Sunday 5 June 2016

771. Project Atlas.

  The only piece of information given out to the general public about Royal Mail's new stamp issue to be released on 20 October 2016 is that the term Project Atlas has been applied to it.
  It just so happens that a new "real-time multi-player strategy game" called Project Atlas from a company called Artillery is to be released in late 2016 in "a genre that millions of people already know and love" and, says the publicity, they are " removing frustration, expanding accessibility, and adding fun while keeping the game competitive". Thousands of players are now testing out the game in preparation for its launch.
  I have to admit that I have never participated in "a real-time, multi-player strategy game" and some of the terms Artillery uses about this project are gobbledygook to me but I can't help thinking that the timing of the launch of this product and the issue of the Royal Mail stamps, the secrecy surrounding both it and Royal Mail's new issue and Royal Mail's questionable current need to produce "cool" products which will attract youngsters (you know what I mean - Animail and Star Wars for instance) seem like a very big coincidence to me. 
  So prepare yourself for a computer gaming-related issue. It's hard to believe that teenage "gamers" will rush out to start collecting stamps even if the issue does feature a trendy new computer game. Meanwhile Royal Mail seems set to prove once more that it is in perfect tune with its established philatelic customers.
  In Blog 757 I mentioned the miniature sheet of 8 circular stamps depicting birds which was issued by Bangladesh Post to coincide with the New York 2016 Philatelic Exhibition. This miniature sheet was issued apparently in 2 formats - perforate and imperforate. There was an additional sheetlet of 16 stamps, also featuring birds, which was made up of 4 blocks of 4 different stamps. Finally (though there may be more yet to be reported on) there was a miniature sheet of 4 different stamps depicting Rare animals of Bangladesh (I wonder if this also exists imperforate as well as the perforate version illustrated below). An attractive and interesting set. Rating:- *****.

  Canada Post will issue a set of 5 self-adhesive stamps from a booklet of 10 (2 of each stamp) plus a gummed miniature sheet of the same 5 stamps on 12 July 2016. The depicted birds are the emblematic birds of 5 of the Canadian provinces:- the Atlantic puffin (Newfoundland And Labrador), the Rock ptarmigan (Nunavut), the Sharp-tailed grouse (Saskatchewan), the Common raven (Yukon Territory) and the Great horned owl (Alberta). Rating:- *****.

  Zimpost, the postal service of Zimbabwe, issued 4 stamps on the subject of "Historic banks buildings of Zimbabwe" on 22 March 2016. Given the appalling state of Zimbabwe's economy on and off over the past decade, we may wonder whether the person who chose to feature this subject on stamps was "having a larf". The issue was designed by Fredwill Designs from art by Mrs. Leslie Johnson and lithographed by NatPrint of Zimbabwe.

  Back to Royal Mail and another little wrinkle it has come up with to extract money from collectors' pockets. First we had "Smilers", then we had "Business sheets" which evolved into "Commemorative sheets" while "Smilers" for collectors became "Generic sheets". Now we have Joint production sheets which are in "Business sheet" format but produced and sold by Royal Mail at the request of a business or sporting or some other organisation. At least that's what I think they are - no doubt I will be corrected if I'm wrong.
  So far there have been 3 such items issued in 2016 - the first 2 are currently on sale on the Royal Mail website and they are illustrated below.
 Two sheetlets, Oor Willie and The Broons, were produced in co-operation with publishers D C Thomson and Co. Ltd. in the inevitable "limited editions" of 10000 each to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the comic strips and released on 8 April 2016. As both of the comic strips feature Scottish characters the stamps used in the sheets are those which depict the 1st class Scottish saltire design. The total face value of each sheet is now £6.40 but we are not surprised that they are being sold for the ridiculous price of £14.99p
  The third of these sheetlets was issued on 18 May 2016 and commemorates the move of the West Ham football club from its Boleyn Ground to the London Olympic Stadium. Of course, this item is also issued in a "limited edition",10000 again being released. The item was designed by Royal Mail and West Ham Design Teams and lithographed on self-adhesive paper by International Security Printers. The featured stamp is the small "Union Jack" design and again, while the total face value of the sheet is £6.40 the item is being sold for a savage £14.99. 
  Rating of these items:- 0. How many more of these expensive items are lined up for the rest of the year I wonder.

  Intelligent AR had announced that the Royal Gibraltar Post Office would not only be represented at the New York 2016 Philatelic Exhibition but would be taking its Post And Go kiosk GI01 with it. However, while I have seen internet dealers offering for sale the souvenir labels dispensed by the kiosks of Royal Mail, Jersey Post and Guernsey Post I have not seen a single NY2016 label from Gibraltar being sold on any auction site. Perhaps, after all, GI01 was the one little piggy that did not go to market.

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