I am reviewing here the three brands of manipulation cards I have tried. I would like to invite anyone who has tried a brand that I have not mentioned to add a review of that brand to this topic.
Deluxe Nielsen Manipulation Cards
These cards are made by Norm Nielsen Magic and purport to be perfect for fanning as well as manipulation. They are thin, flesh colored, very pliable, have pips on all four corners and come pre-treated with fanning powder. They purport to be bridge sized though they seem very slightly less wide than other bridge cards (not noticeable unless you place it on top of a bridge sized card to compare).
I like these cards. They are indeed thin and easy to manipulate. However, for a deck whose fanning ability was hyped, I must say I am underwhelmed. Yes, they do fan, but they do not fan as well as you would expect from a deck whose fanning ability and pre-treatment with zinc steareate was hyped. Also, I do not like the fact that they come shrinkwrapped with no box.
This is an all around good manipulation card. However, it does not stand out from the rest in any way. I also do not like the fact that the back features a 'Norm Nielsen Musical Magic' poster design. In a parlor situation, if you are going to leave cards strewn about, Im not sure I want people picking them up and seeing a refference to another magician on them, they may come to the conclusion that these are trick cards.
Juliana Chen Manipulation Cards
This is a very peculiar deck of manipulation cards. They are also thin and flexible, like all manipulation cards should be, and they feature pips on all four corners. However, the backs of these cards are yellowish and not very flesh colored at all. To use these in performances, You would certainly need to color the four corners with flesh paint. These cards are also shorter, and less wide than other manipulation cards (making them even smaller than bridge cards).
The best feature of these cards is the material they are made of. These cards are made entirely out of some type of elastic polymer (plastic). As a result, they can be manipulated and bent in whatever shape you want and they will snap back to their regular shape as soon as you release the pressure. This means that these cards will never require the use of a card press and will never get warped from over use. The drawback to this material is that overuse can cause pieces of the cards to simply snap off, creating a thin, jagged shard of plastic that could easily cut someone. I have not been injured by these cards snapping (only one has snapped anyway), but I could see it happening in some rare, freak occurences.
Overall, these may be the best cards for practicing manipulation. They have an incredible longevity due to the material they are made of. They do not require being pressed, so you are always ready to go. The material they are made of causes a loud snap sound whenever you successfully "produce" them using the Cardini single production (or several other methods). This loud snap provides a psychological feeling of accomplishment that helps boost your confidence and inspire you to continue practicing.
The only drawback to these cards is that they do not fan well out of the box. I have not yet tried using fanning powder, so I can't say whether they take powder well or not. If they do, that would nullify this drawback.
I highly recommend getting a deck of these cards to be used for practice. There is nothing like the confidence boost you get from hearing that loud snap as the card goes back to its original shape when you produce it. These cards inspire you to keep practicing. They have an addictive quality, which is a good thing when it comes to practicing. What would be better than being addicted to practice? I truly love these cards and cant recommend them enough.
Trevor Duffy Manipulation Cards
These are the manipulation cards Penguin sells through the SOC http://www.penguinmagic.com/specialorde ... hp?ID=3607
. They arrived in a large manila envelope. The envelope was so thin that I thought it must be some kind of brochure or newsletter that Penguin had sent me. When I opened it, I was amazed to find the thinnest deck of cards I had ever seen.
These cards are thinner than either of the other manipulation cards I have reviewed. They are also flesh colored (and it is a more realistic flesh color than Nielsen's) and have pips on the four corners. I was amazed at how well these manipulation cards fan right out of the box. I dont expect to need any fanning powder for these. They are flexible, smooth, super-thin, and a joy to work with. They are also true bridge size.
I have not used these cards enough to be able to say anything about their longevity, but I can already tell you that these will probably become my primary cards for actual performance. I am very happy with these cards and I highly encourage all manipulators who are interested in using manipulation cards to give these a try. Out of the three I have tried, these are by far the best.
Of the three manipulation cards I have tested, I must say I was most impressed with the Trevor Duffy cards. They are so thin that backpalming the entire deck is not much of a challenge (even for a beginner in manipulation like me). I believe these will become my performance cards (though I am still a long way from being ready to perform manipulation).
Nielsen's cards are good, but I see no reason to use them when you have the Trevor Duffy option available.
I will continue using the Juliana Chen cards for practice due to the properties I mentioned before. Their longevity combined with the psychological advantage that the snap they make provides makes them invaluable for practice.
I highly recommend the Juliana Chen cards for practice and the Trevor Duffy for performance.