The Casino Range from Mechanic Industries
Marked decks with flip-book animation, perfect for gambling-themed card magic
by BoardGameGeek reviewer EndersGame
I absolutely love custom playing cards that have special features built-in. And few features are more jaw-dropping and amazing to see in a good deck than flip-book animation. Mechanic Industries has been producing some of the very best decks in this category, especially with their Casino Range, which is the focus of this article.
They have been in the business of creating custom playing cards and servicing magicians for more than a decade. Their specialty: playing cards that function as wonderful novelty items for collectors, but become powerful tools in the hands of skilled magicians. Their innovative and important contribution to the playing card and magic industry comes in the form of decks that combine the novelty of flipbook animation with a secret marking system. And they also provide free high quality video tutorials that teach the built-in routines possible with these delightful decks.
I first came across Mechanic Industries courtesy of their clever Mechanics deck, which doubles as a marked deck, and also produces an animation of moving cogs when you flip through the card backs. The Metallic Mechanics deck set with gold and silver foil is especially stunning.
Following closely on the heels of the Mechanic decks were their eye-catching Optricks decks, which came out in black and in red. Besides the animated card backs, a special feature of these was that they came with some unique gaff cards. One enabled you to produce an anamorphic illusion with the Queen of Hearts; the Optibox gaff enabled the tuck box to look empty even when the deck is inside. The Visualies Gaff System took this to a whole other level, with an entire deck of creative gaffs.
The Casino Range continued Mechanic Industries' creative use of flip-book animation on the card backs, with a series of innovative decks that build on casino-related themes. The first is the Roulette deck, which has an animated roulette wheel on the card backs, along with customized artwork that draws on the roulette motives. Its successor, the Roulette Fanimation deck, operates on the same principle, but is a reimagining of this concept. It uses ideas optimized for card flourishing, as well as a clever use of a roulette-inspired fan display that had good application to card magic.
Later releases continue the gambling theme. The Craps deck helps bring the flavour of classic dice-rolling to our beloved playing cards. While not strictly part of the Casino Range, the next release, Snakes & Ladders deck, incorporates ideas from the classic game of Snakes & Ladders, including an animated snaking ladder, customized details on the artwork, and appropriate inclusions like snake reveal jokers and a snakebite gaff.
The most recent release from Mechanic Industries is the Slots deck. As with all the decks in the Casino Edition Range, along with the playing cards also get access to a full range of high quality video tutorials created by Mechanic Industries, where you get taught how to maximize the secrets of each deck, as well as some magic routines employing the gaffs and other features. So let's head to the casino, and show you what some of these decks look like, and what they have to offer.
Roulette Playing Cards
The Roulette deck is far from your average custom deck, which is evident immediately from its unique animation features and the extensive tutorial video that accompanies it.
The concept of flip-board animation has always fascinated me, and incorporating a moving Roulette Wheel on the card backs seems so obvious that it's surprising no one thought of it earlier. But Mechanic Industries has a talent for delivering innovative ideas, and they've nailed it with this creation.
This deck is not just perfect for gambling routines; it offers so much more. The tuck box itself introduces us to the key elements and helps set the stage for a captivating narrative. On the front, there's a roulette-style betting chart, while the back displays the mesmerizing roulette wheel that is the highlight of the card backs.
When the cards are in new deck order, flipping the card backs reveals an animation of the roulette wheel spinning around. You really must see this in action by checking out the Roulette promo video. This clever feature also makes it a marked deck, enabling you to quickly discern the value of each card by glancing at the back. Since the animations rely on a 13 repeating back system, riffling through the cards creates an animation effect even if the deck is shuffled.
The card faces feature an abundance of roulette-themed imagery. While the number cards and court cards maintain a standard look, the colors are limited to red and black, which enhances an elegant casino vibe. But what sets them apart are the thematic additions to the court characters, which are adorned with accessories like a roulette ball, rake, and handfuls of money. The crushed stock from USPCC ensures a smooth handling experience right out of the box.
The flip-book animation is just the beginning of the fun. The two Jokers depict a croupier's hand, one holding the ball and the other just releasing it. These can be used for a color change, and sets the mood for other card tricks you can perform with this deck.
With the deck you get a link and password granting access to a comprehensive two-hour tutorial video at Mechanic Industries. This invaluable resource provides insights into utilizing the card backs as a marking system. Furthermore, the instructional video includes tutorials for a variety of incredible casino-themed card tricks like Straight Up, Split Bet, Red or Black, Cool Monte, Lucky Thought, and House Edge. All of these take full advantage of the unique card backs and features incorporated into this deck. For a glimpse of the deck's potential, watch this entertaining 20-minute performance video showcasing these tricks back-to-back.
In short, the Roulette deck is much more than just a deck of cards: it's a complete toolbox of magical effects. Along with the deck, you receive the key to unlock this treasure trove of knowledge, with two hours of video instruction. Additionally, there's a private Facebook group where you can connect and exchange ideas with other enthusiasts. Considering the relatively low price and everything that is included, this deck is a fantastic buy for both magicians and collectors alike.
If you like the idea of the Roulette deck, you should also check out its twin brother, the Roulette Fanimation deck.
This deck is effectively a spin-off from the Roulette deck, as you can see from Fanimation promo video. It takes the same concepts, but adds what they call "fanimation colour step animation", using fans as part of the revelation of a selected card.
Craps Playing Cards
Next up is the Craps deck, which is a perfect choice for gambling routines and beyond, much like its sibling decks. If you're not familiar with it, Craps is a classic and widely enjoyed dice game where players bet on the outcome of a roll of two dice.
The tuck box immediately immerses us in the theme, and is adorned with casino-like betting charts and, of course, pairs of dice. An intriguing card reveal for the 7 of Spades is cleverly hidden on the tuck box flap, ready for magicians to incorporate into their card magic.
When the cards are in new deck order, a fascinating animation of dice rolling on a table comes to life as you flip the card backs with your thumb. This captivating visual needs to be seen to be believed, and you can see it in action by checking out the Craps promo video. Naturally, this animation feature also transforms the deck into a marked one, allowing magicians to swiftly figure out the value and suit of each card simply by glancing at the back.
The Craps theme extends to every aspect of the card artwork, making it one of the most customized decks in the Casino Range. The thin black border on the backs serves as the backdrop for our rolling dice against the moving background of a betting chart, enhancing the illusion and feel of an actual Craps table.
Even the edges of the cards are colored in jet black, creating a miniature table effect, and leaving an unforgettable impression from the moment you lay eyes on it.
The card faces look quite different from previous Mechanic Industries decks, adding to the deck's unique vibe. The edges of all the faces have black borders, along with a sweeping arc on the left and right. The Ace of Spades stands out with its exceptional custom design.
The color scheme has been reduced to red and black, to help strengthen an elegant casino-style appearance, while the font and pips have received stylistic adjustments to give them a fully custom feel. The court cards retain the classic style, but have casino-related embellishments, with Jacks flaunting a wad of cash, Queens sporting a rake, and Kings displaying dice.
The black borders on the faces and backs of the cards are registered perfectly, courtesy of printing by Cartamundi. Cartamundi's Slimline stock has become very popular in recent years, and it handles consistently and smoothly.
The novelty doesn't stop with the flip-book animation and custom artwork. The deck includes three Jokers: one featuring a pair of dice showing 5 and 6; another displaying 2 and 5; and a third left blank. These Jokers offer a wealth of possibilities for magic tricks, since they add to the key values of 7 and 11, and you can create the illusion of a pair of dice falling off the card, leaving it blank.
Finally, the last card is an ad card with some gaffs that can be cut out to create flat dice, that you'll use for the "Squished Dice" routine (taught in the free support materials).
You're also given the link and password needed to access a 50-minute tutorial video at Mechanic Industries, which is packed with information on using the card backs as a marking system. This also offers comprehensive tutorials for performing various impressive tricks (e.g., Die Flat Purse, Squished Die, BPM Roll'em, Stick, Flat Top, and Splat), which make good use of the novel card backs and clever features integrated into this deck.
Slots Playing Cards
The SLOTS deck is the most recent addition to the Casino Range. A slot machine is a popular staple at many casinos, and in depending on where in the world you live, is also called a fruit machine, poker machine, or one-armed bandit. Typically it has a screen displaying three or more reels that spin when it is activated, and this makes it perfectly suited to flipbook animation.
One fun idea about the tuck box is that you can cut out a slit in the top of the tuck box, and use this for depositing a coin (just like you might do with a slot machine), and incorporate this idea into your magic.
The icons on the tuck box immediately bring to mind the kinds of image you might expect to see on a slot machine, and give somewhat of a preview of what we'll see on the card backs. A clever ambigram of the word SLOTS in the center of the card backs ensures that the animation will work regardless of the orientation of the cards.
Riffling the card backs produces a delightful animation of the icons spinning round. Arrows the move up and down the borders help strengthen the visual effect. Head over to this Slots promo video over on the official Mechanics Industries YouTube channel to see how this looks in action. The changing backs also double up as a marking system that reveals the card values, and full information about how to read the card backs is provided in an instructional online video.
The pips have been slightly stylized for a unique touch. And in keeping with the color scheme of the rest of the deck, the Hearts and Diamonds employ a vibrant yellow instead of the usual red, and the result is rather effective, working well with the black of the Spades and Clubs.
The artwork on all the Aces has been given a boost with some extra lines, and the custom design of the Ace of Spades is particularly well done.
As we're used to by now from Mechanic Industries, the court cards are also of special interest, each having some distinctive touch to fit with the casino theme. As a result we have court characters clutching wads of cash, or tossing coins.
For the rest the card faces have a traditional look, to help keep the deck functional and practical for magic. Printing by USPCC on their crushed premium stock ensures quality looks and handling.
The folks at Mechanic Industries like coming up with unique routines for each of their decks, and most of their decks include creative Jokers that facilitate fun tricks. There are three Jokers with this deck, two of which depict their Grinder coin, and the third being blank except for the indices.
The final card included is an ad card with the link and password needed to access the free tutorial that is provided for owners of the Slots deck. It runs for over an hour, and contains a full explanation of everything you need to know in order to get the most out of this deck. This includes some strong magic tricks, and the "Jackpot" effect you'll learn is relatively easy to perform, but packs quite a punch.
Snakes & Ladders Playing Cards
Strictly speaking the Snakes & Ladders deck is not part of Mechanic Industries' Casino Range. But it is also a playful animated deck with similar features, and since it is one of their newer releases, it also deserves some coverage here.
This deck is billed as a re-imagining of the classic Snakes & Ladders game, "but in a Quantum Mechanics kinda way." This ingeniously designed custom deck draws obvious inspiration from the board game, which is immediately evident in its tuck box, which features a snake and ladder coiled into the shape of a Spade. The color scheme of black, gold, and gray offers a glimpse of the main colors seen on the playing cards. The tagline "Animatdna Playing Cards" cleverly plays with the word "animated," hinting at the animations within.
The back of the tuck box showcases the standout snaking ladder design that graces all the card backs. When riffled, twin serpents come to life as a snaking ladder, creating a mesmerizing and magical moment.
The animations are eye-catching in various ways. The first striking feature is how twin yellow bands move up and down the card backs. Upon closer inspection, other elements come alive as well: there's a rotating snake at the center, between two snakes that dance in endless figure-eight patterns. Furthermore, lines at the top and bottom of the card backs gracefully twist and sway. These well-designed animations will instantly captivate anyone who lays eyes on them. You really need to see this for yourself by checking out the Snakes & Ladders promo video.
While the card faces maintain a relatively standard appearance, making them ideal for card magic, the Snakes & Ladders theme remains evident throughout. Each Ace is embellished with a snake or ladder, most prominently displayed on the exquisite Ace of Spades.
The choice to switch the traditional red color of hearts and diamonds to a vibrant gold perfectly complements the theme and enhances the deck's overall appeal without compromising its functionality. The court cards also receive special treatment. Adorned with gold snake-like eyes, each character holds a snake, while ladders grace some of the cards as well.
Two "Snake Reveal" Jokers are included, each featuring a snake on a ladder. One of them shows a curled-up snake, cleverly designed so that magicians can create a fun colour reveal of a forced 8 of Diamonds, in combination with the animations.
Additionally, a duplicate 4 of Clubs is provided for other card tricks. Combined with the "Snakebite Gaff" that can be cut from the final bonus card provided with the deck, magicians can create an unforgettable moment of magic, as a snake appears to shoot out of the deck, stealing the corner of the spectator's card.
Naturally comprehensive instructions for these tricks and more are provided in the accompanying video tutorial. As with other Mechanic Industries decks, the animation feature doubles as a marked deck, allowing you to easily decode information on the card backs to identify the value and suit of any card, making it perfect for card magic. You're given the link and password for a 44-minute instructional tutorial video, which explains the markings and teaches a sample gambling demonstration routine. Additionally, full teaching is provided for tricks utilizing the other gaffs, namely the Joker Reveal and the Snake Pop Out. Get a glimpse of these routines and the possibilities this deck offers in the performance video.
There's a lot about these creative decks to like.
Innovation: One thing that stands out about everything that Mechanic Industries produces is the level of innovation and originality. They have proven themselves able to come up with terrific ideas, with practical application, that helps inject real life into card magic. There's a level of fresh creativity here that is immediately apparent.
Animations: The flip-book animation of the card-backs is a standout feature of these decks. It looks terrific, and most people will never have seen anything like this before on playing cards. This does mean that all the card backs are different, but most spectators won't even notice that until the moment you start riffling the cards. Not only does this give your card magic an instant visual appeal, it can also be used to perform card reveals, and strengthen the effect of your magic.
Marked cards: The animation system is closely linked to the marking system, and these have been cleverly combined and tied together. All the information you need to learn these systems is clearly taught in the supporting instructional materials that Mechanic Industries provides with their decks. Magicians who enjoy marked cards will especially find something here that they can work with.
Novelty: I love all the novelty that these decks bring to the table, especially with the animated card backs. This gives them immediate appeal with collectors. And when used for card magic, the animation features help make the tricks performed with these decks more memorable and exciting. And of course the special features of the animated card backs lets you perform card magic that you simply can't do with an ordinary deck. The inclusion of unique Jokers and gaffs, and the things possible with these, just enhances this even more.
Quality: The quality of the cards themselves is good, since they are high quality playing cards printed by industry giants USPCC and Cartamundi. So the stock and finish is something that magicians will immediately find familiar and durable.
Instruction: One thing I really like about the Mechanic Industries decks is that you're not left on your own to figure things out. Purchasing one of their decks 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. And the online video tutorials they provide aren't bare-bones affairs. They cover a lot of ground, and include numerous effects and routines you can perform with each deck.
Value: I'm still blown away by the amount of things you get with the purchase of a single deck. Not only is the price-point less than many custom decks, but for around $10-13 price-point you not only get a fully custom deck with some very fun built-in features, but full access to all the video tutorials.
I've had an enormous amount of fun with the Casino Range of animated decks from Mechanic Industries, because they offer so much more than your average deck of custom cards. Each deck is a toolbox of creative visual magic, and gives you the potential to demonstrate visual effects that the average person has never seen before.
They will appeal to collectors who like the idea and novelty of the flipbook animation, and I love them for that reason alone. But in combination with the unique tricks that these decks will enable magicians to perform, they will especially shine in the hands of magicians, who are best placed to take full advantage of all the unique features packed inside, and who like the idea of impressing their audience with something unique and memorable.
And in each case, Mechanic Industries gives you everything you need to maximize the potential of this clever deck, especially with the help of their high quality video tutorials. That ensures that these are a complete package, and so much more than just another 54 pieces of cardboard.
Whether your love is just collecting novel playing cards, or whether you are into serious card magic, the Casino Range is excellent value, given everything you get for the price. So whether you're just a collector or magician, these unique and attention-grabbing decks will find a welcome home in your collection.
Where to get them?
● Roulette Playing Cards
● Roulette Fanimation Playing Cards
● Craps Playing Cards
● Slots Playing Cards
Related decks from Mechanic Industries
● Snakes & Ladders Playing Cards
● Mechanic V2 Playing Cards
● Mechanic Metallic Playing Cards
● Visualies Gaff System Playing Cards
● Official website, Tutorials, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram
About the writer: EndersGame is a well-known and respected reviewer of board games and playing cards. He loves card games, card magic, cardistry, and card collecting, and has reviewed several hundred boardgames and hundreds of different decks of playing cards. You can see a complete list of his game reviews here, and his playing card reviews here. He is considered an authority on playing cards and has written extensively about their design, history, and function, and has many contacts within the playing card and board game industries. You can view his previous articles about playing cards here. In his spare time he also volunteers with local youth to teach them the art of cardistry and card magic.