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Rings exhibition equivalent of Holy Grail for fans

A model featuring a cave troll from the Lord of The Rings exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney. Picture / Reuters
A model featuring a cave troll from the Lord of The Rings exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney. Picture / Reuters


SYDNEY - Replicas, rubber and the sacred ring itself - for Tolkien fans this exhibition may well be the Holy Grail.

Boasting more than 650 exhibits, including a five metre replica of a cave troll, Galadriel's gossamer gown and all three Rings of Power, the Lord of the Rings Motion Picture Trilogy Exhibition is a sight to behold.

Fans can go behind the scenes of the trilogy's special effects, come face-to-face with life-size models of gruesome creatures and get exclusive cast insights into the movie-making process, over the exhibit's three month stay at Sydney's Powerhouse Museum.

But it's more than just a cinematic tribute, according to Powerhouse director Kevin Fewster.

"The Lord of the Rings is a truly international phenomenon, it has become part of popular culture," Mr Fewster said at the event launch.

The exhibition originated as a project of Te Papa Tongarewa -- the Museum of New Zealand -- almost six years ago, following a drawn-out process of negotiation with the film's producers, New Line Cinema.

Te Papa director Paul Brewer agreed the collection was about more than the blockbuster trilogy.

There was something to satisfy even the most puritan Rings fan, Mr Fewster said, with 85 artworks and graphics, including works by famed Rings artists Alan Lee and John Howe.

Tolkien fervour aside, the sheer technical marvel and scale of items on display was enough to impress even the toughest non-convert, he said.

Visitors can sit on a shrinking set and appear instantly hobbit-sized, or witness the hybrid human -- digital technology which created Gollum and simulated Tolkien's majestic battle scenes.

The exhibit's also full of trivia.

For instance, Weta Workshops ran three large foam latex ovens 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for three and a half years to create enough prosthetic ears and feet -- 610m for the four main hobbits alone.

At the height of production they were the largest user of foam latex in the world.

The exhibition's centrepiece -- the ring itself -- has a tale all of its own.

Forty actual rings were made for filming, and none bore an elfish inscription - that was added post-production.

It also was one of the last commissions of New Zealand jeweller Jens Hansen before he died.

Since kicking off its world tour, the exhibition has attracted more than 800,000 visitors around the globe, Mr Brewer said.

The Powerhouse Museum will be the only Australian venue, and the event is estimated to generate $13.5 million ($NZ14.69 million) in tourism revenue, attracting 200,000 visitors both from NSW and interstate.

The Lord of the Rings Motion Picture Trilogy opens at the Powerhouse Museum on December 26.

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