Note: This is a review for the USPCC version of the deck that was originally designed by Theory 11 and produced by USPCC) for Theory 11 exclusively.
On to the review...
The Bicycle Guardians Playing Card Deck is a dark and ethereal take on the classic Bicycle Standard Playing Cards that everyone knows and loves.
Name: Bicycle Guardians (USPCC Version)
Company: Bicycle/USPCC, Design by Theory 11
Release Date: 2007 - 2008
Stock: Standard card stock (apparently a stronger or more flexible stock but no specific information has been found).
Finish: Air-Cushion™ finish
Colors: Black. white and grey backs/Red, blue, black and grey fronts
As stated previously, the Guardians were originally a Theory 11 project but I speculate because of their popularity, USPCC decided to put out their own version. The deck comes with the standard 52 cards plus 2 ad cards. If you did not read the company's description for these cards, it is telling from one of the ad cards that this deck was made with the magician in mind, which features a simple trick to get anyone started with performing magic. However, one read of the description on the Bicycle website and you will figure out exactly who they are targeting:
Whether you’re interested in magic or cardistry, this deck has you covered. With its enhanced flexibility and strength, the Bicycle® Guardians maintains its shape longer and provides steadier handling. Giving you control and confidence whenever you need it.
Guardians cards sharpen the mind and improve sleight of hand with tips and tricks for the beginner magician in us all.
The Bicycle® Guardians cards design was created in conjunction with the minds behind Theory11, the go-to group for all things magic and cardistry. A deck of these Bicycle playing cards makes a terrific addition to the magicians arsenal of tricks or the card collectors assortment.
The centerpiece of the artwork focuses on a warrior angel or "guardian angel" on the backs in a duel-directional format like most playing cards. That same warrior angel is used for both joker cards. Considering the overall design and market for these cards, I think they could have differentiated the jokers a little bit by adding a Joker reveal. On the contrary, the design of the angel is super detailed so it is not too bad that it was doubled. It is unfortunate there is no guarantee on the Joker as Bicycle playing cards are all guaranteed. I am a firm believer that if you guarantee your products it should be on the box. Remember the manager in Tommy Boy? That's me.
The court cards feature slightly differentiated face designs by implementing a darker color palette than standard decks. The color pallet includes dark red, blue and grey that really help tie the court cards into the whole theme of the deck. The hearts and diamonds also feature the dark red, which keeps the deck's theme consistent. The Ace of Spades brings the entire deck together with an interesting design of wings that take the shape of the spade.
Notes about Bicycle Guardians:
- The Guardians were first released by Theory 11 and then released by Bicycle/USPCC.
- Theory 11 released 2 editions. USPCC only released 1 editions.
- Marketed toward the magic community, but its versatile for all kinds of play.
Final Assessment: I like this deck because of it detailed and consistent design. It has earned its place in the card community and will be here to stay. The few disappointments I have with the deck are the repeating Joker design and lack of guarantee but it does not kill the deck for me by any means. I also think it could have done more to be incorporated into the magic community by adding a double back card like some magic-inspired decks have. This deck is a must have for any magician but if you are a casual card player, this deck will definitely impress and make the game more exciting.