The latest in the New Zealand Mint’s attractive ‘Guards of the Empire’ Star Wars themed coin series is upon us, and after looking at the various layers of cannon fodder that makes up the Empire’s bulk, we get a look at the elite. The red armour clad Praetorian Guards, named after the bodyguards were the last line of defence for the leader of the First Order, and like the rest of the Empire’s forces, they were crap at it…

Ever since the first coin debuted in this series back in January, we’ve stuck by our opinion that this is one of the best Star Wars coin series released to date, and there have been plenty of them. The Praetorian Guards is the fourth in the series, and the last of the designs we saw in Berlin back in January, so what comes next, if anything, is yet unknown to us.

These are one-ounce rectangular coins with an antique finish and selective colour highlighting – one of the subject soldiers. The background is always a scene, either realistic or stylised, and this one is of the former ilk. A throne room scene, the one that led to the death of all the guards and their charge, fills the background scene, with a single bright red figure in the foreground. The obverse is a simple one, but the presentation is first class, as you would expect from this producer.

Available now for around the $85 mark, this is a fine addition to the NZ Mint’s Star Wars range, offering something a bit different in both subject and format. In comparison with the tired re-issue of the Death Star coin, we’d highly recommend this one to the Star Wars fan. The coin has a relatively small mintage of 2,000 pieces. A neat release, we hope the concept continues in this, and perhaps other forms.

THE PRAETORIAN GUARDS

The ruler of the fledgling First Order, Supreme Leader Snoke, like the old Empire’s Emperor Palpatine, kept an elite group of soldiers for protection. Called the Praetorian Guard, it was a unit of eight men, clad in red armour and robes, and trained to the highest level. They were stationed aboard Snoke’s flagship, Supremacy, during the war with the Resistance.

Heavily armed with higbh-tech bladed weapons and trained to fight against opponents armed with Lightsabers, their layered crimson armour could deflect blaster fire and even, in some circumstances, the Jedi’s favoured weapon itself. Experts in melee combat, they could handle almost anything. Only the cost and complexity of their weapons and armour prevented it becoming standard issue for First Order troopers all over. The eight were divided into four pairs, each pair wielding the same type of weapon.

Ultimately, the eight guards would fall in a battle with Rey and Kylo Ren. They tried to avenge the death of Supreme Leader Snoke in the throne room of Supremacy, but were overwhelmed and killed by the Force-strong pairing, despite an epic battle. An impressive group, but like the Imperial Royal Guards before them, doomed to failure.

Bold Precious Metals
SPECIFICATION
DENOMINATION $2 NZD (Niue)
COMPOSITION 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 31.1 grams
DIMENSIONS 52.0 x 36.0 mm
FINISH Antique
MODIFICATIONS Colour
MINTAGE 2,000
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes
NEW ZEALAND MINT