Mechanic Industries has been in the business of "fixing games since 2012". It's a great slogan, because "fixing" has a double meaning, first referring to an act of positive improvement, and second referring to an act in which you influence the outcome of something by sneaky methods. And Mechanic Industries is about both. Firstly they aim to improve a standard deck of playing cards. But secondly they want to put something into the hands of a magician with which he can absolutely influence the outcome of various magic effects, with the help of special tools built into the design of the cards themselves.
The company describes themselves as follows: "Mechanic Industries create innovative products for both magicians and playing card fans alike. We give you the tools to create your very own brand of magic." So what are these tools? Well, Mechanic Industries has put out several decks with an industrial styled design that fits the "mechanics" theme. But most importantly, the card-backs have been marked to create a flipbook animation, which doubles as a very ingenious marking system. That's not all - they've also found a way to integrate playing cards with coin magic, by making custom coins, and having these appear on the cards themselves, giving lots of possibilities for making coins appear and disappear from cards as part of a routine.
Besides their Mechanic deck, to celebrate their fifth anniversary they've also put out an upgraded metallic deck set, which relies on a similar animation and marking system. And in Optricks, they also released a second major deck design, which features hypnotic illusions, and another take on the flipbook animation, climaxing with a wonderful card reveal. So with all this eye candy in store, let's get right to showing you these inspiring decks from Mechanic Industries!
THE MECHANIC V2 DECK
Mechanic Industries has released some great gear for magicians - and what is a better than a deck of cards that holds special secrets? The Mechanic Deck is a deck of cards that fits right into the theme and name of the company, Mechanic Industries. This deck has its genesis back in 2012, which is five years ago already now. It was a solid success, so in early 2014 they decided to take the deck in for a "service", and gave the entire deck an overhaul to make it even better. It is this "new and improved" version 2 of the Mechanic Deck that is widely available, and is the one I'll be showing and reviewing here.
The box is a black box, the front showing the Ace of Spades, which offers a metal look, and a gear-like portrayal of the deck.
The back of the tuck box features the design of the card-backs, with churning metal cogs conveying the idea of an industrial factory.
The Ace of Spades and also the back design are both composed of various gears, cogs and chains. This creates a metal feel to the deck, and also makes it appear as if you are holding in your hands the working of a factory. If you are a magician, that is indeed really what you are holding: the inner workings of a magic device.
The rivets and stepped borders of the back design also create appealing and great looking fans and spreads that are just ... well, riveting!
The back design has especially benefited from the tweaks made in Version 2 of this deck. A higher contrast has been used to make the animation stands out more clearly, along with extra cogs and a new chain guard.
The engaging design means that this deck also can work well for cardistry.
Ace of Spades
The Ace of Spades is heavily customized, and picks up the industrial machine-like artwork we've already seen on the front of the tuck case.
The all-white faces of the cards stand out nicely from the bordered backs.
The faces of these cards are at first glance standard, but looking closer it can be seen that they feature improvements made to standard court cards.
The court cards have less colours to them and just feature greys, black and red, which I believe improves the look over the traditional courts. The clubs and spades also have a faint mottled grey look to them, fitting in with the theme.
Since the faces are mostly standard, with only slight aesthetically appealing tweaks, this deck is extremely recognizable and useable for either magic or card games.
The deck comes with an ad card, a double backer and two extra jokers, and with these extra cards you can perform some great magic, which can be found on some of the company's great tutorials that I'll tell you about later.
Together with a grinder coin (which Mechanic Industries also makes) and some practice, the coin can be apparently pulled right off the card, since the Jokers have a coin-like image that can appear and disappear. Prepare yourself for some great magic with this deck!
But there's two extra treats built into this deck, and the first is the animated card-backs. The back design of cogs and gears really looks like it could fit in a factory and you could almost imagine the gears turning. Well, with this deck, it won’t even take imagination to see the gears turning, because there's a flip-book animation that allows you to flip through the cards and see the gears turning through the deck - check the video trailer below to see this amazing effect in action!
Riffling through the cards in this way can be used as an added kicker for a magic effect, or just to enjoy watching!
But there's still an extra treat for those of you who are magicians, and that's that the Mechanic deck is also fully marked!
That’s right, with a bit of practice, just by looking at the back of the card you can tell what card it is.
It does take some learning to be able to read it well, and isn’t always the quickest to read, but that's because the system is subtle, so your spectators won’t figure it out at all.
Unlike the first deck, Version 2 now has two points of reference in the cog rotation that can be used to identify both the suit and value of the cards.
You can preview how this works for free - download a free PDF from the publisher's page about the deck (link) explaining the marking system in detail.
A very special version of the Mechanic deck was produced in 2017, to celebrate the fifth birthday of Mechanic Industries. And what better present than something new and shiny?
The crew at Mechanic Industries went all out by producing some super decks that look fantastic both inside and out: a pair of metallic decks.
This set consists of two decks, Glimmer (gold) and Shiner (Silver).
The gold Glimmer deck is a special limited edition that is only available as part of the "Metallic Deck Set" which includes the pair, so it can't be obtained separately.
For added luxury, the entire interior of the deck is entirely foiled, for a very shiny and stunning look! An added feature of this is that you can use the inside of the box to secretly glimpse a card.
The outside of the tuck box also employs extensive use of foil, along with stylish embossing.
Unlike the other deck in the set, the silver Shiner deck is available for purchase on its own.
The inside of its tuck box is also entirely foil, in this case a shiny and spectacular silver.
Metallic gold and silver inks are used for the card backs to ensure a completely glamorous look. The design is similar to the original Mechanic decks, but has had the benefit of some tweaks.
To match the stylish look of the tuck boxes, metallic gold, silver, and red Pantone inks have been used with black on both the backs and faces of all the cards.
Shown above are some court cards with metallic silver ink from the Shiner deck, while shown below are some cards with metallic gold ink from the Glimmer deck.
Similar to the original Mechanic deck, Jokers are included that enable the card backs to be combined with coin magic, using Mechanic Industries' Grinder coins.
Animations & Marking system
Like the Mechanic Deck, the metallic decks have both a flip book animation system and a marking system built into the card backs.
Riffling through the deck shows the cogs turning. Furthermore, secrets that identify the suit and value of each card are cleverly built into the design. The system is based on the Mechanics deck, but it has undergone some modifications and additions.
Once again, you can download a free PDF which explains the marking system in detail from the publisher's page for these decks (link).
Caution! Looking at this deck may result in temporary confusion or hypnotism. Presenting the Optricks Deck, a deck of cards that appears as an optical illusion!
The Optricks Deck is a deck of cards composed of black and white lines in a geometric style that creates hypnotising and mesmerising deck of cards. The box features a whole bunch of black and white lines that showcase what is inside, a truly mesmerising deck.
The back design of the cards features a hypnotic design composed of squares with black and white lines coming out of it.
Of course, the more you look at the back design, the more different shapes and styles you see popping out at you. That’s just what this hypnotic design does to you!
Ace of Spades
The Ace of Spades is also composed of black and white lines, and really fits the theme of the deck with its optical style, yet still is very obvious that it is a spade.
The only cards where customization is obvious is in the custom Ace of Spades, the custom Jokers and the colours of the court cards.
The faces of these cards are almost totally standard faces, making these cards ideal for magicians.
However the court cards are composed of only two colours, red and black, which makes a much more striking and impressive look than usual, while still being totally recognisable.
The extra cards in this deck allow you to perform some great and creative magic, especially with the help of the great tutorials available from Mechanic Industries.
First of all, the deck has two Jokers with a coin like back design, one Joker with the design almost shaken about, and another card that is entirely blank. These Jokers allow you to perform some amazing magic, whether it just be shaking the ink off the Joker card about, or actually pulling the coin design off using a Grinder Coin.
What is great about the back design is that when the deck is riffled, each back design flips from one to another, and due to slight differences from one card to the next, this creates a mesmerising and hypnotic illusion as the cards are flipped through. It appears as if the squares sink into each other and come to a point, and truly is a great optical illusion. For this to work though the deck does need to be in order, and doesn’t look as effective while shuffled, but still looks impressive!
But you can take things to the next level once you realize that along with the animation, the Mechanic Industries crew have also built in a great reveal for the Seven of Hearts.
This reveal takes advantage of the flip-book animation of the back design to show off the chosen card.
A great routine called Transmission uses this to good effect, and can be learned for free directly from Mechanic Industries.
Mechanics Industries also offers a number of accessories for their decks, and special note should be made of their custom coins, which they call "Grinder Coins", and which are designed to be used in combination with their decks, for sleight of hand routines.
These are available in two different sizes (Half & Full Dollar), and two different colours (antique bronze & gun-metal grey).
I'm not a coin guy, since my preference is pure card magic. But for those who are interested in coin magic, and are intrigued by the idea of combining it with cards, here's the official ad copy which Mechanic Industries uses to describe their custom coins: "Engineered for use in sleight of hand coin magic, every detail has been carefully considered. The diameter, thickness & weight are perfect for coin magic. The milled edge enhances grip for great handling, making your sleights easier and more efficient. The finishes have been carefully selected to ensure the coins would slide effortlessly over each other while keeping the 'chatter' down to a bare minimum. Grinder Coins are fast becoming the preferred choice for many top working magicians. The edges have great grip due to the precision milling, making moves such as classic palms a breeze!"
I have read some reviews from people who are experienced with coin magic, and they report that the coins "handle wonderfully", and that the pairing of the cards with the grinder coins and tutorials is a "hardcore product".
In the last number of years we've seen some fantastic decks of custom playing cards being produced with the help of new technologies, and the new marketplace of crowdfunding. Certainly these decks from Mechanic Industries deserve an honourable place among the great new and innovative products that have hit the market in the last number of years. They deserve praise already because of their system of combining flipbook animations with a marked deck, and for how they've integrated coin magic into card magic. But advances in technology also mean that publishers have at their disposal new tools that allow them to create teaching resources as well. Since we live in a digital age, the technology is there to produce high quality instructional and educational videos, and the global use of the internet and social media means that these videos can easily be shared and made available worldwide.
When you purchase a deck of unique playing cards from Mechanic Industries, you also get access to some terrific videos from their Mechanic Workshop that will really help you maximize the use of your new playing cards. These folks don't just want you buying their cards, but they want to help you use them to create the best effects possible with them, and they want to teach you everything you can do with them, especially the new moves and ideas that the unique elements of their innovative products open up. As such all their products link together functionally and aesthetically.
So how does this all work? Very simply, you join their Workshop (which is free), and they will send you passwords to about half a dozen free tutorials, which are designed to help you "get the most out of your gear" and to "fine tune your magic" - to borrow some of their own slogans. Their ad copy describes it as follows: "Our products come with magic tutorials to help you fine tune your magic. Join the Workshop to access our FREE videos and get discounts on premium tutorials." These tutorials add a significant amount of value to your purchase, because in addition to the decks that you get, you also get free access to an archive of helpful material that you can learn from.
But in addition to the six free tutorials, if you want to progress even further, you can purchase their five premium video tutorials, which range in price from £1.99 to £4.50 each. And they're nothing to sniff at - each video ranges in length from the shortest at 15 minutes (Caption) to the longest at 37 minutes (Alchemy). The filming is professionally done, and very polished and clear. In this next section I'll give an overview of the tutorials they have available. If you're considering getting their decks but are still on the fence, definitely check out their free tutorials, which will likely give you the push that you need to make a purchase.
Free Tutorial Videos
Flipside is a nice effect that can be done using any of the mechanics decks and also a Grinder Coin. In this effect, the joker is shown with a coin like picture on it, and with a flick into the audiences hand, the coin visible is flicked off of the card, and the card can then be shown to be an ordinary card with just no coin on it anymore! Another toss of the card and coin and the coin jumps back onto the card, leaving it as it originally was.
The tutorial for this effect is free, all that you need is a Mmechanics deck and a Grinder Coin. You will need to put in some practice into learning this so that you can perform it smoothly and keep some things hidden, but it is definitely worth it! The moves needed are well taught, and it is easy to follow along and learn what to do.
Grindout is another neat effect done with a Mechanics deck and a Grinder Coin. The Joker is shown with the coin like design on it, and the coin is very visibly pulled off of the card. Slapping the coin onto the blank Joker then makes it magically appear back on the card, a highly visual performance.
This effect is highly visual and looks very amazing. However, it does require a lot of practice and some sleight of hand. The moves that are needed are not actually taught in the video, but need to be learnt separately, this video just shows how to combine all the moves into an amazing performance. But, it is free, so check it out and decide if it’s for you!
Also taught in the video is another, easier performance of how to get the coin off the Joker and then back on, if you wish. The Joker is shown with the coin-like design, placed onto a spectators hand and the coin just falls off the card. This effect is a great way to start to learn how to use your Mechanics deck and coins, and is easy to learn and perform.
Fanbelt is a neat effect that can be done with the original Mechanic deck, or any of the other mechanic decks if you include your own blank card. The cards are shown to all be blank on the faces, and then the magician flips through the cards, showing the gears and cogs working in the deck to print the cards. The cards can then be fanned and spread out, revealing the deck to be printed.
This is an easy effect to learn, and makes a great use of the flipbook animation of the cards, and is a great way to ‘print’ the deck, and then allow you to start of a magic performance with it. It seems really like the deck is actually printing the cards with the way the cogs all turn, making it truly magical for your spectators.
Transmission is a whole routine that makes use of the Mechanic Optricks deck and it’s extra cards. Two spectators participate in this trick, one selects a card and thinks of it, while the other is ‘hypnotised’ by the decks motion into seeing and knowing what the other card is. The final kicker is that the spectator ends up holding the chosen card, which they always had thought was a blank card.
This effect used the Optricks deck and its flipbook animation to create a great performances that will blow your spectators' minds away. This isn’t something that would be for beginner magicians, as some sleight of hand skills are required, such as a force, DL, pass and cop to perform this well, but if you know these skills this is a great effect worth learning.
Ignition and Re-Ignition are magical effects that can be done using the Ignition Key Ring. These effects give you the opportunity to pull a coin off a keychain, leaving it with no holes, and then magically put it back on. The keychain can be handed out and examined, it honestly can’t be pulled off, and your spectators will be amazed.
These effects are really quite interesting, as they are different from usual magic, and you can also use the coin afterwards to do some of your own coin routines, and perhaps end it by putting it back on the chain. The coins and key-chains look really nice and classy, and these effects are a great addition to your performances. They do require quite some practice and skill to ensure it all looks as best as possible, so be prepared to spend some time learning.
BP3 (£1.99) makes for a nice opening routine. It is a highly visual piece of magic, in which a card moves and disappears from one hand to the other very quickly, in a magical way. It is very eye-catching, and can be used to attract an audience. There are a lot of moves going on that you will need to learn, but many of them are possibly moves that a magician may already know.
The video has 30 minutes of runtime, and the instruction going through the whole routine is well done so that you can follow along easily enough. You will need to spend a lot of time practicing this to ensure you can perform it as smoothly as possible and make it look as flashy as you can. The video does also run through bunch of tips on keeping the angles clean for this routine, which is helpful. This all will result in a wonderful routine once you have learnt it properly, and is a real piece of motion that looks great.
Blinds Collection (£1.99) teaches you to perform a variety of effects using a Grinder coin and a Mechanics Deck. The video teaches three different was to produce the coin from the card, making it appear as if it is flicked off or just pulled straight off the card. Also taught are a few different ways to make the coin go back onto the card after vanishing from the hands. This variety of effects will allow you to choose your own which suits you, and you can then use this to make up your own coin routine, starting and ending with the coin on the card.
The teaching time is roughly 18 minutes, and it goes through the productions and vanishes reasonably quickly, so for a beginner this would not be recommended. It is expected that you already have some skill with coin magic, and are familiar with palming techniques and adept with how to change and modify grips. For more experienced magicians, this is a great way to get into your own coin routine and then end it.
Muck Off (£4.50) is an effect involving some ‘hand mucking’, hence the name of the effect. This is a form of sleight of hand that a card is concealed from view, and gives the opportunity to switch one card out for another card. In this effect, it allows the magician to seemingly swipe the coin off one of the Jokers in a simple wave of the hand over the card, and with the same action place it back onto the card. This creates a highly visual piece of magic that can be performed using the Grinder Coin and a Mechanics deck.
This video has 21 minutes of teaching time, and goes into how to perform the effect very well. A few different moves are taught, and this actually allows you to choose which of the moves you find best to perform with. For those not familiar with mucking, there will be a lot of practice required, but the tutorial explains how to do it quite well. The practice will all pay off, and for magicians who are more experienced already this is a great performance to take a look at, and well worth learning, as it is a highly visual piece of magic.
Alchemy (£4.50) contains a variety of sleights, moves, transformations and clean up techniques that are needed to perform some amazing magic. The magic taught gives the opportunity to perform some great card to coin transformations, which can be done in your own hands without the use of a table, perfect for walk-around magic. All the different transformations taught allow you to choose your own favourites and combine them to create a great sequence of magic. These can be done using one of the Grinder Coins and a Mechanic deck, or any other deck and coin, but they look best with Mechanic gear.
With 37 minutes of teaching, this video contains a lot of information and some great transformations. There are 8 different transformations that are taught in this video, and each one is run through well to enable you to easily learn how to perform it. Also taught, which is great, is how to clean up after a sequence, which will enable you to end clean and for the spectators to examine the card, which is always great to be able to do as a magician. Some moves are assumed that you already know as a magician, so because of this it is not something for beginner magicians, but for more experienced magicians this is something you should take a look at!
Caption (£4.50) is a great resource for some terrific coin and sharpie magic. What is taught here can be performed with any coin and sharpie marker, and allows you to perform some great magic. A coin disappears in your hands and then reappears in the lid of the sharpie, which it can’t even fit in! A variety of sleights are taught allowing you to perform some great routines.
With 15 minutes of teaching, this video goes through each sleight very well, and will allow you to easily follow along what is happening and how to perform it. Learning these moves will take some practice, but the video does go through them so that you can easily learn how to perform the magic if you put the practice in.
Innovation: With the Mechanic series of decks, Mechanic Industries has come up with some terrific ideas, and injected some real life into card magic. These aren't just ordinary decks of cards, but have some real secrets and possibilities built into them.
Cards-and-coins: The first noteworthy and unique element about these decks that impressed me is how the design of the Jokers can be used to perform some powerful magic with the use of a Grinder Coin. This is a great concept that will especially appeal to those who already have some expertise with coin magic. It enables magicians to create a real surprise, because most people will never be anticipating magic that involves an item apparently being removed from a playing card and becoming real. To assist with this, some really creative ideas are available and can be learned from the tutorials available in the Mechanic Industries Workshop.
Animations: The second special feature of the decks from Mechanic Industries is the flip-book animation of the card-backs. This looks terrific, and is something very different from what most people have seen before. This obviously means that all the card backs are different, but surprisingly most spectators won't even notice this until the moment that you want them to, when you start riffling the cards. While this just adds visual appeal with the Mechanic decks, in the case of the Optricks deck it not only has a hypnotic effect, but can be used in conjunction with a great card reveal, thus strengthening the effect of the magic.
Marked cards: The animation system is closely linked to the marking system, and these have been cleverly combined and tied together. It's not the easiest system to learn, but it is well explained in all the PDFs provided for free by Mechanic Industries, and magicians who enjoy marked cards will likely find something here that they can work with.
Quality: The quality of these cards is also great. The decks have been printed by the United States Playing Card Company, and this means that they are high quality playing cards. The stock and finish is something that most magicians will find great to use, and they will immediately have a familiar feel. These decks should prove long lasting and will handle great.
Glamour: If you really want to take the looks to the next level, Mechanic Industries has the answer with the luxurious looking metallic decks, Glimmer and Shiner. The tuck boxes of these decks already look magnificent, outside and in, and the metallic ink on the cards makes these look fantastic. It's rare that they'll fail to impress, and these are a fitting tribute in celebration of their fifth anniversary.
Workshop: One things I really like about the Mechanic Industries Workshop is that you're not left on your own to figure things out. Purchasing a Mechanic Industries deck and getting their gear means you are buying into their brand, and they want to reward you by giving you the tools you need to take this to the next level, by providing you with the learning materials and ideas you need. As a result, each deck is backed up by support from the publisher, in the form of PDFs which explain the marking system, and all the tutorials they offer. Many of these are free, and if you want to progress further, there are premium tutorials to choose from as well.
Tutorials: The tutorials available in the Mechanic Industries Workshop contain some great moves that allow you to perform a lot of visual and unique magic. Pulling a coin off a card is something that I thought was great, and it looks very convincing. Alchemy contains a whole variety of moves which you can perform with a Grinder Coin in tandem with a Mechanics Deck, and these moves all look impressive. These tutorials and effects are not something for absolute beginner magicians, as they have a lot of sleight of hand required, and some of which is assumed for the effect. For more experienced magicians however, these tutorials are a goldmine with some really innovative and clever magic, and are the kind of magic that some will even want to incorporate into routines when performing professionally. The premium tutorials do require a small investment, but they really do offer some good value explanations and ideas.
Where to get them? Decks of playing cards and the accessories produced by Mechanic Industries are readily available from suppliers of specialty playing cards and of magic products. You'll find their decks at online retailers like Rare Playing Cards and Art of Play, and even Amazon and eBay. Most online magic dealers should stock their products, including their coins. Their distributor Murphy's Magic can also provide names of dealers in your area. For the tutorials, you can access these directly from the Mechanic Industries Workshop, which is where you can also purchase the premium tutorials from.
Are the playing cards from Mechanic Industries for you? I've had a lot of fun with these decks, because they add things to playing cards that aren't commonly seen. Even though I'm personally not skilled in coin magic, I love the ideas of combining grinder coins with the Jokers to cause various vanishing or appearing routines, and I can really appreciate the potential this offers. But in addition, the decks also have animations and a marking system built in, plus they are backed up with some high quality tutorials available directly from the publisher. All that means that these decks are a complete package, and so much more than just another custom deck of 54 pieces of cardboard. If these decks were cars, they would be flashy Ferraris that impress visually, and have powerful engines that can do things that the typical family car of a normal deck never will.
Definitely check out some of the performance videos they have available on youtube to see what the Mechanic Industries decks can do, or head to the company website to learn more. Those who enjoy the novelties that these unique decks offer are not likely to be disappointed!
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