It will be this year, 2010 (which I have spoken strangely about, but that's another story!) that the U.S.P.C.C (United States Playing Card Company) first opened their doors and released a force to be reckoned with (or a really great brand of playing cards). Families across the world have used these cards for entertainment, gambling, magic tricks, and for some people, weapons. From 1885-2010, the U.S.P.C.C has remained strong and very resourcefull when it came to entertainment. Then in 2009, they were bought out and stopped original production of the deck we have come to love and use. And this year, 2010, marks the 125 anniversary of Bicycle, bringing the 'Bicycle 125 Anniversary Edition' playing cards as well as my review.
After peeling open this deck of cards, I was shocked to find that it's no surprise these have been getting such rave reviews from some of the top NON Magic organizations. I have never been one for purchasing playing cards online, nor have I ever been one to review a deck of cards, but this year Christmas has come early. But after handling them, I can easily say that these playing cards have handled the smoothest and most elegantly. Theory11 has certainly put their effort over the top, setting a brand new bar the modern world has never seen before. And I say modern, because these cards are essentially a modernized version of one of the original designs for Bicycle's original brand name playing card.
There is a lot of really interesting history inside one small pack of these playing cards. And as a Magician-to-Magician, these cards were quite refreshing to handle and even just to lay eyes on! And I know, there are TONS (possibly HUNDREDS) of unique decks of cards out there that claim to be nothing but the best, but in all reality, nothing works better for everyone than the "original recipe". So the history: Inside the case, there are 2 playing cards you see first. Each one has the faded back design of the rest of the deck in different colors. So one card will have a blue back design, and one of them will have a red back design. Each one is faded. Printed onto each side of these cards, are very fun facts about the U.S.. Playing Card Company starting back at the roots of Military days where these cards were used for psychological warfare as well as escape routes for the prisoners. (Snapple can eat it)
Now to break into my more serious review mode, what you will find in a surprisingly impressive little package is very well thought out and also very special. It's wrapped like every other deck hanging on the shelf at your local Walgreens or Shoprite, but do not let that fool you. One thing I found wrong about this, is that on the website the cards are advertised with special edition foil deck seals. Well the seal on my deck was very thin (thinner than usual) as well as non-metalic. Perhaps it was a screw up on the printers fault, I don't know. I'm not a doctor. But one thing I did find interesting and worth your money, is the case. I know, it sounds really geeky, but I think I can speak on a lot of consumer's behalfs when I say we are tired of the plain old cardboard case that wears out with casual pocket use. All you needed to do was have one in your pocket when you sat down and your case would warp into something crazy. Well this material was very thick as well as glossy, like a photograph. It almost hurts your eyes when you look at it on a certain angle from the sun because of the metalic characteristics. Of course the design is a little souped up to look somewhat unique. One thing I was most impressed about though was the back design of the case. It felt good to see a case that doesn't have advertisements on them like those of the current owner of the U.S.P.C.C.
As for the actual deck itself, I would say right off the bat that these handle more gracefully than your average deck of playing cards (Maybe because the average deck of a family has been wrapped in a rubber band, dipped in water, and aged for 10 years) or maybe because these were produced on a more finely touched scale. I noticed that they were slightly more stiff than most other playing cards I have played with in the past, but not TOO thick. I would say just right. Of course the dealio with the back design is that it was printed as a modernized vintage illustration and they look almost like royalty somehow. The faces of the cards have changed as well. You could see from photographs of the deck that under every index of every card bares a little index that reads "1885-2010". Short but wise. And the way each pip was printed is more generic than usual, meaning that they have less shape to them but look wonderfull nonetheless. As for court cards, they look vintage and again, more generic. In fact, they almost look sad to me. At the border of the court cards reads "125th Anniversary Edition".
When you first pick up this deck of cards and sit down with them, I would say to stand back up. You will feel like an absolute card-star. WIth perfect fluidity to the quality of each card, you will never look at playing cards as simple pieces of paper (Err, um PASTEBOARD) ever again. I can be almost certain that you will not find this deck of cards at your Grandmother's house sitting in the drawer with a rubber band and lots of wear (Oh wait, did I already use this analogy? Crap). If perfectly symmetrical card fans or table spreads, second deals, faros, or even table riffle faros are your dream, then Erdnase's techniques pretty much execute themselves when these playing cards are at use.
Available at...wherever as well as most of your favorite Magic vendors. $4.95 per deck. Available soon for public demand! (I'll be first in line so watch it...)
Wow! great review... I hadn't heard of these yet but now I want 'em haha!