Welcome to Bob King's Houdini Tribute

Ian McColl
Locksmith for TNT's "Houdini"

These exclusive photos and report were provided to
"A Houdini Tribute" by Mr. Ian McColl.
He is a locksmith in Australia, and
he re-created locks, chains and handcuffs
for the upcoming TNT movie "Houdini".
(Working name "Houdini-Believe")

Handcuffs and Locks Made for TNT's "Houdini"

"Combination Handcuffs"

(this first photo is from two that I joined together... Bob)
* Full Equipment Layout *
Utrecht Russian Manacle
"Seance" Handcuff
Siberian Padlocks - Large - Aged and New
Siberian Padlocks - Small

Ian McColl, Locksmith - and His Role in TNT's "Houdini"

(From 1999)
To give you a brief history of myself, I am a qualified locksmith of 21 years experience and have a diploma of eduction. Between 1988 and 1993, I taught the trade to apprentice, lectured at Australian Master Locksmiths Conventions and special sections of Government departments.

Today, I specialize in locksmithing for the antiques business. This entails such work as making retro fit reproduction locks for antique furniture, keys to locks, making key blanks to suit period pieces and repairs to antique furniture hardware such as handles, escutcheon, etc.

Since about 1979, I have been interested in Houdini and escapology. This led to myself making different reproduction handcuffs for my own collection. Later I was to find out that other restraint collectors were interested in my reproductions. I started a business with the name, The Australian Reproduction Restraint Center ( T.A.R.R.C.) and produced many different items stamped with those initials.

In 1985, I dropped the name TARRC but continued to produced reproductions and other related devices of torture, such as thumb screws, head cages, branks, chastity belts etc. All item were based on authentic historical items either built from diagrams or photographs.

In 1996, I contacted Mr. Jon Oliver who owns the original Houdini French letter lock Combination handcuffs. With his permission, I have faithfully made replicas of this unique handcuff for sale. Mr. Jon Oliver was given these rare handcuffs by Mrs. Ruth Hinson, a relative of Houdini himself.

Earlier this year Mr Jim Bentley, (escape and magic consultant for the T.N.T. Turner movie Houdini-Believe) contacted me. Jim was given my name by Mr Joe Fox, ( considered by myself as America's foremost escape enthusiast )

Jim was especially keen to locate padlocks and handcuffs that Houdini wore in a particular photograph taken in Germany. There are about ten different padlocks, two handcuffs, a neck collar and two restraint chains. Throughout my years of padlock collecting as well as restraints, I personally had never seen some of the padlocks about. I informed Jim that I could make reproductions of the locks which were not around any more. Two of the padlocks were very common in Houdini's days and appear in many padlock collections, those, Jim was able to obtain himself.

Jim posted me a small photograph of the specific Houdini poses the television studio wanted the padlocks and restraints duplicated for. I had the photograph enlarge to approximately five foot high so I could taken measurements for the padlocks. [ Houdini is bending forward in the pose and this made scaling up the sizes difficult ]

In all I produced the Russian Manacle handcuff, Utrecht prison handcuff and padlock, Neck collar and padlock. Two large Siberian prison cell locks, two small Siberian prison cell padlocks, Scandinavian jail cell lock, two transport restraint chains and sundry chain large and small.

In a later phone call from Jim, he told me that the film script called for a handcuff which was to be presented to Houdini by the Czar of Russia. [ this footage was cut, but the handcuffs appear on the Seance table at the beginning of the movie] Jim asked if I could design and make a set of handcuff that could look both Russian and expensive, as if the Czar had money to burn. I came up with a design that looked the part and to make it that bit special, it operated with a combination lock made of wheels. [not unlike Houdini's French letter lock handcuff] To add to the idea that the Czar himself commission the handcuff to be built, the handcuffs were GOLD plated.

Other sequences in the movie use Darby style adjustable handcuff and Hamburg eight handcuff, which I also make.

I am looking forward to the movie Houdini-Believe, but it is common for movies to be released about a year later here in Australia.

(I sent Ian a VCR copy of the TNT movie as soon as it aired - what a nice guy, eh? -- Bob)

Copyright 1998-2016 by Robert R. King