*** MORE MARVELLOUS DECKS FROM MURPHY'S MAGIC ***
Murphy's Magic & Playing Cards
Murphy's Magic is a wholesale magic dealer that also produces their own playing cards. Under the leadership of the director of New Product Development, Jason Brumbalow, multiple decks of playing cards have been developed for Murphy's Magic. In my previous article I covered two of their latest releases, the Tangram deck and the Papilio Ulysses deck from designer Kiran Kuruvithadam. In this second article I'll be covering more of their specialty playing cards, including the Wonder deck from David Koehler. But Murphy's Magic also sells a wide range of playing cards from other publishers, and so I'll also be reviewing one of the other decks they stock, namely the Blue Steel deck from Bocopo. All of these decks of playing cards are available from Murphy's Magic dealers, and since many retailers that sell magic or who specialize in custom playing cards often rely on Murphy's Magic for their products, this means that these decks should all be readily available from a variety of sources.
*** DESIGNS BY DAVID KOEHLER ***
Wonder Playing Cards
The next deck I'm showcasing from Murphy's Magic is Wonder Playing Cards. This colourful deck is from the mind of magician David Koehler, who has been involved in magic ever since he was 13 years old.
Wonder was originally a name and idea associated with David's interest in street magic and hypnosis, and the title for a full length TV-style magic special or documentary that he planned to film. In conjunction with this, David decided to produce a Wonder deck of playing cards, and what you see here is the result - here he is pictured with the deck:
As artist of this deck, David worked hard on the project and got a lot of positive feedback, and it must give him enormous pleasure to have this deck published by Murphy's Magic, and printed by USPCC to ensure good quality and handling.
David's personal interest in magic and hypnosis is evident from the design on the tuck box, which features the artwork from the card-backs on the reverse side. The front of the tuck box offers a magnified view of part of the artwork from the back of the cards.
The image on the card-backs has an eye in the center, which is surrounded with swirling bands of colour in concentric circles. The eye has a long association with hypnotism, and when studying other aspects of this design, especially when its in motion, the hypnotic swirls also bring to mind images associated with hypnosis.
The design relies on three main colours - cyan (blue), magenta (pink), and yellow, which are considered the three primary colours for the CMYK colour model. This makes it very eye-catching, with an almost garish but entrancing appearance that makes it hard to avert your eyes when this deck is in full flight.
The Ace of Spades features a custom design that pays tribute to the pattern on the card backs, which is clearly the theme of the entire deck.
The Jokers are identical, and their faces have a full bleed chevron design with a giant patterned X in white standing out from the layers of colours.
The clever, colourful, and entrancing design should easily win over fans of cardistry, because it has the potential to weave a hypnotic spell as the colours blur together when doing swirls and other card flourishes.
It helps that the colour scheme is consistent throughout, with the same cyan/magenta/yellow combination used on the Jokers as on the tuck box and card backs.
For the rest, the cards are standard, but there are some extra cards for magicians to use, including a duplicate four of hearts, and a double backer.
To see more, check out the official video trailer from Murphy's Magic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7g4Rz9vnuk
*** DESIGNS BY BOCOPO PLAYING CARD COMPANY ***
Blue Steel Playing Cards
The Blue Steel Playing Cards is a minimalist design that was created by The Bocopo Playing Card Company in Hong Kong, which has been designing luxury playing cards since 2014, and usually favours colourful cardistry decks. It wasn't created by Murphy's Magic as such, but is one of the many decks that is also available from Murphy's Magic retailers.
With the Blue Steel deck, Bocopo has gone for a much simpler style, which is evident already from the tuck box, which comes in a relatively plain dark blue package. The only clue to its contents is small white print on one side of the box which says "2015 The Bocopo Playing Card Co Ltd". The bottom flap is the only other place that gives identifying information, including some details about the publisher and the fact that this is a "Luxury Edition".
A closer look at the contents, however, reveals that the luxury resides in the cards themselves, which are printed by the reputable United States Playing Card Company with their quality air cushion finish. Along with the consistent and smooth handling comes a simple design, the most prominent aspect being a relatively plain looking card back. It creates a straight-forward look that is still sophisticated, producing an impression of the casual combined with the classy, much like the effect generated by designer denim.
Ever since the popularity of the NOC decks for cardistry (the acronym meaning "Nothing, Only Colour"), this kind of plain look is exactly what some kind of cardists are after. A narrow white border ensures that cards in motion are easily distinguished from one another, while still emphasizing the large slab of uniform colour that makes up the back of the deck. The simple design of solid sky blue has a pattern of white dots that close examination reveals to be tiny white diamonds.
While most of the cards are standard, some customization lies in the Jokers, which have an embellished B monogram that refers to the publisher Bocopo Playing Cards, along with a monochrome colour scheme ensuring that even this detail doesn't make things too complicated. The deck comes with two blue Jokers, one red Joker, and an ad card.
As for the faces of the cards, these mostly make use of the classic pips and court cards in a traditional deck, with the exception being the Jokers and the Ace of Spades pictured earlier. The signature Ace offers a tribute to the publisher Bocopo at the bottom of the card, but still employs a very simple shape and style, albeit oversized.
The Blue Steel deck from Bocopo is much like the steel industry: a working class deck that is about getting the job done. It doesn't allow luxury or overstated elegance to get in the way of performance and success, and is a blue collar deck that the working magician and cardist will appreciate. It ensures that they can focus on their routines, without too much distraction, while at the same time using a tool that makes them look thoroughly professional.
Practical and usable, the Blue Steel deck is at home in the hands of a professional magician, a cardist chilling out, or a gamer spending a casual Friday evening in denim.
To see more, check out the official video trailer from Bocopo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gsYJUU5MXM
*** CONCLUSIONS ***
What do I think?
Usable: Many custom playing cards that are published are especially geared towards collectors, and end up remaining in shrink-wrap or collecting dust. That's not what you'll find happening with these decks from Murphy's Magic, because it's obvious that these are decks of playing cards that are designed to be used. Whether in the hands of a cardist, magician, or card gamer, these decks are definitely created with the idea of people using them and playing with them. Not only do they look beautiful, but they are also very functional. Even though they all have some degree of customization, it is not to the point that the cards are rendered unplayable or unrecognizable to the average person.
Magician-friendly: Some of these decks are especially ideal for use by magicians. That's evident by the fact that additional cards for use as gaffs have been included with the Papilio Ulysses deck, for example, which also has a card reveal on the tuck box. The pips on this deck in particular have a hint of customization with a single pip featuring wing-style artwork, which adds enough to make the deck look sophisticated, yet without taking over the whole artwork for a totally customized and very unfamiliar look. The Blue Steel deck is also a very practical working class style deck that is straight-forward and simple, and yet adds a small element of class beyond a standard Bicycle deck.
Cardistry-friendly: Some of these decks are especially ideal for use by card flourishers. The bright colours and inspiring circular design of the Wonder deck will immediately grab the attention of cardists, who will see its potential for all kinds of flourishes, with the possibility it offers to create hynoptic and mind-bending moves. The Tangram deck not only has card backs optimized for twirls and spins, but has the added advantage that the card faces have been designed purely with geometric shapes, a style that lends itself particularly well for cardistry. While traditional pips and colours could distract from the movement of the card faces, the design of the Tangram cards actually promotes and accentuates and flourishes due to the creative design.
Wide range: I have previously reviewed more than half a dozen different decks produced by Murphy's Magic (link), and one thing I also appreciate about them is the wide range of diverse styles they offer. Some of their playing cards offer a high degree of customization while remaining fully playable and usable for card magic, while others are geared completely to cardistry, and yet others again are more traditional and conservative in style. If there's a style you're looking for or that suits your needs, they're almost certain to have something that will work for you, given the wide selection of decks they've created and that they offer.
Card quality: The decks I've seen from Murphy's Magic have all been of good quality. While their tuck cases can be quite spectacular (e.g. Run deck, Revolution deck), the decks featured in this article are more standard. The cards themselves are all printed by United States Playing Card Company (USPCC), who have earned a solid reputation as an industry leader through producing cards under their Bicycle brand. Their cards are consistently of solid quality, and feature excellent handling, due to their air cushion style embossing and magic finish/coating. As a result they handle smoothly, shuffle well, and work well for spreads and fans.
Affordable: With a recommended retail price of around US$10, these decks are typically cheaper than the usual deck of custom playing cards being produced these days. Most custom decks that are produced with the help of crowd-funding tend to cost $12-15 at a minimum, sometimes even much more. These decks from Murphy's Magic are not only practical, but they're also in a reasonable price range that makes them a more attractive for people looking for a customized deck that handles well and yet won't break the bank like some collectable playing cards will.
So are the decks of playing cards from Murphy's Magic for you? If you're looking for practical playing cards that you can actually use for playing card games, performing card magic, or for card flourishing, you'll almost certainly find something that fits the bill, especially given their wide selection.
With good looks and good handling, these decks continue Murphy's solid contribution to the custom playing card market, and I can continue to recommend them very positively.
The decks reviewed above are all available at your favourite Murphy’s Magic retailer. Want to learn more? Murphy's Magic: www.murphysmagic.com
Here are direct links for all the decks featured in this review:
- Tangram: http://www.murphysmagic.com/Product.aspx?id=60809
- Papilio Ulysses: https://www.murphysmagic.com/Product.aspx?id=60808
- Wonder: https://www.murphysmagic.com/Product.aspx?id=60594
- Blue Steel: https://www.murphysmagic.com/product.aspx?id=57513