Wednesday 29 January 2020

London 2020 stamp issues - in more detail

As I mentioned previously, the US weekly stamp magazine, Linn's Stamp News, has published details about the London 2020 stamp issues which were taken from a Royal Mail press release.  The problem with a large organisation such as Royal Mail is that sometimes such a release takes by surprise the very people who are most affected.

No, I don't mean dealers and collectors, but some parts of Royal Mail.  Consequently the information now provided to dealers is still incomplete, but at least there is more of it, and it is out of embargo.

Update: Show now in February 2022
Update 20 March - see

London2020 International Stamp Exhibition 

Major international shows have taken place in London for seventy years and attract visitors from all over the world. Britain holds a particular appeal for stamp collectors outside the UK because it has the oldest postal service and was the first country to introduce an adhesive postage stamp – the Penny Black. A key theme of the London 2020 show will be the 180th anniversary of the Penny Black which Royal Mail will marking with a number of special products. An additional theme of the exhibition will be the 150th anniversary of the British postcard which will be commemorated by Royal Mail with a show exclusive stamp sheet.

"Please note that issue dates are yet to be finalised. The original plan was for some of the issue dates
to be staggered across the show, however, this would mean day one visitors, who have paid for entry
to the show, would not be able to purchase some of the London2020 commemorative products. Full
details including postmarks will be published in due course."

10 March 2020 - Retail Stamp Booklet
This Retail Stamp Book of six First Class stamps includes two Penny Black, two Twopenny Blue and two Penny Red stamps first issued in 2015 and 2016. It also bears the London 2020 show logo as well as details of the venue and dates on which the exhibition takes place.

London2020 Souvenir Sheet

A sheet of 8 x First Class stamps featuring the show logo and comprising two Penny Blacks, 3 x Twopenny Blues and 3 x Penny Reds. In the centre of the stamp pane is a label featuring the old original die of Queen Victoria’s image. The sheet carries no new stamps so will not be issued to Regular Order customers automatically and as such has an individually numbered limited edition of 15,000.

The size of the sheet is 162mm x 96mm (landscape) and the stamps are gummed.

London2020 Show Exclusive Souvenir Sheet

The show exclusive version of the souvenir sheet is an individually numbered limited edition of just 7,500 and is available to purchase at the show only. To mark the 150th anniversary of the British postcard the label in the centre of the stamp pane comprises a reproduction of the Half Penny stamp design that appeared on the first postcard produced in the UK. 

The size of the sheet is 162mm x 96mm (landscape) and the stamps are gummed.

As I mentioned in the earlier post, this is the same format, the same size, and the same background as the 2016 prestige stamp book pane (see below).  One might have expected the Exhibition Exclusive miniature sheet, marking as it does the 150th Anniversary of the British postcard, to have more imposing caption, and maybe a different background.  Maybe the stamps could have been moved to the left, and the top right could have included the original stamp in it's original place?  It wouldn't have needed much effort to do the perforating the other way round - they've done it before by accident!

As the editor of the Modern British Philatelic Circle's Bookmark journal has written:

For a once-in-a-decade prestigious philatelic event, Royal Mail could have pulled something a little more imaginative out of the bag, as they did in 2010 with superb intaglio Seahorse engravings. The 2020 servings smack unfortunately of last year’s leftovers reheated in the microwave to cut the costs (and effort) of designing something really worthwhile. Instead we get cheap litho reprints of stamps issued to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the Penny Black and its siblings in 2015 and 2016. Don’t we deserve better?

Here's one they produced earlier:

180th Anniversary of The Penny Black Stamp Sheet

Sheet of 25 x First Class Penny Black stamps marking the 180th anniversary of the first adhesive postage stamp.  Printed along the top are the actual dates of the anniversary and the instructions that appeared on the original Penny Black sheets is paraphrased on the left margin of the sheet. The size of the sheet is 121mm x 140mm (portrait) and the stamps are gummed and will be printed in litho.  So although this is in a similar form as ordinary counter sheet, the stamps are gummed, rather than self-adhesive.  

The 1d black marginal inscriptions are interesting as much for their impact on normal printing marks.  The cylinder numbers and FSC logo are now on the right hand side instead of the left, along with the barcode, date and short name.  The grid layout - now in the lower margin - is interesting because it shows these stamps were printed in FOUR grid positions, out of 8.  So what else was printed on the same master plate?


UPDATE 8 February 2021.  Forgive my laxity in this (I can only plead that this was the most uninteresting and unnecessary issue), but the answer to the question about grid-boxes is that the actual stamps were printed in all 8 positions, as shown in this scan of the real sheet, printed on 25/02/20:

Scan of actual Penny Black anniversary sheet.

The reason I mention the printing date (nobody believed the 00/12/08 anyway) was that I have now been sent a photo of some sheets purchased last December which show a second printing date of 24/06/20.  I don't recall this being mentioned before, and it is worth noting all the more so because I would have expected the initial print run to have been more than necessary, especially given the cancellation of the London 2020 exhibition at which more would have been sold.  Note that, despite new plates being used, the numbers remain the same.

Second (?) printing of Penny Black sheet on 24/06/20.

London2020 Exhibition Sheet

For London2020 Royal Mail is issuing its last Exhibition Sheet in the Smilers format first established produced for the Pacific Explorer Exhibition in Sydney in 2005*. The sheet contains the show logo and 20 x First Class ‘Hello’ stamps with adjoining labels featuring images of Mail Rail, the Post Office Underground Railway and set against a background of the same. The sheet is A4 size

* I don't know why Royal Mail don't count the 2004 Hong Kong Stamp Expo sheet as the first - I certainly did, and produced a good first day cover!

There's no point in quoting prices for these, because apart from the retail booklet (£4.20) the other products are all subject to the tariff change at the end of March.

Monday 27 January 2020

Special Delivery Labels - another new variant?

For many years our deliveries from Royal Mail Tallents House had the address and Special Delivery details combined into one label, with the tracking number in a unique series starting Y.

When they introduced the new accounting system a few years ago this facility was lost and they used ordinary SD labels just as you would find in any other business, or indeed in Post Office branches.  The ones I'm using on outward mail are P6598 labels prefixed AF and dated June 14.

The recent ones from Tallents House are prefeixed JS and have no date or form number, which may mean that they are using old stock not supplied to POs when the rolls were introduced, similar to this 12 noon one which has the form number and date on the reverse.

However the latest one from Edinburgh has a horizontal (or landscape) label which I haven't seen before, even though it is date February 2016.  Has anybody else seen one of these?

Sunday 26 January 2020

Penny Black Plate 8 - bushfire auction ends Sunday 1 Feb, 11 am GMT.

I know that most of our readers are concerned with modern issues, but I equally know that a good number collect other stamps including older GB.

As part of the Stampboards Bushfire auction I have been sent a Plate 8 1d black by a collector who is remaining anonymous.   It's damaged (but of course repairable) but has a catalogue value of £525 in fine condition.

As you can see, it has margins most places, and it also has a lot of gum on the back - which could easily be cleaned off with hot water which would also improve the overall appearance.  What appears to be a thin at the middle-right (from the back) edge is actually missing gum,  When all the gum is off that will be just fine.

Price currently stands at AS120 (or just over £60).  If you wish to own this almost fine stamp, go and bid now.  The auction closes at midnight Sydney time (11 am GMT/UTC) on Sunday 1 February.

Wednesday 22 January 2020

American Magazine Linn's Reveals Royal Mail plans for London 2020 stamp issues

The US weekly stamp magazine, Linn's Stamp News, has published details from a Royal Mail press release about stamp issues related to the London 2020 International Exhibition, to be held at Islington's Business Design Centre from 2-9 May.

The only product pictured will be very familiar to collectors.  This is a miniature sheet to be issued in a limited numbered edition of 15,000. 

Remember this?

This was a pane in the Royal Mail 500 Prestige Stamp Book issued in 2016.  So we don't think that there are any new collectable stamps there, although collectors may want the miniature sheet itself.

We're already aware, from reader reports based on the latest RM Stock List, that there will be an Exhibition Sheet (the usual 20 self-adhesive 'Hello' stamps) and Linn's reveal that the labels will show images of Mail Rail.

The Linn's article also mentions the retails booklet containing six self-adhesive stamps, to be issued well in advance of the show on 10 March.  This contains one of each of the three stamps.  A booklet issued in 2016 contained 6 x 1d reds, and one in 2015 contained 6 x 1d blacks, so these are probably the same - but this is the first appearance of the self-adhesive 2d blue, except in the 2015 Smilers Sheet.

Linn's reports that

- "The remaining four panes will be issued 'for the exhibition', according to the Press Release, but no specific issue dates were revealed."  I've no idea what this means, but it sounds like an unannounced prestige stamp book.

- "A pane of 25 of the first-class Penny Black stamp will be issued for the exhibition."  This sounds like a counter sheet, so maybe the 1d black will replace - or be sold alongside - standard 1st class Machins.

- Two souvenir sheets with the modified classic stamp designs will have limited printings. Both will feature two of the Penny Black stamps, and three each of the Two-Penny Blue and Penny Red designs.  The first is detailed above.

"The second sheet will only be sold at the exhibition, Royal Mail advises. Celebrating the 150th anniversary of the first British postal card, the 1870 ½d violet, the souvenir sheet label reproduces the imprinted stamp design from that postal card, and the sheet includes relevant anniversary text.
That second souvenir sheet will be available in a numbered edition of 7,500."

I understand that Royal Mail have not yet finalised sales arrangements for the exclusive-at-the-exhibition sheet, but I expect it to be available - as before - for the duration of the exhibition despite its 7,500 print run.  This may involve a degree of rationing.

As soon as we have more information from Royal Mail, we will be able to provide more accurate and exact details.

Tuesday 21 January 2020

Bushfire Auction - Christmas freak raises A$600!

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned the Bushfire Auctions being run on Stampboards, into which I had put one of the Christmas mis-registration freaks that I had for sale.

The first one sold for A$125, or about £65.  The person who originally found them, from whom I got my supplies, then offered more, one of which went to the underbidder at $100, and the other three also sold for a further S375, making about £320 in total, contributing to the near $10,000 raised by the philatelic community.  The Australian catalogue producer contributed a whole case of specialist catalogues including 12 copies of the KG6 catalogue (overseas bidders will be required to pay postage on these but all other lots are postage free, it being paid by the donors).

All this is going to the Australian Salvation Army, known - in typically Australian fashion - as the Salvos:
The Salvation Army Bushfire Appeal who are a respected and highly trusted, very low overhead, (mostly volunteer) national body, who have organised a fleet of Food and Aid caravans like the one shown nearby, in the areas of current devastation NATIONALLY.

A hot meal, a cup of coffee, a bottle of water etc, and kind and compassionate words etc, will not bring anyone's home or livestock back sadly, but in a situation of shock and tragedy, it does show that someone cares, right there and then. 

Ditto the brave firefighters, who mostly are unpaid volunteers, and who risk their lives to save others and their homes - for them also, these Salvation Army Support Vans might be able to assist them too, in some tiny way, and lift morale, if we help fund many more of them.

Salvos by Mid Janaaury had served 225,000 meals to the front lines, via 165 Emergency centres.

All the auctions are listed here.   Some are over, of course, but there are auctions still running including a reasonable 1d black (and more to come), so take a look and if you want to bid, join the thousands who are members (but do carefully read the rules).

I've also put these up for offer:

The Scottish 'Condom' packs, which currently stand at £10 and which are not often seen intact:

And the National Trust retail hanging packs, the only special issue ever to be sold this way, currently standing at £15:

A lot of full- and part-time dealers read this blog.  If you have got any slow-moving stock that you would like to offer to help the people of Australia*, please send it to me and I will sell it with or without showing the source, depending on whether you want to remain anonymous.  Buyers don't pay postage, all the sellers are paying the postage, ie we will. (* We know their politicians haven't been very good in this crisis, but don't let that cloud your judgment!)

A schoolgirl in Canada donated her savings, and is being rewarded for her generosity by dozens of collectors and dealers sending her wildlife stamps from around the world.  We all have that sort of thing "sitting in a box", and I'm sure she will be thrilled to get all the mail.

Thank you for whatever you offer.  Let me know by email to the usual address (up there at top right) so that I know that it's coming.  Further progress reports will be made.

Sunday 19 January 2020

London 2020: Royal Mail's Last Exhibition Sheet, and a retail booklet

According to the latest Royal Mail Stocklist, they will produce for the London 2020 exhibition the last 'Exhibition Sheet'.

I think this means the last Generic/Smilers Exhibition Sheet, rather than the last overprinted limited edition souvenir which has been the feature of recent Stampex events, to the annoyance of those who can't attend.

Generic/Smilers sheets such as the one shown above have been produced for many international philatelic exhibitions in the UK and abroad since Hong Kong in 2004.  Each one features the Hello greetings stamp first issued in the Greetings set of 2002, until LS72 when the sheets were printed on self-adhesive paper using the definitive-sized Hello stamp.

Unlike other Smilers sheets these contain no new stamps, apart from the occasional change of printer, perforation or phosphor, so I can imagine that they have had decreasing appeal over the last few years.

The new Stocklist from Royal Mail also shows a retail booklet being issued for London 2020 on 10 March 2020.

Full list of Exhibition Sheets with SG numbers

LS17   Hong Kong Stamp Expo   Walsall p14½
LS24   Pacific Explorer 2005        Walsall p14
LS30   Washington 2006               Cartor   p14
LS36   Belgica 2006            
LS48   Beijing 2008            
LS64   Thaipex 09               
LS66    Italia 2009
LS69    Monacophil 2009
LS72    London 2010 Festival of Stamps - Cartor, self-adhesive p 15 x 14, definitive size Hello
LS76    Indipex New Delhi (2011)
LS77    Philanippon 11, Yokohama
LS81    Indonesia 2012, Jakarta
LS86    Australia 2013, Melbourne
LS87    Bangkok 2013, Thailand
LS92    Kuala Lumpur 2014, Malaysia
LS95    Europhilex London 2015
LS100  New York World Stamp Show (2016)
LS105  Finlandia 2017 European Stamp Exhibition, Tampere
----       Stockholmia 2019 

Another reason for the output reduction in recent years (after the excess of 2009-2013) is that Royal Mail is attending fewer overseas events. Maybe the decision to cease these rather pointless sheets is a fall out from that.

Sunday 12 January 2020

2020 Second Issue - Visions of the Universe 11 February

Royal Mail's Philatelic Bulletin just received, announces the second issue as being "Visions of the Universe", to be issued on 11 February.  This issue marks the 200th anniversary of the establishment of the Royal Astronomical Society.

2012 'Venus with clouds' 1st class
No pictures can be shown yet, but the issues consists - as did the first one - of two each 2nd and 1st class, and £1.55 and £1.60 stamps.  (UPDATE 17 JAN: They are now shown on cover producers' websites and on another blog.) This definitely represents a change in policy from Royal Mail who have previously said that they regarded the events/commemorations too important to be marked by 2nd class stamps: "it is very difficult to list people or places as second class."

As well as the 8 stamps there will be a first day cover, presentation pack, and stamp cards as usual, and a prestige stamp book (PSB).

The PSB contains two panes which have the eight commemorative stamps, and two definitive panes.  Only pane 4 will be supplied on a Royal Mail first day cover.  This contains 4 x 2p, 2 x £1.35 and 2 x 1p Definitive stamps, with a centre label featuring the Royal Astronomical Society logo.

The other definitive pane has the four 1st class country definitives, plus 2 x 10p and 2 x 5p Definitive stamps. The label in the centre features an illustration of a black hole.

So for Machin collectors it would seem that there are two sets of five new stamps - 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p and £1.35 which should be coded MPIL M20L.

Update 15 January - John confirms that these are coded M19L, which is a shame, and the country definitives are new font. This means that we have only three new stamps 1p, 10p & £1.35 -  as the 5p was in the Star Wars PSB, and the 2p was included in the Queen Victoria PSB last year.  However, I shall be very surprised if this is the same dark shade!

UPDATE 22 January.
I've removed the stock photos of the Machins to show the actuals.  The 2p is shown compared with that in the Queen Victoria PSB, and the 5p is shown compared with that in the Star Wars PSB.

The very dark Queen Victoria PSB, and Visions of the Universe.



 The Star Wars 5p, and the lighter head from Visions of the Universe, lower picture under UV.



It remains to be seen whether the Country Definitives will be any different from previous versions.  The publicity mock-ups, predictably, show the original font on each of them, so we really can't begin to guess what will actually appear.

The country definitives have the new font.  The Scotland stamp is almost identical to that in the sheet printing.  The Wales stamp is slightly less yellow.  I don't have an example of the Northern Ireland sheet stamp; if anybody can send a comparison scan when they get the stamps next month, I would appreciate it. 

The biggest difference I can see is in the shade of the England stamp, which is a markedly different shade, despite being printed by the same printer and process.



Other products, aimed outside the philatelic community, are coin covers and framed stamps.  More details and pictures here when we are permitted to show them, which is currently 31 January.

Tuesday 7 January 2020

Royal Mail Stamp Programme for 2020 - everything declared!

Happy New Year!

I'm writing this before Christmas, and at this point Royal Mail have advised us that the Stamp Programme will be free from embargo on 7 January, so that is when you should see this. 

The real surprise is that all the entries which were 'TBA' a couple of months ago are now revealed, including the Music Giants IV entry in July and a couple of film-related subjects which would normally be tightly held-back.  Maybe constant comments from readers and myself have had an effect.  We shall find out, maybe, this time next year!

2020 Stamp Programme (First updated in blue)

21 January - Video Games

11 20 February - Visions of the Universe (200th Anniversary of the Royal Astronomical Society), includes PSB with two definitive panes

17 March - James Bond

7 April - The Romantic Poets

8 May - End of World War II (coincides with London2020 exhibition 2-9 May)
(Public holiday, confirmation awaited)

28 May - Coronation Street (TV soap opera)

18 June - Roman Britain

9 July - Queen (Music Giants IV)

30 July - Palace of Westminster (Royal Palaces series)

18 August - Sherlock (TV ?)

3 September - Rupert Bear (launched November 1920)

1 October - Brilliant Bugs

3 November - Christmas

13 November - Star Trek

Additional products not involving new stamps:

May - Miniature sheet and other products for London 2020

? - 700th anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath (a very proper thing to mark, but interesting in the light of the current political climate)  Originally signed in April, but there's a six-month festival running from April - September.)

November/December - Chinese New Year generic sheet

So what do we make of that list?

Three Five commemorations - Royal Astronomical Society, End of WW2, Rupert Bear Centenary, Arbroath Declaration, and 250th anniversary of the birth of William Wordsworth.

Two films - Bond and Star Trek

Two TV programmes? - Coronation Street and Sherlock

Two series continuation - Royal Palaces and Chinese New Year

Three other thematic - Space (February), Romans (June) and Bugs (October). There may be an anniversary associated with these, I don't know.

Colourful? - yes, I've seen some of them.

Relevant? - a few.

Well designed? - time will tell.

Too many products and overpriced - almost certainly.

Update 9 January

This may not be reproduced as a calendar, but you can save it to your computer desktop to use as a reminder, or print it out to carry with you or stick on the noticeboard (or fridge!)

This post will be updated during the year, and images and further details will be added at the appropriate time and as we are permitted to do so.

Monday 6 January 2020

Video Games and first M20L Machin Launch 2020 GB Stamp Programme on 21 January

Much to the delight of - I suspect - very few stamp collectors, Royal Mail kicks off the new year with the first of this year's retro subjects, acknowledging the contribution of UK companies and individuals to the worldwide Video Game industry and to the the demise of traditional hobbies such as, er, stamp collecting.  (With apologies to Private Eye.)  The good news is that the issue includes 2nd class stamps.

(In case you landed on this post, the whole 2020 programme is in the one above this, to be posted 7 January.)

Of course with the basic design of many computer screens having a black backround, these are not ideal subjects for stamps, so prepare for pencancels!   But which of these do you remember your children playing, or even playing yourself?  This is what Royal Mail have to say about the issue.

[Update 30 January: I didn't see any details in the information  provided by Royal Mail that required me to use my UV lamp, so my thanks to the writers in the Modern British Philatelic Circle Bookmark journal for alerting me to the hidden gems on these stamps.  I have used my standard Uvitech Micro SW lamp, and I hope that other people who have a UV lamp for some reason will also be able to see what I am now showing below.]

The UK has been at the forefront of the video games industry for decades. In fact, a strong claim can be made for the UK to be the birthplace of the games industry in the 1980s when teenagers grappled with coding on 8-bit microcomputers, and set the template for the industry with iconic games.

Today, the UK is the third largest producer of games in the world, with a home market worth £3.8n annually, accounting for more than half the UK home entertainment industry - it is worth more than the combined music and video market.

The intention with the stamp issue is to celebrate the joy of video gaming through pioneering and influential British designed games. The 8 individual stamps feature classic games from the 1980s and 90s, which represent the range of genres, and to invoke a strong sense of nostalgia.



The set
2nd class - Elite, 1984.  BBC Micro and Acorn Electron / Joystick or keys
Originally created in 1984 by David Braben and Ian Bell for the BBC Micro and Acorn Electron home computers, but released on all the popular platforms of the era shortly thereafter, Elite is a seminal 3D space-trading, combat simulator in which the player travels the galaxy in search of action, adventure and profit. Starting out with a basic spaceship and a meagre 100-credit bank balance, the objective is to amass a financial fortune by engaging in activities such as asteroid mining and the trading of goods from star system to star system, or more risky pursuits such as piracy, bounty hunting and military missions. Success in any of these endeavours earns credits that the player can use to buy increasingly more powerful and sophisticated spaceships, enabling them to partake in even more perilous adventures with the ultimate goal of reaching the game’s topmost rank of ʻEliteʼ.

2nd class - Worms, 1995.  Commodore Amiga / Mouse
Created by Andy Davidson, Worms started out as a home-brewed entry for a magazineʼs programming contest. The game didn’t win the competition but was signed up by Team17 a few months later after Davidson showed it to representatives of the long-running British software publisher at a computer trade show. The game is very simple but highly addictive. It tasks the player to take control of a squad of armed worms and use them to eliminate an opposing group of worms situated on the other side of the screen. Each worm is equipped with over 20 different weapons and tools, all of which have their own unique functionalities. It is up to the player to decide how best to use these items to destroy the opposing army of worms, which adds an element of puzzling to the artillery-orientated action. With its cartoon-like graphics and amusing sound effects, Worms is a highly original game that proved very popular during the mid-1990s.

1st class - Sensible Soccer, 1992.  Commodore Amiga / Joystick
Football video games have been consistently popular since the start of the computer age. Initially simple in nature, these games grew in graphical and gameplay complexity throughout the 1980s until, in 1992, Sensible Software created what many believed was one of the fi nest digital iterations of the sport. Featuring a zoomed-out, top-down view of the field, Sensible Soccer incorporates an innovative and highly responsive control scheme that delivers slick and smooth football action. The highlight of the game is the playerʼs ability to bend and lift the ball after they kick it, resulting in spectacular banana shots and inch-perfect curled passes. With its fiercely competitive gameplay between two players, Sensible Soccer was an instant hit and continues to be seen as the classic arcade-style football game.

1st class - Lemmings, 1991.  Commodore Amiga / Mouse
The product of a Commodore Amiga Deluxe Paint animation experiment, Lemmings was created by DMA Design’s Mike Dailly and David Jones. The action-puzzle game, which plays out over a number of increasingly difficult screens, requires the player to safely guide a group of lemmings to the clearly marked exit. Sounds simple? It is anything but. Each lemming continually walks in the direction it is facing, meaning that it will unwittingly stroll into any hazard in its path – of which there are many – from precipitous drops to pits of fire. To prevent that from happening, the player assigns different skills to the lemmings, such as a blocker that will make other lemmings turn around, climbers that will create steps over hazards or diggers that can burrow through the landscape. All must be used together to create a safe route for the lemmings to reach the exit, in order to move onto the next, more challenging level.


£1.55 - Wipeout, 1995.   Sony PlayStation / Joypad
Take a trip to 2052 and compete in the F3600 Anti-Gravity League in this phenomenal racing game. Developed in Liverpool at Sony Psygnosisʼs offices, Wipeout features a fleet of super-fast floating rocket-like craft that players use to race along tight, twisting tracks that wend their way through a series of futuristic cityscapes. The action is highly competitive; even more so when you consider that participants can pick up a variety of weapons such as missiles, bombs and mines to use offensively against their fellow competitors. As well as featuring excellent racing action, Wipeout boasts one of the first fully licensed gaming soundtracks, headlined by leading electronic dance music artists of the mid-1990s such as The Chemical Brothers, Orbital and Leftfield. Add to that notable visual touches created by famed graphics company The Designers Republic, and you have a game that looks, sounds and plays brilliantly.

£1.55 - Micro Machines, 1991.  Sega Mega Drive / Joypad
Initially conceived in 1989 as an original racing title called California Buggy Boys, Codemasters subsequently struck a deal with US toymaker Galoob in 1990 to licence its popular Micro Machines toy-car line and turn the game into a fully endorsed product. The result was an absolutely terrific viewed-from-above racing game that met with a rapturous critical reception when it was released the following year. The gameʼs objective is simple: players take control of a miniature car and race against computer-controlled opponents to be fi rst past the finishing post. The action is fast and furious, taking place on tracks in a variety of household settings, such as on a breakfast table, a pool table and in a tree house. However, each course is packed with many humorous hazards, making the racing both challenging and fun.

£1.60 - Dizzy, 1987.  ZX Spectrum / Joystick or keys
The brainchild of a pair of very young coders, Andrew and Philip Oliver – better known to gaming fans as the Oliver Twins – Dizzy is a whimsical platform game starring the titular character, an anthropomorphic egg. The objective of this much-loved piece of British software is to guide Dizzy through the fairy-tale land of Katmandu and search for a variety of magical items which, when combined in a magic cauldron, can be used to defeat the evil wizard Zaks. This might sound like a straightforward task, but Dizzyʼs mission is impeded by a variety of fiendishly tricky riddles and object-orientated puzzles that he has to solve – all while avoiding the dangerous denizens that inhabit the game’s many screens. Dizzy is a notoriously difficult game but that didn’t stop it from becoming popular with players when it was released by Codemasters in mid-1987 for the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64 and Amstrad CPC home computers.

£1.60 - Populous, 1989.
  Commodore Amiga / Mouse
What would you do if you were a deity? That was the question posed by Populous’ designer Peter Molyneux and his team at Bullfrog Productions when they created the first-ever ʻgod gameʼ in 1989. Players of this highly original piece of software assume the mantle of a divine being charged with overseeing the health and well-being of their followers. To this end, the player uses their supreme powers to cultivate the land so that their followers can prosper, growing in strength and numbers to eventually overcome their enemy – another group of followers who have their own god looking out for them. The player can unleash earthquakes, swamps and floods on the enemy to set back their development – but the opposing god can do likewise, resulting in an apocalyptic battle where there can be only one victor...

Technical details - stamps
Designed by Supple Studios and Bitmap Books the stamps are printed by ISP in litho with PVA gum. The stamps are 50 x 30 mm in se-tenant vertical pairs.  [See acknolwedgements at end.]

Miniature Sheet
Designed and created at Derby-based Core Design, the very first Tomb Raider game was released in 1996 on Sony PlayStation, Sega Saturn and PC. Starring archaeologist Lara Croft, the game took the form of a grand 3D adventure in which the eponymous tomb raider travels the world in search of the three parts of the Atlantean Scion, a powerful artefact used by a former ruler of Atlantis to create an army of mutant beings.

Tomb Raider was a massive hit, selling over seven million copies and kicking off a series of subsequent Lara Croft adventures that spanned 17 games and three big-screen movies. The latest game in the series, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, was released in 2018 and sold over four million copies worldwide.

1st Class - Tomb Raider, 1996
Atlantean Scion: Discovered in 1996 by Lara Croft in the very first Tomb Raider game, the
Atlantean Scion is a three-piece artefact whose component parts were originally held by the rulers
of Atlantis.

£1.55 - Adventures of Lara Croft, 1998
Ora Dagger: Featured in the 1998 game, Tomb Raider III: Adventures of Lara Croft, the Ora Dagger
enables its wielder to summon beasts and manipulate static electricity to create powerful bolts of

£1.55 - Tomb Raider Chronicles, 2000
Philosopher’s Stone: Imbued with the power to transmute metal into gold, the Philosopher’s Stone
is the artefact that leads Lara Croft on some very dangerous adventures in the 2000 release, Tomb
Raider Chronicles.

1st Class - Tomb Raider, 2013
Ceremonial Dagger: In the 2013 reboot of the original Tomb Raider game, Lara Croft collects a
variety of objects as she battles the Solarii Brotherhood and the Stormguard. These items include
statues, urns and ceremonial daggers

Technical details - miniature sheet
Designed by Supple Studios and Bitmap Books the stamps are printed by ISP in litho with PVA gum. The stamps are 41 x 30 mm in the sheet of 115 x 89 mm.  [See acknowledgements at end.]

Retail booklet
Scan of actual booklet and 1st class Machin M20L MCIL

The retail booklet is printed in gravure by ISP/Walsall.

Cylinder strip, with W1 cylinders in cyan, magenta, yellow, black, Royal Mail red, iridescent (defnitives), yellow fluorescent, phosphor:

(A reminder that the last? M19L stamps will be distributed with this issue:

Update from Royal Mail 21 November:
"The First Day of Availability for the Walsall prints of the 50p (code: DS500WL) & 1st Recorded Signed For (code: DS155LWL) stamps is confirmed for 21st January 2020.")

Collectors Sheet / Generic Sheet
Rather than adapt all of the designs to provide 10 different self-adhesive stamps in a sheet, Royal Mail have used the miniature sheet to produce a Tomb Raider sheet.  This contains 6 x 1st class stamps and 2 x £1.55 stamps. (Remember when such sheets had 10 x 1st class stamps? This one costs £11.40.)   The sheet is self-adhesive in litho, probably printed by ISP/Cartor.

Other Products for the stamp market
FDC x 2, presentation pack, stamp cards,

Other Products for gaming fans
Gamer Collectors Pack - 8 unique postcards, one for each design, complete with a stamp affixed - it's not clear whether this is postmarked but the description states 'uniquely tying the stamp tot the postcard'.  Limited edition of 2,500 units, individually numbered.

Acknowledgements and game credits:
a. Set
Elite image © 1984 Ian Bell and David Braben; 
Worms © 1995–2020 Team17. Team17 and Worms are trademarks or registered trademarks of Team17 Digital Limited. Original concept Andy Davidson; 
Sensible Soccer, Dizzy and Micro Machines © The Codemasters Software Company Ltd. Micro Machines is a trademark of Hasbro and is used with permission © 2020 Hasbro. All Rights Reserved. Licensed by Hasbro; 
Lemmings™ © 2007–2020 Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe. 
WIPEOUT™ © 1995–2020 Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe. “Lemmings” and “WIPEOUT” are trademarks or registered trademarks of Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe. All rights reserved; 
Populous © 1989 to 1998 Electronic Arts Inc

b. Mini-sheet: Produced under licence. © 1996–2013 Square Enix Limited. All rights reserved. TOMB RAIDER, TOMB RAIDER CHRONICLES and LARA CROFT are registered trademarks or trademarks of Square Enix Limited