Although the first 4 Karnival Decks had a clear family resemblance, each recent new incarnation has departed from that. In the summer the Ryujins arrived. And we rather liked them. A much less ‘dark’ feel to the whole project. But with the Dead Eyes we return to the gore – and then some!

Karnival Dead Eyes - Spot Cards

I love the fact that each face has been individually drawn – with unique blood splotches. Everything looks dirty and old (or ‘aged’ and ‘distressed’ in marketing speak!). I particularly like the big bold aces – again splattered with blood.

Karnival Dead Eyes Aces

Karnival Dead Eyes SpreadThe court cards have their eyes blacked out – very cool. And again everything is aged and blood splattered.

Each card also has its value printed on the edge of the card so it is visible in a ribbon spread. I had mixed views on this. The font style used here seems a bit out of keeping with the ‘age’ of the rest of the design. But its quirky – and certainly novel.

Extras include a blank-faced card (the blood’s real subtle here!) and an ‘advertising card’ which includes a 5D reveal in words and pictures on a modified version of the back design. There’s a two of spades barcode reveal on the tuck box and a discrete 10S reveal in the middle of the ‘brain’ on one of the Jokers.

And there are no nasty sticky seals on the packs – and since I’ve never found a neat way of opening sealed packs without a knife that makes me happy!

Karnival Dead Eyes Court Cards

But for me there are two things which hold me back. The back designs (and probably the jokers) are just a little too gory for my taste. Stylised skeletons are one thing – but this is a bit too close to the bone (pun not really intended) for me. That’s a very personal thing – so may not hold you back – but I tell it how I see it on this site.

Karnival Dead Eyes Montage

Also, although the cards handle well, they feel slightly thinner than normal Bicycle stock for me. I still can’t decide if this is psychological or really is the case – on one card you’d barely notice it, but I did some comparisons with a normal rider back deck, and they did feel to be ever so slightly thinner. What impact this would have over longer use I don’t know, but for me they just felt a bit too thin.

There’s definitely a market for these. It’s a shame they officially hit the UK on Nov 15th because it means the Halloween opportunity has been missed. But these are certainly a work of art, probably collectable, and in the right sort of routine or setting they’ll be killers!

Direct from BBM – £4.99/deck + £1 p&p – reducing for larger orders.

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