Madame Tussauds to immerse fans in 'Star Wars' scenes

Is a statue of Yoda Force-sensitive? Do wax figures lose as many limbs as patrons at the Mos Eisley Cantina? Madame Tussauds in London will let fans visit a galaxy far, far away.

Bonnie Burton
Journalist Bonnie Burton writes about movies, TV shows, comics, science and robots. She is the author of the books Live or Die: Survival Hacks, Wizarding World: Movie Magic Amazing Artifacts, The Star Wars Craft Book, Girls Against Girls, Draw Star Wars, Planets in Peril and more! E-mail Bonnie.
Bonnie Burton
2 min read

Impressed by this wax Yoda statue, you will be. Screenshot by Bonnie Burton/CNET

Fans who want to wax lyrical over Yoda may get their chance thanks to Madame Tussauds London. The venerable wax museum has announced a new multimillion-dollar "Star Wars" experience with Disney and Lucasfilm, opening in May ahead of the release of " Star Wars: Episode VII" later this year.

"Star Wars at Madame Tussauds will be a unique, immersive experience featuring 16 of the most famous heroes and villains in scenes from some of the most iconic moments featured in 'Star Wars' Episodes I-VI," the museum's website announces.

A new video reveals how the museum's talented team of sculptors, artists and set designers made the venerable Jedi master Yoda, the first wax figure destined for the new Star Wars Experience, along with his swampy Dagobah set, which will be one of 11 immersive walk-in scenes to be featured in the exhibit.

"It's a huge responsibility working on such an iconic character for me and the whole of the team of artists, not least of all because many of us are fans," Stephen Mansfield, a principal sculptor at Madame Tussauds, says in the video. "We are making great effort to make sure that fans of the films will be happy and enjoy the experience when it opens in May."

While Yoda might be small in stature, the artistic team at Madame Tussauds took the recreation of the old Jedi Master very seriously.

Artists and set builders recreate Yoda's homestead on Dagobah. Screenshot by Bonnie Burton/CNET

"This figure was a particular challenge to make, not least because even though he's 66cm tall, he's still made with the sort of accuracy of any of our wax figures," Mansfield said in the video. "It took a team of 20 artists four months to create and make to the accurate standard we have."

Madame Tussaud opened her waxwork museum in about 1835, just down the road from Sherlock Holmes' famous address in Baker Street, London. Her wax death masks of prominent victims of the French Revolution were the precursor to today's much more sophisticated -- if rather less ghoulish -- models.

"The first part of the process is that we sculpt the entire figure in clay over a metal armature," Mansfield explains. "Then we do a chemical mold of the head, the hands and the body. The head and hands are produced in wax. The body is produced in fiberglass. Once the various parts are cast, the head and hands go to the hair and coloring department where they are colored using oil paints put on in layers so that you get an accurate representation of the texture. The hairs were inserted one by one."

Yoda won't be the only beloved character fans can meet in the flesh, er, wax.

"As well as visiting Master Yoda in misty swamp, guests will be able to join Han Solo in a recreation of the Cantina bar," Nicole Fenner, PR manager of Madame Tussauds London, says in the video. "You'll also be able to sit alongside Chewbacca in a recreation of the Millennium Falcon. Plus lots, lots more."