On September 1, 2022, the UK’s Royal Mail postal service will be issuing thirteen special Transformers stamps to commemorate the British contribution to the multimedia franchise. The stamps will feature originally commissioned work by Transformers artist Andrew Wildman, with Stephen Baskerville inking and John-Paul Bove on colours.
The Transformers stamps will come as a complete set in a special presentation pack costing £17.50 (~ $21) but there are a variety of limited edition specials for collectors, including silver plated ingots and fan sheets.
All stamps also feature Augmented Reality features via hidden ink. According to Royal Mail,
“The main eight stamps are printed with a hidden ink which reveals each of the character’s faction logos and names in the Cybertronian alphabet when shone under UV light.
“In addition, fans who download the Royal Mail App, can scan the stamp, and watch a unique Augmented Reality animation including a clip from the original animated Transformers TV series.”
The Transformers stamps will come with a main set of eight and a miniature sheet of five. The former will feature characters Optimus Prime, Megatron, Bumblebee, Starscream, Grimlock, Shockwave, Arcee, and Soundwave. The latter set will feature Dinobots Grimlock, Snarl, Slug, Sludge, and Swoop.
Royal Mail’s Director of Stamps and Collectibles, Matt Parkes,
“Since The Transformers burst onto the scene in 1984, British writers and artists have made a substantial contribution to the ongoing story of the popular warring mechanoids; to this day many continue to do so and have inspired new artists to do the same. We are delighted to be able to celebrate their work with this stunning set of stamps – which calls back not only to the early comics but also – by using the Royal Mail App to trigger hidden content – the original cartoon series as well!”
John-Paul Bove tweeted following the initial announcement:
In the Oxford Mail local newspaper, Andrew Wildman – who got his start at Marvel UK in 1988 – said that,
“It’s amazing for me, Transformers was one of the first comic books I worked on.”
“…For an artist, being commissioned to do this is a real honour – it’s right up there with my career highlights.”
In that same article Wildman gave some insight into how it came together:
“I got an email out of the blue and wasn’t sure if it was even real, asking if I would do some drawings and designs for a special project.
“I had to sign an NDA, and then I was sent an email from Royal Mail.
“I then knew it would be stamps, and sure enough, it was.
“I was asked to design the stamps, and we got on board a couple of other people, and we became a dream team.
“We went through lots and lots of approval processes, with them eventually being signed off by the Queen.
“I thought it was a joke at first, but they said it’s the law.”
While today the Transformers are household names worldwide thanks to US-produced TV, movies, comic books – and of course, toys – it is often forgotten that British creators had a significant role in developing the mythos of the property.
Through the Transformers weekly comic from Marvel UK to later issues of Marvel US’s monthly writer Simon Furman and a crack team of artists like Geoff Senior, Andrew Wildman, Will Simpson, Lee Sullivan and more defined the homeworld and origins of the Transformers, the scope of the conflict, and the essence of the Autobot/Decepticon conflict.
The Transformers UK weekly comic ran between September 1984 and January 1992 – comprising 332 issues (though around issue 309 it went biweekly before shuttering). The anthology format of the comic contained 11 pages of Transformers material with non-Transformers material bulking out the rest of the title. As a weekly schedule would eat up a lot of content, UK sourced material was used as filler with the objective of weaving around the continuity of the US comic. This task led to impressive creative leaps that fleshed out the Transformers concept’s scope. It set the groundwork for Simon Furman and Andrew Wildman’s move to the US monthly (from #56 to its cancellation with #80) that became a fan favourite to US readers – and cemented Furman as an integral part of the Transformers property (even when it would jump from publisher to publisher).
Most of the UK material was reprinted in IDW’s The Tranformers Classics UK books. IDW Transformers scribe James Roberts, who contributed a history of the UK comic in the reprints wrote:
“It’s fair to say that when issue #1 of The Transformers hit British newsstands on Thursday, September 20th, 1984, no one at Marvel UK – or Hasbro, for that matter – realized that they were witnessing the birth of one of the biggest-selling and longest-running licensed comics of all time.
“When the final issue was released on January 18th, 1992, nearly seven and a half years later, Transformers UK had outlived virtually every other Marvel UK title launched during its lifetime, and earned a special place in the hearts of the hundreds of thousands of children who had read it cover to cover every week.”
“From “Man of Iron” in January 1985 to “End of the Road!” in September 1990, nearly 2,000 pages of British Transformers comic strip was produced: enough to fill another 90 issues of a US comic. Consequently [it’s] run of comics and specials constitutes the largest body of cohesive, interdependent Transformers fiction thus far produced – and one that is worth celebrating.”