Review: An anniversary with playing cards galore

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Review: An anniversary with playing cards galore

Postby EndersGame » Wed Apr 25, 2018 9:18 am



*** PlayingCardDecks.com's FIRST ANNIVERSARY ***

Lately I've been fascinated with PlayingCardDecks.com (which I'll mostly refer to as PCD in this article). Actually that's not quite true; what I'm fascinated with is playing cards. But PCD sells playing cards. Get the connection? That means I'm going to be interested in what they carry, because they might just have some good stuff that I'm interested in getting! As it turns out, they don't just have some decks, but thousands. So a few months ago I made a careful selection of a number of decks for my own collection and to give away as gifts to family and friends, and I'm here to tell you how everything turned out.

Because right now PCD is in the process of celebrating their first anniversary, and they have some great deals and specials happening, including a discount coupon that we can all benefit from as well. That's right, for one week from 24 - 30 April, you can get 20% off everything on their website using the coupon code "YEAR1" at check out.

The Man behind PCD

So what is PlayingCardDecks.com? You can see their promo video here. It's the online home and brainchild of magician Will Roya, who lives in Las Vegas. I always enjoy learning about who I'm dealing with, so ahead of writing this article I took the time to email Will to find out a little more about him and about PCD. Will himself has a background in professional magic. Like many curious kids, he dabbled with card magic in his childhood and youth. But unlike most teenagers, he was seriously committed, and turned professional already at age 16, performing at local restaurants, ski resorts, and private parties. After college studies in theater and business, he and his wife moved from Vermont to Nevada, where he continued his magic career, performing in Las Vegas and on cruise ships. With the benefit of several years experience in the magic industry, he began getting more into product sales, and has continued to build that, in recent years no longer performing but focussing exclusively on sales. He bought an office and warehouse, and after seeing how strong the market was for playing cards, made the decision to focus solely on that. At the same time, already having built up business online over several years via eBay and Amazon, he began building his online store, PlayingCardDecks.com, which was finally launched in April 2017.

But Will Roya also helps create custom decks of playing cards. With his background in magic, an interest in playing cards was a natural development. Will had been an active backer of many crowdfunded campaigns for some time, and saw an opportunity to become involved in the custom playing card industry himself. The idea of working creatively with artists had a strong appeal, and creating new decks of playing cards was a personal challenge, as well as an opportunity to cross promote his business and establish his brand. Not surprisingly, given his background in magic, he always loved playing cards, both from the perspective of a magician and as a card player. These are both interests I share, so I can readily identify with this appeal, and perhaps explains some of my own passion for playing cards! So not only has Will been involved with selling decks, but also in making and producing them. He's collaborated on a large number of products, with involvement in a variety of different ways, including being an informal consultant in areas such as design, marketing, and logistics, as well as being directly involved in organizing a project, providing financial backing, or arranging fulfilment. So in this review I'll not only be covering some of the decks that PCD sells, but also some of the decks that Will Roya himself was involved in producing.

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The Decks from PCD

Since its launch, PCD has been growing slowly and steadily. With the help of a small band of dedicated staff, Will is committed to making a wide range of collectable playing cards available to the public at reasonable prices, and combining this with good customer service. While a few customers do come into the physical brick-and-mortar building, the most important part of the business is the online arm. Will sees it as essential to make sure orders are quickly fulfilled and shipped, products are regularly restocked, and new items constantly and quickly added to his inventory. To get some idea of the size of his business, I asked Will about the number of decks he stocks, and was amazed to discover that PCD has 10,000s of decks in stock, with a range of at least 1500 different decks. With literally 1000s of orders being processed monthly, literally tons of decks are being shipped out monthly, with thousands of decks coming and going weekly to the US and abroad. With such a massive range and large inventory, careful organization is absolutely necessary.

Let me warn you that gushing enthusiasm is standard fare for my reviews, because I only review things that I'm enthusiastic about. And right now I'm full of enthusiasm for the amazing decks of custom playing cards that I'm going to show you in this review, some of which have recently added to my own collection, others which I've given away as gifts to family and friends. You might want to consider doing the same, since they make ideal gifts for anyone who enjoys card games, and are quality products that are both durable, attractive, and eye-catching! So let's get to those playing cards!

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*** TEXTURE DECKS ***

Several decks have been created, which reinterpret the classic Bicycle deck using a graphical set of textures to give the cards the very real appearance of materials like wood, metal, and denim. Max from Max Playing Cards and Collectable Playing Cards have produced a few decks like this, notably a Wood deck, a Metal deck, and a Denim deck.

Metal deck (Blue edition)

The original Bicycle Metal deck was produced by Max Playing Cards and Collectable Playing Cards in 2015 as the very first deck in their Bicycle Texture Series. Its success was bigger than anticipated, and received high praise for its attention to detail, and how the cards actually had the appearance of slightly worn metal. It really looked superb!

Given the huge success of the original, a second edition was produced two years after the original release, namely the Metal deck (Blue edition).

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The tuck box is made of stunning metallic foil, with embossing that gives both the feel and look of textured metal. It has all the bling you'd expect, including a custom seal, interior printing, and card reveal on the inner flap.

It's like the original, but uses blue instead of red as the secondary colour for the colour accents on the card backs, Ace of Spades, and tuck box. The blue tone used on the card backs arguably fits better with the colour of the court cards, making this deck even better than the first edition.

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Aside from the change in secondary colour, the overall artwork is unchanged, with the pips being highly textured, chrome being used for the black suits and carbon for the red.

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The precise shading really does give the impression of actual metal, as you can see with these oversized Aces.

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And like the original deck, small touches of detail add extra points of interest, like the corner screws on the cards, which have a flip-motion feature when riffling through them in order.

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The two matching Jokers can be used for a creative reveal, with one joker having an empty metal safety pin, and the other the Four of Hearts. Magicians will appreciate the possibilities of card reveals, and the double backer gaff card that is included.

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Despite the metal look, these cards are of course made entirely out of paper, with the usual high quality standards from United States Playing Card Company.

Wood deck

The Wood deck was the second entry in the Texture series, and turns from metal to wood. No effort has been spared to create a Bicycle deck that has the most realistic wood look possible, and this impression begins already with the delightful tuck case. It's beautiful outside and in, with interior printing completing the look.

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The card backs feature the classic Bicycle rider back design, but have the authentic look of burned wood. All the card faces continue the wood theme, with all the Aces being oversized, but the signature Ace of Spades being of special interest given the detailed wood inlay style artwork that it features.

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The court cards exclusively feature red and black colours, which creates a very natural look against the background of the faux wood look.

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The same wood look has been used for all the cards, but just as with the Metal deck, the corner screws are individually positioned in order to create an animated motion feature when flipping through the deck.

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Once again there are some bonus features for magicians, including a Joker reveal (the other Joker pictures the card back). There's also a card reveal on the tuck box, a double backer gaff card.

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When matched with high quality Bicycle playing cards, this deck not only looks great but also handles smoothly and cleanly, and is a superb item well suited to the collector, card player, or magician.

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Denim deck

Now that the Bicycle deck has enjoyed the look of metal and wood, it's time to send it into a pair of blue jeans. And what better choice for texture than denim, one of the most durable pieces of clothing material imaginable. That brings us to the Denim deck! Well placed patches of leather adorn the attractive tuck box, to give it an authentic and rugged look.

For many people, a deck of playing cards is all about getting the job done, whether it be playing a card game or doing a card trick, and so the deck needs to be attractive and stylish without coming at the expense of form or function. The Denim deck is exactly this kind of blue-collar worker, with good quality USPCC produced cards that can handle some rough and tumble action, and yet is accompanied by a stylish casual look.

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The card backs have the standard rider-back artwork from Bicycle, but the artwork consists of faded markings against a denim background.

The Ace of Spades is given special attention, with a leather-look patch, characteristic of the leather that often is used on denim material.

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The court cards simply use the same faded style to depict the characters with a monochrome white look, which works perfectly when set on denim. These really do look the way your favourite jeans or jacket might appear after multiple trips through the wash.

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The pips for this deck have been presented with blues and reds, colours deliberately chosen because they are often used in the world of fashion to complement denim products.

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The Jokers have the traditional Bicycle rider back artwork, but again feature the faded markings that makes them look truly at home on a denim backdrop.

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You don't have to be dressed in denim yourself to enjoy this fantastic deck. It's an attractive product that looks and handles well, as you'd expect from a USPCC produced product, and I'm delighted with how practical and stylish it looks.

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*** VINTAGE DECKS ***

I love decks that have a very nostalgic and vintage feel. Over the years, there have been several decks of playing cards that have been produced which replicate a truly vintage look, with faux aging on the cards. Here are some superb examples of these decks that PCD carries.

Expert Back deck

The Expert Back deck features a classic design that dates back to 1895.

Bicycle playing cards have been produced since 1885, so this design reflects part of the rich heritage of playing cards, since it was one of the original designs that appeared on playing cards produced by Bicycle before the 1900s. This particular design reappeared in 2010 when it was featured as part of a 125th anniversary deck set.

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But there is one big difference with this particular deck - everything has been given a "distressed" look, to make it appear as if these cards have actually survived more than a century of years, and actually come to us straight from 1895, weathered by time.

This is immediately evident from the tuck box, and the card backs.

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The iconic Ace of Spades is of course quite similar to the one we are familiar with today.

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But these cards don't just look worn, they also have the appearance of having been damaged by water, dirt, and time, and it's a very convincing look.

The pips are larger than what we normally see on cards today, although the court cards have quite wide borders and feel somewhat condensed.

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A number of decks have been produced over the years with a faux aged look, but what I especially appreciate about this one is how all the face cards have been weathered differently, making each of them feel unique. While the card backs are all identical - otherwise it would be a marked deck, and very impractical - each card has different stains and patterns.

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Besides the standard playing cards, this deck also includes two ad cards. And despite the aged look, the cards have Bicycle's superb air cushion finish and quality, so handling is a dream.

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Besides the red deck shown here, the Expert Back with a distressed look is also available in green and blue.

Vintage Classic deck

The Vintage Classic deck also has a false aged look, and the yellowed tones used for the tuck box already gives an indication of what we can expect to find inside. The box features the black triangles along the edges that will also be a distinctive feature of the card backs.

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However, unlike many other decks of this sort, what sets this one apart is a very stylish and unique design on the card backs. It's features a very distinctive diamond shape that fills much of the canvas of the card, while a black triangle is central on all four edges. This makes flourishes like fans look very attractive and eye-catching.

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As for the card faces, these all feature a classic and traditional design, but an extremely weathered and worn look. The court cards are particularly attractive, with narrow bordered, and beautiful artwork that fills up most of the card space.

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As is evident from the number cards, the pips and style is somewhat traditional in style, but the cards just look very well worn. This is noticeable in the apparent scratch marks in the pips, and the colour tones and shading.

Like the previous deck, each card has a unique weathered look of its own, so it's not that an identical digital filter of some kind has been applied to all the cards in the same way, and this unique feel makes the effect more convincing. This has been created digitally, through a multi-step process of digital painting that employed multiple brushes, a palette of washed out colours, and special eraser brushes. The result is different for each card, and they all have a dirty and worn out look, just as you'd expect them to look if they had been played with over the course of a century or more.

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Along with the court cards, my favourites in this deck are the stylish Aces, all of which feature oversized pips inside an ornate design.

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A pair of jovial jesters completes the deck with Jokers, with the two remaining cards being a double-backer and an ad card.

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Despite the vintage look, this deck is a high quality Bicycle product, with the usual high standards for printing and handling, and it's also a very practical and functional deck. It's an ideal choice for anyone wanting a deck to have a genuinely antique flavour and look.

Texan 1889 deck

The Texan deck also has a long and distinguished history at United States Playing Cards. The edition seen here is known as the Texan No. 45 1889, and was first printed in Cincinnati in 1889 by the ancestor company of USPCC, namely Russell, Morgan & Co.

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After going out of production for 80 years, the USPCC brought them back into circulation, using a yellowed tinting on the cards to give them an authentic antique look.

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The court designs are typical of the pre 19th century period in which this deck first appeared, being a genuine reproduction, and all the card faces and pips also originate from this time period.

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The overall impression these playing cards are intended to convey is a Texan style deck from the wild west.

The card backs feature a "lone star" emblem, to strengthen the idea that they have travelled forward in time, and have been taken straight from a nineteenth century El Paso saloon.

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Naturally, we're not to be fooled by the aged look - these cards handle as beautifully and smoothly as any new Bicycle deck.

Given their origin, this is one of the oldest brands of playing cards still being produced today!

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They are enjoyed and appreciated by both card players and magicians, and their signature back design also makes them a good choice for card flourishing.


*** SOPHISTICATED DECKS ***

Sometimes you're not looking for a deck of playing cards that is too different from the usual. You just want something that has the look of something immediately recognizable and familiar, and yet makes an immediate statement of style and class. PCD has a large range of sophisticated looking decks that meet those criteria, and here are two very fine examples.

Monarchs deck (Blue)

The Monarchs deck (Blue) is a super usable deck of cards that has the look of complete class and sophistication, in fact so good that they are fit for a king, hence the name. These cards are widely hailed by many people, and are very highly regarded as one of the best decks in the business. They are produced by Theory11, one of the largest custom playing card and magic companies around, and are available in several colours, the most popular one being the blue deck featured here.

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These beautiful cards are found in an absolutely amazing tuck case, laced with royal gold foil all over a navy blue tuck case. This exquisite work of art comes complete with amazing embossing touches that create a classy box that will catch the attention of anyone who sees it.

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The back design features two swords in white on a very dark navy blue background, with snakes entwining around them, and leafy branches coming off the swords. The single colour keeps the cards from being too distracting, and makes them seem standard - hence ideal for card games or magic. At the same time the design is very visually appealing and intricate to look at.

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It is a super classy design that is usable for all kinds of uses: it’s not too complicated and distracting for magic or games; it's great for cardistry; and even collectors can appreciate the great design.

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The faces of these cards are mostly standard, making them a very practical, since they are quickly recognisable and identifiable. The Ace of Spades has an enclosed crown depicted in rich gold metallic ink, fitting in with the royalty theme of the deck.

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The court cards are standard, but composed of a red, black and gold metallic ink which again creates that regal feel to the deck, and looks super classy.

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The two Jokers are a man on a penny-farthing, which creates a more vintage feel of joker.

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The regal presentation is finished off with a gorgeous red seal that stands out from the gold and blue of the tuck box, and is labelled with a gold crown to show how royal this deck of Monarchs is.

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These cards are made in the USA on a FSC-certified paper from sustainable forests, and are a nice and durable stock that fans and spreads great. It’s usable in all ways, in design and quality, for anyone who has a use of cards.

A cool trivia note about these cards is that they were actually used in the movie "Now You See Me”, which is a cool film about some magicians. Theory11 even released a special deck in connection with the film, a black edition of the Monarchs, but the deck actually used in the film is the standard blue edition featured in this review.

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It won't come as a surprise that whenever I'm looking for a deck that exudes sophistication, and yet is very practical, the Monarchs deck is one of the very first that I'll turn to.

Queens deck

The Queens deck of playing cards has been created by Murphy's Magic, and exudes style and sophistication from the moment you first set your eyes on the tuck case. With loving touches of red and silver foil, it features a Queen chess piece, standing tall above a couple of knights.

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But that is only the harbinger of what is to come, and the back of the tuck box features a stunning design that is quickly going to become a familiar friend once we see the card backs, namely a chequered pattern in red and white that immediately brings to mind the image of a chess board. When held up to the light, the red and silver foil beam back a shining reflective image, which features a diagonal red swath of colour, the queen again playing central role, alongside a bishop and rook.

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It's obvious of course, that this deck has been inspired by the classic game of chess. The official ad copy alludes to the special rule of chess in which a pawn which reaches the end of its file is promoted to a queen. "With enough blood and sweat, even the simplest Pawn can become the most powerful piece on the board. The Queens Playing Cards embraces the inner fire and unrelenting drive of those brave enough to chase their passions. It speaks to the underdog who dares to defy the doubters with 10,000 hours of unbridled focus. It stands for those who realize that the most powerful piece is always the one they never see coming."

The tuck box flap invites us to enter this world with the words "Make Your Move". And you won't be disappointed when you do, because one of the first things that will strike you is the sophistication of the ornate Ace of Spades, which has beautifully garnished with touches of sparkling silver foil. Photos really don't do this beautiful deck justice, with all the silver you see here actually being metallic foil silver that gleams in the light.

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But my favourite cards in this deck are unquestionably the court cards, which have a thoroughly traditional look, but have been given a new lease of life with the addition of silver foil. I've especially enjoyed using these cards for family games of Poker, and getting a pair of Queens in my hand for a winning two pair has never as satisfying.

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As this terrific Ivan Choe image from Kardify shows, the number cards have a relatively standard look despite some small customization, and it's alongside these cards that the royalty of this decks looks even more stunning.

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Our Jokers are a matching pair of friends whose artwork has been inspired by the classic knight. Once again classical iconography is evident, and these shapes are deliberately engineered to combine with bold modern design, and unchecked passion, "created for the underdog whose raw talents and have yet to be realized. Why should you fear the underdog? Because outthinking them only makes them smarter. Because beating them only makes them work harder. Because the most powerful piece is the one they never see coming."

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Unlike most of the other decks featured here, these have been printed by Expert Playing Card Company in Taiwan. But that doesn't make them inferior, because EPCC is considered an industry leader that produces quality playing cards that are the equal of USPCC decks. In terms of size, EPCC might be considered a Pawn, but in terms of quality, they are Queens on the board of the custom playing card industry, and these cards are extremely durable and handle beautifully. They feel different than a standard Bicycle deck, but have a greater snap and durability, and spread and fan in a most satisfying way.

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*** GAFF DECKS ***

If you enjoy doing some card magic as I do, then you'll appreciate the value of a good gaff deck. While it's certainly important to develop basic skills with card manipulation and handling so that you can even do card tricks impromptu with a borrowed deck, some gimmicked cards will at times allow you to perform true miracles. For those who don't know much about card magic, I should mention that by far the majority of card tricks are performed with a regular deck, and "trick decks" aren't as common as you might expect. The majority of the most amazing card tricks you may have seen on TV or in performances are done with an ordinary deck of playing cards, through sheer skill with sleight of hand and showmanship. But once in a while a gaffed deck can be handy.

Super Gaff deck

When I first began exploring the world of packet tricks a few years ago, I began hunting for a good gaff deck, which would contain a collection of gimmicked cards, thereby being much better value than buying a few individual sets of cards here and there. The Super Gaff deck from 1st Magic Studio is that kind of deck.

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Back in 2014, 1st Magic Studio produced the first version of this deck, entitled "Bicycle Gaff Effect Deck". It is now apparently sold out, out of print, and not readily available. There's an ongoing demand for gaff decks, so in the last year or two 1st Magic Studio produced a second version of this deck, which is the Bicycle Super Gaff Deck featured here. According to one source, "This deck includes many of the favorite cards from the first version, plus about a dozen new designs."

This gaff deck is available with either red backed cards or blue backed cards, both with the usual quality air cushion finish from USPCC's Bicycle brand. Containing 56 different cards altogether, it is a very diverse collection, like some of the ones shown here.

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Some cards are only slightly different from regular playing cards, whereas others can be truly described as "outrageous", including cards with "double prints, crazy court cards, misplaced pips, missing heads and much more." There's double-headed queens and headless queens, as well as a 21 of Spades, and the classic 52 in 1 card.

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There's certainly a huge amount of variety in this deck, unlike some other gaffed decks I've seen, including the Ultimate Gaff Deck, Packet Killer, and Carnival Tricks Cards, all of which are excellent, but emphasize packet tricks more.

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Unlike the just-mentioned decks, the Super Gaff deck doesn't come with a DVD or online video tutorials. To some extent that's to be expected, because it's not a collection of ten packet tricks each requiring a set of cards, but is a much larger collection with many individual cards, and it will be up to the performer himself to come up with ways to use these. But if you are looking for ideas, check this video which contains 10 tricks performed with the first version of this deck.

While this gaff deck isn't suitable for an absolute beginner, if you can master some basic card sleights, it won't be hard to think of applications with the gaff cards included. Considering the wide selection it includes, and the amount of fun you can have with it, it is an excellent value product. It is a USPCC produced deck, so the cards are also standard Bicycle style quality with an embossed finish.

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*** CONCLUSIONS ***

The Decks

So why are some things I really like about these decks of custom playing cards?

Variety: I love the variety of different decks available, like the ones featured here. Within the range that is stocked by PCD, there's tremendous variety, in terms of style, colour, and design. Playing cards can be used for many different purposes, and depending on what they are used for, they will also have different qualities that are important. Whether you need cards for playing card games like Poker or Hearts, or for doing card magic, or card flourishing, you'll find something to suit your needs.

Creativity: I just love the creativity that has produced many of the designs featured in this article. Unlike an "ordinary" deck, there's a great deal of creative and artistic qualities that have contributed to some unique designs, and that's something I really appreciate and enjoy in decks of custom playing cards like these.

Quality: The majority of the decks carried by PCD are decks are printed by United States Playing Card Company, makers of the well-known Bicycle brand, with their standard air cushion finish. The quality of these decks is consistently wonderful - these are by no means the cheap quality playing cards you'd typically find in a corner store. USPCC produced cards have a well-deserved reputation for quality, and are rightly respected highly for their consistently good card-stock, clear printing, good handling, and durability which ensures they last longer than a regular deck of cheap playing cards. Even though PCD has an enormous range of decks in stock, Wil Roya especially has a fondness for limited edition custom decks printed by USPCC. But you will also find decks in his range from other industry leaders, like Expert Playing Card Company, and these decks are also superb.

Suitability - Card games: I love playing a large variety of card games with a standard deck of playing cards, and while an "ordinary" deck of Bicycle playing cards does do the trick, I do find the experience so much more enjoyable when using a custom deck of playing cards. At the same time, the cards must be functional and recognizable, so the amount of customization can't get in the way of usability. Fortunately there are lots of decks at PCD that fit these criteria perfectly, yet look sophisticated and classy, often starting with an exquisite tuck box touched with foil accents and embossing.

Suitability - Card magic: One of my long-time hobbies is card magic. While in the past magicians tended to restrict themselves to Bicycle decks, in the crowdfunding era we now live it is considered quite acceptable to use a custom deck of playing cards, and these won't typically arouse the same level of suspicion that they once did, because they are becoming much more common. Just as with playing cards for card games, cards used for magic need to be instantly recognizable and can't distract too much. Many of the above decks work ideally for this purpose, having a very familiar look, and yet adding elements of class and sophistication via small amounts of customization, and stylish tuck boxes. And of course there are the magical possibilities that gaff cards offer, and many of these decks include at least a couple such bonus cards.

Suitability - Card flourishing: Many of the decks now available were created for the explicit purpose of being used for card flourishers. Card flourishers tend to have exacting requirements for the decks that they use, and for good reason, since the visual aesthetics of their art-form will be magnified when combined with colours and patterns that accentuate the movement of cardistry. Many custom decks have been specifically designed for this purpose, making them perfectly suited for this art-form due to designs that make the most of colours and patterns.

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The Retailer

So what are some reasons why my experience with PlayingCardDecks.com was a positive one?

First impressions: This was my first order with PCD, but I was very impressed at how smooth everything went. I'm particularly impressed with their amazing selection. Not only do they typically have a large number of each deck in stock, but they also have a great range.

Service: I did have some questions prior to making my final decision about which decks to get, and my email correspondence with Will was always positive. He communicated quickly and pleasantly. I also found the website very professional, easy to navigate, and user-friendly. The fact that it includes images of many of the decks also ensures that you can see in advance what you're getting, so there are no unpleasant surprises.

Packaging: The decks arrived in a package that was well-packed, to ensure that the decks would be well-protected en route. I received a tracking number, and everything arrived safely, so that opening the package proved to be an exciting exercise for me and my children.

Shipping: Shipping is free in the USA for orders over $50, while free shipping to Canada applies to orders over $100 (otherwise a flat rate of $10) and select international countries for orders over $150 (otherwise a flat rate of $15). For more details, see here. Most orders are shipped by USPS within one business day, along with tracking, and I have no complaints how this worked.

Range: New custom playing cards are hitting the market all the time, so it can be a challenge for a retailer to get the right balance of ensuring that they have all the latest and greatest products, while at the same time also carrying stock of previous favourites. PCD has a very well-rounded selection, and of all the online retailers that I've had experience with so far, they easily have one of the largest selections I've seen.

Prices: Prices compare favourably to other large online retailers. Of course, the fact that they currently offering a 20% discount site-wide for their first anniversary makes the prices even more attractive, although be aware this runs for only one week, from 24 April to 30 April 2018.

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The Specials

20% off Anniversary Sale: Because PlayingCardDecks.com was launched on 20 April 2017, with its first sale that week, Will has decided to have a special sale to mark his first anniversary, with 20% off all stock, site-wide. He obviously has extensive experience in selling products prior to the launch of his website, including selling magic products and playing cards via Amazon and eBay. But even so, April is the official anniversary date of PCD, and from 24 April to 30 April 2018, we get the opportunity to get 20% off any purchase. Use the code "YEAR1" to get this fantastic discount.

Anniversary deck: To help celebrate the first anniversary of the site, Will is also creating a special promotional deck, which is going to be available in a super limited print run of only 500 units. Details about what this deck looks like remains a secret at this stage, and the only information available so far is that they are printed by Gemaco with an ivory finish, standard faces, a custom tuck box, and have gold foil on the backs. Supporters of a special Kickstarter to launch the initial Pip Box Club memberships will receive this mystery deck in their first box.

Pip Box Club: Will has just begun a new initiative in conjunction with PCD, which he has called his "Pip Box Club". It's a monthly subscription service which gives members an opportunity to get decks, samples, and more, at a discounted rate. There are multiple options for joining, including a Small Blind subscription level and Big Blind subscription level. For example, the Big Blind membership costs $30 a month, and this includes getting three surprise decks shipped to your house (at a minimum, these include two newer releases), sample cards from other new releases, a 15% discount code, and access to unlisted products like uncut sheets and limited version decks. Subscriptions outside the US cost more, but all the rates include shipping. For more details and how to sign up, check out pipboxclub.com

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Recommendation

So is PlayingCardDecks.com something for you? It's exciting to discover another terrific retailer that can connect me with so many wonderful decks of custom playing cards, like the ones reviewed here. I love a great deck of custom playing cards, and use them for playing card games and for card magic and cardistry. I also enjoy collecting some of the more unusual designs. Furthermore, a quality deck of custom playing cards makes a terrific gift, and I've given away many decks as presents over the last year or so, and they've nearly always been well received and much appreciated.

So if you're looking a high quality deck of playing cards, PCD is definitely a terrific online retailer to check out. And getting 20% off with their anniversary sale, now is a great time to discover this site. I'm very pleased to recommend all the decks featured in this review!

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Want to learn more? Check out PlayingCardDecks.com
- Online Store: playingcarddecks.com (use code "YEAR1" to get a 20% discount site-wide during the first anniversary sale 24th to 30th April 2018)
- Related links: Blog, Kickstarter projects, Loyalty Rewards Program, Pip Box Club
- Social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter

Direct links for the decks featured in this review:
- Textured decks: Metal - Blue Edition ($17.99), Wood ($14.99), Denim ($12.99)
- Vintage decks: Expert Back ($5.99), Vintage Classic ($9.99), Texan ($6.99)
- Sophisticated decks: Monarchs (Blue) ($9.99), Queens ($11.99)
- Gaff decks: Super Gaff ($13.99)
NB: prices listed in brackets are prior to applying the 20% off anniversary sale discount.

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EndersGame
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Re: Review: An anniversary with playing cards galore

Postby EndersGame » Sun Apr 29, 2018 12:26 am

In this review series, I'm featuring a number of decks I recently received as part of my first ever order from PlayingCardDecks.com (PCD). For their first anniversary, until the end of April you can get 20% off everything on their website using the coupon code "YEAR1" at check out. In the first installment above, I covered several decks that were highly suited for card games and magic. In this next and final installment, I'm focusing more on some artistic and novelty decks that will especially appeal to collectors, but also some of the cheaper decks that PCD has available.

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*** ARTISTIC DECKS ***

Personally I'm not even remotely artistic, in terms of my own skills with paints or ink, but I do have a number of family members and friends who are artists. So I have learned to appreciate and enjoy art as an observer and admirer, and I have a special fondness for artistic playing cards. Decks with a high degree of customization, and that are truly out of the ordinary, immediately attract my interest. In this category, I'll showcase some genuinely artistic decks, which are striking precisely because they incorporate illustrations of art, or have other artistic elements.

Masterpieces deck

The Masterpieces deck is an obvious and worthy candidate for this section, because even its name suggests what its subject material is about: masterpieces of art.

This project was produced under the umbrella of Bocopo Playing Cards, and was a collaboration with seven different designers under the supervision of art director Eddie from Bocopo. The navy blue tuck box makes a statement of class, while at the same time providing key information about what it took to produce this deck: 8 artists, 348 hours of work, and 58 illustrations. The title stands out in white, while branches adorn the sides of the front piece, and while a peacock stands guard on the reverse side.

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The card backs feature a complex college of triangles full of earthy colours and patterns, that combine well to produce a singular impression. The geometric fragments enhance flourishing, while the singular whole and colourful edges with the thin white borders help create pleasant fans and spreads.

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But the real highlight of this deck is the card faces, each of which has a unique and fresh design. Each tells a different story, such as "Fear of a Powerful Monster" (2 of Diamonds) and "An Entanglement Giraffe" (4 of Hearts).

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Here we have a "Humorous Octopus Magician" (6 of Diamonds) and "Distinct Meditation" (10 of Diamonds).

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The Ace of Spades, for example, has a intricate heart shape with red and orange being key colours to convey the idea of enthusiasm and energy, while the center of the heart is filled with the word LOVE, a thought that is further emphasized with soft lines emanating from the central shape. Also shown in the picture below is the Jack of Spades, which is entitled "Fire Balloon with Sunset Clouds".

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Wherever you look in this deck, there are things to explore and enjoy, that capture the imagination and attention, from poker playing dogs to chameleons, hot air balloons, and much more. It's a true collection of fascinating individual masterpieces, and as such reminds me of the Ultimate Deck, minus the transformational elements.

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What I particularly appreciate is that the cards do not have a crisp white canvas, as in the collaborative project by Playing Arts (see my review), which does create more of a sterile look. Here instead there are whites, browns, greys, and blacks, and the result is that it feels like a more authentic collection of art, that isn't overly stark or artificial.

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The uncut sheet shown here gives an overview of the entire deck, showing some of the range of styles and subject material.

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Like many other decks, this was produced by USPCC with their classic air cushion style finish for quality and good handling.

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KADAR deck

I'm not one that puts any faith whatsoever in horoscopes or tarot cards, since as a Christian I am confident that everything I need to know about the future is recorded in the Bible, and I can trust God to take care of everything He hasn't told us about. But I can appreciate the aesthetic beauty of tarot cards, and in the beautiful KADAR deck we have a fine example of what happens when the idea of fortune telling comes to life on a deck of playing cards.

The tuck box creates an immediate sense of intrigue and wonder, with our mysterious and turbaned oracle friend Kadar staring into our eyes. The sides of the box say "Kadar knows all, Kadar sees all", which adds to the sense of mystery.

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Created by Christopher Gould, this deck is inspired by the idea of arcade style fortune-telling machines, where one could put in a coin in return for the wisdom of the great oracle Kadar. While having a lifelong interest in Tarot, Christopher Gould actually earned his living as a stage magician, and so his aim was primarily to give magicians a pocket sized deck of playing cards with plenty of nods to oracle reading.

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This is what has inspired the artwork, as well as the fortune-telling card sets from the 1950s and 1960s, and also the colourful pictorial cards of the 18th century and those that were used by travelling fortune tellers in Europe. The original idea was to make the artwork look like a cheap deck found at a disreputable fun fair in the mid 20th century, but the creator decided to make them more polished, with plenty of inspiration also from the graphic style used by "Silver Age Comics".

The court cards all have their own character, and are intended to represent a unique cabinet with its own Kadar.

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The card backs are based on old carnival fortune telling machines, and are hand drawn with intricate detail.

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The Aces picture the slots into which you would place a coin, in order to get a message from the oracle.

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Each suit has its own flavour and concept, described as follows:
Spades: The card of the thinker, the planner and the strategist. Highly intellectual and rational. Possessing of logical, sceptical frame of mind. This person can also be highly idealistic, a little unemotional, and somewhat judgemental.
Clubs: The card of the creative, energetic, entrepreneur. The person who likes to be the centre of attention. H e or she is a magnet who draws others to them. But they can also be a little headstrong and easy to anger.
Diamonds: The card of the solid dependable worker. This person lives in the material world and enjoys the good things in life and will work hard for them. At the same time he or she can be rather predictable and unlikely to take any risks.
Hearts: The card of the romantic; the person whose heart rules their head. Dreamy and intuitive, they drift through life guided by their inner voice. They can also be disorganized and rely on fate to plan their lives for them.

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The deck is rounded out with a couple of colourful Jokers, a double-backer and an blank face card.

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Christopher considers the Kadar Fortune Telling Cards as a homage to his Great Aunt Ruth, who claimed to be of genuine Romany stock, and was primarily intended to be used for fun purposes, since it is based on playing cards rather than the tarot first of all. For me, the chief appeal of these cards lies in how colourful and vibrant they are, as well as the element of intrigue that they stir up.

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Printed by USPCC, they are look, feel, and handle great. My only wish is that the white borders had been slightly thinner, giving even more emphasis to the stunning artwork, something along the lines of the image below. If a reprint ever happens, I hope it would be printed by EPCC and LPCC, a publisher that is capable of more consistent and narrower borders, while ensuring crisp registration doesn't suffer.

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I'm not about to start using these cards to try to tell fortunes, but they extremely interesting to look through and enjoy. Certainly you can have fun with them in a light-hearted way, much like you might with a magic eight ball. Card collectors will also enjoy them, due to their unique feel and look, making them stand apart from most other decks of playing cards.

While perhaps not the most suited to a traditional card game, they do especially have elements of mystery and intrigue that a magician can take advantage of. You can download a free 17 page brochure (25MB PDF) with more information about the Kadar deck and its system at geminiartifacts.com here. People who buy the deck are also entitled to a 39 page PDF which gives information about how to mark the cards, and a basic introduction to the meanings of fortune-telling cards. Also available for separate purchase here is an 111 page eBook called "Kadar for Magicians" and 118 page eBook called "The Kadar Reading System" (select "Mystery Performer Manual Only" for the first item, and "Psychic Performer Manual Only" for the second item). The free eBook gives the bare bones, while the complete "Kadar for Magicians" book has much more detail, including several routines and performance ideas.


*** PCD PRODUCED DECKS ***

Will Roya is very ambitious. Not only has he commenced an online sales platform and business - which alone is an enormous undertaken. But his passion for playing cards is such that he also has been involved in producing playing cards himself, with the help of crowdfunding. Anyone who has been involved in Kickstarter knows that doing this requires huge commitment and effort. Somehow, Will has successfully been able to run his business, and simultaneously succeed in producing several playing card projects. I don't know how he does it - perhaps part of his magic background included experience with juggling, and keeping multiple balls in the air at the same time? Whatever the case, in this section I'll cover several decks that Will Roya has produced himself under the banner of PlayingCardDecks.com.

Friendly Felines deck

With some experience under his belt, including another project that he collaborated with, Will's next project continued his love for spirited and lively decks, by producing the cute Friendly Felines deck.

This deck has humorously been described as "the cat's meow"! The tuck box immediately introduces us to one of the cat characters that populate this deck. It also has a numbered seal (featuring a paw print), and a two of spades reveal on the inside flap.

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I can't say enough good things about the borderless back design. The ornate artwork really emphasizes the two cats that are silhouetted as the key feature, and the full bleed design looks stunning in spreads and when handling. My only concern is that the style doesn't seem to entirely fit with the artwork style employed by the face of the cards, but there's no doubt that these card backs look truly spectacular.

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But the real appeal of this deck lies in the court cards, which depict various cats that are dressed for success. Each suit depicts cats from a different region as follows (listed here in order of Jack, Queen, King, and Ace):
- Hearts (Europe): Scottish Cat, Russian Blue, Tuxedo Cat, Lynx
- Spades (America: Bengal Cat, Rag-doll Cat, Calico Cat, Cougar
- Diamonds (Asia): Black Cat, Persian Cat, Himalaya Cat, Tiger
- Clubs (Africa): Chausie, Abyssinian Cat, Egyptian Mau, Cheetah

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The card faces have a vintage style appearance, that looks great and works well with the artwork, while the pips are clearly customized, and the indices are clear.

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I like the fact that the Aces have been given their own identity, with heavily stylized artwork that on the one hand matches the court cards, and yet is clearly distinct from them in that they feature the great cats of the wild: Lynx, Cougar, Tiger, and Cheetah.

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The Jokers add more cat characters to the mix, with a Lion (the only cat with a mane), and a Sphinx (an unuxual hairless breed).

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Two extra gaff cards give possibilities for magical effects involving transformations and vanishing, with two extra Ace of Diamonds, one with an alternate cat character, and the other with a blank area where the cat character would normally be. Once again the printer of choice is USPCC, to ensure high quality, durability, and smooth handling. Collectors will especially enjoy this deck, but the fact that it has very clear indices also ensures that this deck can also work just fine for card games or in the hands of a magician.

The Guard deck

Next up is The Guard deck, which was originally conceived as a luxury set of two companion decks, one in Slade and the other in Oak. The Oak deck was available exclusively through Kickstarter, while the Slade deck is the one that is still available, and is what I am featuring in this review.

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This stylish deck was designed by Polish artist Artur Rajch, and is described as a "retro classic vintage inspired design for the modern player, collector, cardist or magician."

The court cards are clearly inspired by traditional designs, and yet are a very fresh take on the standard courts.

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Especially noteworthy are the dual tones used for the pips, with two shades used for the over-sized custom pips on the cards themselves, as well as in the indices.

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All the Aces have a heavily customized look, not just the Ace of Spades. The card backs have an ornate design that offers detail for those who inspect it closely, and yet doesn't distract too much when the deck is being used.

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Two very playful Jokers round out the main deck, with artwork that has a clear link to traditional jesters, while still giving a very fresh feel.

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The deck also comes with two gaff cards, a double backer that can be used for a colour changing deck effect, and a blank faced card. Magicians will also be able to make use of the 7 of Spades reveal on the flap of the tuck box.

With quality printing from USPCC, this deck handles smoothly, while the cards themselves are a very crisp and pleasing looking white. It's extremely functional, despite the amount of customization, and would be ideal for use in Poker games or other card games, or for use in magic.


*** NOVELTY DECKS ***

I must admit that I'm a real sucker for decks that look highly unusual, and have a great amount of novelty. Admittedly, not many of these are the kinds of decks that would quickly make it to the paper table, although many of them are certainly functional and playable. But the prime appeal of these kinds of playing cards is to the collector, that appreciates the unusual elements that decks like these bring to the table. Here are some prime examples.

Disruption deck

To begin the unusual, let's start with something truly off kilter, namely the Disruption deck.

This is a deck that immediately takes us offguard and away from the familiar due to its unusual design, which is a deliberate distortion of all that we've taken for granted in the world of playing cards, much like looking in a fun hall of mirrors. The tuck box immediately gives us an impression that all is not right, because we have an intentionally blurry image of an oversized Spade pip, which looks as if its inked on wet glass, with paint running in different directions.

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Courtesy of designer Johnny Wham, the card backs greet us with a sense of playfulness and colour, with vibrant curved geometric shapes merged together to create a colourful whole that is pleasant to look at.

But our sense of order is quickly thrown out of the window once we examine the signature Ace of Spades, which looks like it is struggling to emerge out of some waterlogged paint, and is twisting itself inside out.

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The court cards are similarly shaking in their boots, with faces and figures distorted at unusual angles, with dashes of watercolour emerging from their edges.

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Even the indices cannot escape the distortion treatment. The pips on the number cards have also suffered the effects of a minor artistic earthquake, and repose on the cards in a variety of shapes, sizes, and angles, in what can only be described as a "beautiful mess".

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As for the Jokers, these guys have always been the fun-loving characters in the bunch, but in the case of the Distortion deck, they have really become the life of a most unusual party! A double backer and a empty King of Spades bring our dynamic friends to a team of 54.

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Despite all the jumbled mess that makes up this deck, there seems to be some order to all the chaos. Not least, the quality of the cards themselves is more than satisfactory, because USPCC has come to the party with their usual quality air cushion finish, to make sure that nobody is disappointed with the handling or durability.

This is a marvellously entertaining deck that despite all the mumbo jumbo, remains functional and usable, and is a delight to the eyes and the heart.

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Christmas deck

After our sense of decorum and order has been totally shot to pieces with the Distortion deck, fortunately someone has come along and put all the pieces together again. The warmth of the Christmas season rarely fails to put everyone in a good mood, and Natalia Silva's beautiful Christmas deck arrives to help us with some holiday cheer that will keep us smiling all year round.

I've been a long time fan of Natalia Silva's beautiful folk art style, inspired by traditional Russian art, which has led to several stunning decks. This deck is a result of a collaboration with Penguin Magic, which is acknowledged on the side of the tuck box. This collaboration produced a popular Christmas deck in 2015, and given the huge success of the project, a new deck was created at the end of 2017, which is the one featured here.

The tuck box greets us on the flaps with a "Happy Holidays", and of course the name of the deck: Christmas Playing Cards. Any deck that has a Christmas tree on the front is fairly obviously themed around the annual gift-giving holiday. But not every Christmas tree has a waving Santa on one side and a blushing beanie-wearing penguin on the other!

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The back design continues the emphasis of seasonal imagery, with a red and white design with a central snowflake pattern, surrounded by a myriad of other beautiful snowflakes.

Each of the Aces features an oversized pip, adorned with a snowflake design and holly, and a Christmas stocking.

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The colour scheme is exactly what you'd expect: a dark green accompanied with a Christmas red.

This deck is full of whimsical and playful images, with Santa, snowmen, reindeer, and penguins all making an obligatory appearance somewhere or other.

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But while this deck features 54 unique designs, all different from one another, there is a real sense of order and pattern, with each value depicting one theme. For example, all the Kings depict Santa, all the Jacks depict snowmen, all the sixes depict penguins, and so on.

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Some of the images also use transformational pips, such as the Six of Spades, in which the pips have been turned into fish. On other cards the diamonds have become streamers or Christmas lights, and the clubs have turned into musical notes or Christmas trees. The creativity here is a real delight to look at and enjoy.

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The two Jokers form a diptych that combines to depict Santa's reindeer pulling his sleigh, closely accompanied with fun-loving penguins.

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Two bonus cards are included, both double backers, one with red, and the other with red/green.

Once again USPCC received an invitation to the Christmas party, and they haven't disappointed us, with a beautiful air cushion finish that will ensure that we're happy handling these cards both on Christmas Day and indeed every day of the year.

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Wild deck

A transformation deck is a real novelty. This is a unique deck of playing cards where the pips have been incorporated into a larger artistic image. For example, the five pips on a Five of Hearts might be transformed into five balloons held by a child, or five fish in a pond. Decks where the pips aren't in the expected position/colours are sometimes referred to as semi-transformation decks. Many collectors love these decks, and I count myself among them; they are easily among my favourites, due to the incredible creativity and ingenuity that is required. To learn more about them and see more examples, see the lengthy pictorial article on the subject I have posted elsewherehere.

The Wild deck by Peter Wood is a good example of a semi-transformational deck. It immediately introduces us to the subject matter, with a tuck box cover that features an animal crew that includes a giraffe, tiger, and parrot. The tuck box opens up to show a bamboo structure covered with leaves, and small details like a ladybug can be found on the flaps.

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The text on the box invites us to enjoy the deck as follows: "Can you find the hidden Pips (Heat, Club, Diamond, & Spade) that are transformed into each card?" This deck is subtitled "Hidden Seek-N-Find Animals", or "Wild Animal Hidden Image Playing Cards", due to the hidden images that await discovery inside. There's also a bonus challenge that the deck allows us to discover, as mentioned on the box cover: "Have more fun with the `Where's Woody' Snails that are hidden throughout the deck."

The face cards all have beautiful illustrations of wild animals from around the world, and each card features a different animal with unique artwork. All your favourites are included, including large animals like polar bears, tigers, and whales, dangerous animals like snakes and crocodiles, curiosities like kangaroos and puffins, birds like peacocks and toucans, as well as tiny insects and butterflies.

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This deck comes along with two special challenges and hidden treasures. Firstly, each card has pips hidden throughout the artwork. For example, the 7 of Diamonds has 7 Diamond pips cleverly incorporated into the artwork, while the 10 of Spades has 10 Spade pips hidden. Unlike a normal transformation deck, where the pips are deliberately obviously, in this deck these are somewhat hidden and disguised, and it's part of the challenge to find them.

The second challenge that this deck offers is that the deck has tiny snails (Woody) hidden throughout the deck, and your mission is also to find as many as you can. As an example, see the snail crawling on top of the 5 of Clubs.

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The court cards and aces aren't given any special treatment, but with this deck I really don't mind, because every single card in the deck has been given the honour normally ascribed only to royalty, and has been given a large picture of its own!

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The card backs feature the delightful group of animal friends pictured on the tuck box.

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This deck is truly a delight for animal lovers, especially because the artwork is the real focus of every card, enclosed in a rectangular frame with white borders that helps emphasize the picture.

At the same time the indices are all very standard, so when holding a hand of cards you can still clearly see the suit and value of each card, making this a very playable deck at the same time.

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The artist, Peter Wood, is an independent artist from the UK, who has created several transformation decks in the 1990s. This deck is one of three that he created specifically for Newt's Playing Cards. One of the card mentions a copyright date of 2003, so if that's when this deck was produced, it's not surprising that it doesn't have the quality Bicycle air cushion finish that we've come to expect from decks in the modern crowd-funding era. These cards have a smooth finish, and while their quality doesn't match that of USPCC playing cards, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that they still fanned quite evenly.

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*** CHEAP DECKS UNDER $5 ***

You don't have to spend a huge amount of money to get a top quality deck of playing cards. In fact, PCD has a huge range of low-cost decks that are under $5, and yet are high quality playing cards. I've picked two fine examples, but many more decks are available in this budget price range, without sacrificing quality.

Texas Star deck

The Texas Star offers big value, after all, everything is big in Texas. This deck comes from the makers of the Bicycle brand, and is inspired by the colours and imagery of the Lone Star State.

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The Texas Star is a key motif in this deck, featured prominently on the front and back of the tuck box, as well as on the card backs, where it resides against the pleasant background of vintage style parchment, creating a look that brings to mind the olden days of yesteryear.

In keeping with a touch of the wild west that is part of the theme, the Ace of Spades features both the name of the deck and a pair of of pistols, ready to fire up some action.

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The court cards feature the standard designs, but are reproduced in red and blues, for a whole new look, to fit with the colours of the Texas Star featured on the card backs and tuck box.

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The numerical face cards are all standard, but the theme returns with the Jokers, which are made up to look like Wanted posters.

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As for the card quality, despite the low price, don't think that short cuts have been taken, because these are top notch playing cards, with the usual air cushion finish from Bicycle. This is a deck that will be right at home in the hands of a magician, or at a card or poker table.

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Stargazer deck

Now it's time to head to the night sky, to check out the stunning Stargazer deck from Bicycle.

This deck owes its origin to the Starlight series produced by Collectable Playing Cards. The first Starlight deck featured a colourful pattern of glowing stars, while its sequel Starlight Black Hole took the stellar concept in a new direction, with the card-backs depicting a swirl of glowing stars fading into the dark unknown of a black hole. Further entries in the series included Starlight Shooting Star, Starlight Lunar, and Starlight Solar. The Stargazer deck is a separate product from Bicycle, however, and the stunning silver foil on the tuck box immediately gets us thinking about the sparkle of stars in the night sky.

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These decks were designed by Juniardi Satyanagara, and it is the design of the Starlight Black Hole deck that is chiefly responsible for the design of the Stargazer deck, with similar colours and style, although the black hole has been adjusted to a figure eight shape that incorporates two black holes. This swirling shape amplifies a sense of motion when used for twirling, and looks beautiful in fans and spreads, since the colourful artwork here has a full-bleed style. The use of a black canvas as the background of both the card faces and backs gives possibilities for an unusual yet beautiful palette of colours to shine.

The Ace of Spades has a classic shape, but features a galaxy of stars inside the design, as a tribute to the colourful heavenly views seen at night. The artwork on the cards looks like illumined signage, is very eye-catching and appealing.

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The design of the border-less and colourful card backs means that card flourishers can capitalize on the colours that go to the very edge of the cards, and maximize the effect of these glowing colours in fans and spreads.

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The court cards feature a burst of light touched with purple and pink, that is clearly inspired by a straight forward and classical design that has been transported to a colourful and starry night sky.

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As well as adding aesthetic beauty, the colour choices also ensures they can easily be distinguished in dim light. The white, pink, and purple colours work together beautifully against the black backdrop, ensuring that the visual clarity of the indices has not been sacrificed while using an uncommon colour scheme.

While the large pips on the number cards feature a combination of pink and purple colours, the indices use a binary choice of colour, with the traditionally black suits of Spades and Clubs featuring purple pips, and the traditionally red suits of Diamonds and Hearts featuring pink pips.

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The matching Jokers look like magnificent visions that have stepped straight out of the night sky!

This deck of playing cards was produced by USPCC, in their standard air cushion finish.

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Recommendation

So is PlayingCardDecks.com something for you? I won't repeat the more detailed conclusions I included in my initial article. But I can say that if you're looking a high quality deck of playing cards, PCD is definitely a terrific online retailer to check out, based on my own very positive experience. And getting 20% off with their anniversary sale that is running from 24-30 April (use the coupon code "YEAR1"), now is a great time to discover this site. Happy first anniversary Will Roya!

There's a great range of creative and high quality playing cards, the decks featured above being good examples, and I'm pleased to recommend them. Whether you're looking for decks suitable for card games, card magic, or card flourishing, you're sure to find something that fits the bill at PCD. If you're like me, you'll appreciate having a quality deck of playing cards in your hands, and I'm happy to report that the playing cards I've been able to showcase here have not disappointed.

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Want to learn more? Check out PlayingCardDecks.com
- Online Store: playingcarddecks.com (use code "YEAR1" to get a 20% discount site-wide during the first anniversary sale 24th to 30th April 2018)
- Related links: Blog, Kickstarter projects, Loyalty Rewards Program, Pip Box Club
- Social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter

Direct links for the decks featured in this review:
- Artistic decks: Masterpieces ($8.99), KADAR ($18.99)
- PCD produced decks: Friendly Felines ($12.99), The Guard ($12.99)
- Novelty decks: Disruption ($13.99), Christmas ($11.99), Wild ($9.99)
- Cheap decks (under $5): Texas Star ($4.99), Stargazer ($4.99)

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