A Long Time Ago on an Envelope Far, Far Away
Royal Mail Stamp Issue: Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens
It’s an emotional time for Star Wars fans. We’ve pored over that photo of the original cast at a script reading for the new film, thrilled at a glimpse of the Millennium Falcon parked up in a Berkshire airfield and been glued to the trailers – who didn’t cheer when Han and Chewie appeared?
And now, at last, 17th December will see the UK release of Star Wars Episode VII – The Force Awakens. As a bonus for collectors, Royal Mail are releasing an issue of Star Wars themed stamps on 20th October to celebrate the major British contribution to the franchise over the last three decades.
The stamp set shows twelve characters from the films in beautifully rendered paintings by British artist Malcolm Tween, including Luke, Leia, Han, Obi Wan, Darth Vader and Yoda, plus three characters from the new film, the scavenger Rey, ex-Stormtrooper Finn and evil follower of the dark side, Kylo Ren.
The minisheet is a Star Wars vehicle-fest, showing the Millenium Falcon, an x-wing, an At-At walker and a new type of tie fighter, among others.
Here come the Brits
Royal Mail’s stamp issue is inspired by the long history of British involvement in the Star Wars franchise.
- British actors have played some of the most iconic characters in the first six films, from Alec Guinness as Obi Wan Kenobi and David Prowse as Darth Vader in the original series to Ewan McGregor as a younger Ben Kenobi and Christopher Lee as Count Doku.
- In the new film, English actress Daisy Ridley plays Rey the scavenger, while London-born John Boyega plays stranded Stormtrooper Finn.
- Several famous British studios have been used over the years. The original movies were filmed at Elstree, with later instalments filmed at Leavesden and Shepperton. Episode VII was shot at Pinewood.
- British talent has also contributed to special effects, costume design and set design for the franchise.
New faces, New ships
The stamps feature some characters and vehicles from the new film:
Rey – a scavenger on the desert planet of Jakku who gets mixed up in the fight against the evil forces of the First Order.
Finn – a Stormtrooper stranded on Jakku who forms a partnership with Rey.
Kylo Ren – ominous hooded knight of the First Order, servant of the Dark Side and wielder of a 3-bladed light sabre.
Resistance X-Wing Starfighters – a modern take on Luke’s classic x-wing, now flown by the rebels fighting the First Order.
First Order Special Forces Tie Fighters – sleek, black and deadly, flown by the elite pilots of the First Order.
- As well as the main image, each stamp has a unique corner image created by the artist, featuring bonus characters such as Chewbacca, C-3PO and R2-D2.
- The next two sequels will keep up the British connection; they’ll also be filmed at Pinewood.
- The new film is set 30 years after the Battle of Endor that ended the third film, revisiting the characters as they fight a whole new set of evil forces.
- Royal Mail will also release a new set of three postmarks with the issue, featuring an Imperial Crest, the rebel Alliance Starbird insignia and an Elstree Studios stamp.
Star Wars Collectibles
The original Star Wars film helped kicked off the modern craze for pop culture collectibles, as the toy figures released with the film proved more popular than the manufacturers anticipated, meaning early runs became rare quickly.
- One of the most valuable Star Wars collectibles to date is a Jawa figure from the original film with a rare vinyl cape. (The capes were later changed to cloth.) A pristine boxed Jawa sold at auction for $18,000.
- There was a US Star Wars stamp release in 2007 marking the 30th anniversary of the first film. Royal Mail’s release will be the first coinciding with a new film.
A widely released set like this might not accumulate much value, but of course the best reason for adding these stamps to your collection is because you’re a die-hard fan of the Force.
Issue Details: What to Buy
The stamps, Miniature sheet and two pages of Star Wars facts, split into the light and dark side of the Force, in a clear plastic sleeve.
Stamp Smilers Sheet
10 of the stamps presented next to stills from the original films.
Prestige Stamp Book (issued 17th December 2015)
Includes the 12 Mint Stamps, the Miniature sheet and a booklet with lots of info on the British contribution to the franchise.
To get your hands on a set, head over to the shop. May the force be with you!