The Fournier 605s (Lee Asher Signature Series)
Well I just got these cards and thought I would give you all a review. Since there is no convenient “sticky” to guide me down the path of a card review I will strike off on my own here and try to cover all the bases.Price:
$10:99 per deck or $98.88 per dozenWhere to buy: http://www.leeasher.com/store/playing_c ... brown.htmlInitial Impression:
When I first pulled them out of the box I was struck by the smooth surface of the cards. The cards that are locally produced (Korea) have a similar finish, are made entirely of plastic, and are AWFUL! So I was initially concerned that I had wasted a lot of money. That impression was completely dispelled not long after playing with these cards. These cards do have a plastic coating but they are not plastic cards. After about 20 minutes of fiddling with them I began to see why Lee Asher had chosen these cards for his signature series.The Look:
This one is too subjective to get a rating so I’ll just give you my thoughts as well as an idea of what you will find inside. I love the look of these. In my opinion they are by far the most unique cards on the market right now. I enjoy the look of the Bikes as well as the Ghost, Black Tiger, Propaganda, etc. however there is only so much you can do with black white and grey. The colors are subdued green and brown and the design harkens back to a time when card players and magicians went to the tables wearing tuxedos. The court cards, like the back design, have an old world feel to the artwork. There is no heavy metal or glam rock flash in this design. This one looks dignified and classy. Card construction:
As I said in the intro these will feel decidedly different then a bike right out of the box. Bike use an air glide principle (the dimples you feel on the backs and faces) where as the Fournier decks are smooth to the touch. The marketing description mentions they use a thicker stock. I assumed this meant it would be a thicker card but this was not the case. There is a thick card stock sandwiched between to thin pieces of paper that are coated in plastic. When all is put together the Fournier deck is a few cards thicker than a standard Bicycle deck but a few cards thinner than a Bike Masters ed and the other UV500 decks. This may be of interest to those with smaller hands. The length and width is the same as any poker sized playing card. The cards are individually cut from the press giving the cards perfectly rounded corners. This also perfectly aligns the artwork so in theory you could cut two cards in half and line it up perfectly with one and other (this will be of use for people who make their own Gaffs).Durability:
Durability will factor in over time as I edit this post in the future. See the appendix for a better understanding of how to interpret this.Handling: Fanning:
This is perhaps the Fournier weakest attribute. They tend to fan a little blockier, and a little less even than a standard Bike. This should be taken with this in mind. I have always used my fan more for card selections and displaying a shuffled deck (practical applications) as opposed to a flourish. As such I tend to do a no frills one handed fan and never bothered to properly learn a pressure fan. Therefore if you are good with fanning you may better adapt to how these handle. One thing I did notice is that stronger pressure on these cards improves the fan.
Out of the box: 6
2 weeks: 8
3 weeks: 7
1 month: 82+Card Obfuscations:
(Hiding 2 or more cards as one as in DL, Fluke moves, etc.) These cards hold together in a group nicely. I can see why the inventor of the Diving Board Double liked them so much. In addition the smooth finish makes it a little harder to detect if you were to pull a slightly misaligned double.
Out of the box: 9
3 weeks: 8.5
1 month: 8.8Spring Moves:
If you like snapping your cards for productions or springing cards this is the deck for you. They spring so sharp and nicely you may have to adjust your technique to keep from having them go flying on the floor or worse yet….imbedded in the eyes of your spectator! Ninjas could use them as throwing stars!
Out of the box: 9.8
2 weeks: 9.5
3 weeks: 9.0
1 month: 9.0Dribbles:
It will take more hand strength to dribble these cards but when achieved these seem to dribble singly and not in clumps. I’ll give this an 8.5. If you have strong hands slide this rating up and if you have weaker hands slide this scale down.
Out of the box: 8.5
2 weeks: 9
3 weeks: 8.5
1 month: 9Crimp hold and recovery:
The cards crimp nicely and retain their shape until you remove the crimp. After removing a crimp it is near impossible to find any damage done.
Out of the box: 9.5
2 weeks: 9.5
3 weeks: 9.0
1 month: 9.0Single card glides:
This one is hard to evaluate. As mentioned with both fanning and 2+obfuscations the cards seem to hold together well, however for certain single card moves (Erdnase changes and similar moves) they glide free from one and other quite nicely. For other single card moves (Venus and other similar moves) the sticking properties seem to come out. I’m no physicist so don’t ask me why that is.
Out of the box: 8
2 weeks: 9
1 month: 9XCM cuts:
What is good for an XCM deck varies depending on the specific style you tend to follow. Read the handling categories to get a better feel for how they might perform for your style. As a general thought these cards fit my style quite nicely. The only move I’ll have trouble with is the Anaconda dribble (a move that requires strong hands even with a standard bike deck). If you do XCM and have smaller hands these might be a better choice than thicker decks like the Bike UV 500s.Card splitting and Gaff construction/availability:
There are no Gaffs commercially available for the Fournier cards. That said if the gaff cards you are after are in the realm of passive applications here are a few thoughts. The cards split similar to a standard bike but you will need to be more careful. As I said in the construction section the outer paper is thinner and the card stock is thicker. Thus it takes a bit longer to cleanly spit these cards. You will need to do this if you need a double backer. You can use a standard bike double facer if you want. Keep this in mind if you do. You will notice the difference in the cards (Bike have dimples and these don’t) but your spectators likely won’t see or notice this. The ace of spades and court cards are distinct enough that you wouldn’t want to use any of these for a gaff however the font type and size is close enough that all other cards will be ok when displayed together. Finally, because of differing glide characteristics the double backed bikes will likely be more prominent in a spread. (I.e. the fan will block out near the DB cards)Who should not buy?:
These are an expensive deck of cards and have a stiffer, springier action in the handling. I would not recommend them for beginner card workers or people with weak hands. Some of the benefits of these cards may even be lost on intermediates. I would not recommend purchasing these until you can appreciate the handling differences between standard Bicycles and Bicycles made with the UV500. People who rely heavily on Gaff cards but are not skilled, or patient, enough to make their own may also want to avoid these.Who should buy these?:
Advanced and Intermediate card workers who are looking for a cards that are made to perform complex sleights. Also if you are looking for some cards that have a style distinct from the standard red and blues common in most American cards and you don’t want to feel pressured by your cards to get nipple piercing and tattoos, then these cards are for you. If you think of the Bee’s, Talley Ho’s, and Bike UV500s as muscle cars then it is fitting that a European manufacturer made the Ferrari of playing cards. You pay for what you get and Ferrari’s aren’t cheap. If you want to just try one out you will pay over $10 for a pack. I strongly recommend you buy a brick for $100. This brings the price down to a more reasonable $8.00 a pack.Final Thoughts:
The more I mess around with these the more I appreciate them. They truly are a work of art both visually and in performance. Pictures can’t do these cards the justice they deserve. You really need to pick them up, look at them close, see the light catch on the finish, feel how they move, and watch them in performance to appreciate these beauties. They are certainly not without their flaws and performance quirks but they are about as close to the perfect deck of cards that you can get. Appendix A:
Durability is an important component of evaluating a card but cards seem to age differently from one and other. Because of that I will give a rating 1-10 under each of the card handling categories and come back to edit this post after 2 weeks (The average life span of a standard Bicycle deck in my hands) 1 month (the average lifespan of a Bicycle UV500 finish deck in my hands) and after 2 months (If its’ still useable). To give you an idea of how I use (and abuse) cards it might be helpful to know a bit about me. I have very few formal practice sessions (perhaps only 1-2 hours a week) but I tend to practice while watching TV, waiting for a bus, sitting through boring lectures, and other similar moments throughout the day. In total I estimate I get around 12 – 15 hours a week of practice. My style is a mix of Hard and Soft techniques. Much of my pass work and go to sleights are relatively easy on cards but I use techniques like the Diving Board DL, Aaron Fisher popout, and a couple of false in the hands shuffles that tend to bend and snap cards. I also enjoy some XCM cuts and flourishes (not that these damage cards per say but my cards have a tendency to fall on the floor a bit)
**I used the Bicycle Air Cushion deck(standard Bike deck) as a base line for all grades. Assume that on this grading system a deck of plain old bikes would grade a 7 in all categories.**This was quite the long review. I'll return for some edits at a later time but I wanted to submit before losing it all