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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Deck the Halls » » Pictorial Review: Rare Playing Cards - Animal Edition 1 - Wildlife Animals (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

EndersGame
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RARE PLAYING CARDS WITH WILDLIFE ANIMALS

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!

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GAIA DECK

Let's start by checking out a brand new deck, and one that is possibly my favourite on this list. Rare Playing Cards is producing the GAIA deck under their Forge Arts label, which previously produced Märchen Playing Cards, a deck based on old Germanic folktales and legends. Now they are teaming up with the remarkably talented Ben Sinclair, who has come up with the delightful hand-drawn artwork for their new GAIA Playing Cards, which is currently up for funding on Kickstarter. This deck is about showcasing animals and their ecological habitats or biological communities of plants and animals.

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It's already obvious from the tuck box that this deck is something special. If you look carefully, you'll see that it has wrap-around artwork that forms a single panoramic image. In this case we have the front depicting a magnificent stag perched on a rock, while the back of the box shows an expansive African landscape, complete with elephants and birds of prey.

Young artist Ben Sinclair has done an outstanding job in all the artwork for this deck. He's only 17 years old, but to give some indication of his ability, the oil painting below of an elephant won him a scholarship with the Royal Society of British Artists! Wow! When I was 17 my list of accomplishments weren't much more than riding my bike to school and completing Grade 12 exams!

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The concept of the Gaia deck was inspired by the Gaia Hypothesis, which was posited by independent scientist and environmentalist James Lovelock along with microbiologist Lynn Margulis in the 1970s. It postulates that the Earth functions as a self-regulating system, or to put it in more technical terms, "that organisms interact with their inorganic surroundings on Earth to form a synergistic self-regulating, complex system that helps to maintain and perpetuate the conditions for life on the planet." Named after the Greek goddess of the Earth, Gaia Philosophy holds that living organisms will affect the nature of their environment to make it more suitable for life. While these theories have attracted a lot of criticism, and many scientists today consider it unsupported by scientific evidence, it remains influential, and the theory did have a big impact on later research, as you can see from a selection of articles on the subject from New Scientist here.

But even if Gaia theory that animals shape their environment and vice-versa isn't entirely tenable, the fact is that plants and animals do inter-relate, and there are important connections between plants and animals in different environments. This deck of playing cards celebrates those connections. In the words of the creator: "GAIA is a detailed and unique playing card project that took over a year to bring to perfection. Our aim was to appeal to the playing card community of collectors and enthusiasts while also offering a deck that celebrates nature and wildlife."

The way this is accomplished is by arranging the suits according to "biomes", which refers to a biological community of plants and animals, which may exist in different places in the world, but have a shared physical climate. Different biomes have been proposed, and the ones chosen for this deck are the following four: rainforest (clubs), savanna (hearts), tundra (diamonds), and alpine (spades). As the project puts it beautifully: "Slip through the thick growth of the rainforest, sleep beneath the stars of the savanna, or shiver in the tundra as you watch a snow leopard… This is your world, the world of GAIA."

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The back design features carefully chosen earthy colours that were deliberately chosen to contrast with the bright colours of the face cards, as well as featuring a design with a pattern that represents life.

Each suit features animals and plants corresponding to its biome; in the case of the Hearts above, the Savanna is pictured, with a landscape populated with a powerful lion King, an elephant Queen, and a water buffalo Jack.

The Clubs represent the Rainforest; the King features a roaring gorilla, and the Queen a cunning panther, but my favourite court card here is the vibrant and colourful toucan Jack.

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The Diamonds suit represents the frozen tundra, which is confirmed by the massive polar bear King. A snow leopard was chosen for the Queen, and a walrus for the Jack.

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For our final habitat, the Spades, we head to the Alpine heights, where amongst other things we find a stunning stag King, an owl Queen, and a wolf Jack.

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Notice also how the artwork of the court cards does not form an exact mirror image, with the reverse side showing another look at the featured animal.

In each suit there is matching customized art for the Ace, as can be seen with the Alpine and Rainforest depicted here on the Ace of Spades and Ace of Clubs.

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The number cards are also customized, and have thematically related patterns for the pips: savanna, rainforest, tundra, and alpine. By assigning each suit its own habitat, which is reflected on all the cards of that suit, there is a unity of style and content.

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And how can we forget the hilarious Jokers - two playful chimpanzees.

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The deck is going to be USPCC produced, with their embossed air-condition finish, and a quality comparable to the classic Bicycle decks, but in a limited run of 2500.

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A companion Moonlight Edition is also being released, which has card-backs re-coloured with shades of blue, and some other small changes including the tuck box. Collectors will also be pleased to learn that as part of this, there is a limited printing of 500 individually numbered Moonlight decks available.

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To help support this project, head here.


ANIMAL KINGDOM DECK

So how are we going to protect all these animals, especially the rare ones, and what can we do to ensure their ongoing survival?

That's where the Animal Kingdom deck comes in.

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Both the Ace of Spades and the card-backs reflect this deck's connection with the World Wildlife Fund. The pattern of the global symbol on the card-backs is also a key feature of the interior printing of the tuck box as well.

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The real attraction of this deck are the delightful court cards, which feature charming hand-illustrated artwork of various animals, like our Walrus and Racoon friends shown here.

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While the Spades/Clubs rely on a blue and green scheme, the colour palette for the Hearts/Diamonds is primarily red and purple, as shown with our Lion King and Parrot Jack.

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The number cards feature pips in a custom style that is consistent with those of the court cards.

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This deck of playing cards was a special collaboration with World Wildlife Fund, and part of the money generated by each deck purchased goes towards the World Wildlife Fund to help assist their work in global conservation. WWF is the world's largest conservation organization, and works hard to preserve and protect the beautiful species that inhabit our planet.

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Two charming jokers round out the deck.

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The gorgeous illustrations for this deck were created by Hatch Design, while the deck was produced by Theory11, well known for producing quality playing cards.

Appropriately, the cards are printed on FSC-certified paper derived from sustainable forests, using starch-based laminates and vegetable-based inks.

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RECOMMENDATION

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!

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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

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