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Chicken Nuggets Playing Cards

While well-known in Taiwan, magician Hanson Chien came onto the international radar in a big way and with much fanfare when he burst onto the custom playing card scene with his immensely successful and highly amusing Chicken Nuggets Playing Cards.

Most card collectors are very familiar with the legendary Jerry's Nugget Playing Cards from the 1970s, which is one of the most iconic and valuable decks of cards you can get. Today they can fetch up to $500 on the secondary market, and they are the holy grail of card collecting. Aside from their unique handling qualities and iconic status, what the Jerry's Nuggets unique is that they are impossible to replicate due to changes in printing processes.

But magicians specialize in the art of making the impossible possible, and so Hanson Chien set out to use his magic to remake them - but very much tongue in cheek. His aim was to breathe new life into the original deck by recreating it in painstaking detail. At the same time, he turned it into a humorous parody by poking fun at fast food culture and junk food consumption. And so presto, like a rabbit out of the hat, the hilarious Chicken Nuggets Playing Cards were released in 2016, and have been a huge success. You can see my detailed pictorial review of the Chicken Nugget decks here.


Hanson Chien

But Hanson is clearly a man of many talents, and he has many accomplishments besides creating the Chicken Nugget playing cards. He's well known in the world of magic and cardistry as a skilled magician and card flourisher. He was one of the select attendees at this year's international Cardistry Con along with big names like Dan and Dave Buck, whom he considers as friends. He is particularly respected in his home country of Taiwan, where his creativity in magic is highly regarded. He is also creator of the DVD Touch, which features impromptu effects with a rubber band. He's active on various social media sites, where he makes regular contributions with photos and videos.

In addition, he has also set up his own playing card company. The Chicken Nugget decks were printed in Taiwan by Hanson's own publishing company, Hanson Chien Production Company (HCPC). Taiwan is also where industry leaders like Expert Playing Card Company operate and get their decks printed, and it has an excellent reputation for producing quality playing cards. Proving that he isn't just a one-trick pony, Hanson Chien's company has also produced some other fantastic and beautiful designs besides the Chicken Nugget decks, most of these designs geared towards the world of cardistry. Examples include the stylish Red Stripe deck, the artistic Pearl, the minimalist Frostbite, and the bright Odyssey deck, and it's some of these that I'll cover in this review.



There's a word that fits this project perfectly. Inspired by the beauty of nature, the Pearl Playing Cards are this: Beautiful. The radiant colours, the exuberant designs, and the vibrant look - it all captures something of exquisite natural beauty.

Two versions of this deck were printed and produced by the Hanson Chien Production Company: Pearl Sunrise and and Pearl Sunset.


The tuck boxes use an imported paper stock that has a natural sheen to it, which makes them look magnificent. This is particularly evident with the interior of the tuck boxes, which have the colour and shine of pearls, and look rather stunning.


They also feature a beautiful hand-painted design all the way across the box in the two different colour palettes according to the different decks. An added touch of luxury comes in the form of a signature on the tuck box lid, one in gold foil and the other in bronze foil.


Pearl Sunrise deck

The Pearl Sunrise deck is named after a painting by the famous Impressionist painter Monet, entitled "Impression, Sunrise". There's an epic video about the ideas that inspired this set of playing cards here.


The back designs of these cards is a hand painted design from Estonian artist Toomas Pintson, who also created the Mondrian, Mako, and Big Boy No1 decks. He first tried launching an earlier version of his Sunrise deck on Indiegogo in 2015, without success. The original design subsequently underwent revision and improvement after ending up in the hands of Hanson Chien.

The design features a variety of colours that swirl on the card and mix and meld into one another to create a beautiful piece of art. The cards are also bordered, which creates clarity from one card to another in different moves and can be helpful for some magic.

The Ace of Spades is absolutely gorgeous, and contains a sample of the artwork found on the card backs, which not only looks beautiful, but helps ensure that the whole deck feels like a coherent unity.


The court cards of these decks are truly wonderful. They maintain the main design and pattern of the usual court cards, but feature the paint design through the rest of the court card.


Despite the interesting artistic effect created by this, the standard indices with a traditional pip keeps these cards very standard and so very usable for card games or card magic.

The reds of the Diamonds and Hearts pips are slightly less garish than usual, with a metallic red ink, while the traditional black of the Clubs and Spades employ a metallic gold colour that complements the rest of the Sunrise palette beautifully.


I really can't say enough about how well the colours of the card faces complement and fit with the card backs!


There are two identical Jokers in each deck, each of which features a ribbon of colour in a painted style that matches the rest of the deck's design, and produces a simple yet elegant splash of vibrant colour.

Besides the artistic Jokers, there's also an information card that explains the significance of the deck's name and origin.


Hanson Chien Production Company has produced this deck on their Classic Stock with their Magic finish, and this makes the cards great to handle, fanning very evenly, and creating great patterns due to their design.

See the official video trailer for the Pearl decks here:

Pearl Sunset deck

The Pearl Sunset deck is an altered version of the Sunrise deck. While the overall design is the same, it adds the oranges and reds that we typically see with a glorious sunset to the more yellowed colour palette of the Sunrise deck.


Like its companion deck, the Sunset deck was also inspired by Monet's Sunrise painting. While using the same Impressionist theme, it has a slightly different colour scheme for all the cards.


Special mention can be made of the Aces, which in both decks are oversized and feature elements of the hand-painted design from the back design of the deck. This results in great looking Aces, and also ensures unity between the cards.


Noticeable in the above picture is how the Hearts and Diamonds pips use metallic red colours that are a slightly deeper red than those from the Sunrise deck. Also, instead of a metallic gold colour, the Spades and Club pips now use a metallic bronze colour that fits better with the sunset colours.


The number cards of the decks are mostly traditional, as they are standard in shape and design, but they have the adjusted metallic/rose colours used for the Hearts and Diamonds. Once again, there is a wonderful coherency between the card faces and card backs, with a sea of vibrant colours.


The Joker has the same design as that of the other deck, but again has an adjusted colour palette, showcasing the radiance of sunset colours.


Unlike the Sunrise deck, this deck has been printed with the company's Royal finish, which is slightly less slippery, and thus handles slightly differently. But both decks look and perform terrific. They are great looking decks that are perfect for artists who might love this paint design, or just for anyone who appreciates a beautiful design and an artistic look in a high performance deck of playing cards!

See another official video trailer for the Pearl decks here:


What do I think?

Pearl: I was just blown away by the Sunrise and Sunset decks when I first saw them. I was immediately impressed the moment when I held the colourful tuck boxes in my hand, with their pearl-like sheen. The impressionist style artwork on the bordered card backs were nice, but what really blew me away was how this had been incorporated onto the gorgeous court cards and signature Ace of Spades, with a stunning visual look that still employed classic pips and indices. Metallic inks for the clubs and spades finishes off the elegant look beautifully. It's an absolute treat to hold these cards in your hands, and I love how they are a fantastic blend of the traditional and the artistic, making them suitable for practical use and for visual flourishes. It's hard to say which of the two I like best - I think in the end I appreciate each of them even more alongside each other, because they complement each other beautifully as a set. Outstanding!

Quality: All the playing cards I've seen and used that were printed by the Hanson Chien Production Company have been of high quality, and performed very well. The cards are printed in Taiwan, which is where the printing facilities used by other industry leaders like Expert/Legends Playing Cards are, but in private correspondence with me Hanson confirmed that his company doesn't work in partnership with Expert or Legends. HCPC even developed their own stock and finish, as he told me about the playing cards from the Chicken Nugget decks: "We called it Artist paper stock, combined our magic finish." He described the specifications for the stock and finish of those decks as follows: "These playing cards are made of German Koehler playing card board and coated with special finish." So while these cards aren't produced by a big name or well-known publisher like USPCC or EPCC/LPCC, like other decks printed in Taiwan they are of high quality in terms of card stock and finish. Like EPCC/LPCC decks, the cut is also noticeably smoother and cleaner than a USPCC produced deck.

Handling: Not all the decks produced by Hanson Chien Production Company use the same stock and finish. For example, the Chicken Nugget decks handle somewhat like the Master/Diamond finish from EPCC/LPCC, with a relatively firm stock that is long-lasting and very snappy. In contrast the stock of the Odyssey Boreal deck is super soft, and if you are a cardist you will love it! The two Pearl decks even use a different finish from one another, with the Sunrise having a Magic finish and the Sunset having a Royal finish, which also results in a slightly different handling performance. In all cases the decks have a very smooth cut, so the edges of the deck are not rough but nice and smooth, which makes them great to handle in the fingers. And although there are variations in paper stock and finish, all of them have an air cushion style embossing that relies on tiny dimples on the cards, to ensure that the cards spread and fan easily right out of the box. Overall I'm very impressed with the look, feel and performance of these playing cards, and the level of quality seems to be close to that of other Taiwanese publishing companies like EPCC/LPCC.

Where to get them: So where can you get hold of your own copy of some of these playing cards? You can purchase some of their playing cards from their official Facebook pages here or here, or at an online retailer specializing in playing cards, like Rare Playing Cards, which sells the Red Stripe deck, Pearl Sunrise, and Pearl Sunset.



So are the decks from Hanson Chien Production Company for you? As you can see from the photos, these are all some stunning decks of playing cards. They will especially be enjoyed and appreciated by those who enjoy card flourishing - just as Hanson himself does! The Pearl decks also have application for card magic and card games; certainly that's how I myself also use these decks, and they really add class and style to a traditional card game. Thankfully the quality look is also backed up by quality printing and performance, and these Taiwan-produced decks also handle beautifully.

Clearly Hanson Chien's Chicken Nugget project was not a flash in the pan or a one-hit wonder, and with these new decks he's proving that he can't only produce the equivalent of fast food, but also the equivalent of a three course dinner. Appetizer, main course, or dessert - whatever you choose, as long as Hanson is your chef, you should be pleased with what he cooks up in the custom playing card kitchen!


Want to learn more?
Hanson Chien Production Company: Official website, Facebook, Instagram
Hanson Chien on social media: Youtube channel, Facebook, Instagram

Direct links for where some the decks featured in this review series can be purchased:
- Pearl Sunrise and Pearl Sunset
- Odyssey Boreal
- Red Stripe


BoardGameGeek reviewer EndersGame - click here to see all my pictorial reviews: => Magic Reviews <==> Playing Card Reviews <==> Board Game Reviews <==

Want me to write a review of your playing cards or magic? Contact me via Private Message.
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