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Monday, August 15, 2011

Pay with The Force? Tiny Island Nation Mints 'Star Wars' Currency


New Zealand Mint

New Zealand Mint

Four words you'd never expect to hear: "Use the coin, Luke."

And you thought you were Star Wars die-hard. Apparently not as die-hard as the Pacific nation of Niue, a roughly 100-square-mile island located 1,500 miles northeast of New Zealand, sometimes called the "Rock of Polynesia," or just "The Rock" for short. These folks just opted to print coins adorned with color images of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Darth Vader and other Star Wars fan favorites. We're not kidding: actual, usable, carry-in-your-coin-purse change.

The catch: the coins will be worth too much to justify spending. That, and you'll have to be one of Niue's 2,000 residents to actually use them, probably making this the world's most exclusive sci-fi-themed currency.

But still, honest-to-goodness, financially legitimate Star Wars coins? Who'd-'a-thunk.

Niue—whose name means "behold the coconut"—uses New Zealand's currency, the "Kiwi dollar," and the Star Wars coins are valued at NZ$2 each (or directly converted, about US$1.66). But their actual value, according to AAP New Zealand (via The Sydney Morning Herald), is upwards of AUD$100 (Australian dollars). The coins are apparently made of silver that's worth AUD$40 alone—the set includes eight one-ounce solid silver coins and 10 silver-plated base metal ones, and retails for about AUD$450, or about US$465 if you're looking to collect a set to ship stateside.

"You wouldn't want to go and spend them because they're only worth $2 [officially] but the value is much more than that," said New Zealand Mint Vice President of USA Operations Chris Kirkness (speaking to Fairfax New Zealand), quipping "No one is going to go buy an ice cream with them."

If you want a set, you'll have to be quick: They're only printing 50,000 of each coin, with some offered in special collectors' boxes (limited to 7,500). There's one modeled after Darth Vader (opening it triggers Vader's trademark mask-breathing sound) and another after the Millennium Falcon (opening it triggers a launch-engine sound).

Will the force be with your checkbook? You'll have to find out November 1st, when they're due to go on sale.