Gerry Anderson’s very popular 'supermarination' television programmes from the 1960s are saluted by Royal Mail’s first stamp issue of 2011, to be issued on January 11.
FAB: The Genius Of Gerry Anderson marks the 50th anniversary of six ground-breaking series, which began with Supercar in 1961.
Fittingly, the issue also features the first ‘moving’ pictures on British stamps, by virtue of lenticular images incorporated into a miniature sheet devoted to the
best-loved show of all, Thunderbirds.
The idea is to recreate the programme's dramatic '5-4-3-2-1' opening sequence. The countdown begins with Thunderbird 5, the Earth-orbiting space station, on the border. A moving image of lift-off can then be revealed for Thunderbirds 4, 3, 2 and 1 by tilting the four stamps back and forth.
The stamps were designed by GBH and printed in litho by Cartor. The lenticular sections were created by Outer Aspect.
Philip Parker of Royal Mail Stamps said: 'Gerry Anderson’s sophisticated puppetry, combined with his taste for state-of-the-art special effects and futuristic super-vehicles, caused a sensation in the 1960s. Collectors and TV fans alike will enjoy the chance to see the opening credits of Thunderbirds again, but this time through the technology of stamps!'

COMMEMORATIVE WORTH   
The anniversary is of the least well-known Anderson show, but Royal Mail believes TV nostalgia sells

QUALITY OF DESIGN    
The images are basically stills from the telly, although the lenticular element is clever technology

WOW FACTOR    
Besides men of a certain age, most people will only be stirred by the miniature sheet’s gimmickry

1st class Joe 90
Each week, nine-year-old Joe downloaded skills from the Big Rat computer to carry out secret missions (first broadcast 1968-69).

1st class Captain Scarlet
Made indestructible by the alien Mysterons, Spectrum agent Captain Scarlet and his colour co-ordinated colleagues saved the world many times (first broadcast 1967-68).

1st class Thunderbirds
From its island hideaway, the family-run International Rescue organisation carried out amazing rescue missions with its fantastic machines (first broadcast 1965-66).


97p Stingray
Troy Tempest and his navigator ‘Phones’, of the World Aquanaut Security Patrol, kept humanity safe from undersea mischief in their submarine (first broadcast 1964-65).

97p Fireball XL5
With his robot sidekick Robert, Colonel Steve Zodiac of the World Space Patrol kept the Earth safe from interplanetary threats with his rocketship (first broadcast 1962-63).

97p Supercar
Inventor Mike Mercury had many exploits in his vehicle, which was at home on land, under water and in the air (first broadcast 1961-62).


MINIATURE SHEET

1st class Thunderbird 4
Thunderbird 4 is a submarine piloted by Gordon Tracy.

60p Thunderbird 3
Thunderbird 3 carries out deep space rescues in the capable hands of Alan Tracy.

88p Thunderbird 2
Piloted by Virgil Tracy, Thunderbird 2 transports International Rescue’s equipment wherever it’s needed.

97p Thunderbird 1
Thunderbird 1 is always first on the scene of a rescue, piloted by Scott Tracy.

Other products
A presentation pack, stamp cards and first day covers are on sale. A retail stamp book uses one of the 1st class values.

HOW IT WORKS

To create the lenticular stamps in the miniature sheet, frames from the original television footage were divided into microthin slices, which were microprinted onto the back of a special magnifying lens.
When these images are viewed at an angle of about 47° through a lens ridged with tiny curved lenticules, the light is refracted in such a way that all of the slices from one particular frame reform to show the complete image.
As the miniature sheet is moved, the light refraction changes, and a sequence of 36 frames can be seen.

PRICES
Set of 6 stamps    £4.14
Miniature sheet    £2.86
Presentation pack     £7.50
First day envelope     30p
First day cover (set)    £5.45
First day cover (miniature sheet)    £3.92
Retail stamp book    £2.46
TOTAL    £26.63