A phenomenon that has travelled far from its Japanese homeland, Chibi (ちび or チビ) is slang for ‘short’ and is applied to various pop culture genres today. Chief amongst those are the small, chubby caricatures with their tiny bodies and over-sized heads – also called super-deformed (SD). A popular style in anime and manga, and also with the Funko figures that are seemingly everywhere these days, we’re actually surprised the concept has taken this long to hit the numismatic world.
If anyone was going to do it, it would be pop-culture innovators the New Zealand Mint, who have an extensive catalogue of media franchises under their wing. These are perfect subjects for the Chibi treatment and the first to get reimagined was cult superhero, Batman. Rather than go with the dour character from the excellent Nolan movies, the mint sensibly took a more comic-orientated approach, with some similarities to the style popularised in the camp Sixties TV series. The follow up coins are equally whimsical and manage to be both an extreme caricature, and easily recognisable.
This was the first of the DC Comics Chibi Collection, which was soon joined by a Harry Potter series, and then a Star Wars one. As of February 2021, Lord of the Rings has appeared, followed by even more. Each coin is numbered as part of its own collection, rather than as a unified Chibi series as a whole. Given the accelerated release schedule, that’s probably a wise decision. Amazingly given the near $100 USD price tag per coin, the mint is planning to issue four per month in 2021. Uniquely, the mint has teased silhouettes of the upcoming issues, which we’ve had a go at identifying, but bear in mind they’re our guesses and we’re limited by NDA embargo.