This is a set of playing cards with a long history, and has many enthusiastic devotees due to the admiration and popularity it has enjoyed, especially from many magicians. The ARRCO Playing Card Company started operations in 1927, under the name Arrow Playing Card Company, which became Arrco in 1934. Arrco soon gained a loyal following, largely due to its high quality card stock and elegant graphics, which it made available in a signature red and blue, just like the 2018 reprint. After USPCC took over the brand in 1987, the decks were eventually discontinued, but the Arrco playing cards were loved by many card handlers, and highly regarded for their looks and their performance. Will Roya from PlayingCardDecks was able to secure an arrangement with USPCC to produce a limited edition reprint in 2018, in order to bring this very practical worker's deck back into print, with 2,500 copies of both the red and blue versions of the deck being produced.
For the most part the tuck case of the 2018 limited edition reprint is the same as the original deck, but some modifications have been made to fit USPCC's requirements. For instance, as far as I could tell, the original Arrco decks said "US Regulation" on the front of the box, but this isn't on the 2018 reprint. But besides small differences, the tuck box does otherwise features the classic ARRCO look in red and blue, with the back of the box featuring the design of the card backs, either in red or blue. For additional looks as a pair, the red box has a blue seal, while the blue box has a red seal. Identifying the 2018 reprint is a simple matter - the bottom of the tuck box has the PlayingCardDecks.com logo and brand information, while the flaps inside the tuck box have a card reveal: a Jack of Clubs on the red deck and an Ace of Hearts on the blue deck.
The card backs have a generous white border, and feature the classic and intricate design for which the Arrco brand is famous. It's far more detailed and complex than most back designs, and this is exactly why many people love it. Yet it retains the mirrored symmetry that most people prefer to see on a card back. Apparently when Arrco was a separate company, this is the back design used on their Club Casino and Duratone Club Reno brands of playing cards.? It is still revered by many magicians and professional card handlers around the world.
The card faces have a traditional and standard look, although the court cards are not the same as what you'll see on a standard Bicycle rider-back deck. The colours are the same but the patterns are not, with a slightly more intricate design that seems more sophisticated and less garish. It also cleverly incorporates tiny suit pips on the clothing of the characters. Quite frankly, personally I prefer these court cards over the standard Bicycle rider-back courts!
The number cards are standard, and complement the court cards well. The observant will notice that the shape of the pips is slightly different than those of a typical Bicycle rider-back deck. The Ace of Spades features an over-sized pip which incorporates the four pips. Maybe it's a coincidence, but the arrangement of the spade and the club pip reminds me of an arrow - perhaps a faint vestige of the company's original Arrow name?
The two Jokers feature a smiling Jester face. The "Plastic Coated" reference is somewhat of an anachronism, since these are very definitely ordinary playing cards with USPCC's usual embossing and Magic Finish for smooth and consistent handling. But it is a remnant of an iconic design, so it has been preserved as part of the artwork, even though the cards today are no longer plastic coated. Each deck also includes two extra gaffs not present in the original Arrco decks - the red deck has a double facer and red double backer, while the blue deck has a blank facer and a red/blue double backer. This makes it a good idea for magicians to get both decks, because then you get a full set of gaffs: a double faced card, blank faced card (blue back), plus two double backers (one in red, the other red/blue), which enables you to perform a range of different effects with these decks if you are into card magic.
For good handling, these decks have an embossing air cushion finish, with a traditional cut, and the usual smooth performance you'd expect from a USPCC produced deck. Some will be surprised by that, since the original Arrco decks had a slick finish. The plastic coating and smooth finish was part of the appeal of the original Arrco playing cards for some people, although personally I much prefer the embossed air cushion finish, as do many others. Some people insist that the original Arrco decks lasted a lot longer than the Bicycle riderbacks, and that is possible, given the use of a plastic coating and a smooth finish. But these are no longer plastic coated, and are made in exactly the same way as all the other decks produced by USPCC, so their durability and performance can be expected to match modern decks, not the original Arrco decks.
Magicians have long loved these decks, and collectors will also appreciate the opportunity to seize a piece of history. While their performance won't be identical to the original Arrco decks, like other USPCC produced decks they will perform very well. And of course they feature the artwork and design that many magicians and collectors feel strongly connected with, so that will give them an immediate appeal for many people, and in this fine new reprint, they're still an excellent choice today. - BGG reviewer EndersGame