Norvic Philatelics - GB New Stamps and Special Postmarks

Classic Toys stamps - 22 August 2017

Continuing the feelings of nostalgia celebrated through Royal Mail's "recent popular stamp issues" including; Classic Children’s TV, Classic Album Covers and Comics, this stamp issue celebrates some of the most iconic and much-loved British toys from the last 100 years, evoking strong feelings of nostalgia across generations.

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The Ten Stamps - all 1st class

Set of 10 Classic Toys stamps.

Sheet 1: The Merrythought Bear. Sindy Doll, Spirograph, Stickle Bricks, Wm Britain Toy Figures.
Sheet 2: Space Hopper, Fuzzy-Felt, Meccano, Action Man, Hornby Dublo Trains.

The stamps - all 1st Class

1st Class: The Merrythought Bear
Merrythought is a toy manufacturing company established in 1930. Its most famous individual bear was arguably ‘Mr Whoppit’ which was based on the "Woppit" character from the Robin comic in 1956 and which became the mascot of land and water speed record breaker, Donald Campbell. The origin of the firm’s name is uncertain but may have derived from the archaic word for ‘wishbone’ which the company has used as its emblem since 1992.
Merrythought was founded in 1930 by Gordon Holmes and George H. Laxton and its first catalogue - launched in 1931 - included the first Merrythought teddy bear ‘Magnet’ (‘M’ series).

1st Class: Sindy Doll (first appearance 1963)
Sindy was the best-selling toy in the UK in both 1968 and 1970. with her wholesome looks proving a big hit.  Originally designed by Dennis Arkinstall for Pedigree Toys and Dolls, she was modelled on an adolescent girl, and new outfits were issued every six months. A vast range of accessories followed, including a fully equipped kitchen as well as a grand piano. In the early 1970s Sindy was made to look more American, but the latest incarnation has returned her to her roots – she is once more modelled on a 12-14-year-old girl, with a face very similar to her original one. Sindy is quintessentially a British doll.
Awarded ‘Toy of the Year’ by the British Association of Toy Retailers in 1970.

1st Class: Spirograph (first appearance 1965)
Spirograph employs complicated mathematical formulae to create hypotrochoids and epitrochoids, using ‘rotor’ and ‘stator’ pieces. This sounds much too complicated for a toy aimed at children, but the mathematics works unseen in the background – all a child has to do is stick a coloured pen through a hole in one of the Spirograph tools on a piece of paper, twirl it around a few times and watch a pattern emerge. This basic concept h as been embellished with 3D, magnetic and foil versions, ensuring it is much more than a period piece. Awarded ‘Toy of the Year’ by the British Association of Toy Retailers in 1967.

1st Class: Stickle Bricks
Stickle Bricks are primarily intended for toddlers and were invented in 1969. An individual stickle brick is a colourful plastic shape which is a few centimetres long and which has a "brush" of small plastic "fingers" on one or more edges. The fingers of adjacent stickle bricks can interlock, allowing them to be joined in various ways. Standard sets of stickle bricks contain triangular, square and rectangular pieces. Most sets also include other types of pieces such as heads, wheels and teddy bear shapes.

1st Class: W. Britain Toy Figures
The William Britain company originally produced lead soldiers but subsequently switched to plastic, acquiring a manufacturer of plastic soldiers, Herald, in 1959. The soldiers proved particularly popular in the 1970s, the key selling point being that they came ready-painted. US Cavalry, Greek warriors and cowboys and Indians were among the most popular characters. More detailed versions were produced on metal bases and the soldiers were sold individually to keep their prices manageable for children.

1st Class: Space Hopper
Although the origins of this concept are Italian (Aquilino Cosani registered a trademark for a ‘Pon Pon’ in 1968), it was initially intended as an exercise device rather than as a toy and featured a wooden handle. The version we know and love was a British creation, from Mettoy. It was Mettoy that added the ribbed, antennae -like handles and the iconic kangaroo face, in 1969. The ‘Space Hopper’ name captured the imagination of children who were not put off by the fact that it was quite difficult to control and move at any sort of speed.

1st Class: Fuzzy-Felt
Fuzzy-Felt was created in 1950 by Lois Allan and comprises a flocked backing board onto which a number of felt shapes - silhouettes or more detailed printed versions – can be placed to create different pictures.

1st Class: Meccano
Invented by Frank Hornby, this was originally marketed as ‘Mechanics Made Easy’ (1901), but the name was switched to the more familiar Meccano in 1907. Meccano retains the basic elements including the spacing on the perforations and the 5/32inch Whitworth thread on the screws, meaning that new Meccano sets can still incorporate old pieces. Meccano has embraced advances in technology with its recent sets, but the enduring appeal of the originals is borne out by the fact that special editions continue to be produced in the traditional red and green colour scheme. Meccano is one of the crown jewels of the British toy industry, although now French-owned, and similar products from the USA (Erector sets) and Switzerland (Stokys) are testimony to the strength of its appeal. Meccano remains amongst the most collectable of British toy manufacturers.

1st Class: Action Man
American toy firm Hasbro invented the concept of a doll that boys could play with - 1964’s GI Joe, with features based on decorated war veterans. The first dolls made under license from Hasbro for the UK market appeared in 1966, initially named Action Soldier. Later named Action Man and produced under the name of Palitoy by Cascelloid of Leicester, UK-specific outfits were produced. Among the most popular are footballer kits and the Red Devil parachutist.
Awarded ‘Toy of the Year’ by the British Association of Toy Retailers in 1966.  A 2004 poll of the public to find Britain’s Favourite Toy placed Action Man at number 2.

1st Class: Hornby Dublo
It might appear as if nobody else was making toys early in the 20t h century, but Frank Hornby was at it again with these scale model train sets, first introduced in 1920. Originally, sets were buil t on the ‘O-gauge’ scale (about twice the size of the current Hornby sets). This was the standard format in America, where Lionel trains continue to be the choice of wealthy train enthusiasts. Hornby’s genius was to switch to the OO-gauge (known as ‘Horny Dublo’) from 1938, which allowed for complex layouts to be built on a smaller budget and in a smaller space, taking into account the modest size of the average British living room. Hornby trains are able to appeal to many different characters types across multiple generations, making this a toy that a small child can enjoy with a parent and grandparent at the same time. Like Meccano, Hornby has gone through many ownership changes but is currently firmly established once more as part of Hornby Hobbies.
The mid-1950s was the most productive period for Hornby trains, with quality tinplate freight, coaches and locomotives which tend to be among the most collectable.

Technical details:

The stamps were designed by Interbang using photography by John Ross © Royal Mail Group Limited 2017. The 35 x 37 mm stamps are printed by International Security Printers in lithography, with ordinary gum.  The stamps will be issued in two sheets with five se-tenant designs per sheet, enabling customers to buy a vertical strip of five of any individual bird.

Acknowledgments:  All photography by John Ross © Royal Mail Group Limited 2017: The Merrythought Bear © Merrythought Ltd 2017; Sindy is the registered Trade Mark and Intellectual Property of Pedigree Dolls and Toys, used under licence by Royal Mail Group Limited;  SPIROGRAPH © 2017 Hasbro. All rights reserved. Licensed by Hasbro; STICKLE BRICKS © 2017 Hasbro. All rights reserved. Licensed by Hasbro; W. Britain toy figures © The Good Soldier LLC/W. Britain 2017; fuzzy-felt® © Mandolyn Ltd 2017;  MECCANO® & © 2017 MECCANO, used under licence. Ferris wheel model built by Ralph Laughton; ACTION MAN and all related characters are trademarks of Hasbro and are used with permission © 2017 Hasbro. All rights reserved. Licensed by Hasbro; Hornby Dublo © & ™ Hornby Hobbies Limited.

Products issued, available from Royal Mail: 

Set of 10 stamps (2 strips of 5) -- Strip of 5 from sheet 1 or sheet 2, or vertical strip of 5 of any single stamp
First day cover -- Presentation pack -- Stamp cards (set of 10)

Special Postmarks

Postmarks available for the day of issue are shown on Royal Mail's Postmark Bulletin, download from here. (pdf)

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This page created 12 July 2017

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