Indiegogo: 7 Questions with Benjamin Loo of Mantecore Playing Cards

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Indiegogo: 7 Questions with Benjamin Loo of Mantecore Playing Cards

Inspired by their love for this majestic beast, Mantecore Playing Cards is a bold deck of cards designed by Edo Huang and Benjamin Loo. The deck was named as a tribute to magicians Siegfried and Roy's famous tiger.

Fully custom, Mantecore features an intricate back design inspired by one of the most classic back design, the Rider Backs. The pips have a fresh new look but are yet easily recognisable. The court have been simplified, enlarged and tweaked to look younger. Also, the borders that restrict the royals have also been removed and the colours have been updated to match the deck theme.

We managed to have a quick chat with Benjamin about his collaboration with Edo, the inspiration behind Mantecore and thoughts about playing cards on social media.

Can you tell us about yourself and how did you end-up collaborating with Edo Huang?
I am Benjamin from Singapore and I have been doing magic for about 8 years now and I have a degree in Psychology. It started off when we took interest on each other's Instagram posts. We then exchanged contacts (sounds like a love story so far) and started discussing about magic and playing card designs. Soon after, I tossed some ideas to Edo and he really liked them and the rest is history.

This is your first Indiegogo project. When did you first start thinking about using Indiegogo? What made you decide to take the plunge?
After the designs were underway, we had to have a platform to share it. I then researched on the platforms available and narrowed down to Indiegogo and Kickstarter. Kickstarter seemed like the obvious choice but we soon found out that we were not able to start a campaign due to where we were from and they do not allow funds collected on Kickstarter to be donated. Thus we turned to Indiegogo and have never looked back.

We decided to take the plunge sometime last year when Edo wanted to do a design that was more elaborate than what he has already put out. He contacted me and I shared my concept with him. We thought that a cross-country collaboration would be awesome and explored that idea to what it is today.

What is your inspiration behind Mantecore Playing Cards? How did you come up with the idea?
I think that tigers are really majestic beasts and am a little saddened that the population of my favourite animal is dwindling. I have long wanted a deck with tigers as the main theme for that reason. I also really like Mark Stutzman's work with the Split Spades and Whispering Imps. Thus I contacted Edo and shared this idea with him. We incorporated this with the most classic back designs and Mantecore was born.

What role did you play in the art direction and how much time did you spend working on the deck?
I basically told Edo what I wanted as a skeleton of the deck and gave him free rein on how he wanted to translate that into pen and paper. He would then submit what he drew and we would discuss and refine the artwork. Believe it or not the first draft of the deck was nothing like the final product.

Most of my time after work and during the weekends were spend either discussing the drafts with Edo, marketing the deck, discussing about the deck with Lawrence from Legends Playing Card Company or setting up the campaign for the decks since the start of the year.

We initially noticed Mantecore on Social Media predominantly Instagram. What do you think of the playing card community on Social Media? 
The number of media on Instagram that has playingcards as a hash tag is currently 160,000 and counting. I love the community on Instagram. That is where I found many super awesome friends who are so skilled and talented. It is also a great platform where people can share crazy pictures of their playing card collection, new moves or flourishes that they just learnt in 15 seconds or under. Some people like @lost_angelus, @shoe32 and @playingcardart are sharing some really eye catching pictures involving playing cards. Go give them a follow If you haven't already.

Social media also connects people from all around the world, which is I like about it. Sharing of ideas can now be done so easily. It is actually how Edo and came to know each other. Without Instagram, there would not have been Mantecore.

With so many playing card projects competing for funding, why should potential backers choose your deck?
Our campaign tagline is " Shuffling Stripes with a Cause". We didn't want Mantecore to be just another deck of cards, we wanted it to have a cause as well. Thus we added a line on the side of the box that says "Save the Tigers" to remind people of their dwindling numbers. We would also donate 5% of profits after the campaign to the Save The Tiger - Panthera Fund.

The entire deck is also custom, from the box, right down to the pips. We have not 1 but 4 custom aces; tweaked court cards that are simplified and look younger but are still familiar to the lay audience; as well as a joker reveal and a double backer for the magicians out there. The backs of Mantecore also has subtle area where magicians can mark their decks.

Finally, what are your favourite playing card decks? 
My favourite decks are the Smoke and Mirrors series as well as Split Spades. The design and handling of those decks are what sets them apart.

Awesome! At the time of writing, the project is only 18% funded with 31 days to go. If want to support the Mantecore Playing Cards, you can find it on Indiegogo here

Mantecore Playing Cards will be printed by LPCC and pledge starts from $8.
Indiegogo: 7 Questions with Benjamin Loo of Mantecore Playing Cards Reviewed by Ivan on 6/18/2015 Rating: 5

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