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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Deck the Halls » » Pictorial Review: NOVELTY - For the Collector (Legends PCC) (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

EndersGame
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*** MORE LEGENDARY PLAYING CARDS ***

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Something for Everyone

When I first had the idea for doing another article on Legends Playing Card Company, I didn't really expect to come to the conclusions you'll be seeing here below. Now I've written about Legends Playing Cards before (here and here), and I've stated how impressed I was with their decks of playing cards. In fact, I was impressed enough to consider them an industry leader, capable of producing playing cards on par with big name producer United States Playing Card Company (USPCC). And that's saying something, because USPCC is widely regarded as being a printer of choice for decks of custom playing cards, and their established brands like Bicycle, Bee, and Tally Ho, are used all over the world, and are highly regarded for their superior quality and smooth handling. To say that Legends Playing Cards can match this - as I did - is high praise indeed.

Now it was simply my plan to review another half a dozen decks from Legends Playing Cards, and confirm this high praise. But over the last months, I've been blessed with the opportunity to try a lot of different decks of playing cards, from both USPCC and Legends Playing Cards, and I've had to adjust my conclusions somewhat. Because I've changed my mind. Legends is not on par with USPCC. They are better! By far. Now I don't say that lightly. But the evidence is staring me in the face, and I'm completely convinced of it.

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Behind Legends Playing Cards, is Hong Kong magician Lawrence Sullivan. But Lawrence is more than just a magician. He's more than a businessman, and more than the producer of playing cards. He's also a perfectionist. And it is this pursuit for perfection that lies at the heart of his success with Legends Playing Cards. His relentless passion for producing the absolute highest standards in every respect accounts for playing cards that are the very best you'll see, starting from amazing looking tuck boxes, to the quality of the playing cards themselves.

In this feature article, I'll cover another half a dozen great decks from Legends, and then I'll wrap it up with my conclusions, to demonstrate why Legends Playing Cards isn't just producing decks of playing cards that match the quality of USPCC, but are better in almost every respect. As a disclaimer, I should mention that Legends is not paying me to write this. In fact, this article isn't even their idea. They don't even know about the superlative conclusions I've come to - these are simply a result of my own positive and extensive experience with their products over time. I hope you enjoy my coverage of some more great decks, and enjoy these and more as much as I do!

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*** NOVELTY: For the Collector ***

First of all, let's check out some very creative decks that feature aspects of novelty. While they are certainly playable, they feature unusual aspects that will make them particularly appealing to the card collector. Nearly everyone can appreciate the novel and unusual, and the decks featured in this category are ones that have eye-catching or otherwise intriguing features that will immediately catch your attention and generate interest.

Glitch 2.0

If you look at lists online of the most amazing playing cards, you are almost certain to come across the Glitch deck, designed by Soleil Zumbrunn. The original Glitch deck proved to be a worldwide hit, making headline news on many tech websites globally. After the original Glitch decks sold out, Glitch 2.0 Playing Cards was created in 2015 as an updated version of these reality bending art playing cards. Here, then, is the newer and improved version of this popular deck.

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The stunning looks begin with a very eye-catching tuck box, which is made of full reflective foil, and a bright and attractive design with a deliberately misprinted look. The basic idea of the Glitch deck is that it looks like the cards were printed with buggy graphic software or a defective printer, which has messed up the colours and printing in various ways. Of course that's not the case at all - it's all deliberately engineered and carefully created by designer Zumbrunn.

Glitch 2.0 was made with two versions: [Circuit Fail] (green/yellow) and [Error Msg] (orange/yellow). Both have borderless backs that immediately introduce the deck's intriguing concept: misprinted cards. The two Jokers feature large diamonds with the signature misprinted look that reprises the theme and style found on the card-backs and tuck boxes.

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All the cards are still legible and easily identified - especially in version 2.0 of the deck that is shown here - but have a definite "glitchy" look.

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There are some key differences and improvements from the original Glitch deck:
1. The tuck box has brighter and more glitchy colours, with different artwork.
2. The cards have brighter colours, with neon/flourescent pantone spot colours rather than CMYK.
3. The cards are re-designed, to make them less headache inducing and more usable.
4. There's a new seal, which includes a holograph.

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While the original Glitch deck was very popular, it has to be admitted that form did trump function. That's why Soleil decided that it would be important to make sure that the artwork remained glitchy, but that the cards still should be recognizable and usable at the same time. This more balanced mix of form and function is what Glitch 2.0 seeks to achieve.

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Each card has a unique and hypnotic look. The first version of Glitch attractive highly positive reviews, so retaining this popular Glitch effect while also making the deck more functional only makes something already very good even better.

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With its bright flourescent colours and attractive good looks, the Glitch deck is sure to turn heads and catch people's attention!

Soundboards

The concept for the Soundboard Playing Cards comes from the mind of card flourisher Patrick Varnavas. One of the in-house designers from Legends, Stuart Palm, is the artist who did the illustrations to make this a reality.

The idea: a deck of playing cards that resembles an audio cassette player, including a sturdy clear plastic window. The side of the tuck box has artwork depicting the various buttons you'd have for playing music, while the top has a volume control. Silver foil adds a nice touch, giving the appearance of a chrome finish and chrome buttons. This looks especially nice on the back of the box, which features artwork depicting a gramophone in yellow and silver on a blue background.

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There are other decks that have experimented with unusual packaging - for example the VHS Playing Cards has a tuck box that resembles a VHS cassette. But this has to be one of the best yet, with a tuck box case that even includes a plastic viewing window to show the cassette style card-backs inside. The outside of the tuck box has all the visual elements you'd expect from a small portable cassette player, and being able to see the cards inside strengthens the illusion even more. It's a very well designed tuck box, and the graphic design really makes this something appealing from the moment you first hold it in your hands!

The cards seen through the display window are actually the Jokers, which both feature a custom design that looks just like the side of a cassette. Labelled with a handwritten "Soundboards 1" on the side, they include an image that looks like a spool of cassette tape and the other parts of this now old-fashioned audio phenomenon that was later superceded by CDs. When the Joker is placed on the outside of the deck, it can be viewed through the plastic window of the deck box, and looks just like a cassette tape.

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Besides the custom Jokers, the face-cards are all standard, with one notable exception: a beautiful custom Ace of Spades. This has oversized blue and yellow embellishments based on a treble clef shape, adding a wonderful musical touch in keeping with the deck's overall theme.

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The card-backs are white bordered, with a light blue background, on which are illustrations of various musical devices for producing audio, including a record player and gramophone speaker. While I like the look of the Jokers, I'm glad that the "cassette-style" look wasn't used for the card backs, and the more subtle musical backs are much more pleasant and functional to use.

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This deck was printed in Legends' high quality and popular Classic finish, so they also handle beautifully.

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The tuck box was also designed with a non-conventional style, with a side-loading feature - just the way you'd insert cassettes in a player. One side of the box has an oversized flap that can be opened outward, so you can insert your phone in the empty box, which will usually be a natural fit. If everything is right, you might even notice the sound of the music from your phone is somewhat amplified.

This is a deck that should appeal to anyone with a sense of nostalgia, and who appreciates a very unique tuck case, which is obviously the major selling point of this deck. With a bit of imagination, you can picture yourself back in the 1980s, carrying a Walkman!

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*** CONCLUSIONS ***

So what is it that makes Legends Playing Cards stand out, and why am I convinced that their decks of playing cards aren't just a match for industry giant United States Playing Card Company (USPCC), but significantly better? Here are some reasons and conclusions:

Legendary tuck boxes: For Legends, a tuck box is your first experience with a deck of playing cards, and so Lawrence is constantly stretching the boundaries of what is possible, and experimenting with new technologies and ideas to make them the most classy and beautiful that they can be. For him, foil accents and embossing are just the beginning of this quest for elegance, innovation, and creativity. Much more is possible, and his decks prove it: Die-cut windows that reveal part of the deck (e.g. the Sharps deck); Embroidered touches (e.g. the Persian deck); Synthetic materials that are water-proof and tear-proof (e.g. the Cadenza deck); Textures that feel like bark or reptile scales (e.g. the Tough Luck and Teliad Alfrin decks); Creative designs (e.g. the walkman-like Soundboards deck). Clearly Legends doesn't just have the ability to produce a run-of-the-mill tuck box. These are incredibly outstanding tuck boxes that look beautiful, and stand out far above the average and the ordinary.

Legendary printing: If you come from a standard department store or corner store deck, USPCC decks like Bicycle are going to seem very impressive due to their superior quality and handling. There's no doubt about the fact that USPCC makes a quality product. But as I've sampled a large range of USPCC custom decks, I'm more and more starting to notice recurring weaknesses as well, particularly with their printing registration. On numerous occasions, the borders of USPCC-produced decks aren't printed consistently and evenly. It's just a small thing, to be sure, but it takes away from a perfect look, especially when the borders are narrow to begin with. And once you notice it, you can't help but notice it every time you use that deck. I've never experienced this issue yet with a single deck from Legends. Their printing registration is always right on, and this means that they can produce playing cards with consistently narrow borders if desired, and the result will always come out beautiful. Narrow borders are quickly going to look ugly if the printing is only slightly off, but that's never been the case with all these decks and many more I've seen so far from Legends.

Legendary finishes: One thing I really appreciate about Legends is that they offer a range of different finishes. Newcomers to the world of playing cards might wonder what USPCC means with a "linen finish", "cambric finish", or "linoid finish". Well quite honestly, these are identical. While these terms had their origin with different materials used for printing many years ago, the modern production process has been standardized. USPCC continues to use these terms because each of them is associated with a specific brand like Bicycle, Bee, and Tally Ho respectively, but in reality they are all embossed air-cushion style finishes and are actually identical. The Classic Finish from Legends is an embossed finish that looks and performs similarly to this air-cushion style finish from Bicycle. But Legends also offers other choices, including their Diamond Finish, which is less papery and slightly smoother, but is also snappier and longer lasting. Then there's their Elite Finish, which has a softer feel and a different embossing pattern. In recent times Legends has been experimenting with other finishes as well, such as their Emerald Finish (also known as the JN Finish, a reference to the legendary Jerry's Nuggets), which uses stock around 0.1mm thinner than the Diamond finish but with a similar texture, and is said to handle somewhat similarly to the legendary icon of playing cards. Hopefully in a follow-up article I can give more information based on further experience with the new JN Finish, and also with the new Stud Finish that Legends is currently experimenting with. But all their current finishes are excellent, and it means that creators of custom playing cards have some real choice, all of which are quality. Represented in the review above are decks with the two most popular finishes, i.e. the Classic finish (Soundboards, Teliad Alfrin, Sharps), and the Diamond Finish (Glitch 2.0, Tough Luck, Cadenza).

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Legendary handling: Because of the embossing on the paper stock used by the above finishes, and a coating that Legends uses on the cards at the end of the production process, their playing cards handle beautifully. The embossing creates tiny dimples and air pockets between them, and means the entire surface of each card isn't in full contact with the next card. This makes sure that they slide smoothly and evenly over one another, and it's what makes them spread and fan consistently and beautifully, and also shuffle nicely. You don't want cards to have so much friction that they don't slide evenly, but you also don't want them so slippery that the deck won't stay in your hands without cards sliding all over the place. The qualities of the playing cards from Legends gets this balance just right.

Legendary durability: Playing cards wear. It's just a fact, and there's no getting around it. The longer you use a deck of playing cards, the more that you'll notice the edges starting to chip or get ragged, the colour can fade, and the handling can be affected. Eventually, the cards won't slide as smoothly and evenly anymore, and you'll especially notice how this affects the performance of fans and spreads. This is true for any deck of playing cards, although cheap cards will already have this issue straight from the box, after just a shuffle or two! But in my experience, Legends Playing Cards last a whole lot longer than other decks I've used, including those from USPCC. One of the best ways to test this is to use a deck with black cards. Black cards look stunning out of the box, but they are notorious for getting chipped edges, which reveal the white of the cardstock underneath (less noticeable with white cards, obviously). With USPCC printed decks I have, this has been a real problem with black cards, and as much as I love black decks, I know that they just won't go the distance for this reason. I'm pleased to say that I've noticed a real difference with black decks from Legends. Legends claims that their cards are more durable and long lasting, and you really do notice this with their black decks, such as the Pipmen Shadow edition, which has jet black cards, and yet doesn't show signs of chipping or wear quickly. The Diamond finish is especially durable and is an excellent choice for black decks like this, and will give superior results to a standard USPCC produced deck.

Legendary cut: When I first saw a picture about the difference in edges between USPCC cards and Legends cards, I thought it was an exaggeration. But folks, there really is a massive difference - ask anyone who has taken the time to compare them. Legends Playing Cards uses what they call a "diamond cut" to make the edge of their decks absolutely smooth. This process doesn't prevent the cards from doing weave shuffles like the faro, and yet the result is completely crisp, and the edge of a new deck feels like glass. Compare that to the edge of a deck from USPCC, and you'll instantly notice that it looks and feels rough. You don't even need to be a trained expert to see and feel the difference - my son can immediately tell the difference between a Legends and a USPCC deck with his eyes closed, just by feeling the edges of a deck, seriously! So straight from the box, there's an instant quality difference in the cut of the cards.

Legendary prices: I've not produced a deck of playing cards myself, so this isn't something I can comment on from first-hand experience. But I have had contact with a lot of creators of playing cards, and more than once I've read some frustration with the minimum order requirements that USPCC has, and how they calculate their costing. Effectively you need to budget on making more decks that you actually need, because there is a percentage error factor that is built in to their pricing. I don't know all the details, but I do know that because Legends is based in Taiwan, their Asian base of operations means that they can offer a superior product without needing to charge higher prices. In other words, Legends isn't a more expensive option, despite their quality.

Legendary accessories: If you're looking for accessories like a card clip, Legends also has you covered with that as well. These aren't typically cheap, but if you are looking for a quality product like a carbon card clip, you can expect to pay for it. But the quality is superb, it's long-lasting and functional, and it also looks fantastic. These would make great gifts for the serious card enthusiast, or even a useful accessory for the person who is constantly walking around with a deck in his pocket.

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Recommendation

Now, as I said at the beginning, Legends Playing Card Company isn't paying me to write any of this. They have no idea that I'm going to write such high praise, and they certainly don't know about the enthusiastic conclusions I'm writing here. And when I first decided to do this feature article, it wasn't initially my intention to bring such high praise. But I couldn't help myself.

After spending a lot of time over the last number of months tinkering with decks from both Legends and from United States Playing Card Company (USPCC), and using them both for cardistry, card magic, and card games, the difference in quality is becoming more and more obvious to me. Sure, USPCC cards are good, and there's a reason why they are an industry giant. But they lack the passion and perfectionism that Lawrence Sullivan brings to the table at Legends Playing Cards. Lawrence also has the advantage that he has access to printing processes and technologies of a factory in Taiwan, whereas USPCC is an entirely American outfit.

I'll continue to appreciate USPCC produced cards, and if a designer of custom playing cards is using USPCC, that will give me an assurance of quality. But if I was to give advice to anyone considering producing a project of custom playing cards, I'd definitely suggest they consider Legends if they want the very best. [Legendary playing cards indeed!

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Want to learn more?
Legends Playing Card Company: www.legendsplayingcards.com
Playing Card Online Store: www.legendsplayingcards.com/collections/playing-cards

Direct links for the decks featured in this review series:
Novelty: For the Collector - Glitch 2.0 Playing Cards, Soundboards Playing Cards
Style: For the Connoisseur - Tough Luck Playing Cards, Teliad Alfrin Playing Cards
Secrets: For the Magician - Cadenza Playing Cards, Sharps Playing Cards
Accessories: For Everyone - Carbon Fiber Card Clip, Leather Tab Card Wallet

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