The rather, er, mixed reaction to these stamps in Social Media Land only made me more intrigued, so off I popped to the Royal Mail website to stuff a little more cash into the foul capitalists' pockets (by which I mean, I ordered a set).
|Remember, all images are copyrighted. So don't go making hipster t-shirts out of them or anything. They'll find you.|
My favourite stamp of the set by far is the Iguanodon pair, depicted bellowing away at who-knows-what; they are detailed down to the uneven edges of their beaks, with a very fetching colour scheme and row of spines. The Polacanthus is quite lovely too. In fact, it's with the non-dinosaurs in this set that things really start to go awry - I'm certainly no authority on the subject, but there's something just a bit...off about them. Just look at the stumpy dorsal fins and slightly cylindrical bodies on those ichthyosaurs...
...and then take a gander at this slightly strange-looking Ornithocheirus. I'm not really a pterosaur sorta guy, but I'm quite sure that there should at least be the hint of a keeled crest on the end of the jaws, and while the neck has been affected by foreshortening, it still appears rather too short in relation to the body. I'm not sure the wing membrane's quite right, either. Got to love that toupee, though.
Plesiosaurus, meanwhile, sports rather slender-looking flippers and a sunken forehead. In fact, all of the animals have unfashionably delineated fenestrae, which while not necessarily incorrect, lends them a slightly old-fashioned look. The Cetiosaurus further adds to this with super snorkel nostrils and (possibly) a few too many claws - nitpicks, definitely, but it seems a little odd that Sibbick would be neglecting these admittedly very tiny details. On the other hand, Megalosaurus and Baryonyx are quite well done, although I prefer the former, as its image is enlivened by a big old swinging hunk of meat, evoking Sibbick illustrations of old. I'm also very fond of the Megalosaurus' dapper colour scheme and overall chunkiness - Sibbick has always imbued his large theropods with a solid, weighty quality.
Finally, we have...these two. It's nice to see Hypsilophodon given its due, and Sibbick includes the notorious 'angry eyes' as he has always been careful to do. It seems a little strange to see Hypsilophodon restored without some speculative, Tianyulong-inspired integument these days, but this is a solid enough illustration.The Dimorphodon sports an inspired livery (complete with parrot-like tie-dye head), but seems a little bit nekkid.
While not worthy of Sibbick's best work, this is still a fairly decent set, by and large, and not as bad as all that (certainly not as bad as it might have been). Nevertheless, one can't help but be struck by how conservative these stamps seem. The choice of animals - which almost certainly wasn't down to the artist - is very predictable. With the exception of Baryonyx, the same set of beasties could have graced stamps released 50 years ago or even more, while the palaeoart style is reminiscent of (admittedly the best) 1990s work. The failure to include, for example, a fuzzy Eotyrannus - which might have surprised audiences - seems like something of a missed opportunity.
All the same, they'd definitely be a nice touch when posting birthday cards/threatening letters to any dinosaur-inclined friends/enemies, but I wouldn't rush out and buy a set. Especially as you'd effectively be endorsing the wholesale privatisation of formerly public services, sort of. Don't encourage them!