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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Deck the Halls » » Pictorial Review: Bicycle Blue & Purple Reversed Back decks (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Reviewer EndersGame
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Bicycle Riderback Playing Cards are considered an industry standard, and for many magicians, it's their main tool for performing card tricks. Using an ultra customized deck of playing cards can raise suspicion that it's a trick deck, and actually diminish your skill in using sleight of hand.

So how about a deck that looks just like a Bicycle deck, but is in a different colour? This series of "Reversed Back" coloured decks from Magic Makers are very much like standard Bicycle decks, except for the colour scheme. The back of the playing cards features a palette that is the reverse of the normal colours - much like you'd expect from a negative photographic image. They have been produced in a range of colours, including red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and black. In this article I'll be covering the blue and the purple decks.


The coloured decks currently available are actually second generation decks, because the original (first generation) coloured decks from Magic Makers didn't use a reversed/negative colour scheme for the card backs. I personally 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 makes the entire deck look less ordinary and more visually stunning.


The Deck

The Blue Reversed Back Deck is the second generation of what was originally called the Blue Ice Deck.

It has the immediately familiar look of a traditional Bicycle deck, starting with the tuck box.


In many respects it does look like a standard Bicycle deck, but closer examination reveals that all the colours are reversed.

For example, the card backs look just like a standard blue-backed rider-back deck, except what is normally white is now blue, and what is normally blue is now white. As a result, the card-backs of this deck have blue instead of white borders, while the main rider-back image looks like a photographic negative where the colours have been reversed.

A similar effect has been applied to the face of the cards. These have an all-blue canvas, 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 bright blue of the cards themselves. Both the red and the white pips really `pop' against the blue background, and look fantastic!

The blue background also gives a differnet look to the court cards, which (besides the blue background) use as primary colours red and white, along with yellow and black.


Magic Extras

Besides your standard 52 cards, the Bicycle Blue Reversed Back deck comes with one standard Joker, plus three gaff cards: a double faced Ace of Spades (one side is a standard Ace from a regular Bicycle deck, the other is like the one in the Blue Reversed Back deck), a standard Ace of Spades with the Blue Reversed back, and a blank face card.

The packaging provides a secret link that will give you the information you need to maximize your use of these gaff cards, and gives a suggested routine for a colour change called the Twirl Change. This page also has a link to a downloadable video with around 5 minutes of teaching by Rob Stiff with Rudy Hunter. The video features the first generation backs, but since only the card-backs have changed, the effect that is taught works in the same way with the second generation Ice Blue deck.


Colour changes are always a lot of fun, and when combined with the blue colours of this deck, the gaffs included here can create some good effects.

See a promotional video for this deck from the publisher here, which primarily shows an effect with the gaffs:


The Deck

The Purple Reversed Back Deck has a similar look, except with purple now being the featured colour on both the card backs and fronts.

The card backs have the standard rider-back design, but in purple, and again the colours have been reversed, so the borders are purple instead of white, and the rider-back design has also been reversed like a photographic negative.


The face cards feature a full bleed purple look, with black pips used for the spades and clubs, and white pips for the hearts and diamonds. The Ace of Spades pictured above has a white pip, but that's because it's an alternate Ace provided with the deck; there's also an Ace of Spades with a black pip to match all the other Spade pips in the deck.

The first generation of this deck used yellow and white pips for the traditionally black and red suits, plus a colour palette of green and gold instead of red and blue on the court cards. This has changed with the second generation deck, which uses black and white pips, and for the court cards uses red and yellow as the main colours, along with some purple and black. Personally I preferred the colour palette of the first generation purple deck, because it contrasted better with the purple, but this will largely be a matter of personal taste.


Magic Extras

Beyond the 52 standard cards, this deck contains 4 gaff cards - a double backer, the alternate Ace of Spades already mentioned(with a large white pip), a double-facer (4 of Clubs / Jack of Spades), and standard Joker in purple to match the deck.

As with the Blue deck, the packaging contains a secret link to a Magic Makers webpage with instructional materials. Unfortunately this link is dead. Because the gaffs included with the first generation of the purple deck are different from these, the instructional page for that deck is of no help either.

So it looks like the publisher may need to do some maintenance to provide some online instructional materials for this deck. Although most magicians won't need too much help here - a double backer and a double facer are very well-known and versatile gaffs, so these cards will certainly come in handy anyway.



Besides the two decks covered above, "reversed back" decks are also available in different colours, e.g. red, orange, yellow, green, and black. Each deck comes with its own unique set of gaff cards and a link to free online instructions.



What do I think?

Gamer friendly: Unlike some custom decks, where the degree of customization can hamper the playability of the cards, or make the suits hard to distinguish, the decks featured here have enough customization to make them interesting, and yet retain the classic Bicycle 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 decks still retain the classic Bicycle connection and design that most people are familiar with, and yet offer a fresh and colourful look that makes them eye-catching. They also come with gaff cards and video instructions for routines that magicians will appreciate, and these added extras also makes them ideal for those with an interest in magic.

Instructional materials: I appreciate the fact that these coloured decks also come with online instructions with simple routines for using the gaff cards included, and in some cases even a free video tutorial. Unfortunately the page link for the Purple deck is inactive or incorrect, but the secret links have worked fine for all the other coloured decks I have tried. While they are fairly simple tricks, they will especially be useful for young or novice magicians trying to expand their reportoire.

Bicycle brand: The Bicycle brand and rider-back design is instantly recognizable, as a classic design that is highly regarded. This gives these decks an immediate credibility and recognition factor. Even people who haven't seen these coloured versions before will make the connection to the standard Bicycle deck, and this will make them quickly feel at home with them, despite the ways in which they differ from what they might be used to. The Bicycle brand helps give decks like these an element of official respectability, regardless of how you use them.

Bicycle quality: The decks have been 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. They have durable cardstock, clear printing, and are a quality product. Be aware that one issue common to all decks that have full bleed coloured cards is that they can show signs of wear more quickly than white bordered cards.

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 prefer them. These decks have the usual air cushion style embossing, plus a protective coating that makes them last longer and handle nicely. They shuffle well, and spread and fan consistently and evenly. Magicians and gamers alike will find these more than satisfactory, and a big improvement over a cheap corner store deck.

Inexpensive: A deck of customized playing cards typically costs around $15 these days, and while the coloured decks featured here aren't as artistic as many custom decks, they typically sell online for around $5-10 each, which is very affordable for a quality deck of playing cards - especially considering that gaff cards are included as well.

Availability: Decks like these are readily available from a range of websites and online retailers, including big names like Amazon. So if you like what you see, you should easily be able to order some online.



Are these coloured decks of playing cards from Magic Makers for you? While not glamorous works of art, they do have just the right amount of customization to make them turn heads, while still being familiar enough to use for playing traditional card games, or performing card magic. The extras that come with these decks will make them especially attractive to magicians, but anyone can enjoy these decks, because they are vibrant and colourful, and very usable.

So grab yourself a deck, and start making some magic of your own - whether using them for card tricks, or just for playing card games!


Want to learn more? Magic Makers:

Here are direct links for all the decks featured in this review:
- Blue Reversed Back: Visit publisher page or purchase on Amazon
- Purple Reversed Back: Visit publisher page or purchase on Amazon

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