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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Deck the Halls » » Pictorial Review: Odyssey Playing Cards (Limited & Boreal) (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

EndersGame
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*** HANSON CHIEN PRODUCTION COMPANY ***

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Hanson Chien

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 Chicken Nuggets Playing Cards. Simultaneously a recreation of the iconic and legendary Jerry's Nugget Playing Cards, as well as a parody that poked fun at fast food culture, this highly amusing deck proved very popular (see my review here).

As a skilled magician and card flourisher, Hanson has made many other contributions to both magic and cardistry. But of special interest to us is that he entered the custom playing card industry by starting up his own publishing company, Hanson Chien Production Company (HCPC), which prints quality playing cards in Taiwan. In addition to producing his own Chicken Nugget decks, Hanson has also produced some other fantastic and beautiful designs, most of which are 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'm covering in this review series. The previous installment was on the Pearl Playing Cards (see my review here), while this installment will cover the Odyssey Playing Cards.

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*** ODYSSEY DECKS ***

There is something wonderful about looking up into the night sky. The stars, other planets, wonderful galaxies - these are all so awe-inspiring to gaze upon, and the beauty of them is amazing. The Odyssey Playing Cards allow you to enjoy a wonderful array of distant space in your own hands, where you can indeed feel the universe.

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These wonderful playing cards were designed by Sergio Roca, from the company Feel the Universe. In 2014 Sergio had idea of combining two of his passions: cosmology and playing cards. He's always loved everything related to physics, cosmology, and astrophysics, and has read a great deal about it. The Odyssey playing cards are based on the Orion's nebula, one of the most beautiful nebulas we can see from the Earth. By creating playing cards with this theme, Sergio wanted to evoke a sense in which you can feel the universe in your hands, as a reminder we are not alone in this universe - even when performing magic or cardistry. The name of his company also reflects this concept: Feel the Universe!

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After two years of hard work, a limited edition deck was released in 2016 on Kickstarter. More than 250 people funded the project, and it was funded in only four days, reaching 200% of the goal needed. Since then, this limited deck has become well known and recognized amongst cardists, and due to its great art, high demand and popularity, its price has increased significantly on the secondary market.

The following year Sergio created a sequel deck, Odyssey Boreal, with a similar graphic design but different colour scheme.

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== Odyssey Limited deck ==

The tuck case of the Odyssey Limited deck is a simple white colour with a single line and border across the front of the deck. The line has changing gradient of colours incorporates various stars, showing how it is a piece of the universe. The name of the deck, Odyssey, is featured on the top and bottom of the deck, while the sides show various printing and company information, and the front also has the words "Limited Edition". The back of the box features a triangle that seems to be Feel the Universe’s trademark. A small star enhances the opening flap of the tuck.

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What is great about this tuck case is how all the different elements - the stripe, words and triangle - aren’t just a single colour, but are composed of pink and dark purple galaxy. This adds some beautiful colour to the tuck and makes it very visually appealing. The simplicity of the tuck box's design really makes these colours stand out, as most of the tuck box is white, and it creates a very nice effect.

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The back design of these cards also has the pink to purple colours as seen on the tuck case, creating good unity between cards and box. The cards were inspired by Orion’s Nebula, located in Orion’s Belt, and the nebula has a whole beautiful array of colours from the star's radiation, creating that amazing look that we all love to admire in space.

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The back design is composed of a bordered image of a wonderfully arrayed Nebula, with the pink and dark colours and pin-pricks of light really making it appear to be as if you are looking out into space. These colours make the cards look great from a distance, and the wonderful detail makes them look even better up close.

A simple white line crosses from one corner of the card to the other. This makes the cards look very interesting and gives an extra element that looks good for cuts.

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The faces of these cards are also very unique and heavily customized. The composition of the faces is a very simplistic and geometric design, making it ideal for cardistry. Each pip is composed of simple shapes with lines going through them, creating unity between the pips and the back design.

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The court cards are composed of simple shapes as well, and their colour is taken from the wonderful starry background that appears elsewhere in the deck, and makes them look very impressive. A blank circle is in the centre of each court card, incorporating the relevant suit pip. This circle makes spins have a focus point, enhancing them greatly, and the pip makes it easier to figure out which suit it is.

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The colours of the card faces fit well with the card backs, to ensure that the deck feels like a coherent unit. And since the cards are also bordered, there is great clarity between cards, making cuts look amazing with the colours and line all together. The fact that the colours change from pink to dark along the card allows the cards to create beautiful fans and spreads.

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The two Jokers are identical, making them ideal for some magic routines. For the indices of the Jokers there is a star similar to that found on classic Jokers, but these look more impressive. The Joker's graphical image itself is very simple with two triangles above and below the name of the deck, Odyssey.

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As for the pips on all the cards, the colours used for these also feature the starry background from the backs of the cards. This makes the whole deck have a great deal of the same colour, and emphasizes the colourful impact the cards create.

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While the faces might not be standard and easily recognisable, they are very impressive looking. The indices are in a clear font, and what is interesting is the fact that instead of having the number 10 as their indices, the tens have the Roman numeral X, which is an interesting and unique touch. A whole uncut sheet of this deck impressively displays the card faces, as can be seen below.

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The Limited Edition of the Odyssey deck was printed on Hanson Chien Production Company's Classic Paper Stock with their Magic Finish. The cards have a very high quality, and the finish and embossing allows them to fan smoothly, easily, evenly, and consistently, making them highly suitable for striking spreads, fans, and other such moves.

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See the official video trailer for the Odyssey Limited deck here:



== Odyssey Boreal deck ==

Sergio Roca wasn't done with feeling the universe after the first deck of Odyssey Playing Cards was released. He wanted to create another deck of cards that was different to most decks, and yet retained the same idea and feel of the original Odyssey deck, while still being different to it.

And so a year later he released a second Odyssey deck, the Odyssey Boreal deck - another great set of playing cards!

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The tuck case of this edition is very similar to the Limited Edition. It features the same design with a line across the front, just in a different colour than previously, being shades of blue rather than pink and purple. As before, the Odyssey title is located on the top and bottom of the box, with the sides having printing information on them. On the back of the box is a triangle with lines through it, which you might recognise from its link with the design used for the spades pip.

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The colours of this back design are a light and dark blue nebula, which Sergio Roca says reminds him of the Aurora Borealis, a beautiful display of nature showing its wonder in beautiful light displays.

Like the limited deck, the back design of these cards also features a line going from corner to corner. But instead of this line being white and the rest of the card back being coloured, for this deck the line is the coloured part of the design, as is a thin border going around the edge of the cards.

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Since the cards still have a border, this makes it look great for packet cuts, and it also shows up in fans and spreads which improves their look vastly.

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The faces of this deck are entirely custom, featuring the same design as in the Limited Edition deck, but with a different colour scheme, being different shades of blue in this deck. Each pip has been totally customised with a variety of simple shapes and designs to create a very geometric looking effect.

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Since all the faces of these cards all contain varying shades of blue like the back design, this creates a lot of unity throughout the whole deck, and makes it great for cardistry and all the cards look good together in different moves.

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The court cards also are totally customised and are composed of simple shapes as well. A circle in the centre of each court contains suit pip, and helps create a point of interest for spins and other flourishes.

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The overall design also makes it match the Limited Edition deck very well, as it is a very similar design and yet different.

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Finally there are two identical and minimalist Jokers, each containing the name of the deck on them, Odyssey.

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The line that passes through the cards creates interesting effects in displays and other cardistry moves, of which one can be seen below (the move pictured is Zach Mueller's Bloom).

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All the face cards can be seen below in the form of an uncut sheet.

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Hanson Chien Production Company has printed these cards on their Luxury Paper Stock with their Magic Finish. This paper stock is super soft, and the deck handles amazingly right out of the box. The soft stock makes it so nice to handle, and it is hard to go back to a normal stock after feeling how nice this one is! The finish also creates easy and smooth fanning and spreading of the cards, which is very helpful. The cut of this deck is a standard cut, but these cards faro shuffle with ease, which all makes this deck so enjoyable to handle. For a card flourisher, it is a dream to use!

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See the official video trailer for the Odyssey Boreal deck here:




*** CONCLUSIONS ***

What do I think?

Odyssey: The Odyssey decks are also wonderful decks of playing cards. While also usable in various ways, they are especially ideal for cardistry, with their colourful and eye-catching back designs, and the custom geometric faces. It has a colourful, minimalist, and futuristic design that lends it particularly well for card flourishing, and the whole sense of unity throughout the decks makes them especially suitable for this purpose. The galaxy theme might also make collectors drawn to them, and they certainly are a beautiful custom deck that looks great on the shelf. They're less suitable for magic due to the unorthodox pips, which lack some of the clarity needed in identifying suits easily, but that's not really a criticism since it's obvious that these decks are going to be most at home in the hands of a passionate cardist. The two decks also fit well together as a pair. Sergio Roca has done a great job designing these cards with the idea of giving you playing cards that let you have a sense of holding a distant nebula in your hands.

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.

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Recommendation

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!

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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

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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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