The Evening Post
August 5, 2000

Rings Theme Gold-Plated
Staff Reporter

The Lord Of The Rings number is up -- at least when it comes to personalised vehicle number plates.

Growing interest in Peter Jackson's $360 million film trilogy is driving more people to buy plates featuring J R R Tolkien's characters. The plates cost $449, but at least one owner has been offered $6000. Other buyers are holding on to sell once the first Lord Of The Rings movie is released.

Personalised Plates, which issues the plates as an agent for the Government, said it had sold about 60 with a Lord Of The Rings theme in the past year since filming started.

Erica Challis, New Zealand editor of The OneRing Net website, bought four new plates late last year -- NAZGUL, ARWEN, played by Liv Tyler in the movie, EOWYN and GAMGEE, the Hobbit Sam's surname.

Ms Challis said she bought the four after hearing several offers to the owner of one Lord Of The Rings plate, the latest being $6000. She hoped to at least make a small profit selling hers when the first movie was released. "Usually I think those kinds of vanity plates are really stupid. In a sense I would be very embarrassed to run around in a car with ARWEN on it."

The most sought-after names, such as HOBBIT and FRODO, were long gone. HOBBIT was nabbed in 1988, the first year New Zealanders could personalise number plates, and FRODO in 1990.

Most other variations of HOBBIT and FRODO, where 0 replaced O and 1 for I had gone. Still available was FRODO I. Diehard fans could also have a message on their plate surround. Some had chosen the words The Lord Of The Rings.