GAIA Playing Cards

Mother Earth, the planet which we are living on right now. In ancient Greek, Earth is personified as Gaia or Gaea. This is where we will usually add in small bite size information that is not related to playing cards. In ancient Greek mythology, Gaia is the Earth itself and she birthed the sky (Uranus) and ocean (Pontus). Before you can ask who fathered them, we would like to tell you that Uranus and Pontus are parthenogenetic birth. Go on and click on the earlier link if you want to know some strange and rare facts of reproduction.

If you had been following this blog regularly, digression is becoming something of a trademark of Red Hands and somehow it’s part of the charm. Always feeding you more information than you ask for.

So back to the cards, GAIA playing cards is the next project after Marchen by Forge Arts. At first glace, we were not very impressed with the offering. We brushed it off as a deck of cards with drawings of animals. Nothing impressive and not a worthy collectors’ item.


It is a mistake to simply brush them off as just animal playing cards with animal illustrations meant to amuse children or to teach toddles about animals. These are not simply printed by any card company in China but these will be manufactured by United States Playing Cards Company (USPCC). Some other features worth mentioning:

  • Embossed, 360° fully panoramic tuck box
  • Premium, embossed card finish for smooth handling
  • 100% custom, hand drawn artwork on every card illustrated by Ben Sinclair
  • Limited edition of 2,500 decks. Never to be printed again.

After quite some time, we came to appreciate this playing cards more. We took another look at the close up images below (click to enlarge) and thought they were pretty well drawn and coloured.

Now, we take it upon ourselves to tell you more about these cards. Take a look at the Aces (scroll up) and you will notice that the design of each Aces is inspired by a climate. This is where we need to spend a little more time and (page) space to talk about it. Each court pip will reflect a different climate and the animals appearing on the Royal court cards belong to that climate. Here are the four pips and what they represent:

GAIA ClubGAIA HeartGAIA SpadeGAIA Diamond

Animals instead of people are used as portraits drawings and GAIA is one of those cards which has a different illustration between the top and bottom portrait. Take some time to look at the details pictures below which can be enlarged once you click or touch them on your mobile devices. Even without an enlarged view, you can still notice the top and bottom portrait difference.

Club – Rainforest

Heart – Savanna

Spade – Alpine

Diamond – Tundra

As of the time of this writing, the stretch goal of Night Edition of Gaia has been unlocked and it will also be a limited release of 2,500 decks with 500 decks numbered and sealed. if you were expecting a different set of illustrations in the Royal Court cards, you will be disappointed. However, that does not mean it the standard (we shall call it day edition) and night edition are exactly the same.

There will still be some slight differences. Difference #1, the tuck box design shows a night scene with the full moon high in the night sky illuminating the surface. You can see the difference below:

Next will be the card back colour scheme. Day has a orange theme and night has a dark green colour. We don’t have a picture of just the card back, so those two will have to do.

Lastly, we mentioned that there is no difference in the card face designs. We lied about that. The animals illustrated are the same but if you peel your eyes wide, you will observe that the animals in night edition has a darker shade on them depicting them at night. Except for the Owl which is the Queen of Spade. Both editions show the Owl at night time. This isn’t a mistake, Owls are predators in the night and aren’t usually moving around in the day.

Go on and take a look at the Kickstarter project page and think about whether you would like to add GAIA into your collection. Before you close this window, we would like to inform you that the interior box will be illustrated as well for both editions.


Wikipedia (Gaia)

Wikipedia (Uranus)

Wikipedia (Pontus)

Britannica (Parthenogenetic)

GAIA Playing Cards (Kickstarter project)

Forge Arts Playing Cards

United States Playing Cards Company

Ben Sinclair (Instagram)

Märchen Playing Cards

Forge Arts‘ first project on Kickstarter is Märchen (fairy tales), a playing deck depicting German folklore figures both myth and legends. Who can tell the difference? I am not a big follower of German folklore but some of the characters in the Märchen deck have characters that I heard of because of Brothers Grimm. Characters like Hansel and Gretel and Pied Piper of Hamelin. The others characters are unfamiliar to me so I best not comment on them.

The Märchen series has two decks, Schwarzwald and Hamelin. The dark green box is Schwarzwald representing Germany’s “enchanted forest, home to wolves and devils, ghostly maidens and slumbering heroes, hidden caves and long-forgotten treasures.” The cream box is Hamelin “represents Germany’s majestic castles, towns, and villages. From the mightiest keep to the lowliest inn, they serve as centers of civilization and culture, safe havens from the terrors of the forest.”

The characters representing Kings, Queens and Jacks of each suit are named on the card itself so you know who they are. The drawings are done by Nicolai Aaroe and he has done a good job with the drawing and shading.

This may not be a popular deck with collectors outside of Europe but I urge you to take a look nonetheless and appreciate the art. To make this series even special, there will be a numbered seal on each deck like the one below.


The creator has also designed a special dealer coin for Märchen. One side is a special coat of arms while the other carries a subtle “M” shaped design.


We regret to inform all would-be interested parties that Red Hands will not be offering any form of pre-order for Märchen playing cards.


Märchen (Kickstarter project)

Forge Arts

Nicolai Aaroe Instagram