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Reviewer EndersGame
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Something for Everyone

I've previously written a couple of reviews about playing cards from Legends Playing Card Company (here and here), where I stated that I considered them to be an industry leader, capable of producing playing cards on par with big name producer United States Playing Card Company (USPCC). Since then, I've had 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. Legends PCC is not on par with USPCC - but considerably better!

The man behind Legends Playing Cards is Hong Kong magician Lawrence Sullivan. Lawrence is more than just a magician, a businessman, and producer of playing cards. He's also a perfectionist, this pursuit for perfection 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 series of reviews, I'm covering another half a dozen great decks from Legends, along with some of their accessories, to show that they truly have something for everything. I hope others will enjoy these great decks as much as I do!


*** ACCESSORIES: For Everyone ***

Most people who enjoy card magic or collecting playing cards will know that there's also a wide range of accessories available for playing cards. And not only does Legends Playing Card Company print playing cards, but they also offer some very high quality accessories as well, like card clips and card cases.

Card Clip

If you're at all familiar with the world of playing cards, at some point or other you're going to come across mention of card clips. What is a card clip, and why would you need one? A card clip is typically a u-shaped metal container, the size of a deck of playing cards, and into which you can snugly fit a single deck of cards.

The main function of a card clip is to protect your deck of playing cards. Custom playing cards aren't cheap, and if you've invested some moolahs into getting a quality deck, it makes sense to look after it. It's not hard to damage a deck of cards permanently - you only need to walk around for a day with it stuffed in your pants pocket to know what I mean. That's where a card clip comes in. Made out of metal, it will protect your deck of cards from getting damaged or warped, even if you're carrying around in your pocket all day. It's effectively like adding a snug suit of armour around a deck before bringing it into battle. Card clips will especially be of benefit in humid conditions, which can quickly can cause a deck to warp or go out of shape, immediately affecting its handling and performance. And in some cases, a card clip can even help straighten out a warped deck.

The Carbon Fiber Card Clip from Legends Playing Card Company is among one of the best card clips you can get. Most card clips on the market are metal, but this also means they can be heavy. Furthermore, a cheap metal card clip can easily get out of shape, in which case it won't do its job properly. This particular clip from Legends is made out of carbon fiber, which means that it is only half the weight of a typical metal clip, so it is not going to start making your pants start sagging if you load it in your pocket!


Not only is it light, but it's also super strong - I'm told that it's made with the same technology used to create F1 racing cars! It's advertised as follows: "Around the weight of 12 playing cards, this solid carbon fiber card clip is stronger than steel!" That means it is very durable, and won't easily bend - as it shouldn't.

Every deck will have a slightly different thickness, depending on the card stock used, so there's no capacity standard for a card clip. I find that with most decks, 52 cards will fit in nice and snugly, so I usually take out the Jokers to make this work. Having it fit too tight can make it difficult to remove the deck, and can also damage the box. I've tried decks from different publishers, including Legends, USPCC, and others, and they all fit fine, although sometimes I need to take out an extra card or two. I also find that leaving part of the shrink wrapper can give additional protection to a tuck box when housed in a card clip, and I'd certainly recommend doing that if you can.

This card clip does its job beautifully. If I'm walking around with a single deck in my pocket, I try to get into the habit of only pocketing the deck when the protective and light-weight armour of my card clip is there as well. And if a deck is starting to look or feel somewhat warped, into my card clip it goes overnight, and chances are it will be in better shape by next morning.

The looks are fantastic too. These things aren't easy to make, and it's worth having a read on the product information page at the Legends website to read how they are produced - it's very impressive. But they're also attractive. The one I own has a matt 3k twill weave, which has an eye-catching pattern that looks attractive. Other designs and finishes are also available, including a black textured clip, and black-green Kevlar/Carbon one. So there's no shame in pulling a card clip out of your pocket before putting a deck to work; on the contrary, it looks stylish and impressive.


Card Wallet

For quite some time, I've been on the lookout for a convenient way of carrying some of my packet tricks. A packet trick typically consists of only a few cards, so there's no need to carry around an entire deck. Yet you do need a way to ensure that the cards are protected and don't get all bent or damaged in your pocket.

I've tried a few things, but I'm pleased to say that with this handsome Leather Tab Card Wallet from Legends, my search is over. This luxurious wallet is effectively a small carrying case for up to a dozen cards. It features a quality black leather outside, with stitching on three sides, and a stylish custom blind embossing/stamping of Legends Playing Card Co in small print on the bottom of one side. The leather casing is firm enough to ensure that cards inside won't become bent, and yet it opens easily.


Inside are three separate compartments you can use to house playing cards, with two dividers doing the separating. Staggered gaps at the top of the dividers ensure that each compartment is easy to access separately. Each compartment can house around half a dozen cards without difficulty, although the capacity of the entire wallet is around a dozen cards. For most of us, that means two or three packet tricks, which is ideal.

Having dividers to keep them separate is a welcome feature. The cards are easy to put inside, and yet if you turn it upside down and shake it, they won't fall out - I've tried! So they're safe and snug inside, and yet easy to access. If you wish, you could also use this for business cards or credit cards as well.

This card wallet is a very elegant product that looks very stylish and classy when you pull it out of your pocket and it's also very functional and convenient. It does a good job of doing exactly what it was made to do - which is to safely store a handful of cards, while ensuring that they are protected and portable - and it looks good while doing it.



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).


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.



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!


Want to learn more?
Legends Playing Card Company:
Playing Card Online Store:

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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