One of the more bemusing trends I’ve encountered while trawling through Kickstarter for playing cards is the tendency towards absurdly elaborate, often literally jewel-encrusted, tuck boxes.
“Wow,” I say, as I read how many tons of gold foil are layered around the cardboard box the cards come in, “that’s a lot of time and effort put into something that’s going to end up abandoned under my bed.”
Like a lot of aspiring (and actual) magicians, I prefer my cards to hang loose – to go commando as it were. I have a few tuck boxes on hand for gimmicks that require them, but most of the time my decks are allowed to graze free-range around the house. Fortunately, the geniuses over at Ellusionist are willing to cater to my hedonistic naked deck ways.
Reloads are just decks of cards that come in a simple cellophane wrap instead of a traditional tuck box. That change knocks about 45% off the price. Right now Reloads are only available for Sea Green Keepers, but that’s okay because Keepers are great.
Adam Wilber’s Keepers, in my humble estimation, are better Bicycles. Designed with performers in mind, Keepers have standard fronts save for the ace of spades and the club royals and beautiful, light-house themed backs that are meant to pass for Bicycle’s gold standard at a glance (the Rider Backs that is, not the awful, custom flaming mariachi skeleton special editions people with bad taste can’t get enough of).
The key difference is that Keepers are thinner, a little firmer, sharper (no joke, I’m fairly certain I could cut someone’s throat with one of my Keeper Blues), and infinitely tougher. The only downside is they cost about three times as much as Bicycles. Reloads kind of solve that problem. The introductory price puts the Sea Green Keeper Reloads at just $3.50 a deck. That’s close to Bicycle territory. Buy 12 or more and the price gets knocked down to $2.98 a deck. That’s not “oh yeah check out my 400 Bicycle deck bulk order,” cheap, but it’s cheap for a deck this good.
I would totally be stocking up right now, only I live in the UK and shipping is a thing. That being said, this is a great deal for a supply of cards that will last you ages. Here’s hoping Ellusionist starts to offer other decks in this new naked format.
The Rubik’s Cube is a lot like magic, now I stop to think about it. It’s kind of become a visual shorthand for intelligence. How many times have you seen some Hollywood genius showing off by effortlessly solving one? In reality, solving the cube is quite simple once you’ve learned the routines for moving a given square. It’s a trick. And people are slowly catching on. Solving a Rubik’s cube just isn’t that impressive anymore.
Solving a cube, having an audience member mark it, and then making it appear inside a tiny jar it couldn’t possibly fit into will still turn a few heads though. Such is the effect of Kieron Johnson’s Isolated, now available on Ellusionist.
The trick is easy to do, requires no duplicate signatures, and resets in less than half a minute. The tools you need to perform the trick as well as a two hour instructional DVD that covers Isolation and other Cube tricks cost $175. The tools are handmade and stock is limited to just 500 units.
In a way, Photoshop is its own kind of magic: there’s nothing but a normal screenshot of Darth Vader extending his hand at the end of The Empire Strikes Back, then suddenly, there’s a deck of Daniel Madison’s Pink Rounders in his gloved hand. You can use some of your own skills (or lack thereof) to put those blazing hot pink cards in hilarious situations for a chance to win an unreleased deck of Red Hellions from Ellusionist this week.
Contest rules can be found over at the Pink Rounders page at Ellusionist, or in the image below:
The rules are pretty basic: put a deck of Pink Rounders into someone’s hand with your image editing software of choice and blast it out on social media with the hashtag #PoundersOutNow by April 1st. Ellusionist will pick 24 of their favorite entries and award them with a deck of Red Hellions.
A quick glance at the hashtag on Instagram shows that there are already some pretty funny entries out there.
Gollum appears to have found a new Precious:
Charles Nelson Reilly from Match Game is about to show us what’s on the back of his card:
Patrick Bateman is stunned by his co-worker’s choice of business card:
“Salt Bae” also fancies himself a card thrower:
Get your entries in ASAP, and if you’ve got a good one, be sure to share it with us on social media too!
Remember how the idea for those beautiful Pink Madison Rounders playing cards we covered earlier in the month came from a photoshopped image made for April Fools’ Day? No? Well the idea came from a photoshopped image made for April Fools’ Day. Ellusionist is celebrating that moment of creative inspiration by encouraging even more photo-editing tomfoolery.
The magic retailer is offering an as-of-yet unreleased red variant of the excellent HELLIONS deck to 24 lucky winners of its “Fotoshop” competition. All you have to do is use photoshop (or Gimp or whatever, I don’t think they’ll check) to edit a pack of Pink Rounders into someone’s hands. They can be anyone’s hands: A famous actor, a doctor, a politician or even English pop-sensation, Sting, playing the role of Feyd Rautha in David Lynch’s criminally underrated, 1984 film adaptation of Dune.
Once you’ve finished your surreptitious photographic manipulation, simply post the results to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Be sure to use the hashtag #PoundersOutNow and tag @ellusionist in the post, tweet or picture. Your entry has to be out there by April 1st. Good luck!
In 1998’s The Matrix, the red pill represents knowledge, freedom and the brutal truth of reality. The blue pill represents falsehood, security and blissful ignorance. But forget that try-hard crap. Let’s talk capitalism! In this latest marketing stunt from magic retail outfit, Ellusionist, the red pill represents savings on the shop’s entire range of decks and magical gimmickry, and the blue deck represents a never-before-released, limited-edition deck. When you click on this link, you’ll be taken to a page with a countdown clock where you’ll enter your email address, and then, like Keanu Reeves before you, you must choose.
Unless you’re a sneaky press rat like me, who, in the spirit of Aldous Huxley and Hunter S. Thompson, has taken all the pills and returned unscathed. Without giving too much away, the exclusive deck is swank. The Ellusionist Deck is a beautiful monochrome deck with, and I quote, “more secrets than a Swiss army knife has tools.” It’ll run you $10 plus shipping. After this event, the deck will be taken off sale and will only be available during special promotions and contests, so it’ll be rare. Artificially rare, but rare nonetheless.
But whats a deck versus a pile of decks on the cheap? Take the red pill and you’ll gain access to the site’s SUPER SALE EVENT. Generally you’ll be seeing two-to-three dollar discounts on some very sexy decks and magic gimmicks, but there’s the occasional item with up to 90% off. Want a hot tip? Remember that Magic on the Go video about Joshua Jay’s Inferno trick set? Well Inferno is one of the items on sale. Just sayin’.
Psst. While you’re there, maybe pick up the pink edition of those Madison Rounders.
Daniel Madison really owns his dark and stormy punk persona, which is probably why so many of his fans were amused when he shared an image of his Madison Rounders cards in a bright, Pepto-Bismol pink. While the photo was meant as an April Fool’s joke, apparently it struck a chord with the magic creator. Now the Pink Madison Rounders are real and you can buy them at Ellusionist.
“In a black-and-white world, every now and then, it’s good to have a little splash of pink,” Madison said.
The cards are printed on crushed stock from the United States Playing Card Co. The tuck case is pink with the old Madison logo, and the card backs sport the same design. The only card face Ellusionist shows in the photos is of the Joker, featuring a pink raven, but it seems like a safe bet that the look will be similar to the Madison Rounders in black. Just…pinker.
Now’s the time to move if you’re a fan of this particular desk. The Pink Madison Rounders will be the last addition to this line of playing cards. The deck is available at Ellusionist for $10.
New Year’s celebration is a huge deal in China, with businesses, factories, and manufacturing plants shutting down for as long as a month to ring in the Year of the Dog. As a result, companies like Ellusionist are letting people know that stocks are running low on certain items, and likely won’t be replenished for at least a few months. In fact, Geraint Clarke from Ellusionist just sent out an email informing customers that they currently have around 300 copies of Quiver in stock, and that this will likely be all they have for a while:
Last week was Chinese New Year. 2 things you need to know.
1. It’s the year of the dog.
2. Manufacturing usually shuts down in China for a month (to celebrate).
Now I’ve used point #1 to convince my girlfriend to get a sausage dog called Nigel, but how does this affect YOU?
Quiver is made in a factory in China ran by creator Kelvin Chow. They won’t be back until March and with production and shipping time factored in, the Quiver we have in stock now is our last stock for a while.
So if you wanted one, two or three of these incredible switching wallets then you’ve gotta act fast.
If you’re looking to add Quiver to your repertoire of tricks over the next couple months, you’d probably act fast and buy it now before they run out. It’s $39, and you can snag it over at Ellusionist.com.
Ellusionist is one of the top spots for magicians to buy and sell their best tricks, and Lloyd Barnes makes sure you’re only seeing the best. He watches many of the submissions to the retailer, and he talks about his work on the latest episode of the Discourse in Magic podcast. If there’s one takeaway from his stories, it’s to do your damn research. Barnes said that one performer submitted the double-lift as a new trick. Don’t be that person.
Barnes is also a magic creator in his own right, and he shares his focused approach to developing new tricks. You can listen to new episodes of Discourse in Magic on the show’s website, on Apple Podcasts, on Android, and on RSS feeds.
An explicit gaffed deck meant to insult hecklers was pulled suddenly from Ellusionist’s website after the retailer received information regarding “potential independent creation concerns”, according to an open letter sent out via Facebook and email by marketing head Geraint Clarke.
The deck, which was released on January 23, 2018 and pulled a day later, was developed by creative team member Lloyd Barnes based on a story Daniel Madison told him about a magician who pulled a naughty card from a deck to get back at a heckler and then top-changed it back to a regular card. According to the letter, Barnes had attempted to source a proper credit for the trick, but wasn’t able to, and Ellusionist went ahead with production.
Shortly after its release, information came to Ellusionist’s attention that the trick had been a regular part of illusionist Harrison Greenbaum’s private routine for “around a decade”. Greenbaum got in touch with CEO Brad Christian, sent over videos proving that he had invented the trick before Ellusionist’s decision to produce it.
While Ellusionist may have been able to defend any potential copyright claims in court due to independent creation (a copyright clause that allows two products of similar design to exist as long as both products were created independently of each other), the decision was made to pull the trick from the store as Clarke states that “Ellusionist as a company isn’t in the business of copying effects from creators and is always happy to rectify any of these issues if they arise”.
The trick has since been barred from future sale (the link for the trick redirects to a 404 error on Ellusionist.com), though according to a post on The Magic Cafe Forums, it’s possible a few decks may have shipped before being pulled.
The full Facebook post has been embedded below:
Daniel Madison has just released a video confirming his departure from Ellusionist, thanking them for “an amazing 5-years together” in the description on the video’s YouTube page.
“And so to answer quite a few of the questions that are coming in, yes I have separated from Ellusionist. I’m going in a different direction,” Madison says in the video.
He also clears up some of the tone from prior videos, which implied the complete destruction of his past at the company: “I haven’t left on bad terms, Ellusionist are good friends of mine…it doesn’t mean I’ve turned my back on anything that’s got my old logo on it. I’m fully supportive of everything I’ve done because it’s my legacy. It’s me.”
“The complete creative and artistic freedom that I was given over the past five years from [Ellusionist CEO] Brad Christian is unheard of,” Madison says. “I mean, Brad paid for me to **** up a hotel room, you know? He allowed me to print a blank deck of cards.”
He’s also hopeful that Ellusionist will continue to carry the playing cards and products he’s created, but he can’t say exactly whether they will or not.
“So nothing’s happened, other than me needing to explore this new thing in me, this calling,” he summarizes. He also talks bit about some upcoming projects on the way, including a new book, independently-created playing cards, as well as a few decks currently under production with Ellusionist.
You can watch the full video below, or visit madison.ist for the latest updates.
Illusionist and artist Daniel Madison has worked with online magic developer and retailer Ellusionist for years as a creative consultant and inventor, his most recent release a gaffed deck covered in kittens. But it appears that era is ending, if Madison’s most recent YouTube video is to be believed.
A video titled “NOCERE.” (Latin for “hurt”) showed up on Madison’s YouTube channel on January 1, 2018. Backed by a cover of the song Hurt by Nine Inch Nails, Madison proceeds to rip up or destroy many of his previously-designed products, including his custom playing cards, his book Devilry, and even his old logo:
A little over a week later, on January 9, Madison posted a more informative video entitled “ONWARD.”, which appears to give a little more detail on Madison’s future in magic—even if those details are incredibly cryptic.
Madison opens the video stating “I have departed from Ellus-” before the final word is cut off by static, the screen now showing his new logo. “I am Daniel Madison,” he says next. “The Architect is dead. Madisonist is alive and well and living right here in-” The video then cuts again before he finishes his sentence.
As the video continues, Madison describes his reason for the split, which appears amicable though the result of artistic differences. “I believe in following happiness,” he says. “If you’re not happy in whatever it is that you’re doing or whatever it is you’ve chosen to do with your life, if it doesn’t make you happy, then you go the **** out the window, you know? You’ve got to move on, no regrets.”
There’s no word in the video of what’s to come in 2018 beyond confirmation that his playing cards are still on the way. “I’m not going to talk too much about what’s planned, especially on film,” he says. “But yeah, it’s gonna be- I’m excited for this year. More than anything… I’m happy.”
By all appearances, Madison has left Ellusionist, but his body of work certainly skews heavily toward a “life as art” approach. Daniel Madison’s website now features his new logo, along with 2018 “Madisonist” editions of Devilry and How to Cheat at Cards. Yet, as of press time, Ellusionist still lists Madison on its About Us page as a part of the creative team and product development.
We’ve reached out to Ellusionist for comment, but haven’t yet received a response. We will update this story with any new developments.