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Murphy's Magic & Playing Cards

Murphy's Magic is a wholesale magic dealer that was formed by Mark Murphy in 1998. They have an enormous range of magic products which they sell in bulk quantities to magic dealers around the world, and they have a huge network of contacts in the retail industry. Their website is a terrific resource with tons of information about their products, which include all things magical: magic kits, magic tricks, card tricks, DVDs, books, gags & jokes, puzzles, juggling, playing cards, accessories, and more.

But given my love for playing card games, performing card magic, and collecting card decks, what really interests me is the fact that Murphy's Magic also produces their own playing cards. They have developed and produced multiple decks of playing cards over the years. In this article, I'll be covering one of their newest releases, which is available from Murphy's Magic dealers and retailers that sell magic supplies or custom playing cards. Introducing: the Murphy's Magic Signature NOC deck of playing cards!



Murphy's Magic Signature NOC

The NOC series of decks has been produced since 2012, and is a series of cards defined by simplicity and elegance, which is the result of a minimalistic design. Now Murphy's Magic has been able to arrange a collaboration with House of Playing Cards to produce their very own Murphy's Magic Signature NOC deck. It is similar to version 3 of the regular NOCs, but what makes it different is that it integrates Murphy's signature colours into the design, and includes a stylish chevron pattern on the inside of the tuck box, as well as on the Ace pips and Joker.


The original NOC decks from Blue Crown have already gone through several different versions, and were made available in a range of different colours. They were originally created by magician Alex Pandrea, and the use of solid colours were deliberately intended to give magicians a simple stage to use in order to allow their performance to shine. The acronym stands for "Nothing, Only Colour", and this deck represents the polar opposite of the over-ornamentation present in some customized decks, which assault the viewer with an overdose of colour and detailed design. These decks are about keeping things simple, so that all the focus can be on the moves performed by the card flourisher, without distractions from an elaborate design.


Notice that the tuck box of the Murphy's Magic Signature NOC deck uses an unusual side-loading style, which was already introduced in the regular NOC V3 deck. On the outside it looks almost identical to a standard NOC deck, and just has the addition of the Murphy's logo on the bottom left as a reminder of who we have to thank for this deck.

The tuck box also offers a very pleasant surprise on the inside: full interior printing with a very bold and eye-catching chevron design. This is a returning theme in this deck, and is the work of designer Gordon Sutton.


Most of the NOC decks typically have a striking back design with a uniformly solid bar of vibrant colour and just a thin white border, with the idea being to put the emphasis on the card handling rather than the cards themselves, and this makes them a favourite for card flourishers. The design on the Murphy's Magic Signature NOC is the regal navy blue colour that you may recognize from Murphy's branding. They've also added a gold trim, and this thin border on the card-backs is another difference from the standard NOC decks.


Despite the minimalist design, the oversized pip on the Aces reprise the classy chevron pattern that we first saw on the interior of the tuck box. In this case they use combinations of navy/gold for the black suits, and orange/blue for the red suits. The red colour used for the diamonds and hearts is also a softer and almost pinkish red than a standard deck, to ensure a very familiar and yet warmer look.


The court cards in this NOC deck feature the standard red/blue/yellow colour set of a traditional deck, which is in keeping with the overall minimalist and traditional look. However the blue used matches the navy blue of the card backs, and the red is the warmer pink-red used for the pips, to ensure a consistent look with the rest of the deck, and something that hits the right blend of being standard while yet offering small changes to ensure a fresh look. The remainder of the face cards look the same as an ordinary deck.

While there are slight adjustments to the colours employed by standard court cards, the highest degree of customization on the face cards is with the Aces and Jokers. The Jokers feature the chevron design, along with the Murphy's Magic navy blue and gold trim, which beautifully complements the card backs in a very stylish fashion.


There is one additional secret that this deck holds, which will give it a strong appeal to magicians. All the NOC decks come with their own subtle marking system, and the Murphy's Magic Signature NOC deck is no exception. The system used only marks the suit (not the value) in a wonderfully and well-disguised manner, which opens up some nice possibilities for magical effects. For example, you can use it to call cards as red or black, just by glancing at the card backs. Videos starring Alex Pandrea are freely available online which explain this marking system and teach a couple of routines with it. It's almost invisible, and one magician I showed it to took a while to figure it out even when he knew it was marked in some way.


As with the other NOC decks, the actual printing of the cards was done by Expert Playing Card Company in Taiwan, in collaboration with House of Playing Cards. It uses their Master finish (which is identical to the Diamond finish used by Legends Playing Card Company) which has thin but very snappy cards and is extremely durable and offers good handling. The cards are more durable and stiff than a typical USPCC type deck, and this combination of elements means that the cards are very snappy, and when sprung from one hand to another they create a pleasant sound due to this snap. These cards do require some wearing in due to their stiffness, but it is well worth it. They are embossed with a typical air cushion style texture, but individually they feel very smooth, almost like plastic, which is also noticeable in their snap. The cards can feel quite slippery, but they fan and spread consistently and easily.

This finish does take some getting used to, as it is quite different to a typical Bicycle deck due to its stiffness and smoothness, but many magicians and cardists love it, myself included. It rewards the newcomer willing to experiment with it, and the more one uses it, the more one comes to appreciate it. There's no doubt that this is a top-of-the-line finish, and that Expert Playing Card Company is an industry leader that produces cards of a quality that rivals that of USPCC. The result is a very durable and long lasting deck that handles beautifully, and also packets well for various cuts and other card flourishes.


What do I think?

Collectors and gamers: Murphy's Magic has something for everyone, and many of their recent releases (e.g. the Truth and Lies decks) will especially appeal to collectors of playing cards or those who enjoy card games. Their playing cards tend to be very stylish, and are of a much higher quality than your standard department store deck of cards, so they'll be more than adequate for playing a game of poker or cards as well.

Magicians and cardists: If you're looking for something neat and clean to use for card magic or card flourishing, the Murphy's Magic Signature NOC deck will fit the bill just beautifully. The hidden secrets that have been invisibly disguised into the back design as a marking system that reveals the suit will especially be appreciated by magicians, who can use this in a variety of different ways. The card faces also have a standard and familiar look, which ensures that they can be used in magic routines without the distraction of over-customization. At the same time there's enough customization to ensure they look elegant and stylish, with the chevron style design that is present on the interior of the card box, the oversized Ace pips, and the Jokers, and a slight variation on the standard colour scheme. And cardists will be drawn to the simplicity of the NOC card backs, which in this case are decorated with an additional thin border in elegant gold. The superb quality of the card stock and finish produced by Expert Playing Card Company ensures that they will live up to the very highest demands put on them by magicians and cardists alike, without disappointing.



So are these decks of playing cards from Murphy's Magic for you? Once again Murphy's proves that they can produce something for everyone, and it's good to see another solid contributions to the playing card market with this new release. Their decks meet different needs, but one thing that they share in common is that they are very affordable. The recommended retail price for this is only around US$8, making it significantly more inexpensive than your typical custom deck of playing cards, which tend to be in the range of $12-20.

Attractive and affordable - now that's a combination I like.


The decks reviewed in this series are all available at your favourite Murphy's Magic retailer. Want to learn more? Visit: Murphy's Magic

Here is a direct link for the deck featured in this review: Murphy's Magic Signature NOC

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