Designed by renowned French artistic designer Sam Hayles, the Bicycle ‘Karnival’ series of playing cards are a must-have addition to any collectors’ stash. This deck is one of the two ‘Renegade’ packs available. The 2 decks are essentially the same in every way except for the colouring – there’s a blue deck and a purple deck. The other design in this particular series is the Karnival ‘Assassins’ – available in red and green. By mixing and matching these cards with each other or other Bicycle decks, you could create some really cool card routines.
The artwork on these cards is truly amazing and incredibly detailed.
The designer, Sam Hayles, has worked with various bands, record companies, DJ’s, artists and music composers. The main character featured here is a suited up, top hat wearing skeleton who’s weapons of choice are a knife, a bomb, an axe and a meat cleaver. The artwork on the back of the cards also features what appears to be a revolver in the middle. So I’m thinking that the Renegade is someone not to be messed with…! You would almost be reminded of the old card games of years gone by when a man could lose his life over the turn of a card.
My main gripe with these cards would have to be the pip and court cards – they’re just standard.
This is in keeping with the rest of the Karnival Assassins and Renegades series, but I would have liked to have seen some nice design features on the pips and even on the faces of the court cards. I’ve seen other packs designed by Sam Hayles where this has been done, so I have to admit opening the pack did feel like a bit of a let down.
Nonetheless these cards are a welcome addition to my collection. I would definitely play with these cards. Guaranteed they’d be a talking point on any card table. There are 2 Jokers, one with a ‘reveal’ card tucked into the brim of his top hat, and a gaff card that says ‘You Will Choose The Six of Clubs’, and the Ace of Spades has the same design as the front of the deck. The back of the deck features a very subtle one-way back design, meaning that it ‘looks’ the same each way up, but two little loops in one side show which way up the card is – a handy tool for card tricks as you can spot a reversed card even in a tight, face down ribbon spread.
Made from quality USPCC card stock with their air cushioned finish these cards handle extremely well, whether in use as game cards, or as part of a card routine.
My overall opinion is that these cards would be great to have on the table during a poker night because of their handling – Bicycle never let you down on that score – but they fall short because they just (for me anyway) didn’t live up to expectation. Purely as a Joker collector, however, these cards would definitely be among my favourites, because the 2 Jokers are stunning. The splashes of purple on the cards give a nice rich look too. All in all this is a positive review and I would definitely be wanting the ‘Renegades’ in blue as well as the ‘Assassins’ in the red and green – just so I have the set you understand :)
****** UPDATE June 2016 ******
I wrote this review just over a year ago. At that time the price of this deck on Amazon.co.uk was £6.95 – it has quadrupled in a year to £28.00. Quadrupled!! I’m always banging on about how playing cards can be a good investment and this is a prime example. Of course, you can always do your homework and search through the internet for a better price. But isn’t it worth knowing…..?