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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Deck the Halls » » Pictorial Review: Princess Bride & Wizard of Oz (Albino Dragon) (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

EndersGame
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*** INTRODUCING ALBINO DRAGON ***

Bringing your favourite films, TV shows, and books onto playing cards

It's not easy to get a license to produce games or cards that use names and property of popular products or intellectual properites. Usually it is going to involve some serious paperwork and money. For most of us, this is territory completely beyond the scope of our experience, and wading through the red tape required involves a path that we won't be very confident of success with. And so we don't even bother starting with it. We know in advance that it's likely going to be expensive and difficult.

Erik Dahlman from Albino Dragon, on the other hand, is an expert at this. In fact, this is his speciality. Under the label Albino Dragon, he creates licensed playing cards from TV Shows, Movies, Video Games, and Books. And we're not talking about small fry here. Try these names for size: The Goonies. The Princess Bride. Ghostbusters. Gremlins. Call of Cthulu. The Wizard of Oz. Alice in Wonderland. That's an impressive list! And that's just some of his successes - the actual list is much longer.

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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.

I've got a large number of decks of playing cards, and most of the time my children aren't that interested in them. But when they saw my new Princess Bride deck, that all changed. "A Princess Bride deck? For real?" (add sounds of oohing and aahing as they admire the cards with familiar artwork and memorable lines from the film.) "Can I have it? Can we play with it?" You get the idea!

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Of course, 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 that you've just sold your left kidney for. Fortunately, Albino Dragon doesn't just know how to license popular works, but they also know how to make great decks of playing cards.

Take a look at some of the range they have here:

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In this review, I'll cover a small selection of the playing cards they have available, to give you some idea of the fantastic material that they are putting out, and introduce you to what they can do.

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*** MOVIES ***


PRINCESS BRIDE

The Princess Bride (1987) is one of my all-time favourite films. It's a delightful spoof on the fantasy adventure genre, with lots of laughs, loveable characters, and memorable lines.

The Princess Bride As You Wish deck is a tribute to this classic comedy. The tuck box artwork will be instantly familiar to anyone who has seen the movie cover.

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The response to this project gives some idea of the enormous popularity of this film, and the drawing power of a licensed product: this deck was funded by over 2,500 backers as part of a Kickstarter that raised over $136,000, completely blowing away the target of $10,000! That's staggering! Three different decks were produced, and the one featured here was the first of these.

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The card backs feature an ornate and lush design with gold and maroon, completed by some fencing swords, and the familiar black mask of our hero The Dread Pirate Roberts, aka farm-boy Westley.

All the Aces have over-sized and elaborate artwork, like the Ace of Spades shown here.

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Court cards

The court cards all feature characters from the film, and naturally the Hearts suit makes an excellent choice for our hero Westley and our heroine Princess Buttercup.

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The Diamonds feature more beloved characters, including Vizzini and the giant Fezzik.

Especially noteworthy is how key phrases and lines from the film accompany these characters, like Vizzini's oft-repeated "Inconceivable!". This adds instant charm and appeal for fans of the film.

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Perhaps two of my favourite cards are Miracle Max ("He's only mostly dead") and his wife ("I'm not a witch, I'm your wife!").

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And who can forget the loveable Inigo Montoya, who makes an appearance as the King of Clubs, including his famous line "Prepare to Die!" Or that moment of marital union, commencing with that unforgettable word: "Mawage"?!

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Other cards

The number cards are also absolutely exquisite. They have clear indices, and yet feature elaborate custom designs for the pips. They are further ornamented with various fencing swords along the length of the card, which adds to the visual appeal of fans and spreads.

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This is truly a stunning deck, which shows wonderful attention to detail, and captures some of the magic of the film, while also providing charming customization on all the cards, to give the entire deck a very unique and unified feel.

Fans of the film will likely understand and appreciate the fact that my reaction to this beautiful deck of playing cards can be summed up as follows: "Wuv, twuuu wuv!"

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THE WIZARD OF OZ

To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, Albino Dragon was able to secure the licensing necessary to put out two decks, including the Wizard of Oz Kansas deck featured here.

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The card backs in this deck are composed of a collage of iconic images from the film.

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Court cards

Appropriately, Dorothy makes an appearance on the Queen of Hearts, while two unique versions of Toto are featured as the Jokers.

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Of course her companions are also present, including the Tinman and Scarecrow.

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Also joining them is the Cowardly Lion, and villains like the Wicked Witch of the West.

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Others from the cast join them, including the Good Witch Glinda, a Winged Monkey, three Winkie Guards, and The Wizard of Oz.

Other cards

I'm a big fan of the beautiful number cards, which feature detailed wood panelling, ornate lines, and stylish pips, including a special icon that is used to represent each suit.

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A large version of these appears on the over-sized and custom Aces, with "Courage" being the badge for the Spades (needed by the Cowardly Lion), a well-timed "Heart" for the Hearts (needed by the Scarecrow), a scholarly "Brain" for the Diamonds (needed by the Tinman), while the Emerald City itself is the badge for the Spades (since the King of Spades features the Wizard of Oz himself).

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*** CONCLUSIONS ***


WHAT DO I THINK?

Wide range: 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!

Licensed products: 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.

Quality style: 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.

Completely custom: 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.

Albino Dragon name: 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.

Card quality: 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.

Ideal gifts: 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?!

Future projects: 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!

Licensing: 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: "We can help you get licenses. We know people. You can contact us at licensing@albinodragon.com to inquire about potential deals we can help broker for you." This may be welcome news to many a designer or publisher. Start by checking their fantastic article Licensing 101 - Getting a license for your game, which has a lot of fantastic tips, and gives a good and informed introduction to this subject area.

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RECOMMENDATION

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 Albino Dragon 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!

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Want to learn more? Albino Dragon: www.albinodragon.com

Direct links for the decks featured in this review:
- Princess Bride
- Wizard of Oz
- White Rabbit
- Gorilla Deck
- Kingdoms of a New World
- Dragon Tome

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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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