Nowadays as a James Bond fan, when it comes to merchandise it really is everything or nothing. If you are unwilling to spends hundreds (or even thousands) on officially sanctioned 007 items then you will find that there is very little else to choose from. Prop replicas previously from Factory Entertainment have been high in price but have a uniqueness to them as a collectable that clothing lines, luggage or stationary just does not have. Seemingly understanding that their corner of the market will be made up of the much more dedicated 007 fans; replicas such as the GoldenEye device or the skull cane from Spectre are made in high quality in limited editions and cost little more than N. Peal expect you to pay for a navy jumper.
The latest release is a replica deck of Solitaire’s tarot cards from Live And Let Die. The deck consists of 37 cards in total, unlike the traditional tarot deck which is made up of 78 cards. The face artwork for each card seen in the film was commissioned to be created by Scottish artist Fergus Hall, who created 27 individual pieces of artwork for the cards seen in the film; the production timetable did not allow for any more. These 27 cards make up the bulk of the deck, whilst the remaining 10 are copies of “The Lovers” card as a homage to Bond stacking the deck against Solitaire. The set is a numbered edition of 1530 pieces and costs £79.95 or $79.99 US.
Upon arrival, the external packaging listed the item with the individual of the replica deck within. Once through the outer packaging, you have the gift box, which is made of sturdy card with a matte finish to it, and a magnetic seal holding it closed. Once you open up the box, you have a beautiful piece of artwork with Solitaire and a display of all the cards in the deck. The box itself as a housing is fine enough, but leaves little scope for displaying you prop replica. The front is pure black with “Live And Let Die” written in grey lettering which is not eye-catching at all, and it is not possible to keep the box open displaying the interior art without breaking the spine of the folding cover.
Inside, there is a certificate of authenticity with the individual numbering hand written and a short blurb on the back detailing the history of the original cards as well as the production of the replica deck. The most interesting piece of information from here is that an officially licensed full deck of tarot cards was made available upon Live And Let Die‘s release and would be later rebranded as “The Tarot of Witches” but much of the artwork would vary as it was made after production of the film was completed. This accounts for why the cards that Bond sees burnt after Solitaire is taken do not match with the ones in the replica deck.
The cards themselves come in a black velvet bag. The card stock used is heavyweight give the cards a strong thickness to them and each card has the iconic 007 motif on the back as featured on screen. The card faces have been captured using high resolution scanning from the original props, and so have a high level of detail with vibrant colouring. Whilst flicking through the deck for the first time, the most recognizable artworks pop out at you more, such as The Queen of Cups, and the High Priestess. A closer inspection at all the cards shows an amazing amount of detail, especially with characters on a card who display tattoos.
For the price on offer, I would highly recommend this deck of cards to any James Bond fan who likes to decorate their home with Bond memorabilia. It would have been easy for Factory Entertainment to charge much more and still have people buy, but instead we have a replica of one of the most iconic 007 props at an affordable price. My main issue with the set is the lack of options for display, as a prop replica is meant to be shown off and there is no way of doing that with the design of the gift box. Still, the more imaginative fans might have the deck framed, or fanned out in a playing card holder, or choose to keep them safely in the bag and gift box. Overall I would recommend the replica tarot cards, and quite frankly if you enjoy quirky James Bond merchandise and are a big fan of Live And Let Die in particular, then you really should order yourself this set.