My solution to this conundrum was to use the Lord of the Rings miniatures, but for an entirely different game. I've started constructing a chess set as a gift to my wife for Christmas. Hopefully the demands of work will allow me to finish it before December the 25th.
The first step in its creation was the board, shown below. It started as simply a 4-ft length of 1x12, cut in half, and attached together with cabinet hinges to make a large 2ft x 2ft board. This board size was necessary to accommodate the wooden candle holders I planned to use as the chess pieces, which were about 2 1/4 in diameter.
All of the patterns on the board were done with a wood-burning pen. This was perhaps one of the most time consuming parts of the chess set creation, and resulted in my entire house smelling like burned pinewood (my wife was thrilled with that). The squares were picked out using some leftover dark-wood stain from a previous home improvement project. The entire board was then coated in a light wood stain.
Across the front of each side of the board is half of the script from the One Ring, "one ring to rule them all, and in the darkness bind them".
Each of the 4 corners includes a styalized icon representative of the forces of good and evil: The White Tree of Gondor, a steed of Rohan, the Eye of Sauron, and the Hand of Saruman.
Lastly is the Lord of the Rings logo.
The next steps will be the basic painting of the gaming pieces.