(Close Window)
Topic: Glut?
Message: Posted by: stoneunhinged (Sep 24, 2013 06:07AM)
Dear Café friends,

I'm very interested that Steve has started a new forum to discuss the plethora of new decks that seem to be hitting the market almost daily.

But such a forum seems to invite a rather obvious question: is it all too much?

Is there a glut in the market?

I recently looked at the kickstarter site of some ambitious young men who had the wonderful idea of resurrecting a beautiful old deck of cards--cards I would love to own. But they seem to be far from their goal, and my thoughts were along the lines of, "great idea...but there are simply too many decks on the market right now."

Are my suspicions right? Or are we looking at a renaissance of paper playing cards that will only benefit all of us?
Message: Posted by: tomsk192 (Sep 24, 2013 06:20AM)
I couldn't agree more, Stoney. I'm sure collectors appreciate them, and teenagers, but it's very rare that I see a new deck which is even remotely attractive.
Message: Posted by: gadfly3d (Sep 24, 2013 09:21AM)
If people want to collect cards I guess that's fine but for performing I will stick to the bikes I get at Costco,

Gil Scott
Message: Posted by: Steve Brooks (Sep 24, 2013 10:15AM)
Generally speaking, magicians could care less about all the various custom decks being introduced each week. But that's okay, this area of the Café wasn't meant for magic or magicians for that matter. In fact, it was specifically designed for the hardcore card fan as are all the forums in the [b]The Museum of Playing Cards[/b] category. However, if you're like me, magic and card collecting go hand-in-hand so it's the best of both worlds. :bwink:

Having said that, [b]stoneunhinged[/b] does indeed bring up an interesting observation and given the amount of new decks being introduced each week its no wonder.

Yet, while some decks struggle to find an audience others appear to sell out literally in a matter of hours.

Why is this?

Are some decks just designed better and the consumer recognizes this and acts accordingly, or could it be the company or individual releasing the successful deck simply understands the market better?

I think the answer is actually a little bit of both. ;)

Personally I believe that the influx of so many decks being released in such a short amount of time has caused consumers to become more particular as to which decks they choose to purchase. After all, the truth is that even an avid collector can really only afford so many packs at any given time.

Following that assumption I believe it's easy to understand that the market will begin (if it hasn't already) to police itself as it were. Meaning, the consumers themselves will force the designers to work a bit harder to make the sale. This applies whether its an official release by a well established card producer or even the new kid on the block hoping to enter the field using a crowd funding site such as Kickstarter.

The days of throwing any old design on the back of a deck, running to USPCC and printing a minimum run and hoping to make a quick buck are quickly vanishing and I think that can only be good for the market in general.

Let's face it, competition is good for us all. It forces the producers to plan projects better (this is especially true for crowd funded projects) and in the end we the consumer will certainly reap the benefits.

Looking forward I can hardly wait to see what new projects are currently in the works and I look forward with great anticipation to see how the card community evolves over time. :)
Message: Posted by: Poof-Daddy (Sep 24, 2013 10:31AM)
I believe somebody will buy a new deck to collect (if collector) or just to have a cool (not a regular old bike deck) to play a quarter ante poker night in college, But my main concern is the next generation of children growing up (even many well into their teens now) have never handled a true playing card in their life. There are just too many "online, or digital versions" that they can play on their phone, xbox, ps3, laptop... so the need for physical cards is seemingly going to dwindle greatly in our future. Take bridge cards for example, when I started in magic "Fox Lake" bridge cards were all the rage. harder and harder to find bridge cards (unless you are truly searching them out online) whereas Bikes or "cheaper Version poker size cards can still be found easily...for now :) "

I saw a post on one of the forums here a while back where the poster referred to cards as "The most Archaic Form of Magic" (paraphrasing) and that's why he wont use them. Although I strongly disagree, I see where the statement could become true if we, as magicians, and creators of card magic, do not continue to create effects that are new and exciting. I also think (back to the point of this forum) New decks on the market will help to accomplish this.

As an example: Bust out a Zombie themed deck or a SteamPunk and do a couple effects for some adults (good ol' fashon SOH stuff) talk about all the cool new decks on the market for collecting. slip that deck away after a couple effects and do "something else" then BOOM - break out the bikes and go to town with your best stuff and even wring in your gaffs in bike stock. You have already proven that you can do magic with any deck in their eyes.

Card magic was my first love in the art. I was doing a few to several card tricks since about 8 years old (most I wouldnt be caught dead performing now) but is is a passion I will never abandon. I just do more other things in my act now ie Coins, rope, IT, EIT, TT... but cards are my mainstay because it is what I am best at (and most confident at). :bikes:
Message: Posted by: stoneunhinged (Sep 24, 2013 04:52PM)
As I said, I really admire one of the recent decks, and I generally think it's probably a good thing to have so much choice.

Still, I wonder. If I had my choice, I would like there to be more emphasis on tradition than novelty. Steve pointed out that this new forum is a "museum". Good so! And yet I suffer to think that I will suffer when I run out of Steamboats, and kinda sorta wish that more effort would be put into pressuring USPCC to continue (or resurrect) old brands than to come out with the next novelty deck.

But enough of my thoughts. Lets use this new forum to look at some cards. That's what we're here for. Lamenting the loss of Steamboats is my own private cross to bear.
Message: Posted by: AceOfJokers (Jul 11, 2017 10:49AM)
I appreciate that this is a 4-year-old post but it is even more relevant today. The continual explosion of decks is just overwhelming.
Message: Posted by: WillRoya (Aug 19, 2017 11:35PM)
As most decks are relatively inexpensive I see the trend continuing but with the increased competition, the consumer gets to be more discerning. Also with the limited availability of some decks you have almost horde mentality driving up aftermarket prices. I would call it a plenitude of offerings rather then a glut.
Message: Posted by: MudMedic (Sep 25, 2017 12:43PM)
I get a glazed look when I see all the variants of Bicycle decks that are around, although some have really fit a niche...

I do a lot of wilderness work, and the Bicycle wood deck just fits in beautifully with the setting.

We lost an entire city up here to wildfires (Fort McMurray, Alberta) and the Bicycle Disasters wildfire decks came in as a nice touch when promoting rebuilding efforts.

I hope we never have to use the tornado decks, or earthquake, but just as there are so many tweaks to magic tricks, all of these decks may just fill a need for you one day...

Of course, I still can't beat the Costco price for a box of nine Bicycle decks!
Message: Posted by: EndersGame (Dec 3, 2017 07:29PM)
Someone posted a similar question in another forum, asking about the glut of custom playing cards, and what accounts for it; so I'll re-post my thoughts here as well. I collect and review decks of custom playing cards, and have been involved both with card magic and cardistry for quite some time, so I think I can shed some light on what accounts for the large amount of playing cards we're seeing today.

I would identify a number of different factors that have contributed to the rapid growth of the custom playing card market:

[b]1. CROWD-FUNDING:[/b]

A big factor is the arrival of Kickstarter crowd-funding in 2012. Prior to this, the world of custom playing cards was small, and dominated by publishing companies like Ellusionist and Theory11. Kickstarter changed that, and caused the custom playing card industry to explode, so that today we live in an era where the market is flooded with all kinds of custom decks. Technology has reached a stage where the smart graphic designer can create a quality deck of playing cards from his desktop computer at home, then partner with quality printing companies, harness the marketing power of crowd-funding via Kickstarter, and produce a lovely deck of playing cards. I've documented this development in my article here: [i][url=https://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/1801556]The life-changing Kickstarter success story of Tyler Deeb[/url][/i].

[b]2. CARDISTRY:[/b]

Another factor is the emergence of cardistry as a legitimate and separate art-form. Card flourishing comes with a unique set of requirements, and while this includes the high performance handling that magicians have always wanted, it adds to this the need for visuals that showcase the look of a deck of cards. As a result, we've seen the rise of custom playing cards which are designed exclusively for cardistry, and new decks keep appearing all the time to meet the needs and wants of cardists. Perhaps the most well-known example here is the Virtuoso deck, which was arguably the world's first deck that was created specifically for card flourishing, as I documented in my article here: [i][url=https://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/1751503]The world's first ever cards created just for cardistry[/url][/i]. An extreme example of this trend would be the School of Cardistry decks created by the New Deck Order, as shown here: [i][url=https://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/1799795]The New Deck Order's non-standard playing cards[/url][/i]. Many of the decks produced by expert card flourishers Dan and Dave Buck under their "Art of Play" label would also fall into this category, as shown here: [i][url=https://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/1879446]Playing cards for cardists from the Art of Play paradise[/url][/i].

[b]3. COLLECTORS:[/b]

Another factor driving the growing market for custom playing cards is the collector. Some people just love the novelty of custom designs, and appreciate high end artwork and unique designs, and purchase playing cards simply for their beauty and uniqueness. It may seem odd to some, but some collectors will even keep these decks sealed in shrink-wrap, and never open them. Regardless of what you think about that, the reality is that collectors can never have enough, and this creates a demand that ensures that new designs will continue to find buyers. Popular designers like Robinson Jackson, Jody Eklund, Steve Minty, Lorenzo Gaggiotti (Stockholm17), Alex Chin, and others have a legion of loyal fans who will back their new designs almost immediately, and so any Kickstarters these designers launch will almost always get funded immediately. Collectors are also attracted by novelty and bling, so anything different or out-of-the-ordinary will usually get support as well, especially in the wider market of the general public outside of magic, and for use in playing card games or even just as a novelty for the shelf.

[b]4. CASH:[/b]

Generally speaking, we are living in a time of affluence, and a lot of people have large amounts of disposable income. Not only are a lot of designs of custom playing cards hitting the market, but many cardists and magicians are in a position that they have money to spend beyond the needs of their day-to-day living costs. As a result, the cash is there to support this industry, and keep it going, and even make it grow. When people have money to spend, dangle something new and shiny in front of them, and they'll buy it.

[b]5. CHANGE:[/b]

Magic is constantly evolving, and that's true of the cards used by magicians as well. All of the above means that the market is being flooded with custom playing cards. Since they are so readily available, often at a affordable cost, we are seeing this influence the magic profession as well. Over the last decade, the internet has had a huge impact on the world of magic, because video technology makes it easy for us to see video trailers of products, and performances of other magicians. Given the wide choice of custom playing cards available, some magicians are starting to use custom playing cards in their professional work. There was a time where it was seen as foolish to use a custom deck of cards instead of a standard Bicycle rider-back deck, because it would arouse suspicion that it was a trick deck. But that's changing, and with some magicians starting to use custom decks, and performing magic in online videos and trailers, it's becoming more normal for the rest of the world to start using custom decks in magic as well, and the general public starts to get more used to this as well. I suspect that this trend will continue. Magicians do have unique needs, so the degree of customization can't be too significant - the cards need to look easily recognizable and familiar, so it is important that they be functional, and not be customized in the way a cardistry deck is. But as long as the cards are very clear and functional, a custom deck can be used. A bonus result of this is that it can make a customized marked deck look less suspicious, because people are becoming more used to a non-traditional deck being used more widely.

[b]6. CHARACTER:[/b]

Everyone likes to personalize their magic. That's important for your patter, your presentation, and your persona. It's only a small step to extend this to your props, including the playing cards you use. Again, as long as they aren't customized to the point that they distract from your magic, they can add small amounts of personality, style, and elegance to a performance. Even on a personal level, I find that it can be nice to change things up by playing around with a different deck of cards, just like someone might choose a different pair of shoes or shirt depending on their mood, or how they want to look. For example, a luxurious looking tuck box can add a real sense of sophistication and class to what you are doing, and if this fits with your performance style, this might actually strengthen your professionalism. So it can also depend on what you're doing, and whether you are going for a slick professional look in an intimate close-up setting, or a casual street magic approach - different decks might suit each situation, and while some would demand a traditional Bicycle deck, others might be stronger when using a custom deck of cards. You pick the right tool for the job you need to do. As such, I don't see this development as a negative, because it adds potential for new elements in how you use cards. Some of us like variety in aesthetics, and since magic is at bottom an art form, art can take into consideration elements like the visuals.

[b]7. CONSUMABLES:[/b]

All card magicians need to replace their decks of playing cards on a regular basis, since cards do wear out, and lose the ability to spread and fan smoothly over time. So both professional and amateur magicians alike will be buying playing cards no matter what - it's an inevitable reality of life that goes along with the trade. A deck of playing cards is simply not the kind of magic prop that you only buy once and then can use for the rest of your life, but it's a consumable. So there is a steady market of regular users who need new playing cards from time to time, and will be buying replacement products. This means that there is already a large and established market of those who are purchasing playing cards for conjuring use and card magic. Customized cards are just another way to meet this existing and ongoing need, and they give magicians a greater choice and variety to pick from.

[b]8. COMPETITION:[/b]

The makers of the Bicycle brand of playing cards, United States Playing Card Company (USPCC), has been around for a long time, and is certainly an industry giant with a wonderful reputation for quality. Their playing cards continue to have a monopoly type dominance in the playing card industry, and they have to be considered the main publisher of quality decks of cards, including those used for card magic. But times are changing, and with advances in technology, we are seeing other publishers stepping up, and in some cases even raising the bar. Smaller publishing companies like Expert Playing Card Company and Legends Playing Card Company operate out of Taiwan, and have mastered printing processes that equals and in some ways even exceeds the quality of USPCC produced playing cards. They have super smooth edges and more consistent printing registration than USPCC decks, and are often packaged in more elaborate and lavish tuck boxes. As a result, custom playing cards are often of the highest quality, at a level that matches and rivals the big name USPCC competitor. The rise of this competition has led to quality products that in some cases make these playing cards from other publishers a legitimate preference for some buyers and magicians, who actually prefer the handling qualities and feel of the competition.


It's an inevitable quality of human nature to want more things. We are good at buying more stuff - often things that we don't even need, just because it looks good, and we think it will make us happy. The word "covetousness" captures this well - it refers to an inherent greed, and an insatiable appetite that admires the next and newest thing, and enjoys acquiring new things. This is a quality that many of us share, and inevitably leads to a collector's mindset, where we see stunning decks of playing cards, and can't help ourselves from buying them. It's not hard to see that this characteristic also contributes to supporting a custom playing card industry.

[b]10. CREATIVITY:[/b]

The potential for new types of playing cards is limited only by the human imagination; which is to say, the scope is almost boundless. Almost every week or month, someone is going to come up with some new or exciting idea that just hasn't been considered before, and that even applies to the world of playing cards. As a result, new designs are emerging into the marketplace which are clever, creative, and beautiful, in ways we haven't seen before. It's safe to say that the level of quality and creativity is generally on the increase. Projects that would have easily funded on Kickstarter five years ago, simply won't make the grade today, because they're just not good enough. Part of this is due to the higher volume of playing cards that are entering the market, and a greater level of competition. But another factor is that the large range of playing cards that are being designed today corresponds to a greater number of decks that have a high level of inventiveness and originality. As a result, custom playing cards are appearing that are ingenious, stunning, or otherwise irresistibly attractive. No wonder it is then hard to resist purchasing them!


If you're interested in seeing some of the great decks of custom playing cards that are out there, you can find a complete list of my series of detailed pictorial reviews of many decks here:

[b][url=https://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/223094]Pictorial Reviews of Playing Cards by EndersGame[/url][/b]

I also have another list which showcases some of the more amazing custom designs that have been produced:

[b][url=https://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/222528/]The Most Amazing Decks of Playing Cards You Have Ever Seen[/url][/b]

Message: Posted by: Terrible Wizard (Dec 5, 2017 11:51AM)
Great post :)