|Topic: Pictorial Review: Kingdoms of a New World & Dragon Tome (Albino Dragon)|
[b]*** INTRODUCING ALBINO DRAGON ***[/b]
[b]Bringing your favourite films, TV shows, and books onto playing cards[/b]
It's not easy to get a license to produce games or cards that use names and property of popular products or intellectual properites - most of us realize that this is going to be expensive and difficult. But Erik Dahlman is an expert at this. Under the label [b][url=http://www.albinodragon.com]Albino Dragon[/url][/b], he creates licensed playing cards from TV Shows, Movies, Video Games, and Books. Examples of some of his successes include big names like The Goonies, The Princess Bride, Ghostbusters, Gremlins, Call of Cthulu, The Wizard of Oz, and many more.
And does having one of your favourite intellectual properties on a product really make a difference? You betcha, because you immediately have a large target market that is going to interested in what you've made. But paying for the right to make your own deck of playing cards using the intellectual property of a popular show or book is just the start of the process. From there you need to come up with some great illustrations and graphic design that will do justice to the material. Fortunately, Albino Dragon also knows how to make great decks of playing cards. In this review, I'll cover a small selection of the large range of playing cards they have available.
[b]*** FANTASY ***[/b]
[b]KINGDOMS OF A NEW WORLD[/b]
The [b][url=http://www.albinodragon.com/product/kingdoms-of-a-new-world-playing-cards]Kingdoms of a New World deck[/url][/b] is an original work, self-described as giving opportunity to "[i]bring you into a rich fantasy landscape ruled by four distinct kingdoms. Take in the captivating scenery of their lands and the beauty and power of their monarchs on court cards that will inspire and captivate the minds of many.[/i]"
The deck was created by Nathanael Mortensen, who designed the game Dragon's Hoard, working with illustrator Jonas Akerlund. After the success of that project, Nathanael came up with the idea of having Jonas illustrate a unique deck of playing cards. When Jonas sent Nathanael a handful of his favorite sketches, he was quickly convinced that the idea was an amazing one. Three beautiful decks were created, and what you see here is the Red version of the unlimited deck.
Each of the four suits of the deck correspond to a different theme:
- Spades: Spirit
- Clubs: Nature
- Diamonds: Technology
- Hearts: Sky
Here's some of the characters embodying the Spirit theme of the Spades.
I'm especially fond of the Nature theme evident in the Clubs court cards.
The Technology theme is self-evident in the characters for Diamonds.
As you'd expect, lots of wings are featured in the images used for the Hearts, which represent Sky.
The borders of the court cards are especially ornate and detailed, but the number cards also have beautiful customization. Each card has a watermark styled background in the center of the card canvas, beautiful stylized borders, and custom pips.
The elaborate and colourful Aces particularly do a good job of conveying both the suit and the theme.
The [b][url=http://www.albinodragon.com/product/dragon-tome-playing-cards]Dragon Tome deck[/url][/b] was originally created as part of a crowd-funding project for something called "Dragon Crate", which included a dragon miniature, a collectible coin, and custom dragon dice that accompanied a deck of Dragon Tome playing cards.
To match the theme, the deck has tuck-box packaging that is designed to look like a book, with the sides having artwork that looks like the spines and pages of a book - an ingenious and stylish design that immediately grabs your attention from the moment you first have the box in your hands!
The concept for the deck was originally described as "[i]a collection of spells from some of the mightiest wizards the world has ever known. Within the deck you will find the undead, dragons, faeries, and much more.[/i]" The original idea was to have each suit correspond to a different type of magic, but with the input of supporters, it became evident that there was more interested in the dragons themselves. Thus as the crowd-funding campaign progressed, the input and engagement of the community led the deck to have more of a dragon focus. An artist who was involved in an earlier Dragon Whisperer project was brought into the project to assist with this.
The card backs went through multiple revisions, and once again good input from the Kickstarter community helped lead to an improved design.
The court cards are absolutely stunning, with vibrant colours and full art. For example, the Volcanic Dragon (Jack of Clubs) is detailed and fiery in its ferocity!
Other dragons, like the ones on the Hearts court cards shown here, are far more delicate - if a dragon can ever be delicate!
Each of the dragons is completely unique, and while the full-art means they are a one-way design that requires correct orienting when used, they sure are beautiful.
Here's a couple more of my favourite dragons.
The number cards are also exquisitely detailed and customized, with beautiful borders, pips, and background artwork.
The Aces are especially an absolute pleasure to look at and study.
If you love fantasy in general, and dragons in particular, this is a deck for you - even the Jokers have dragons!
[b]*** CONCLUSIONS ***[/b]
[b]WHAT DO I THINK?[/b]
[b]Wide range[/b]: Over the last number of years, Albino Dragon has put together a very respectable range of products, which reflects material from films like The Princess Bride, The Wizard of Oz, The Goonies, Ghostbusters, and Gremlins; TV shows like Breaking Bad; literature like The Name of the Wind, Alice in Wonderland, and Lovecraft's Call of Cthulhu; plus other fantasy concepts, like Kingdoms of a New World, Dragon Tome; and parody and fun like the Gorilla deck. That's a very impressive and diverse list!
[b]Licensed products[/b]: Does having a licensed product like some of the above really make a difference? If my own experience with the Princess Bride deck is anything to go by, I think it really does. Since my family loves the film, and has watched it several times, playing a card game reached a new level of enjoyment when using the Princess Bride themed playing cards. Inevitably, using the cards brought to mind many of the fun one-liners and characters from the film. As a result, it added an extra layer of enjoyment to the game we were playing. Books, films, and TV shows often have ardent fans, who enjoy immersing themselves in every aspect of their favourite thing, and for such enthusiasts this really can make a deck of playing card something special.
[b]Quality style[/b]: Despite the diversity of subject material, I've really come to appreciate the consistent quality that is clearly evident in all the Albino Dragon playing cards. The White Rabbit deck felt somewhat anaemic given its heavy focus on black and white (which admittedly, was a deliberate choice), but aside from that, all the decks feature vibrant colours, and very beautiful images that really do justice to their source material or theme. When you go to the trouble of getting a license to reproduce an intellectual property, you really want to make sure that you produce something of a high standard that does justice to it, and that's certainly what Albino Dragon has been doing. I especially love the style that is evident in all the number cards, which typically have beautiful borders and backgrounds, plus custom pips - evidently this is a distinguishing feature that they strive for with all their decks, and it really does look beautiful.
[b]Completely custom[/b]: It's quite common for a deck of playing cards to have custom court cards, along with the Aces and Jokers, but when the number cards are still standard, the entire deck won't have a fresh look. I love the approach that Albino Dragon takes to all their decks, because in virtually every case, the entire deck is completely custom. That's especially evident with the number cards, which feature beautiful custom pips that reflect the theme or story, and additionally have beautiful and lavish backgrounds and ornate borders with intricate details. Every card is a unique work of art, and the entire deck feels like a loving production, no matter which cards are in your hand - not just the court cards.
[b]Albino Dragon name[/b]: I was curious to learn more about the meaning or origin of the Albino Dragon name. It turns out that apparently the name doesn't really hold special significance for CEO Erik, but it simply met a lot of the criteria he was looking for in a company name. But it certainly is something memorable, comes with a very recognizable logo, and makes a good connection with the kind of literary and fantastic materials that feature in a lot of the decks and other products.
[b]Card quality[/b]: United States Playing Card Company has established themselves in the playing card industry as an industry leader that provides consistent quality. All the Albino Dragon decks are produced by USPCC, and match the exacting standards of a typical Bicycle deck. That means that they have an air cushion style embossed finished, that makes shuffling and handling these cards very smooth. It also means that they are long lasting and durable. While they use the standard cardstock rather than the thicker Bee casino stock, it is hard to fault this choice, and the card quality is excellent.
[b]Ideal gifts[/b]: Know someone who is a real fan of one of the books, films, or TV shows that an Albino Dragon deck plays tribute to? It makes an ideal gift, because you already know they'll love it - after all, they already love the material featured in that particular deck of playing cards! And who can't use an extra deck of playing cards, especially one that pays homage to something you already love?!
[b]Future projects[/b]: Given the large body of work they have already produced, it will come as no real surprise that their current range is no means the end of innovation for Albino Dragon. They are working on new game titles, revamping some existing decks, and also launching new titles. With their expertise and experience, the future is bright, and I look forward to seeing what decks of playing cards they produce in years to come!
[b]Licensing[/b]: Maybe you've thought about making an awesome product based on one of your favourite properties, but the complexities of licensing has scared you off. It's not easy, but it can be rewarding to have something that reflects your favourite show or book. It's almost certain to be familiar, and can be a wonderful hook for people to get interested. Not only does Albino Dragon do a good job of arranging this for themselves, but they also offer their services to help game designers and others do the same. In their words: "[i]We can help you get licenses. We know people. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about potential deals we can help broker for you.[/i]" This may be welcome news to many a designer or publisher. Start by checking their fantastic article [url=http://www.albinodragon.com/licensing-101]Licensing 101 - Getting a license for your game[/url], which has a lot of fantastic tips, and gives a good and informed introduction to this subject area.
There's a lot of custom decks of playing cards on the market, and so the field is often crowded and competitive. But there's always going to room for playing cards that feature licensed intellectual properties that are popular from TV and film, because these have an instant appeal, and there's already an established market for them. Typically, this target audience is even going to be much larger than the niche that usually is interested in a deck of custom playing cards, so it wouldn't surprise me if the broad appeal of [b][url=http://www.albinodragon.com]Albino Dragon[/url][/b] decks translates to healthy sales figures. Certainly the massive number of backers who supported the Princess Bride deck would be a strong indication that these are the kinds of playing cards that many will appreciate.
Almost everyone is going to like something that pays tribute to their favourite film or TV show. With new and beautiful playing cards like these constantly emerging from Albino Dragon headquarters, this is a dragon's hoard worth discovering, sharing, and keeping an eye on!
[i]Want to learn more?[/i] [b]Albino Dragon[/b]: www.albinodragon.com
Direct links for the decks featured in this review series:
- [url=http://www.albinodragon.com/product/the-princess-bride-as-you-wish-playing-cards]Princess Bride[/url]
- [url=http://www.albinodragon.com/product/the-wizard-of-oz-kansas-playing-cards]Wizard of Oz[/url]
- [url=http://www.albinodragon.com/product/white-rabbit-playing-cards]White Rabbit[/url]
- [url=http://www.albinodragon.com/product/gorilla-deck-playing-cards]Gorilla Deck[/url]
- [url=http://www.albinodragon.com/product/kingdoms-of-a-new-world-playing-cards]Kingdoms of a New World[/url]
- [url=http://www.albinodragon.com/product/dragon-tome-playing-cards]Dragon Tome[/url]