flourisher or cardist in mind.


The card faces are identical to a standard Bicycle deck. But the key feature are the card backs, which have bright and vivid colors in yellow, blue, red and green, to accentuate the eye-catching effect that it produces.

Especially important is the design. The back is divided into four quadrants, each a different color, and what this does is allow you to create four different colors of fan - depending on the orientation and direction of the deck when fanned.

For example, here the cards are being fanned one way to show yellow, and then a different way to show red.


Magic Extras

Besides the standard 52 cards, this deck also comes with a few extras: one Joker, plus an extra Ace of Spades and Ace of Diamonds, and finally a blank faced gaff card.

The secret webpage from Magic Makers includes a six minute video where Rob Stiff demonstrates a few possible effects using these cards. The first of these takes advantage of the blank faced gaff, and gives the illusion of showing an entirely blank deck, and then showing that all the cards are now printed with standard faces. Rob then explains a couple of effects using the two duplicates, such as a simple Ambitious Card effect where a card placed in the center rises to the top; the other being a simple prediction effect. Both of these are very easy to perform for beginners, and offer a fun thing to do with the deck besides just fanning.

To get an idea of what this deck looks like in action, see these official video trailers here and here.



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.



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:

Here are direct links for all the decks featured in this review series:
- 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

View Profile
Inner circle
Reviewer EndersGame
1659 Posts

Profile of EndersGame
I should also mention that this isn't an exhaustive list of all specialty decks available from Magic Makers - they do have a few others beside the ones reviewed here.

And for reference, here are all three articles in this review series:

Part 1 - Black & Orange Reverse-Back decks from Magic Makers
Part 2 - Black Spider & Scorpion decks from Magic Makers
Part 3 - Faded decks & Tetra 4-Way deck from Magic Makers
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Deck the Halls » » Pictorial Review: Faded & Fanning decks (Magic Makers) (0 Likes)
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