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Second Editions, Sequels, Series, and Surprises!

The first time around isn't always the best. Sometime a good thing comes along, and only gets better with a follow-up. It's not always true, especially in the world of cinema, where a sequel is sometimes just a money grab or cash cow, trying to capitalize on the success of the first film. But it is often true, and it's particularly true in the world of playing cards.

In the custom playing card industry, success often breeds success, and there are many examples of successful designers who have produced a wonderful series of decks with a similar theme, or have gone on to produce sequels that matched or even surpassed the original. In some cases, creators have even been able to create a whole brand around a single successful deck, examples including Fontaines, Virtuoso, and Misc Goods Co. In other cases producers have turned a popular project into an entire series. In this review article, I'll be covering a number of new releases that are second editions, sequels, and series. Virtually all of these decks have predecessors, but now have come out with a shiny new edition or follow-up to the original.

So without any further ado, let's dive into our world of second editions, sequels, series, and surprises! Surprises? Yes, surprises - but I don't want to ruin the surprise, so just keep on reading to find out what lies ahead!



Sakura Playing Cards

The Sakura Playing Cards (Spring Edition) was created by Francis and Dominic Garcia, and is named after the Japanese word for the cherry blossom tree: Sakura. The cherry blossom is of course an important symbol and very recognizable icon known for its beauty. Creator Francis Garcia loves Japanese culture, and has dedicated this deck to the cherry blossom trees in Japan. It's a unique deck that is entirely done in shades of pink.

Beauty is also what describes the image on this deck's tuck box, with a lovely view of Japan's Mt Fuji, looming in the background with cherry blossoms in the foreground. But these cherry blossoms are the real focus, and the back of the box introduces us to the soft pink design with silhouetted leaves that we'll soon become very familiar with from the card backs.


The tree branches come together in an X shape. With white borders, the three tones of pinks complement each other nicely, and offer a very pleasant and soft look, that also makes for lovely fans.


The Ace of Spades gets special treatment, and features a gorgeous over-sized pip that picks up part of the design from the center of the card backs, again with three pink tones.


Two of these tones are also used to distinguish the traditionally black and red suits. This does mean that they aren't sharply distinguished, but that's the point: this deck is an exercise in harmony, not contrasts. The shape of the pips and indices is completely traditional, however, so identifying them happens readily and easily, while still ensuring a sense of continuity provided by the colour scheme.

The court cards have a very simplified and geometrical look. In fact, all the Kings have the same shape, but they are distinguished by varying the arrangement of pink tones. Miniature pips corresponding to each suit also adorn their garments, to ensure that each has a distinct look.


If you're looking for strong contrasts and individuality, you won't find it here. But that's a deliberate design choice, because this deck isn't about an art gallery of 52 distinct and different individuals. Rather it aims to have a more unified look, where only slight adjustments in colour and design exist, to help create an overall impression of harmony and unity.

The two Jokers feature matching artwork of detailed blossoms, with a slightly different tone of pink for each, but otherwise identical. A double-backer and a bonus card with artwork matching the tuck box cover complete the deck.


This lovely deck has been produced by USPCC with their standard air cushion finish, and their Bee Casino stock for durability and good handling. Its fully pink feature dedicated to cherry blossoms makes it unique, attractive, and memorable.

See an official video trailer for this deck here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aceoRt07X48


Bicycle Censored Playing Cards

The Bicycle Censored Playing Cards immediately begins toying with our minds. Is this a naughty deck, and has something really been censored?


Designer Joey Minor originally had another name intended for this deck. It was also intended to launch his new brand, which rather boldly or foolishly (depending on your perspective) began with the letter F and rhymed with Ducky. Fortunately USPCC saw wisdom in going with a different title.

I don't think that Joey was going out of his way to deliberately offend, but rather was trying to create something unconventional: "Too many decks follow the same basic concepts these days. There isn't too much originality in playing card design. So, I set out to break that pattern and design something original."


The tuck box introduces us to the funky little creatures that inhabit this deck. I especially like the touch of including a card reveal (3 of Clubs) on one of them on the back of the tuck box.

These little critters may have unusual colours and looks, but actually they're rather charming.


The card back features a college of the monsters we were already introduced to on the tuck box, and it is a mirrored two-way design.


The face cards are relatively standard with some pleasant exceptions. Firstly, the court cards all feature a single rectangular panel jam packed with critters of the same style and colour. These actually look fantastic, and are surprisingly effective.

Maybe I missed the obvious, but there didn't seem to be any definite pattern to how these were arranged among the four suits, and the 12 different artworks appear to have been distributed more or less randomly among the court cards.


The Ace of Spades also delights, with a massive pip that incorporates the deck's back design, and two fun-loving critters poking their heads out at us. Besides this, all the number cards are standard.

The other custom elements come in the forum of two custom Jokers, both of which have the Censored banner emblazoned across them, with critters added in the case of one. Two ad cards round out the deck, one which includes a thank you from the designer to all his Kickstarter backers.


Once again USPCC thin-crush stock is used for optimal handling.

This is certainly an unusual deck, and given that this is what designer Joey Minor was targeting, I think it is safe to say that he has succeeded. From the first time we set our eyes on the tuck box, it certainly gets our attention right away.


My only concern is that the card back is quite busy and has somewhat of a juvenile feel. But to be fair, this kind of non-conventional look is exactly what the designer was aiming for.

Overall this deck has enough standard elements to prevent it seeming too wacky. It's still very practical and usable, and should appeal to people who are drawn to the colourful and energetic design, especially the card backs.



So are any of these decks of playing cards for you? If you're looking for practical playing cards that you can actually use for playing card games, performing card magic, or for card flourishing, you'll almost certainly find something here that fits the bill.

So where can you get the decks featured here? Any reputable magic dealer or online retailer that sells custom playing cards should have these available. If they don't, send them to Murphy's Magic, which is a magic wholesaler that has an enormous range of products they sell in bulk quantities to dealers and retailers around the world, including a massive amount of custom playing cards. They have a huge network of contacts in the retail industry, and all of these decks should be available from any retailer that sources their decks from Murphy's Magic.

With good looks and good handling, these decks continue the solid contribution that Murphy's Magic is making to the custom playing card market, by supplying quality decks like these to our favourite retail outlets.


The decks reviewed above are all available at your favourite Murphy’s Magic retailer. Want to learn more? Murphy's Magic: www.murphysmagic.com

Here are direct links for all the decks featured in this review:
- Second Editions: Casual (V2), Mechanics Optricks (Red Edition)
- Sequels: NEO:WAVE Classic, VeneXiana Dark (Revealed Edition)
- Series: Superfly Spitfire, Cherry Casino (Reno Red)
- Surprises: Sakura (Spring Edition), Bicycle Censored

BoardGameGeek reviewer EndersGame - click here to see all my pictorial reviews: => Magic Reviews <==> Playing Card Reviews <==> Board Game Reviews <==

Want me to write a review of your playing cards or magic? Contact me via Private Message.
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