FAIRBANKS — Alaska drivers will have the choice of a retro look when they obtain new license plates next year.
The state in the spring will bring back plates that feature red lettering on white plates and a grizzly bear standing on its hind legs.
Drivers can also choose the current style: yellow-gold plates with blue lettering that reflect colors of the Alaska flag.
The Alaska Legislature last session approved bringing back the bear plates in a bill sponsored by Rep.Peggy Wilson, R-Wrangell. House Bill 293 passed unanimously in the final days of the session.
Department of Motor Vehicles Director Amy Erickson on Monday had a sample in hand of the new license plate. The makeover has added colors.
The old grizzly plates had beige mountains and a brown bear. The new version features a darker bear, a silhouette of the Alaska Range, a gold sun between mountains and a blue sky.
"I like it," said Erikson, noting that the final version may be tweaked. "I also am not absolutely certain that I approve of the colors because they didn't come out just like our artist rendered them, but they look very nice," she said.
The previous version was not without critics. During the legislative session, an Anchorage resident emailed a picture of a standing woodchuck and urged the designers to modify the bear image so there was less resemblance.
Erickson said there's no mistaking the image on the new license.
"It's still very much the bear," Erickson said. "And it looks more like a bear from a distance."