Award-winning actor Sir Ian McKellen has officially given his seal of approval to stamps and coins being produced in honour of the first Hobbit film.
New Zealand Post has collaborated with The Hobbit's makers to produce a range of official stamps and legal tender to commemorate the release of the first film in the trilogy The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
Sir Ian McKellen - who reprises his role as Gandalf in the new film after having embodied the character in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy - says the coins and stamps capture the essence of his iconic character.
"To put Gandalf on these splendiferous coins is a wizard idea," McKellen said from London.
He said he is also impressed by the specially designed stamps saying: "The pointy hat, the beard and the illuminated staff - the $1.90 NZ stamp is pure Gandalf."
The coins - which are legal tender - will go on sale from November 1, alongside a set of six stamps celebrating the film.
New Zealand Post has also developed a range of additional collectable options including a presentation pack (retailing for $29.90 but containing collectables to the value of $37.50), and an Ultimate Collection book of collectables which will retail at $385.
New Zealand Post's spokesman Simon Allison said the collector's items are appropriate mementoes of the film, and fit in with the mythology of Middle-earth - New Zealand.
"We're the only country in the world with the rights to produce these highly collectable coins, featuring iconic characters from what is sure to become a classic series of films."
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is due for release on December
14, with the second film, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,
releasing on December 13 next year. The last instalment The Hobbit:
There and Back Again is slated for July 18, 2014.