A History of Partnership
A History of Partnership
Think of the most prominent card magicians in the world today. A number of names will names like David Blaine and Shin Lim will come to mind. These magical heavyweights, and many others, have used Bicycle cards throughout their careers. For example, in his first-ever television appearance in the 1990s, David Blaine can be seen using Bicycle cards, with their distinctive back design being featured prominently onscreen. Over the years, Bicycle has done much more than appear in the hands of legendary card magicians as they wowed the public. It has also closely collaborated with these stars, resulting in the creation of a wide range of products.
Pre-fame David Blaine had no way of knowing it, but on more than one occasion, he would work with Bicycle to create unique products. The first collaboration was in 2010, taking the form of a trio of special decks designed to encourage others to take up card magic. These three David Blaine X Bicycle decks were released as the Transformation Deck, the Discover Magic Deck, and the Mind Reading Deck. Each pack featured David Blaine’s image on the packaging’s cover, either through an accurate artistic likeness, as with the Mind Reading Deck and the Discover Magic Deck, or through replicating Blaine’s features on the King of Spades, as with the Transformation Deck. The original Blaine X Bicycle collaboration naturally took a significant amount of work. Bicycle and Blaine himself strove to create a product that could offer an accessible way for people to learn the tricks of the trade. An indication of just how much work went into these packs comes in the form of a MagicTimes article, where a journalist managed to access prototype packs for all three decks. These work-in-progress decks reveal a significant amount about how the packs evolved before the final product was launched. Even the names of the decks changed significantly between the prototype stage and the launch stage. The Transformation Deck was originally named the Hypnotic Deck. The Discover Magic Deck was originally named the Decoder Deck, and the Mind Reading Deck was originally named the Deception Deck. In addition to the names, the cover imagery and the trick instructions included in each pack also changed. 2022 saw the release of a second collaboration between David Blaine and Bicycle. The Gator Back Holographic MetalLuxe Playing Cards launched at Bicycle’s exclusive inaugural CardCon event. Comparing this pack with Bicycle’s previous collaboration highlights how Blaine’s persona has developed over the years. On this set’s packaging, gone were the reproductions of Blaine’s likeness. Instead, the inverted spades symbol, which is split to form a lowercase “db” representation of the magician’s initials, signifies that these cards had been crafted by Blaine, with the symbol acting almost like a signature. Some of the cards themselves did feature Blaine’s likeness, including the same King of Spades as seen on the 2010 Transformation Deck. However, other aspects of these cards contain subtle references to Blaine that true fans will be able to identify. For example, the ace of spades within this deck features an alligator eye within the spade which strongly evokes Blaine’s hand tattoo of an eye, which he has in the past claimed offers protection from death. Both literally and figuratively, the David Blaine GatorBack Holographic MetalLuxe deck is a shining example of what Bicycle can produce with leading magicians.
Bicycle’s collaboration with Shin Lim also highlights how it can offer consistent quality while providing something fresh. Shin Lim rose to fame relatively recently, with his big break occurring due to his winning America’s Got Talent in 2018. Naturally, from his very first audition on the show, he used Bicycle cards. In the years since his win, Lim’s success has only grown and his passion for Bicycle was such that he was keen to partner with the Bicycle to release his own deck of cards. In August 2022, after tireless work and refinement, this deck was announced to the world. The deck, which features black and red packaging and card backs, is crafted with red foil, giving it an eye-catching finish. It also features a specialty faded 10 of hearts, which is included for aspiring magicians to perform a trick that Shin Lim himself guides them through, thanks to a QR code included within the pack.
In some instances, playing card professionals decide that they collaborate better with other United States Playing Card Company brands than Bicycle. This was certainly the case with world record-breaking card thrower Rick Smith Jr. While Smith Jr. has stated that Bicycle has been his go-to playing card since 2002, when it came to collaboration, he and the United States Playing Card Company ultimately decided that another brand would be a better fit. For Smith Jr., he and the United States Playing Card Company found that the Falcon brand suited his personal approach. After all, as Smith Jr. himself states, he is one of the hardest-working entertainers in the business and has even managed to perform over 600 shows a year. This, plus his record-breaking card-throwing talents, meant that he had a natural affinity for a brand named after one of the greatest and hardiest hunters in the animal kingdom. His choice of decks which include the standard Falcon deck, the Falcon Razor, the Aqua Falcons, and the Ice Falcons, are perfect for card throwing. To ensure that the cards were ideal for this purpose, the United States Playing Card Company created a thicker-cut product than the typical playing card, by using premium paper stock. Each Falcon deck also functions as a fine pack of general-use playing cards. If these decks weren’t impressive enough, another legendary card magician, De’vo, designed the final artwork.
These three examples show that Bicycle, thanks to its stellar reputation, can work with leading names in the magic industry to an exceptional standard, through both direct collaboration and facilitation to associated brands.