This is the first in a series of three parts, with each part focusing on a different new stamp.
New stamps issued in August by the U.S. Postal Service are a diverse mix of animation, stylized art, animals, mechanics, engineering and space, with original artwork, nature photography and imagination all playing a part. About the only thing you won’t see are real humans.
First up is a set of five that draw on our imaginations and love of technology that go to space with a hero from the new animated movie, “Lightyear.” The film imagines the life of astronaut hero Buzz Lightyear as a “real” person before his likeness became a popular action toy figure in the Toy Story movies.
A mother elephant and her baby are shown in stylized artistic form on a single stamp issued in booklet form.
Pony Cars – kind of slightly subdued muscle cars popularized in the 1960s and early 1970s – are shown in bold, bright colors with original artwork in a set of five that was formally dedicated at the Great American Stamp Show.
One set of stamps we’re holding off to review are the 15 stamps in a Marine Sanctuaries pane, which is filled with fabulous photos showing marine life.
All the stamps are first-class domestic pressure-sensitive Forever stamps.
Several products associated with the Go Beyond – Buzz Lightyear stamps are available from the USPS here.
You have to wonder what the stamp designers, agencies and consumers of the first 100-years-or-so of national postage stamps would have thought if these stamps crash landed on their drafting tables, desks and kitchen counters.
The pane of 20 has four stamps based on a new movie starring an animated fictional character – a spaceman named Buzz Lightyear – who is based on a character as it was presented as a toy in an earlier animated film, “Toy Story” (1995), released way back in a previous century. And the new movie actually takes place long before the original film and its three sequels, letting us see how (the “real”) Buzz Lightyear became such a beloved toy in that first set of films. Oh, and to make it even more fun, the new film – simply titled “Lightyear” – has a bit of warpy time travel in it, so it’s sure to take the viewer to infinity and beyond.
I mean, it’s almost as crazy as starting a series of movies in the middle (like at Episode 4) instead of at the beginning; or making a hero out of a waste-cleaning robot; or making space heroes out of castoff actors from a once-popular (now tired) sci-fi TV show.
But, if this all has you tumbling toward a black hole, have no fear, Capt. Lightyear is here to brighten up your mail, or your space, animation, movies, helmets or strange-shade-of-green-on-stamps collections. (Not sure we have ever seen black, cyan, magenta, yellow and Pantone 6C mixed into these hues before!)
Each row on the pane features the same designs in differing orders. On each row, the first design repeats as the last stamp. All of the designs feature modern, angular, geometric backgrounds in various greens and grayish blue-greens, accentuating the familiar colors of Buzz’s spacesuit along with the phrase “Go Beyond.”
The selvage features the full-body image of Buzz Lightyear against a graphic background and the slogan “From Infinity to Forever,” with the word “Lightyear” enhanced by a spaceship streaking through the letters.
Greg Breeding was the art director, using illustrations from Pixar Animation Studios.
The stamps pay tribute to the fictional Buzz Lightyear before he became an iconic character deserving of a toy. The new movie from Disney and Pixar follows Buzz as he tries to get home after being marooned on a planet 4.2 million light-years from Earth. The movie highlights his heroics and explains the inspiration behind the toy millions have all come to know and love.
And, for those who aren’t familiar with the Toy Story universe, the four previous films were nominated for a dozen Academy Awards, winning four, and the American Film Institute lists “Toy Story” (1995) among its 100 Greatest American Movies. In those films, Buzz (originally voice by Tim Allen) is known for being the best friend of Woody, a cowboy voiced by Tom Hanks. Chris Evans voices Buzz in the new film.
In 2008, a Buzz Lightyear action figure was launched aboard NASA’s Space Shuttle Discovery. Upon boarding the International Space Station, Buzz Lightyear floated 220 miles above the Earth. Buzz’s mission logs, filed during his 15-month orbit, supported NASA’s educational efforts in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).
Isaac Cronkhite, the Postal Service’s chief logistics and processing operations officer and executive vice president made a pitch about the connections such stamps can make with reality in his presentation at the formal first day ceremony August 3 at the El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles. The Walt Disney Co. owns the theater.
“Buzz Lightyear captured our hearts and imaginations in the first ‘Toy Story’ movie,” Cronkhite said, according to a Postal Service news release. “He taught us about heroism, loyalty and perseverance. And now he is the star of his own feature film … (The Postal Service has) many stamps honoring NASA’s accomplishments, including the space shuttle, and the Apollo program that took us to the moon. And then there are our STEM Education stamps that emphasize the importance of science, technology, engineering and math. The Postal Service takes great pride in honoring the very best of the nation through our stamp program. And Buzz Lightyear certainly fits that description.”
On top of that, we can just enjoy the ride … to infinity.