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Rare. adjective. Not found in large numbers, and so of interest or value. Not occurring very often. Unusually good or remarkable.

When it comes to playing cards, what's not rare are the "ordinary" decks of playing cards most of us see and perhaps use all the time. You can find these in abundance at your local department or corner-store. But what about an artistic deck of custom playing cards that is truly beautiful and artistic, produced only in small quantities? These are the kind of rare items that you'll find being sold by online retailer Rare Playing Cards. They sell hundreds of stunning decks, ones that are not easily found or purchased elsewhere, and are typically of high quality card stock, with unique and beautiful designs.

But high quality playing cards aren't the only thing that can be rare. The same is true of animals, particularly in our modern world, where urban development at time threatens the habitat and homes of various animal species, some of which are facing very real threats for survival, and becoming increasingly rare. There are also animals which are not under threat as such, but nonetheless are rarely seen. When is the last time you saw a walrus, a water buffalo, or a crocodile? Exactly. For most of us, that's rare.

In this review, I want to take a journey with you to check out the beauty of some rare playing cards. And in keeping with the "rare" theme, let's especially take a trip to the animal world, to see if we can find some decks of playing cards that give us the opportunity to enjoy some of the beautiful animals that we might rarely see in normal life. Now let me warn you in advance: expect some gushing enthusiasm! I love decks of playing cards like these, and I love the fact that I can get them at a one-stop-shop online. They've made great gifts for family and friends, both gamers and non-gamers alike, and they also make great prices for tournaments. So let's get our tour started, hop into our online safari bus, and get started!



So what about if you do manage to become friends with some of the magnificent wildlife we've already seen?

Let's find out the answer by checking out the Mantecore deck.


The mention of "Save the Tigers" on the tuck box alludes to the dwindling number of tigers as a result of poaching. Part of the profits from the making of this deck went in support of Panthera's "Save the Tiger Fund".

Manticore, on the other hand, is the name of a something rare indeed - a famous white tiger. Animals have always had a close connection with magic, but it takes a brave magician to include the big cats like lions and tigers as part of their routine. This deck is a tribute to the famous Las Vegas magician duo Siegfried and Roy, whose iconic white tiger named Mantecore was one of the big drawcards in their popular act, until the time he nearly killed Roy in a live performance in 2003.


The card-backs of this deck feature Mantecore's face against the background of his stripes, and the overall design shape is inspired somewhat by the classical Bicycle rider-back.


But of course instead of bicycles, these cards feature the beloved tiger Mantecore, who is also prowling around the Ace of Spades.


In fact Mantecore has a position of honour and prominence on all the Aces!


And of course the Joker is another opportunity to showcase the hero of this deck! The second Joker has a card reveal that magicians will be able to use.


Meanwhile the court cards have been simplified and enlarged from the classic set, and the result is a younger look, and colour scheme that matches the rest of the deck.

The pips in this deck are also custom, although they don't differ drastically from a traditional deck.


The quality of the cards themselves are terrific, because this deck was produced by Legends Playing Card Company (see my review here), in both their Diamond and their Emerald finishes, which are extremely durable, even more so than USPCC produced decks.


The design is by graphic designer Edo Huang from Indonesia, who also produced the Nautical deck, and Benjamin Loo from Singapore also contributed to the production.


Not all wildlife is dangerous, and there are certainly some animals that are most unusual and fascinating. And perhaps one of the best examples of that is the Chameleon. Introducing: the Chameleons Luxury Green Metallic deck.


Like their animal counterpart, the Chameleons can change colours. In this case, they were produced in three versions: Metallic Red, Metallic Blue, and Luxury Metallic Green. It's the Green deck that I'm reviewing here, which has iridescent foil on the cards.

One of the special attributes of the Chameleon tuck box is that it is made out of an exclusive synthetic paper, which is designed to be waterproof, and much more durable than an ordinary tuck box. The Green deck also has a die cut hole that displays the hot stamped foil on the card-backs.


The card-backs have an ornate mono-coloured design with Chameleons lurking in the corners - you'll need to look carefully to see them, because they're the same colour as the rest of the pattern on the back of the card, and they're easy to miss!

The ornate and over-sized Ace of Spades features an AW monogram, which represents the creator Asi Wind, a New York based corporate magician and mentalist.


As the Ace also indicates, this deck was produced by Expert Playing Card Company (EPCC), using their popular Classic finish, which has all the usual qualities we've come to expect from EPCC and LPCC, including a traditional cut that is better for faro shuffles and has cleaner edges than a typical USPCC Bicycle type deck, a consistent printing registration, and durable finish with excellent handling.

For the rest all the cards are quite standard, including the court cards and number cards, but there is one exception: the Joker. This features the star of the deck, our friend the Chameleon.


In this Green deck, the fact that the designer's initials are hot-stamped on the card-backs with iridescent foil creates a very classy look!

[imageid=3565871 medium inline]

In many respects this deck is one that has been created by a magician for magicians. It is designed to be very classy and elegant, without drawing too much attention to distracting elements, and that's why it has a traditional look for the most part. Yet when it comes to things like the design of the Ace of Spades, Jokers, card-backs, and especially the tuck-box, that's where all stops have been pulled out to ensure luxury and detail.

Another special feature of this deck geared to magicians is the unusual order in which the deck is packaged. It comes in Mnemonica order, with Ace of Spades on the bottom, so magicians familiar with this system can give the deck a single cut straight from the box, and start performing card miracles!



So are these animal themed decks from Rare Playing Cards something for you?

If you're looking for an unusual or high quality deck of playing cards, the selection you'll find at Rare Playing Cards is so vast, that it even includes some of the exotic and rarely seen beasts like the ones pictured above. Some of them are breath-takingly beautiful, and I am especially excited about the artwork of the 17 year old prodigy in the new GAIA deck. But I'm glad that this artistic and creative talent is combined with elegance in design, with decks like the Chameleon deck and Killer Bees deck breathing luxury inside and out. Others, like the Animal Kingdom deck and Little Atlantis deck, have more of a whimsical feel.

At the same time, all these decks are excellent quality in terms of card-stock and handling. Rare Playing Cards only stocks playing cards with a high standard of quality that matches the creativity and style of the artwork and design, such as those printed by US Playing Card Company or Legends Playing Card Company; printers which have an established reputation for the best quality in playing cards.

Like most people, I love nature and animals, and so it's beautiful to discover decks of playing cards that showcase the magnificence of these precious creatures, and in some cases even give financial support to sustaining them in years to come. Such rarities deserve to be preserved for future generations, and these rare playing cards help us honour these wonders of the natural world. I'm very pleased to to recommend the decks I've featured in this review!


What to learn more? Check out Rare Playing Cards

Direct links for the decks featured in this review:
- Wild Animals: GAIA Playing Cards and Animal Kingdom Playing Cards
- Unique Animals: Mantecore Playing Cards and Chameleon Playing Cards
- Flying Animals: Bumble Bee Playing Cards and Killer Bee Playing Cards
- Underwater Animals: Little Atlantis Playing Cards


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