The first five million of the new-look toonies went into circulation Aug. 28, 2006. ((Courtesy of the Royal Canadian Mint))

It's been 10 years since Canada's $2 coin (a.k.a. "the toonie") began testing the seams of the nation's pockets. Now, the Royal Canadian Mint has issued a new version of the coin to mark the anniversary.

The familiar polar bear design that has occupied one side of the coin since1996 is being updated with another drawing of a polar bear by artist Tony Bianco.

The new design – which wasa finalist for the 1996version of the coin –features the bear turning its head up to cascading rays of sun.

The first five million examples of the new coin design went into general circulationMonday.

More than 550 million of the bimetallic coins have been produced at the Mint's Winnipeg plant in the past 10 years. The coins were brought in as cost-saving replacements for $2 bills– following up on the successful introduction of the $1 "loonie" coin in 1987.

Plans by the Mint for a possible $5 coin to replace the $5 bill were scrapped last year after a government-commissioned poll found little support for such a move, despite the savings to be had.

Metal coins last at least 20 times longer than paper currency.