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Playing cards based on the Old West. And dead people. But mostly the Old West.
Playing cards based on the Old West. And dead people. But mostly the Old West.
482 backers pledged $16,777 to help bring this project to life.

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Plugged Nickel Playing Cards, Printed by USPCC project video thumbnail
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$16,777

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Start with the Old West. Then add a little bite to it. Skeleton cowboys and barbed wire. Guns and dynamite. And a bullwhip.

Dead Man's Hand - Wanted Poster
Dead Man's Hand - Wanted Poster
Dead Man's Hand - Rusted Tin
Dead Man's Hand - Rusted Tin

The Plugged Nickel Playing Cards are a limited-print, specialty deck of cards, printed by the USPCC. The USPCC is the creator of Bicycle playing cards, the gold standard in cards and the most trusted brand in the world. Plus they're all printed in the US of A. There will be no second printing - once these decks are gone, they're gone for good.

We're raising the money to print two decks with this project. The Wanted Poster is a little more traditional, with full-color art (as long as 'full color' means 'shades of brown') and a background like a worn-out wanted poster. The Rusted Tin, on the other hand, emphasizes the line art, with a minimal background designed to look like the metal roof of an old shack. Both decks are built from the same line art, but the similarities end there.

Rusted Tin Tuck Box
Rusted Tin Tuck Box

Now, I'm partial to both of these decks, and look forward to putting them side-by-side in my custom-made card box. But that doesn't mean I'm shoving them down your throat. The pledge levels specify a number of decks; you can pick and choose whichever you like when the project closes.

The highlights of the Plugged Nickel Playing Cards are the face cards. Each was specifically designed to resemble its traditional counterpart, from the angle of the head and pose of the body to the shapes found in the body of the card itself. The barbed wire, of course, is new.

Wanted Poster Clubs
Wanted Poster Clubs
Wanted Poster Diamonds
Wanted Poster Diamonds
Wanted Poster Hearts
Wanted Poster Hearts
Wanted Poster Spades
Wanted Poster Spades
Rusted Tin Clubs
Rusted Tin Clubs
Rusted Tin Diamonds
Rusted Tin Diamonds
Rusted Tin Hearts
Rusted Tin Hearts
Rusted Tin Spades
Rusted Tin Spades

Of course, special royalty doesn't make a whole deck, so we've got a few other tidbits, like the aces and jokers. Plus I made a really cool art card that is good for pretty much nothing except looking awesome.

Wanted Poster Aces
Wanted Poster Aces
Wanted Poster Jokers and Art Card
Wanted Poster Jokers and Art Card
Rusted Tin Aces
Rusted Tin Aces
Jokers and Art Card - Rusted Tin
Jokers and Art Card - Rusted Tin

 We're not the only ones talking about the Plugged Nickel Playing Cards. Check out some of these reviews from people all over the world:

THE MAGICIAN - VIDEO REVIEW

THE CARDIST - VIDEO REVIEW

MAGIC ORTHODOXY - VIDEO REVIEW

KARDIFY - WRITTEN REVIEW

MAX PLAYING CARDS - WRITTEN REVIEW

It's important to note here that the demo decks were printed by Liberty Playing Cards, and the reviews mention that fact a few times. We're using USPCC for the production run.

The piece de resistance, the feather in the cap of this Kickstarter, is the extremely limited card box. This wooden box is made of South American walnut that grows in an area prone to lightning strikes. The wood gets these cool black streaks from all the electricity being pulled up out of the ground.

The lid of the card box boasts the Plugged Nickel Playing Cards logo, carved right into the wood. This picture shows the lid and showcases the gorgeous burn marks that the lightning has made into the wood.

The inside tray of the box is carved from a single piece of walnut, and has space to hold two decks, six dice and the dealer's coin. Here's a shot of the box with the lid up. The dice are just standard dice for now, but they will be the Plugged Nickel specialty dice in the finished product.

The card boxes are extremely limited. Only ten will be available, and when they're gone, they're gone. These boxes will not be available after the Kickstarter ends. The boxes go for $200 each, and will come fully stocked with two decks of cards, a dealer's coin and six dice. These are not technically add-ons - they are available at the highest pledge level.

 I've decided to add a sticker to the mix. If you're pledging for at least one deck, you're also going to get a clear vinyl sticker of the cow skull I used on the ace of hearts. The art will be metallic gold. This will be bitchin'.

Cow Skull Clear Vinyl Sticker
Cow Skull Clear Vinyl Sticker

See how cool that is? It will be cool. That's not an add-on, stretch goal or any other Kickstarter buzzword. It's just a sticker. You're getting one.

I'm also offering the original, inked art for the aces. Each is drawn on 14X17 archival stock, using India ink, so it will last. The art is available for $300, and if you already pledged for an early bird, simply add whatever you pledged to that and you'll still get whatever you pledged for. For instance, if you ordered two decks on the early bird, and it's at $19, just switch your pledge to the art you want and pledge $319, and you'll be locked in at the price you pledged at the outset.

Here's what's available:

Aces Original Inks
Aces Original Inks

 Forgive my ridiculously bad photography. I'm an artist, not a photographer, and my phone camera is woefully inadequate.

I'm keeping the add-ons to a minimum, mostly to keep the funding goal lower. That will not only help us fund, it will help us hit those stretch goals and make a sexier deck of cards. But there are a few things that we just thought were too important to go forward without them.

First we've got dice. These are fully customized on every face. It was just getting too hard to find one solution that made everyone happy - so we went with three. The two ivory dice have the skull on the '1' side of the die, and the black die has the skull on the '6.'

This here is just a mockup. You can add dice to your order by adding $6 per pair, or $9 for a set that includes one of each. When the project closes, you can use the survey to tell me which ones you want.

Plugged Nickel Dice (3 versions)
Plugged Nickel Dice (3 versions)

Then you've got the coin. Man, this puppy is cool. Nice and heavy, with a weathered patina and barbed wire all around the outside (but not real barbed wire, because that would hurt). You can add one of these beauties to your order for $10.

Plugged Nickel Dealer's Coin
Plugged Nickel Dealer's Coin

 Finally we've got the uncut sheets. Now, most places are going to go you 40-60 bucks for an uncut sheet, but here's a secret - they cost about the same to print as a deck of cards. You're just paying because they're so darn cool. Well, I want you to have that cool, if you want it, so the Plugged Nickel uncut sheets are $20. Yeah, that's still a markup, but it includes the big mailer tube, which costs a lot more to ship than a deck.

I don't just want to get a couple decks printed. I want these to be some dead-sexy playing cards, with all the bells and whistles we can throw in the box. The first stretch goal is a pretty obvious touch - we need a custom seal. When we hit $17K, that will get added to the tuck.

Custom Seals
Custom Seals

After that, our next stretch goal is for art on the inside of the tuck box. Art on the inside of the tuck is my personal favorite deck upgrade. You hardly see it, but when you do, it's got an air of 'yes, this deck is better than all the others.' I would love to add that to these cards, so at 20K, we'll be adding a touch of color to the part of the tuck box nobody ever sees anyway. If you want to get a preview of the inside art, check out Update 13 - and feel free to add your own ideas.

IN WHICH WE DISCUSS CLASSIC LINES ABOUT DEATH

The Plugged Nickel Playing Cards started out as just a creative impulse - I thought it would be fun to design a deck of cards. And it was. But after I designed a deck of cards, I wanted to play poker with them, and figured other people might want them, too. That means getting them printed.

I did start off with some art extending off the edges of the cards, but I've played poker with some of those custom decks, and that art can mark the cards and make it easy to tell where the face cards are hiding. Not only that, but after being a designer for 15 years, I know that dark colors at the edge of the card make chips and scratches show up and look ugly in a hurry. So while I did get pretty wacky with borders and barbed wire and skulls and what-not, I kept the edges white. You'll be able to play with these cards for a good long time.

A quick note on the video. While I built most of it myself, I'm no musician. The western background music came from a talented artist named Jason Shaw. If you like that little ditty, there's a lot more where that came from:

CHASIN' IT BY JASON SHAW

Risks and challenges

I've owned VixenTor Games for seven years now, and have been a professional print designer since the 90s. Sure, things can go wrong, but I've allowed a wider delivery deadline than is strictly necessary so I can underpromise and overdeliver.

We could run into snags with the printer. Any good designer counts on it, even, and builds it into the timeline. If it happens, it won't be the first time a print project ran overbudget or past the print date. We stay flexible, deal with it, and hit our deadlines.

We could hit some issues with fulfillment. But again, I've done this before. I've shipped all over the globe, dealt with customs forms, ordered bulk pickups from the post office. I'm almost certain something will go wrong - but years of fixing my own mistakes has helped me learn how to deal with them, so if your order is broken, I'll make it my personal mission to make sure you're not just compensated. I want you happy.

The non-card rewards are another potential pain point. I'm not stamping the coins or building the card boxes. And working with new vendors means unpredictability - which is why I've already been in contact with those vendors and arranged fail-safes, including backups should the primary sources fall through.

One area we won't hit any problems is making the art. I've been working on these cards for nearly a year now, and this one is in the bag. The art is drawn, colored, refined, cleaned up, positioned and assembled. As soon as this Kickstarter project closes and I know how many decks we're printing, we're off to the races. Heck, I've already printed demo decks to get reviews done. I mean, this art is done.

I figure there are other areas where this whole thing could hit a hiccup, and I won't know about them until they happen. That's the reason for the October delivery date - it gives me time to adjust if unforeseen complications throw me a curveball.

In short, there's nobody as excited to own a deck of the Plugged Nickel Playing cards as I am. I aim to make everything as smooth as possible, because this isn't just a business venture. It's personal for me, and so I've got a bigger stake than just money.

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Funding period

- (40 days)