The Bicycle Club 808 Playing Cards are the intro cards exclusive to the newly launched "VIP" or membership fan club by USPCC/Bicycle of the same name. The club launched January 1, 2013 and gives members a "back stage pass" to exclusive content and limited edition playing cards from USPCC/Bicycle. The Bicycle Club 808 can only be acquired at the time of the membership purchase. It is not sold anywhere else on the site, even to members of 808. If you do not join, your best bet is to look on ebay, a forum or friend.
As far as being a collector goes, this deck is a must have simply because it is a one time only exclusive. If you are a collector but do not have this deck, or I should say membership, I would suggest getting it. Club 808, which launched with mostly positive reviews, targets "super" fans of the Bicycle brand. At the current time they have released two member only decks (Griffin deck and the Cigar deck) with plans to release more very soon. Performance and art aside, join this club simply because of Bicycle's history and to get these decks first hand or else you will need to look far and wide.
Some new to the industry or Bicycle may wonder about the number "808." Here is a little background about "808" from the Bicycle Playing Card site:
"The Joker is an American invention dating from about 1865 and has made different appearances in the Bicycle® card line. The first type represented a man on a high-wheeled bike. The bicycle later acquired two wheels of normal size. Then followed a series of playing card kings on bikes. These cyclists wheel past a milestone marked "808." Contrary to some opinions, this number has no mystical meaning. It is merely a reference number distinguishing this brand from others (such as "606") by the same company."
Now on to the deck....
Name: Bicycle Club 808
Release Date: January 1, 2013
Finish: Standard Air Cushion Finish
Colors: Standard face colors, Black and White
The deck comes with 56 cards including a double back and ad card. The design was done by designers Emily Webb and Ronny Young. The tuck case design is black and white that pulls in many elements from the Bicycle brand. In fact, the design somewhat modernizes a deck back from the start of Bicycle in the late 1800's as seen below.
|Taken from http://www.bicyclecards.com/[|
For example, the bicycle wheel that is featured on many Bicycle backs and Jokers is worked into the background of the Club 808 design. The floral and confetti-type patterns found on the historical deck are updated and swirl and fill in the background as well. However, the design's centerpiece and main focus is on a big typographical "Club 808" logo. I enjoy how they bring in the original "808" but in a modern new school design with a touch of history.
The typographical logo makes its return on the backs of the cards with the "808" being the turn point of the two way back. It doesn't matter which way you turn it because the "808" is always right side up. As a branded deck for the launch of their exclusive membership, I love how they play up the Club's name and historical roots.
The court cards, number cards and the Jokers do not change a bit from a Bicycle Standard playing card deck. I suppose I would have liked to see more done with the court cards but it stays consistent with the Bicycle brand that everyone knows and loves it. A Joker also features the Bicycle guarantee, which in my book is a must for all Bicycle decks.
My one complaint with this deck is the Ace of Spades. It basically just repeats the "Club 808" logo. The only spade on the Ace of Spades, are the pips. Considering nothing about the face cards is custom, I would have liked them to just keep a Standard Ace of Spades.
These cards perform and are about as durable as any Bicycle Standard. However, I would keep these as a collector's item and wouldn't play with them. Since they were released as an "exclusive" deck for members, I would treat them as exclusive.
Notes on the Bicycle Club 808 Playing Cards:
- Released as the first deck to Bicycle's Fan Club (Club 808)
- Features a black and white design that is modern but takes elements from an original deck.
- No face card customization.
- At this time, can not purchase additional decks once a member of Club 808.
Final Assessment: Overall this deck is a great first deck to receive when joining the Bicycle fan club. It is not crazy elaborate or detailed but it introduces the brand of Club 808. It also reminds us where they came from. I think at a time when USPCC/Bicycle's quality is being questioned more than ever, this was a good move to secure loyalty and trust back from fans. This is a deck I would recommend that you just... collect. You can always find another deck to play with that is less "exclusive", meaning a deck that doesn't come with a membership fee of $19 and is easily replaceable.
Final Score: 8.5