Throughout the first half of 2013, Midnight Card Company has released various images of an upcoming deck called Imperial through their Facebook page and other online sources. However, there has been no mention of a distributor...until now. Being announced exclusively through TuckCase.com, the Imperial Playing Cards by Midnight Card Company will be coming to and sold by House Of Playing Cards (HOPC) later this year (Actual date TBA). Midnight's previous card project was the highly successful Ornate deck, which was also released through HOPC.
With the news of the release, Tuck Case spoke with Midnight Card Company's Randy Butterfield about the idea behind the Imperial deck and the upcoming release. In the interview below, Randy clears up why he used certain design elements and gives us insight into how the Imperial deck came to be. Read further for a closer look at the Imperial Playing Cards coming soon to HOPC!
Tuck Case: How did you decide to do a deck featuring Fabergé-inspired Eggs?
Randy Butterfield: After the Ornates were finished I was brainstorming ideas for my next custom deck. I wanted to design something that was elaborate and unique, and could also utilize my experience with 3D modeling. I've been a fan of the Imperial Eggs for many years and thought it would be a fun challenge to make court cards out of my own luxurious egg creations.
After the general idea formed, I spent a while planning out how they would look and which iconic Russian symbols and buildings would be incorporated into the designs.
Tuck Case: Fabergé Eggs are deep in history and the designs are extremely unique and detailed, how much research went into this deck?
Randy Butterfield: I researched a great deal, with as many books as I could get my hands on. My family and I also caught the VMA's Fabergé exhibit during it's run in Detroit. The work is amazing in person! The Imperial Eggs truly standout. The Cigarette Cases and Photo Frames are beautiful as well.
Once I was ready to get started on the 3D models, I stopped looking at the books and reference pics. I didn't want any of my eggs to look like they were copies of eggs that already existed. I wanted them to be my own unique designs.
Tuck Case: Given the time period of the Fabergé Eggs and the Russian Empire, why did you decide to add the Hammer and Sickle icon, which is mainly associated with the Soviet Union? (The Hammer and Sickle is seen above in the Ace of Spades)
Randy Butterfield: A couple people have expressed their strong feelings against adding the H&S symbol with designs inspired by pre-Russian Revolution work. My goal was never to create a politically controversial deck, but I guess with this addition it's starting to become one.
Here are the reasons why I decided to add the Hammer and Sickle symbol into the design:
- The H&S symbol was created during the Russian Revolution, which also brought about the end of the Imperial Eggs and caused some of them to become lost or destroyed. It had a huge influence on Imperial Eggs! Without the Russian Revolution who knows if the allure of Fabergé would be the same as it is today.
- In 1927, Stalin sold many of the Imperial Eggs to help obtain foreign currency for the Communist Party. This is the reason the Hammer and Sickle symbol appears ONLY with the Kremlin Spade graphic - on the Tuck Box and Ace of Spades.
- The H&S symbol is such a part of pop culture from my generation - Red Dawn, Rocky 4, Red Heat.... - I think to many Americans it will always be associated with Russia. A good example is when my family and I went to the Fabergé Exhibit in Detroit. After seeing all these great pre-Russian Revolution pieces, we hit the gift shop and found quite a bit of items bearing the H&S symbol. I even bought a Hammer and Sickle branded flask set!
- The H&S symbol is still used in some Russian logos, most notably Aeroflot. They are Russia's national airline and chose to keep the H&S symbol in their logo, as it was created back in 1923 and is part of their history.
For this deck I wanted to focus on the eggs, but also include some of Russia's other important and historical symbols. The miniature golden pieces found inside the real Imperial Eggs almost always dealt with historical buildings or symbols of Russia.
Tuck Case: This deck focuses primarily on the Imperial Eggs, did you focus on any particular Imperial Eggs?
Randy Butterfield: I came up with a plan that I thought would produce a well-rounded set of Eggs. The keywords I set for myself when working on the Court Eggs were:
- JACKS - warrior, armor, metal.
- QUEENS - elegant, simple, pastel colors, delicate.
- KINGS - ornate, elaborate, decorative, crown.
Along with those parameters I also decided on a different style/theme for each of the four suits. The DIAMONDS all have a nature/fantasy/LOTR vibe. The CLUBS are inspired by Greek mosaics, colors and geometric shapes. The Russian Double-Headed Eagle is the focal point for the HEARTS and Back Design Eggs. They all have Eagle references (Queen of Hearts - "Birdcage") plus a little inspiration from ancient Rome thrown in as well. Lastly, the SPADES Eggs all have a baroque/Gothic feel to them.
I think keeping the styles consistent for each Egg within a particular suit helps spot the cards quickly when playing a card game. Plus, having the Jacks, Queens and Kings each with similar levels of complexity helps determine the rank quicker than if I had created each egg without any parameters.
Tuck Case: Do you have any personal favorite Fabergé Eggs?
Randy Butterfield: The Rose Trellis and both Red Cross Eggs are some of my favorites. The Pelican Egg is one I didn't think much of from pictures in the books, but seeing it person with the museum lighting really brings out it's stunning beauty!
|Rose Trellis Faberge Egg Courtesy of Wikipedia|
Tuck Case: I read on Facebook that Fabergé declined the use of their name on the deck, did they give reason behind the decline or was it a flat out no?
Randy Butterfield: The reason given was they reserve the Fabergé name for their jewelry creations. The woman who replied was very courteous in the e-mail and wished me the best with my unique playing cards.
Tuck Case: How long did the "use of name" process take?
Randy Butterfield: Not long at all. They replied to my inquiry within a couple days.
Tuck Case: Will this deck be a limited release or will it be unlimited release with multiple reprints and restocks?
Randy Butterfield: I just worry about getting the designs finished and the files off to print. Kevin and Alex (HOPC) make the decisions on print quantities and whether the deck will be a limited release or a restocked item. It would be great if it was reprinted if/when it sells out, but that's up to the guys covering the production costs!
Tuck Case: Since it will be put out by HOPC, how much are they involved in the design process?
Randy Butterfield: I'll e-mail Kevin (HOPC) whenever a new card is finished. If anything looks off or if I missed something, he'll definitely offer feedback. They really let you have carte blanche with the design though! I think if the design's good enough for HOPC to pick up in the first place, they trust the designer to follow through and finish it strong.
When it gets towards the end we'll throw around ideas for the Gaff cards. Personally, I enjoy taking a 2-sided Ad card and having a little fun with it. For the Imperial Ad card each side is essentially an extra court card, one for HOPC and one forMidnight Cards.
The other Gaff card is a nod to the very first Imperial Egg - the Hen Egg. Instead of a golden chicken and yolk surprise inside the egg, the Imperial Gaff reveals a golden birdsnest and eagle eggs inside to tie it in with the other red eggs in the deck.
I'm truly proud of this deck and hope others enjoy it as well!