A tale of terrible tucks (& its resolution)

UPDATE: Cartamundi got back to me, and thanks to Jirs Huygen, all the decks will be repacked into fresh tucks by Cartamundi. I’ll update this page again when that’s completed.

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I’ll also leave this post up for anyone else wondering how things can go wrong/get resolved in the course of a project like this. Correcting damage/getting reprints is a stressful part of production projects, but it's also a very consistent part. I've never put in a bulk order for products and not had SOMETHING need correction/reprint. This is not to excuse Cartamundi (or any other supplier)... More to say; Cartamundi is not unique, and these kinds of problems seem to be a feature of mass print. I know I'm not unique either, in having this experience - I used to think I was fussy until I realised every other creator I spoke to had the same problems (and a garage full of misprinted print items/parts/artbooks/etc.)

To any other creators, my advice would be; ALWAYS open all shipping cartons when they arrive, don't open one box and assume the rest will be fine. Have a good quality control plan, use random allocation if you can't check every item, but check something from all shipping cartons/boxes. If you have space, keep ALL original packaging until you know your order is good. Keep records of all faults and photograph eeeeverything. & remember you're not alone, this happens to us all!

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Hello lovely people,

I'm looking for a bit of feedback from more experienced collectors/creators on a problem I'm having with my new deck - Insecta - which was funded via Kickstarter. My latest deck has been printed by Cartamundi BE. The print quality on the cards themselves is chuffing amazing - honestly, the level of detail preserved from the original artwork (made in traditional media) is astonishing. HOWEVER. All of the tucks have a crumple in one corner of the top flap, around 30% of them have peeling of the finish on the top flap, and the spare tucks I ordered to replace any with defects (because there's always some) were only partially glued - - and I can't finish assembling them because the top flap is too big to tuck into the box.

A crumpled corner

Two crumpled corners

A peeling front flap (sounds like it should be a euphemism for something…)

Lots of crumples, lots of peeling flaps

Another deck from my collection that was printed by Cartamundi (the Medusa Deck). It does not have the same crumpling (or peeling)

Another deck from my collection that was printed by Cartamundi (the Medusa Deck). It does not have the same crumpling (or peeling)

Lots more crumpling, lots more peeling

I can’t assemble the spare tucks because the top flap is too big. The tucks don’t… tuck. Basically.

How many decks had a problem? Well, here’s the data from my quality control sweep (because I’m a scientist as well as an artist, so me and a science friend who is Queen of Morphometrics did a very thorough inspection using a reproducible method.)

We inspected 298 tucks across 12 full cartons and 2 partial cartons of decks;

- 289 (97%) had the crumple in the corner of the top flap

- 87 (29%) also had peeling of the finish on the top flap

- 8 (3%) had neither of the faults above

- 0 tucks had faults with print quality

- A small number of tucks restricted to 3 boxes had oil on, but it was easy to wipe off

To check the print on the cards;

- We opened 25 cello-wrapped decks using random allocation across 12 full cartons and 2 partial cartons of decks, and found 0 print faults

- We inspected 5 random uncut sheets of each type in detail, all were perfect. Slight scuffing was noted on the top sheet in each box (which is expected, and is not an issue)

I contacted Cartamundi to say the cards were great but the tucks were not acceptable. I got this response from Wim Vlekken in BE, via their UK office;

"With regards to the damage to the boxes. To be honest, and I‘m not saying we should not think about finding a more structural solution for this, but all our tuck boxes have this kind of damage. In fact we always use the same die cut for this card size. Depending on the design however, it’s sometimes less and sometimes more visible. So for us this is not really a valid claim, however we do understand that this is a high value and expensive tuckbox, so therefore we could accept a commercial discount of 5% on the job. [...] We will initiate a test to improve the “tucking” for future productions."

This is not acceptable to me, and also sounds like absolute nonsense - for a number of reasons, which in no particular order include;

  • "They always look like that"/"they're supposed to be that way" is an excuse I've heard from multiple suppliers when they've messed something up and don't want to bear the cost of correcting it

  • No other deck produced by Cartamundi in my collection has that damage.

  • I had a wee chat with Mike Ratledge and a couple of other creators I know that are familiar with Cartamundi, who also did not think this excuse held water. I mean... are you seriously going to tell me that this is the best they can do when making speciality decks aimed at card collectors who are notorious for expecting perfection? I think the fuck not.

  • Cartamundi are advertising decks all over the place, including on their public social media, all the time; they are constantly showing us what their decks should look like so pull the other one. Plucking something off their Instagram as an example, funny how I can’t see that crumple on this deck either. Or indeed ANY OTHER DECK of theirs you can find, because its nonsense.

From my point of view, the only acceptable options are

  1. Cartamundi replaces the faulty tucks OR

  2. I'm only paying for the cards themselves, and I'll find another producer for the tucks.

Option 2 would be pretty inconvenient, but I'm not going to ship anyone else a deck in a tuck box I wouldn't be happy to receive myself.

I’ve contacted the Specialty Cards Ambassador, Jirs Huygen, who helped me out getting production sorted. Hopefully he can illuminate what’s going on here. But I’d be grateful for any feedback from other creators, collectors, designers, etc. What do you think of Cartamundi’s suggestiong that “All our tuck boxes have this flaw”? Have you got other decks printed by Cartamundi that have this flaw? Have you ordered decks from Cartamundi and had this problem? Please let me know by commenting here, or on United Cardist, where I’ll also be posting this. I’ll be dropping the same images in a Kickstarter update tomorrow to see what backers think.

Thanks all, have a great evening, and please remember to take care of yourselves as much as yo’re able to this week xx

Immy