NOTE: When you purchase these from Lance’s site you can have him sign the deck free of charge. Also Lance has an independent project in the works that will see life after enough of the Gargoyles have been sold so be sure to pick some up! He’s a very talented artist and I’m excited to see what he has next for us. One other thing I want to mention is that this is not Diavoli’s art work. Diavoli had a lot to do with bringing the deck to market but the artwork itself is hand drawn by Lance, not Steve Rooks (who designed the Bicycle Tattoo, Alchemist, and Phoenix decks).
Feel: The Gargoyles are a breath of fresh air. They handle great, at the level of Smoke and Mirrors. There’s no clumpy feeling after an hour or two of extensive use like most decks. The Gargoyles are nice and smooth but still have enough of a grip to perform sleights with ease.
The reason they feel like this is their new finish. A lot of people out there just assume it’s regular ol’ air cushion finish; this is not the case. This deck sports whats the USPCC is calling the “Magic Finish.” This finish was designed specifically for magicians and cardists. It’s meant to help the deck fan smoother and last longer. The higher quality level has been noticeable in the short time I’ve handled them. The Gargoyles are also printed on a Q1 sheet fed press. Q1 is the highest possible quality when printing playing cards and the only way to (currently) utilize the “Magic Finish” is on a sheet fed press.
Design: The Gargoyles have a look that you would only see in an Artist’s deck. The back design is laden with Gothic themed artwork and two large, impressive gargoyles. The entire back is colored in a gray scale except for the piercing red eyes of said gargoyles. This was a great addition as they’re eye-catching sitting in the midst of blacks and grays. There’s also a skull in each corner with smoke drifting out of the mouth blending into the rest of the design.
These cards definitely have a unique appearance; you can tell Lance put a lot of time and effort into this deck. Furthermore, there’s a sort of story behind the deck’s theme that’s explained on one of the cards included with the deck. I’ve already got some cool presentation ideas with these. This back design, the Jokers, and the Ace of Spades are all hand drawn works.
Court Cards: The court cards are my favorite part of this deck. They only use three colors: white, black, and metallic silver. When I say metallic I mean metallic, these cards shine. You don’t have to try and get the right lighting for these, they’re extremely reflective. The bright silver ink and solid black ink contrast beautifully. When I first read about the design I was curious to see if the red cards were noticeably different. The small pip on the index of each card is the standard Bicycle Red, making them easy to tell apart from the black cards. I do wonder how a deep red would look added in the court card design though.
Spot Cards: All of the cards use the same silver metallic ink, making them very eye-catching. Like I said, this metallic is extremely reflective and bright. I’ve actually had multiple family members say “Oh I like that metallic better than the other ones, it’s a lot easier to see.” in reference to the Bicycle Titaniums. You can look at this from either perspective though, as some people would say the showy faces are too distracting. That’s up to you guys to decide, but I love the look.
Ace of Spades: The Spade in the middle of the Ace is Lance’s logo (which you can see at the top of his site). Instead of the Spade itself being the focus of the artwork it is a part of the artwork. The fine details are surrounding the spade making it a small piece of the whole. This is a fairly unseen idea and I like how it came out.
Jokers: The Jokers follow the theme of the Gargoyles with shiny metallic ink and sharp red eyes. Again these are hand drawn artwork by Lance. I like the small touch of putting the word Joker at the long side of the J. I’m not so sure about the “style” of these Jokers though… compared to the back design these Gargoyles look like a more child-friendly version, or almost cartoonish.
Box: The Box has the Gargoyle back design on the back like usual, but there’s a new feature that looks amazing. The front has a wrap-around design that flows over on to the sides, top, and bottom of the card box. This is the first deck I’ve seen extend the artwork onto different sides, and I hope we see it more often. It gives the box style and definition. There’s also silver metallic accents in various places adding to the overall look. One other new thing they did with this deck is the QR code. There’s one on the bottom of the box that, when you read it with a barcode scanner app, takes you directly to a page on Lance’s website explaining the story behind the deck.
So here are the ratings:
Lance made a great debut into the world of custom playing cards. The Bicycle Gargoyle deck has all of the things a great pack of cards needs. They handle better than most other custom cards out there, they have a truly one-of-a-kind design, and a host of performance possibilities. But don’t just take my word for it, get your hands on a few. I can’t wait to see what else he has in store for us.
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