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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Deck the Halls » » Pictorial Review: Decks from Art of Play (2) - Outdoors (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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*** MORE PLAYING CARDS FROM ART OF PLAY ***

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In my previous article, I introduced you to Dan and Dave Buck, household names in the world of card flourishing, with their insane ability to manipulate playing cards in a creative, visual, and original way. These twin brothers live in California, where they run Dan and Dave Industries, a lifestyle brand and design firm that produces luxury playing cards, apparel, and accessories for magicians and cardists. As well as being highly regarded in the world of cardistry, Dan and Dave Buck also run Art of Play, a subsidiary of Dan and Dave. This online retail outlet has the purpose of embracing the wonders of the world and connecting people through a state of playfulness. When Dan and Dave tapped into the playing card industry by producing custom decks of their own, the remarkable success of their published decks bred further success, and they have continued to produce designer playing cards of the highest quality. In 2016 they produced no less than 16 original decks of custom playing cards, and they've shown no sign of stopping in 2017, with many more new and wonderful designs.

In this review series I'm covering about a dozen beautiful decks of playing cards produced by Dan and Dave under their Art of Play label. While many of these are ideal for cardistry, there are also many other beautiful decks that you can use for playing games, or even just for collectors. So whether you are looking for something classy and sophisticated for your card magic or poker game, or a quality deck to play some cards with friends, at Art of Play you're almost certain to find a deck that is right for you.

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*** OUTDOORS DECKS ***

Of course you can take any deck into the great outdoors, so this category isn't specifically about playing cards suitable for playing with outside. Rather, it's about decks that are themed about outdoor adventure, which especially appeal to those who enjoy nature, wilderness, hiking, or other aspects of the great outdoors. Most of us will find it hard to resist some of the rugged good looks showcased here.

Camp Cards deck

This deck of cards is tailored to outdoor types, such as those who love to go camping and exploring. The Camp Deck - Ranger Edition is the third print run of the Camp Cards, and is a limited-edition print run of 5,000 decks.

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The back design of the cards is a very simplistic design of a tent on a green background with the words "Venture Onward, Live Adventurously!" above and below the tent. Its simplicity allows it to look visually appealing while still being great for games or other uses.

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Special mention should be made of the attractive tuck box, being a beautiful letter pressed green tuck, with one side of the box having various camping images surrounding the words "Be Brave Or Die", and the back of the box showcasing the back design. The seal is a simple black, perforated seal that has a compass on it, which matches the style of the deck as an outdoors theme.

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The Ace of Spades features a skeletal hand hiding some dice/cards as if cheating, which is quite an interesting idea. While the picture itself doesn't look like an ace at all, the word Ace is below it, which makes it easy to identify what it is.

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The court cards are made up of a variety of different woodland creatures, which fits right into the idea of a camping deck, and under each picture is the name of the court card, which makes them very easy to play with. The artwork is all made up of entirely black ink and no other colours, but the detail is great, and they look amazing.

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The pips of the cards and indices also have a hand drawn style, and seem to be almost sketched onto the card, which creates a good look. The hearts and diamonds are a burnt-orange colour, which ensures that they are easily distinguished from the black suits - a practical upgrade from earlier versions of the Camp deck.

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An extra card included in the deck has instructions of how to use playing cards to survive in the wild, with some really neat ideas. It supplies an additional point of interest with the deck, and makes it great to take camping with you.

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In a similar vein, a unique and interesting thing about the tuckbox is the interior printing - which has a map of Yosemite Valley. If you ever get lost or stuck there, at least you will have a map, and some great tips of how to survive! (I don’t advise trying to get lost though…)

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The Joker features a bird in air, with the word Joker below it.

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Overall the Ranger edition of the Camp deck is a delightful deck with a rugged feel that will be enjoyed by anyone with an appreciation for the outdoors.

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Antler deck

Given that the two men who run Art of Play are twins with the surname Buck, what theme for a deck of cards would fit better than a deck of cards with two identical Bucks on the back? These are pair of limited edition Antler decks, showcasing the majestic and amazing beauty that is found outdoors.

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There are two different decks of this edition, the Hunter Green and Deep Maroon. These boxes show the two different colours, with both boxes being embossed and full of intricate and detailed artwork. The boxes are sealed with a weathered and vintage looking perforated seal, which is in keeping with the style of the rest of the deck.

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The limited edition of this deck, unlike the monochromatic standard edition, features two different fully coloured back designs with a buck on top and bottom. These back design is full of detailed artwork that creates a great back design.

Shown here is the Deep Maroon version, along with the exquisite Ace of Spades. The Ace of Spades showcases an elegant and noble buck, with beautiful natural ornamentation around his horns, which really illustrates the theme of this entire deck, and fits in great with the back design.

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The Hunter Green version has the same design on the card backs, but uses a different colour scheme, which picks up the green also used in the court cards.

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The beautiful flourishes surrounding the two twin bucks on the card backs are said to mimic the lush greenery that can be found within Yosemite National Park, a National Park in the USA that is a great place to visit, famous especially for its waterfalls and giant, ancient sequoia trees.

The court cards are depicted in an older style, but still are very recognisable for what they are. The colours used for these courts fit the theme of the two decks, and the use of the hunter green and deep maroon colours for these cards ensures they match with the rest of the deck.

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What is really unique about this deck is the fact that each deck has actually been hand-wrapped in parchment paper before it was sealed inside the box. This is a great touch and makes opening the deck really special, and turns it into a rare experience.

The Jokers feature the name of the deck in an elegant style, with the indices having the word Buck.

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A collector’s set of these decks was also released, in which the two decks were housed in a beautiful special leather case. This case has a great look and feel to it, and is even embossed on the front, creating a practical and luxurious looking carrying case for the two decks.

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These cards have been printed by the United States Playing Card Company, so they are high quality cards that will be long lasting and durable, and you will enjoy using them for sure, for both their feel and great looks!

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Drifters deck

For those wild at heart and with a love for adventure and the wilderness, the Drifters deck is for you. This deck of cards is themed to be in a style corresponding to adventure the wild west, resulting in a very classy deck. It was designed by Curtis Jenkins from Neighbourhood Studios, who was also the designer of the well known Monarchs Playing Cards from Theory11.

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The back design is composed entirely of blue and white colours, and has a real western and adventure feel to it, with an arrow in a skull, and wilderness plants. A snake forming a figure eight as it eats itself also fits into the desert theme, and may remind you almost of the designer's familiar Monarch deck.

The custom Ace of Spades features two bold pistols and a skull, again drawing on common images associated with westerns.

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The faces of the cards are a real work of art, and totally fit the idea of the deck as an adventure. The court cards especially create the image of a western style, using the dusty brown colours to almost look like the outdoor wild, and the modifications from standard courts all help create a western feel, with the addition of details like guns, cowboy hats, moustaches and cigars.

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The courts still have a standard feel to them, so are very useable, but the modifications give a really great outdoors feel to them.

Also noticeable is how the indices of the cards are slightly smaller than standard. There's an almost digital and retro look to the numbers, which is interesting and unique.

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Each of the Aces is slightly oversized with some extra detail added, which is a nice touch and makes them stand out more.

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Two identical jokers feature a cowboy on a hill, just like on the box.

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The cards themselves have been printed by the United States Playing Card Company and come on a crushed stock, which is amazing to handle and you will find them long lasting. Two extra ad cards are also included.

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To complete a beautiful package, these stylish playing cards are housed in a beautiful letter pressed, blue, matte tuck box. The front of the box features a man on horse silhouetted on a hill, and the words below being “Far from Home-Born to Roam”, a phrase that fits this deck as embodying the spirit of those who love to travel and enjoy adventure, while the lid confirms this sentiment: "Home I'll Never Be".

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The tuck box is finished with a wonderful red seal that stretches out slightly more than a standard seal.

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*** RECOMMENDATION ***

So are decks from Art of Play something for you? This isn't the first time I've sourced cards from Art of Play, and I continue to be impressed with the playing cards that Dan & Dave Buck have created themselves, as well as the other playing cards and products that they offer.

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Cardistry: Since Dan and Dave Buck are cardists themselves, they have a real love for card flourishing, so it's no surprise that a large number of the decks that they have created lend themselves particularly well to this growing art-form. Card flourishers are fussy about the decks they use, because it is essential that playing cards handle well. But equally important to them are the colours and patterns of the design. Cardists know that the visual aesthetics of their art-form will be magnified when combined with colours and patterns that accentuate the movement of cardistry, and Dan and Dave's own expertise in this area ensures that the decks they have created for cardists are truly a dream to use.

Creativity: I love the creativity that has produced designs like the decks reviewed above. The cardistry decks like Thick Lines and Prime are full of flowing colours and patterns, while decks like Lucky Draw and Drifters offer original and fresh designs that are fun to look at and use. The Typographer's deck is especially unique and attention getting.

Sophistication: The Dan and Dave brand is all about sophistication and style, and this is evident from the moment you first hold these decks in your hands. Not only are the cards themselves good quality, but a great deal of thought as gone into designing and producing the tuck boxes. Carefully placed foil accents and embossing add elegance and style, while even the more earthy decks like Antler and Camp Cards have been carefully and thoughtfully crafted to accentuate an outdoorsy feel that is still refined and suited to the discerning gentleman.

Quality: The quality of these decks from Art of Play is consistently excellent. Most of their decks have been produced by US Playing Card Company, a reputable and established printing company that produces the Bicycle brand of playing cards with their proven air cushion finish. Using an industry leader like this ensures that we can expect consistently good card-stock and finishing that will be durable and will handle smoothly. It's evident that Dan and Dave only want to produce and stock playing cards with a high standard of quality and performance that matches the good looks of the cards themselves.

Visuals: One things I really appreciate about the Art of Play website is how professional its graphic design is. Not only is it easy to navigate and well laid out, but I especially love the fact that all the products have an image gallery, so you can see some of the cards from each deck, and know exactly what you are getting before you make a purchase. The accompanying promotional photography of their products is also outstanding.

Range: The selection of decks reviewed above in no way exhausts what Dan and Dave have produced. As was mentioned at the start of this article, in the calendar year 2016 alone they produced 16 new designs! In addition to decks they have produced themselves, they also stock a wide range of other quality playing cards, as well as puzzles and games - but only those of the highest quality.

If you're a cardist or a magician looking for a an eye-catching and quality deck of playing cards that looks great and performs well, Art of Play is hard to beat. I'm very pleased to recommend the decks I've featured in this article, so head over to Art of Play and you're almost certain to find some stunning playing cards, puzzles or games that you just can't resist!

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What to learn more? Check out:
- Art of Play official website
- Art of Play on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest
- Dan & Dave official website
- Dan and Dave on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest
- Dan & Dave Youtube channel

Direct links for the decks featured in this review series:
- Cardistry: Cardistry Con 2017, Lucky Draw, Thick Lines, Prime
- Outdoors: Camp Cards (Ranger Edition), Antler (Limited Edition), Drifters
- Classy: Hollingworths (Emerald Edition), Hollingworths (Burgundy Edition), Voltige (Special Edition)
- Collectors: A Typographer's Deck

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