Darth Vader is back, and going dimensional with the NZ Mint’s latest flagship coin

The Star Wars juggernaut has clearly been a big hit for the New Zealand Mint, and only the last six years we’ve seen a huge selection of coins covering all aspects of the movie universe. Encompassing bullion coins, large and small silver foils, coloured coins and a classic series of character coins, there’s something for most budgets. Arguably the flagship range has been the 2oz high relief series, now up to six issues, but the mint is trying something new this time, in format if not in subject. Dimensional.

Ostensibly part of the high-relief range, the latest Darth Vader issue is also a 2oz high-relief coin, but there the similarity ends. Moving away from the standard round format, this one apes the three-dimensional shape of one of cinemas most iconic mugshots, not only gliding easily into ultra-high relief territory, but going with a shape in plan that matches old wheezie’s helmet.

It’s an excellent likeness. Not exactly packed with intricate detail, but that’s more because the subject matter wasn’t either. In retrospect, Vader’s ‘costume’ is a bit comical – a product of its time – but icons don’t have to be perfect, just enduring, and Vader has certainly been that. The obverse is flat, and carries a pretty standard coin design for Niue, comprising of the effigy of Darth Elizabeth and the inscribed issue details.


It isn’t all impressive, however. We were certainly very surprised to see it appear in original, untouched silver. Given that pretty much every other Antipodean mint has dabbled with black nickel as a finish, and ruthenium and rhodium plating has been a thing for years, it’s pretty surprising that the coin wasn’t given one of these treatments. We did a little mock-up below to show what it would have looked like. If you think that took a lot of time – it didn’t. Load into Photoshop, invert colour, and voila!, the look we’d have liked. They could even have left the two silver bolts on the front like the original, to show the silver underneath. Quite disappointing.

That’s about all that disappoints, however. Quality of strike will be very high, as will the packaging. All told, the Star Wars fan will find a lot to like here. A 5,000 mintage means availability, in the short term at least, will be better than most, and the NZ Mint issues in this series are beautifully presented. We’d just like to see the mint move a bit more outside of its comfort zone. Those that love Star Wars coins will want to check out our 3-page round-up of the mints issues to date. It’s an impressive selection.

COMPOSITION 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 62.2 grams
DIMENSIONS 49.0 x 41.0 mm
FINISH Frosted
MODIFICATIONS Ultra high-relief, dimensional
BOX / COA Yes / Yes