Royal Mail released a stamp issue on September 1 devoted to Transformers, the fictional alien robots which can morph into machinery and weapons.

A media franchise owned by American company Hasbro and Japanese company Takara Tomy, Transformers started as children’s toys and an animated television series in 1984. Comic books, computer games and films have since been added.

The essential plot revolves around battles between the heroic Autobots and the evil Decepticons, in a civil war which spread from the planet Cybertron to the Earth. Storylines within the various media have been inconsistent, with new generations of characters, sequels, prequels and reboots.

Royal Mail emphasises the significance of Marvel UK’s The Transformers comic in Britain, which published 332 issues from 1984-91 and launched the careers of a succession of British writers and artists.

But that fails to disguise the fact that the stamp issue is yet another piece of merchandising based on a foreign media franchise, following Star Wars in 2015-19, Game of Thrones in 2018, Marvel in 2019, Star Trek in 2020 and DC Collection in 2021.

Eight stamps from conventionally gummed counter sheets depict Autobots and Decepticons in battle scenes, in four se-tenant pairs with composite backgrounds.

Each stamp is printed with the character’s name (in the Cybertronian alphabet) and faction logo, visible only under ultraviolet light.

Each stamp can also be scanned by the Royal Mail app to trigger a clip from the original animated television series.

There is also a self-adhesive miniature sheet of five stamps featuring Dinobots, a sub-group of Autobots whose alternative modes take the form of mechanised dinosaurs.

The illustrations were created exclusively for Royal Mail by comic artists Andrew Wildman (pencils), Stephen Baskerville (inks) and John-Paul Bove (colours), who worked on the UK comic books.

Designed by The Chase, the stamps were printed in litho by Cartor Security Printers.

The strongest and wisest Autobot, with an unflinching sense of justice, it was Optimus Prime who led the fightback against the Decepticons when war broke out.

1st class MEGATRON
Highly intelligent but utterly merciless, Megatron is the tyrannical leader of the Decepticons, equipped with a huge, arm-mounted cannon with which he hopes to obliterate his enemies.

1st class BUMBLEBEE
Although small and physically weak, Bumblebee’s abilities as a messenger and spy make him one of the most valuable Autobots, although his misplaced self-doubt can lead to risk-taking behaviour.

1st class STARSCREAM
The scheming, arrogant Starscream is a shockingly brutal warrior, especially in the skies, but also traitorous and determined to usurp Megatron as leader of the Decepticons.

Despite being gruff and belligerent, the Autobot anti-hero Grimlock is also fiercely loyal, at least to his fellow Dinobots. Associating eloquence with weakness, he hides his intelligence behind simple speech patterns.

An occasional Decepticon leader, Shockwave’s every action is ruled by cold, calculating logic. He would be considered emotionless were it not for his deep hatred of the Autobots, and Dinobots in particular.

£1.85 ARCEE
The most prominent female Autobot, Arcee is as deadly with swords as she is with firearms, risking her life to protect Autobots and humans alike. Behind her no-nonsense attitude is a dry sense of humour.

As the Decepticons’ spymaster, the stoic and unknowable Soundwave is Megatron’s most trusted lieutenant, using his mind-reading abilities to extract information and blackmail his rivals.


1st class SLUG
Slug, a Dinobot who transforms into a triceratops, is mean-spirted and always spoiling for a fight.

2nd class SWOOP
Swoop, a Dinobot who transforms into a pterodactyl, is upbeat but arrogant and disobedient.

1st class SLUDGE
Sludge, a Dinobot who transforms into a brontosaurus, throws his weight around but has a reputation for being dim-witted.

£1.85 SNARL
Snarl, a Dinobot who transforms into a stegosaurus, is grumpy and uncommunicative but loves warfare.

1st class GRIMLOCK
Grimlock, a Dinobot who transforms into a tyrannosaurus rex, is the powerful but reckless leader who cares deeply about his crew.

The presentation pack, written by comic book writer James Roberts, explores the back story of each of the characters featured on the stamps.

A press sheet of 12 unguillotined miniature sheets is limited to a print run of just 200, individually numbered.

Besides the usual stamp cards and first day covers, there is a choice of two medal covers with colour-printed silver-plated medals, and many other associated products.

Set of 8 stamps £11.20
Miniature sheet £5.38
Press sheet £64.56
Presentation pack £17.50
Stamp cards £6.30
First day cover (stamps) £14.10
First day cover (mini sheet) £7.10
Medal covers from £19.99

This issue is inspired not by the desire to commemorate but by merchandising opportunities

Original work was commissioned by specialist comic book artists, yet the images look posed and samey

Transformers fans may bag some stamps and merchandise, while others will look on, bemused