When I was little Billy Bayles’s age, I didn’t want a toy telephone that could talk to dead grandmothers. I didn’t want the ability to send people to the corn field with my mind, like pint-size Anthony Fremont could. No, what I desperately wanted when I was a child was my very own Twilight Zone Mystic Seer fortune telling machine.
The devil-headed, rhinestone-eyed, fortune-distributing napkin dispenser was the true star of the season 2 TZ episode “Nick of Time“. Starring William Shatner and Patricia Breslin, “Nick of Time” is a lesson in the perils of superstition, and the dangers of all too readily giving up our free will, and abandoning logic for the sake of emotion.
The Mystic Seer is just a fun novelty napkin holder, living out its relatively short pre-digital-age life on a table in a diner, in a small town called Ridgeview. But to highly suggestive people like Don Carter, this little hunk of metal and springs becomes a tyrant, a tyrant that will take complete control of your future… one penny at a time.
In 2014, I spent $400 on a “super-deluxe” Mystic Seer replica from Entertainment Earth. Yes, I said $400. I’d rather not talk about it, thanks. If you’re interested in reading my detailed review, complete with a fun photo documentation of how my relationship with Don (what I named my Seer) began, then click over to “Penny For Your Thoughts?“.
While there were definitely other things about my replica Seer that I was disappointed with, its biggest failure was the fortune cards. Or lack thereof.
The Seers came with 24 cards. But it was three copies each of 8 different fortunes. There are 15 unique fortunes in the “Nick of Time” episode. 7 fortunes were missing.
Which, for a $400 “series-true detail” replica, I mean……….no, sorry, I said we wouldn’t talk about that, didn’t I?
At the time, on the Entertainment Earth website, you could download (for free) either a sheet of replacement cards (the same 8 fortunes that came with the Mystic Seers), or a sheet of blanks to create your own custom cards. I was obviously very much interested in having a full 15-fortune set of cards for my Seer, and after some trial and error with fonts and thicknesses of paper, I made a few samples for myself. But I never got around to finishing the complete set, and I hadn’t used the full template that Entertainment Earth provided.
Fast forward 6 years to January 2020. I was finally making time to create the fortune cards my Seer was missing. This was when, to my dismay, I discovered that the template Entertainment Earth provided (and which I had previously shared in my review post) was not sized correctly to match the existing fortune cards.
Really, guys? REALLY?
So… there was more work to be done. Of course. $400 really doesn’t buy you much, I guess.
If you scroll the 60 comments on that post, you’ll see that quite a few other people were wanting to create custom cards for their Mystic Seers, and having some troubles. I shared what information I could, and when asked, offered advice on things like paper thickness and finish, etc. But every time someone asked, “Do you have a finished template with all the missing cards?” I had to answer no, not yet.
Just a few days ago, someone new found my Seer-related posts and asked again if I had finished, downloadable cards. And now happily, I can answer YES! This Spring I finally completed my full set of fortune cards, and today I’m going to share with you a full-size, high-resolution template which you can save/download and take to your local print shop to be printed. I updated the review post with my brand new correctly sized sheet of blanks (which I will also include here in this post too in case you want to be creative with the fortunes), but this will be the first time I’ve made the completed fortunes available for others.
Mystic Seer Replica Blank Cards Template
The blanks above and the completed cards below are both .jpg files, 8.5″ x 11″, saved at 400 dpi to preserve quality. No resizing needs to be done, just print them at 100%, no alterations, and they should match your existing fortunes. Please feel free to save the images and print your own cards.
I made the background grey for contrast so that it would be easier to cut the cards to the proper size. Be sure to cut along the outer white edge — the black line is an aesthetic border within the boundaries of the actual cards. Again, these should match the size of the existing fortune cards the Mystic Seer replicas came with.
And here are the 7 fortune cards that were missing:
Mystic Seer Replica Custom Missing-From-The-Episode Cards Set
There was an extra space for an eighth fortune, so naturally I made a bonus “… in the Twilight Zone” fortune too! Hey, try it — ask nearly any yes or no question and you’ll see that it suits — especially if you say it in Rod Serling’s voice!
My font is not exactly the same as the original cards, but it’s pretty darn close. It’s Georgia with the capital letters made slightly larger, and all the letters stretched height-wise. Just a little tip if your goal is to make your own unique fortunes but you’d like the cards to match the authentic ones.
In the comments of the review post, there was a lot of discussion about what paper to use, as the Mystic Seer’s dispensing mechanism is extremely sensitive; many people were having an issue where it would spit out multiple custom cards stuck together, and others who found the machine simply wouldn’t dispense any non-original cards at all. When I first did my sample, I used two sheets of Walmart “card stock” glued together. It worked okay for me, but others did not find similar success.
When I went to print out this full set for myself in January, I took one of the original cards to my favourite girl at the print shop (Leah, please never leave!) and asked her to recommend a paper that would be similar. She pulled out a pretty cool little device which she used to measure the paper’s thickness. In the case of the Mystic Seer cards, I really think thickness is what’s most important, rather than finish. What you want to ask for when you get these printed is a paper that’s .20 pt thickness. Or a little bit more. She didn’t have paper that was the exact thickness (I think the original card measured .22 pt — sorry, I should have made myself better notes for this post months ago!), but she did have some only slightly thinner, and my cards work quite well. Mine were printed on paper that’s neither glossy nor completely matte — very similar to what the front of the original cards look and feel like. The finish is the same back and front. It’s very smooth, but not at all glossy like a photo paper. I would call this a “finished” or “polished” card stock.
Now, an important tip for all Mystic Seer owners looking to add new cards to their Seer. This was another question I was asked: How many cards can you load into the machine? Answer: No more than what the machine came with, which was 24. I can’t stress this enough, DO NOT OVERLOAD IT.
Despite its outrageous price, construction quality on these replica Mystic Seers is extremely low. And you do NOT want to put any undue stress on the mechanism that dispenses the cards. Everything inside is made of plastic and the tiniest, thinnest gauge wire springs you can imagine. I know, because after my friend’s son was a little too aggressive when pulling down the lever and letting it spring back up with force… shortly after, my Seer quit dispensing anything. And my dad and I spent an afternoon repairing it.
In case anyone else runs into this issue, here’s a quick and basic rundown of the problem and the repair.
Thankfully, nothing was actually broken, but a spring had slipped out of place. A much heavier spring was certainly called for in this piece. And even after we put it back where it was supposed to be, just the slightest mis-touch with the mechanism and it slipped right back off.
The solution: Carefully re-bend the bent end (be careful, we broke it once, grrr) to make the bent piece longer (making it more difficult to slip off), then get the soldering gun out and melt the end of the wire into the plastic tab it kept slipping off of.
Good luck getting it back in, lol. You really have to pull to get the case apart enough, but it can be done.
I know it’s tempting to add extra cards into the machine — it appears that there’s enough room in the back for more. But the more cards you put, the tighter they’re squeezed in there, and the more pressure required to get one to dispense. Not only are you putting too much stress on the mechanism, but this excessive tightness is also going to contribute to your cards sticking together when they come out. So my recommendation is to not exceed 24 cards.
Since the whole point of this project was to have a complete set of 15 episode-accurate fortune cards, this meant removing some of the original ones the Seer came with. A full set plus my bonus “…in the Twilight Zone” card will equal 16 cards. So you have 8 extra cards to mix and match and add in as per your preference.
You can try to add more if you want, but do so at your own risk. You have been warned. I found that as few as 2 extra cards really made it difficult to depress the lever and dispense a card. And since my Seer has now been repaired once (you really don’t want to have to do this if you can help it), I was taking no chances. The manufacturer put 24… *I’LL* put 24.
So while this was a long time coming (seriously, how has 6 years gone by!?), I hope that this post will be of benefit to other Mystic Seer replica owners out there. I still think it’s ridiculous that the company who made these didn’t just put ALL the appropriate fortunes, but sometimes you don’t get what you paid for.
If you do use my fortune sheets, please drop a comment below and let me know how they worked out for you. Because every Mystic Seer deserves to have all of his 15 unique fortunes available and at the ready to advise
poor saps unsuspecting victims hopeful diner patrons of their future, right Don?
*inserts penny, pulls card*