“It has been over 2 years since our last deck was released, and that time has been spent developing our newest, best looking deck yet, the Gatorbacks.”
Intro: Gatorbacks Playing Cards
Today we will take a thorough look at the Green Gatorbacks from David Blaine. David Blaine has not released a deck of cards in quite a while, so this project was something that people were looking forward to for quite sometime. The only way you could get a Green Gatorbacks deck was if you ordered from David Blaine’s online store and they were only available in “brick” (set of 12 decks, in case someone is not familiar with the term). So if you did order a “brick” you were lucky enough to get one of these, as they did sell out within 24 hours. Now, they are only available to get via a third party or, perhaps, eBay.
These cards were designed by Mark Stutzman and they were printed by the United States Playing Card Company (USPCC). The designer did not come as a surprise, as Mark has done a lot of David Blaine’s decks in the past .
A Closer Look…
i) The Tuck Box
The tuck case of the Gatorbacks is kind of a “black-on-black”. It is a matte black with gloss, raised embossed metallic black ink that wraps all the way around. The only color on this entire tuck case is a green foiled alligator in the upper corner. Stunning!!!
The front and back of the tuch case do show the back design of the cards themselves. The design on the front is more of an “exploded view”. There are four alligators in total embeded in the back design of the cards, but the specific (the “green one”) is the only one that is colored in, thus giving the “full name” to the deck: Green Gatorbacks. At the bottom half of the case it says “Gatorbacks Premium Edition”.
The side panels of the box read ” The United States Playing Cards Company” and “DB Productions / Mark Stutzman” respectively.
The top is accented with a tuck stamp. Long time ago, card cases were sealed with tuck stamps, so David Blaine’s design team created this kind of vintage throwback to what used to look like. I think that is a really cool feature… On the tuck’s flap there is the astronomical clock printed on the inside. There are still some people who are trying to figure out if this is a code, or a magic reveal… After all, David Blaine says about the Gatorbacks:
“For magicians there are valuable hidden features built into the deck that we will leave for you to discover”
That is pretty much all about the tuck case. Let’s move on and take a look at the cards…
ii) The Cards
I absolutely love the feel of the Green Gatorbacks… The corners and edges of the cards are really smooth. Moreover, I really appreciate the paper stock. To be honest, I am not really sure which paper stock David Blaine ended up going with. In the past he has been noted to bringing in his own paper stock to USPCC, so I do not really know. It does kind of feel like retail Aristocrat stock. That would be my first guess, along with modern cut with air-cushion finish, but – again – I am not sure.
The coloring on this deck, both for the back design and the faces, is done in metallic inks. You don’t see it so much with the black cards, but in the red you do see that really striking red tone pop out. The red color looks a lot more like a “blood tone”. The court cards also have the same metallic shine. They also feature a new “re-colored scheme” and have the new gold metallic ink that really pops out!
The back design of the cards could be perceived as if it consists of 4 quadrants, plus there is a little girl wearing a ballerina outfit, riding the back of the crocodile. Presumably this is David Blaine’s daughter and his pet crocodile. You also get the “Split Spade” logo on the top and the bottom of the design where it is interwoven with vine work. It kind of resembles to decks from the vintage era, but also there is a striking resemblance to his White Lions deck… Not really so much in the same graphics, but as a nod to the imagery and the styled form that the White Lions had.
I do appreciate what he was trying to do with the Green Gatornbacks…
The other thing I really like is the medium-sized, white border at the back of the cards. It is also accented with a number of “half moon circles” that go all around and that makes for a really interesting image in both the fans and the spreads.
All the pips are standard, nothing original about the shapes or the font itself. The court cards have been re-colored, as I said earlier. They are a lot bolder in the blue and red, plus the gold is very much accented. Some of the court cards do also have original and unique faces which represent real life people. More specifically:
King of Spades is David Blaine, himself
Queen of Spades is Blaine’s fiancé, Alizee Guinochet
Jack of Spades is Blaine’s brother
King of Diamonds is Daniel Madison
King of Hearts is Bill Kalush from Conjuring Arts
Jack of Hearts is the designer of the Gatorbacks, Mark Stutzman
With the Gatorbacks deck you will get some unique cards: First of all is your gaff card, which is a blank face card, with the Gatorbacks back design. You will also get a DB ad card, also featuring the Gatorbacks back design. The front of the ad card features the graphic found in the front page of David Blaine’s website.
I left the best for last…
The Ace of Spades is an alligator bursting out of the water, reaching up to bite hold of a flying seagull. The water is kind of cascading on both sides creating the illusion of a giant spade pip! Awesome… Under the pip it says: “Gatorbacks No. 127″ (his daughter, Dessa, was born on January 27th, 2011).
You also get 2 Jokers, both original and unique, but not identical. Again, there is the little girl on the alligator, in 2 different positions (one sitting and one standing). The only thing that is “weird” about the Jokers is the fact that the fonts in the J’s are different. I really have no idea why they chose to do it like that.
Conclusion / Verdict
No matter how you look at it, the Green Gatorbacks is an “absolutely must-have” deck:
First of all, it is stunning. The artwork of Mark Stutzman at it’s best…
Secondly, the cards handle like a charm. Actually, this is a domain that David Blaine really puts his focus on.
Thirdly, they are rare. Now that they are sold out their price will just go up!
If you want to see the Green Gatorbacks “in action” check out the following video:Share This: