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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Deck the Halls » » Pictorial Review: Alex Chin - Part 4b: The Apothecary series (Fall & Summer) (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

EndersGame
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*** ALEX CHIN & SEASONS PLAYING CARDS ***

This article continues my series of reviews on Alex Chin and his brand, Seasons Playing Cards, which is "a global lifestyle brand dedicated to the art of card collecting." At the end of last year Alex produced two Apothecary decks, which I reviewed in a previous installment here. He is currently getting funding for two sequel Apothecary decks on Kickstarter. In this final installment, I'll cover these two new decks that will complete his charming and luxurious Apothecary Series.

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*** THE APOTHECARY SERIES: Part 2 ***

Seronda Sentiments & Verana Virtues (Fall & Summer)

Given how the original Seasons series consisted of four decks that were produced in two sets of two, it was inevitable that the first two Apothecary decks would be followed up with two more decks. And so it won't come as a surprise that the Primavera Ponderings & Inverno Insights pair (Spring & Winter) has a sequel pair, Seronda Sentiments and Verana Virtues (Fall & Summer), which is currently being funded on Kickstarter (link).

Overview

Just as with the first two Apothecary decks, these two new decks explore more "intangible curiosities from the other side", and aims to transform the intangible concepts of ideas and thoughts into physical things that can be touched, felt, and held. In a world that is going more and more in a digital direction, Alex wants us to travel in the opposite direction, by making things more physical. By having these decks in our hands, he wants us to feel something real, as if they have been pulled from an invisible world.

As he notes: "In this digital world, we need physical touch. The Apothecary is an homage to all things handcrafted and inspiring and the extensive illustrations and print techniques follow suit. Represented through the medium of playing cards, these ethereal concepts are captured to deliver an inspiring and awe-provoking experience that you've never felt before with regular handheld art. Responsive design, handmade boxes, and engraved sleeves, increase the connection between the artist and the receiver of these packs in a way that is literally seen and felt throughout. "

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So what are the kinds of "curiosities" that the Apothecary has in store for us this time? Just as their predecessors, Seronda Sentiments and Verana Virtues continue Alex's love for visual and tangible luxury, with an extravagant production to please the senses of sight and touch. Even the standard versions of these decks have tuck cases with linen-textured card-stock and sculptured embossing, along with all the trimmings, including stylish silver and gold foil on the cover, while the cards themselves are finished with metallic gold ink to enhance the sense of luxury and class.

Similar to Primavera Ponderings and Inverno Insights, the tuck boxes list mysterious and humorous "Ingredient Logs" and "Directions for Use".

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Seronda Sentiments (Fall)

The Seronda Sentiments deck features silver accents on an ornate design with shades of soft purple, maroon, and yellow/orange.

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The cards are jet-black on the front and back, with exquisite court cards that are immediately indicative of Alex's style, complete with stylishly shaped pips, ornate borders, and classic artwork.

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Verana Virtues (Summer)

The Verana Virtues deck on the other hand features a more earthy brown/red with orange/yellow, with gold accents.

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The artwork is similar to the companion Seronda deck, but the cards have white faces and backs instead of black.

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Aces

Each suit in the Apothecary series has the honour of getting a heavily customized Ace. Typically the Ace of Spades, with this new set this honour is given to the red suits, with the Ace of Hearts for the Seronda deck and the Ace of Diamonds for the Verana deck.

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White Label edition

The White Label editions of the two new decks are where Alex's creativity and innovation in packaging really shines.

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These limited editions have stunning gilded edges, in Lavender (Seronda deck) and Ruby (Verana deck).

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But even more amazingly is the colour changing box design that we already saw with the White Label edition of the previous two decks. This uses heat-sensitive technology that actually responds to your touch, with the Seronda box changing from Anthracite to Blush, and the Virtue box from Apricot Orange to Yellow. See a visual demonstration of this here and here.

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These decks best exemplify what the Apothecary series is all about, namely adding a tactile dimension in addition to the obvious visual appeal, thus providing an experience that the digital age cannot mimic.

The colour changing White Label editions are also capped with a lovely white sleeve, hand engraved in metallic ink; this sleeve is also hand signed, numbered, dated, and handwrapped by Alex himself, for an extra touch of uniqueness and style.

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Black Label edition

Like the previous pair of decks, some exclusive Black Label editions are also available, which add a customized sleeve made of premium black stock to the standard deck. Not only is it hand engraved in gold and silver metallic ink, but it is also hand signed, numbered, dated, and handwrapped similar to the White Label editions.

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Just like the first two Apothecary decks, these two new releases look to be fantastic additions to the series, and to Alex's ongoing legacy of stylish playing cards.


*** CONCLUSIONS ***

What do I think?

Packaging: It's obvious from the moment that you look at the packaging of any of these decks that Alex isn't an amateur. There is good reason has won design awards for his creative packaging, and he knows how to make decks incredibly stylish right from the outset. These decks have all the luxury you can expect: not just the embossing and gold/silver foil accents that we often come to expect of high end decks nowadays, but also a very elegant style, with innovative wrap-around artwork that is stylish and beautiful.

Innovative: Alex likes pushing boundaries and doing things differently. Not only has he really done something special with his wrap-around packaging concept, but he's shown innovation in other ways as well - a colour changing deck, for example, which adds a whole new element to a tactile experience; and the two piece design of the 2017 NPCCD deck. He's a guy who likes to create and experiment, and that immediately makes his decks very unusual and unique.

Artistic: I appreciate quality artwork, and the artistic designs of these decks are terrific. That begins with the tuck cases, but is especially evident on the card backs and the court cards, which are very stylish and stunning to look at. Everything feels beautifully balanced, and the colour scheme works well to enhance these delightful visual aesthetics.

Elegant: Everything about these decks screams elegance and class. The packaging. The artwork. The colours. The design. Alex really has what it takes to produce an absolutely classy product in every way. Even his website is stunning, and an outstanding example of elegant design!

Luxurious: I own quite a number of decks of playing cards, but these are easily among the most luxurious in my collection. Everything contributes to an experience of complete class and luxury, with refined and beautiful artwork, goil foil accents, and high quality tuck cases.

Thoughtful: I also really appreciate the depth of real thought that lies behind Alex's designs. For example, the Apothecary deck explores the theme of curiosity, and highlights the importance of exploring our curiosity, a sentiment that is largely becoming lost in our digital age, and yet which is an essential element that serves as the engine of achievement. Also the 52 Plus Joker deck explores the paper making process in all aspects of its design. This kind of thoughtful and philosophical underpinning behind Alex's designs gives them extra significance.

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Quality: From the decks I've seen from Seasons, the quality of the cards themselves is excellent, and they handle well. Seasons states that "Our Aristocrat stock and New Magic Finish give a guaranteed performance and handling over other standard decks". They give great performance, as you'd expect from decks produced by US Playing Card Company. It has slightly thinner cards than the Casino Bee stock used by USPCC, but the Bicycle stock used has the performance coating used in the higher end decks, making it even better quality than a standard Bicycle rider-back deck.

Outstanding: With the large number of custom playing cards constantly appearing on the market, you really need to do something different to stand out from the rest of the pack. But Alex of Seasons Playing Cards has achieved exactly that. These are truly outstanding pieces of work!

Expertise: You only need to visit the Seasons website to see that Alex really knows what he is doing. He is a skilled graphic designer, and whether he applies his talents to designing a website or a deck of playing cards, the result of his passion and expertise is clearly evident.

Portfolio52: As a creator of playing cards, Alex knows all too well the need for collectors to manage their collection, and his own passion for this has led to the creation of the Portfolio52.com database, the world's largest database for card collectors. It's an outstanding resource - and free to use. If you collect playing cards, then you absolutely can't afford to miss this wonderful tool. And do look out for the National Playing Card Collecting Day decks that have been launched on his website and portfolio52.com on October 17th each year!

Future projects: Alex is by no means done with designing playing cards, but is continuing to build his brand. The last couple of months are a good indication of how much of a contribution he is making to the custom playing card industry. The Apothecary series is in the process of being completed with the recent launch of two new decks (Seronda Sentiments and Verana Virtues) on Kickstarter. And last October the 2017 National Playing Card Collection Day deck was launched in support of Portfolio52, while the same month Alex had the honour of being the designer of 52 Plus Joker annual deck for 2017. Clearly the future is bright for this creative and talented designer, and if you're a collector of playing cards, you should definitely keep a close eye on his work, and follow what he creates next!

Where to get them? Some of the decks featured in this review series are now sold out, and you'll have to head to the secondary market to try to acquire them. But many of the decks are still available directly from Alex at his Seasons website here. Some of the National Playing Card Collection Day decks might still available at the official website here, but when I last checked they appeared to be sold out. You'll find the new Apothecary Kickstarter which has just launched here, and for news of other new decks in the future, tune in to Alex's social media here.

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Recommendation

It's not hard to tell that I'm very impressed with the calibre of Alex Chin's work, especially his creativity and ability to explore new territory in the world of custom playing cards. Certainly his decks of playing cards are superbly artistic and beautiful - but such praise can apply to a lot of custom playing cards in the current market. What makes him stand out above the pack, however, is his willingness to innovate in areas such as interactive packaging, and his superb skills in graphic design, with precise and perfect attention to the details that matter. It's these skills and expertise that enable him to take things to the next level when it comes to adding the small touches of luxury that make all the difference, such as exquisite gold embossing and gilding. It's hard to imagine his playing cards being any better than what they are, because it's evident that Alex has carefully given consideration to every last detail.

Alex's expertise and familiarity with the digital world also means that the images and design of his web site is absolutely second-to-none. Alex has also drawn on these abilities to give back to the playing card community with the creation of Portfolio52, an excellent free database for card collectors, and for that alone he deserves our applause and support.

If you like what you see, then consider heading to his website and seeing what he has on offer. The playing card industry needs important contributors like Alex, and he needs every encouragement to continue the fine contributions he has already made, with the hope that the future will continue to bring more good things from Alex Chin and Seasons Playing Cards.

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Want to learn more?
Seasons Playing Cards: www.seasonsplayingcards.com
National Card Collection Day: www.nationalcardcollectionday.com
Portfolio52: www.portfolio52.com
Apothecary Kickstarter: www.kickstarter.com/projects/seasonscard......changing

Follow Seasons Playing Cards on social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter

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Direct links for the decks featured in this review series:
- Seasons series: Verana deck, Inverno deck, Primavera deck, Seronda deck (Summer, Winter, Spring, Fall)
- Magna Carta series: Rebels deck, Royals deck (White, Black)
- Apothecary series: Inverno Insights, Primavera Ponderings, Seronda Sentiments , Verana Virtues (Winter, Spring, Fall, Summer)
- NPCCD series: 2016 NPCCD deck, 2017 NPCCD deck (Green/Pink, Pearl/Midnight Gold)

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EndersGame
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Reviewer EndersGame
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Here are links to the entire series of reviews about Alex Chin's playing cards:

Part 1: The Seasons series
http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewt......c=652809

Part 2: The Magna Carta series
http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewt......c=652909

Part 3: The NPCCD and The 52 Plus Joker decks
http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewt......c=653025

Part 4a: The Apothecary series (Spring and Winter)
http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewt......c=658663

Part 4b: The Apothecary series (Fall and Summer)
http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewt......c=658664
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Deck the Halls » » Pictorial Review: Alex Chin - Part 4b: The Apothecary series (Fall & Summer) (0 Likes)
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