*** NEWLY RELEASED DECKS FROM ART OF PLAY *** Dan and Dave Buck's Art of Play Art of Play is the online home of Dan and Dave Buck, twins who first made a name for themselves as magicians. They subsequently branched out into the world of cardistry (i.e. card flourishing), and are widely regarded as one of the top pioneers and innovators in this relatively new art-form, playing a major role in its growth and development. Their interest in the world of playing cards also led to the establishment of Art of Play as their own brand and online retail outlet. Since 2013 they have been selling a range that includes hundreds of different decks of quality playing cards, as well as unique games and puzzles. And besides carrying a large inventory of luxury playing cards, Dan and Dave have also been contributing to the custom playing card industry by producing decks of their own, under the Art of Play label. Over the last couple of years alone, they have been producing well over a dozen different decks of custom playing cards every year, with many wonderful and popular designs. In these articles I'm focusing on some of their newest releases which have just hit the market in the last six months or so. *** DECKS FOR THE COLLECTOR *** The decks in this category can certainly be used for card games or card magic if you wanted, because the suits and pips are still clearly recognizable. But the degree of customization in these decks is a little more radical. While that might make them somewhat less than desirable for normal usage, it's exactly this quality that will make them very appealing and attractive to the collector. These are decks of playing cards that are very creative, and each has a truly unique personality that will quickly become apparent once we start looking at the cards. Into the Weird The Into the Weird deck of cards is very different from your average deck. It's truly a weird and wonderful deck of cards, and enables you to discover a story within as you look at it. It’s not easy to describe what this deck is like, since everything about it is truly out of the ordinary, but the tuck case immediately gives a taste of what the deck is like. The front of the tuck depicts an unusual cave entrance with the words "Into the Weird" in the centre. White wisps near the top emphasize a sense of mystery, and the entire image conveys the impression that as you open the deck, you are entering into a weird and strange world. The choice of unusual red and green colours on a black backdrop also emphasize a first impression of something strange and ghostly, and this impression is only going to be confirmed once we start looking at the cards themselves. A special card is included inside the deck to explain the back story. This deck was produced by Art of Play in collaboration with Jenny Gebhardt and was inspired by a fascination with the strange and unusual. Here's the card that summarizes the concept behind the deck: With this new piece of information in mind, we return to the tuck case, and notice that on the inside of the tuck flap there are the words “Wonders of an Odd Journey”, which capture exactly what this deck is about. The back of the tuck case features the back design of the cards, which we will see shortly. The back design of the deck uses the same strange and mysterious colours as the tuck case, with a ghostly green and unusual red being prominent. It also features a large eye in the centre of a starry diamond, with green plant-like ripples coming off of it. Everything about this design confirms our initial impressions: we are really entering the realm of the strange and unusual. The faces of these cards all have individual unique artworks on every single card, and you can see all of them directly from where the artist has posted them here (although note that the designs have been slightly changed to make them more practical on playing cards). Each suit even has its own "theme", with the Diamonds being air/science, Clubs being earth/nature, Hearts being water/dream, and Spades being fire/nightmare. While there are unique eye-catching artworks on every card, a real strength of this deck is that the indices are nonetheless clear and distinct. This ensures that Into The Weird remains a very usable deck, still you can even play games with the cards while appreciating their designs. The courts also have a very unique feature of being slightly different when flipped upside down, and this quality gives added details to explore and enjoy. The deck also comes with two jokers, an ad card, and an information card about the deck. The Jokers picture an intriguing eye type figure that has been divided in two and is floating in space. More surprises await discovery by the curious, including full interior printing on the inside of the tuck case, which has been printed with red on black, showing an image of a black hole sucking things into it. The cards have been printed by USPCC on a thinly crushed stock, and they handle amazingly, being soft and still long lasting. The back design is actually quite nice for cardistry, being unique and detailed while also have a few key focus points. Since the indices are very clear, the deck can also be used for card games, while the unique design ensures there's additional interest that goes beyond mere functionality. While not for everyone, this is certainly an intriguing and interesting deck that stretches us far beyond the ordinary!