Made in China: Madame Tussauds

A visit to Madame Tussauds Wax Museum should be on every person’s bucket list. Tussaud has made a name for herself (or at least the company) for making wax statues of famous people, all of them so lifelike that it’s as if you were meeting the actual person yourself. Some of them look so real that it borders on creepy.

Madame Tussaud opened her first museum in London in 1835 to feature her collection of death masks of guillotined French aristocrats. Her London branch even has a Chamber of Horrors section where it features murderers, criminals and victims of the French Revolution. Today it enjoys branches in Amsterdam, Bangkok, Berlin, Blackpool, Hollywood, Hong Kong, Las Vegas, New York, Washington DC and Wien. I read about other branches but I only included the branches mentioned on the official site to be sure.

The Shanghai branch opened in 2006 and is the sixth in the world. This branch is different in the sense that it has an Experience Area where you can see the actual construction of the models.

The Shanghai branch has more than 70 wax figures in seven themed rooms.

The lady herself, Madame Tussaud. Her first wax figure was created in 1777 and was the figure of Voltaire. Some of the figures she made herself still exist.

Tom Cruise. The room he was in simulated a celebrity-filled party. Some of the other figures were Bill Gates, Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman (far away from Cruise, of course) and some Asian celebrities I didn’t recognize. Lady Gaga was there on stage as a performer but I really didn’t like her figure. But it was so lifelike that the makers even included the freckles on Gaga’s chest. There was a ‘VIP area’ for Madonna with mirrors and couches but her figure looked nothing like the Material Girl.

The next room was reserved for the great thinkers. There was a Chinese astronaut and some figures I didn’t recognize. Albert Einstein was there, too. Also, there were interactive trivia games you could try. I wasn’t able to play because there were so many people crowding around it.

The politics room housed the world’s greatest leaders. Unlike the previous room with actors where they were scattered around the room, this one had the leaders arranged in a circle. There were figures of Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama (where he stands next to a podium you can stand in and speak), Winston Churchill, Bill Clinton and one of the most handsome politicians ever, Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

The music room was like the actors room where they’re just milling around. This room had Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, and some Asian musicians. Of course I included the picture of Kylie Minogue, who I am going to see perform when she comes to the Philippines in July! I didn’t like the room that much because it looked plain compared to the other rooms. It was just white.

My brother with Bruce Lee as Billo Lo from Game of Death. This room was dedicated to famous fictional characters from Hugh Jackman as Wolverine to Pierce Brosnan as James Bond, Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa, Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator, Marilyn Monroe as The Girl from The Seven Year Itch, and Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter.

There was a section dedicated to the late Princess Diana and her son Prince Charles, who was recently married to Kate Middleton. I couldn’t get a decent picture of Charles because all the ladies were flocking to him and putting their arms around him. I was one of them.

The sports room had figures of Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, some local athletes and two of the best-looking football players ever, Davic Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo. I actually have a picture of me almost smothering Beckham but I’m a little embarrassed to post it here.

One room was dedicated to local celebrities. I didn’t recognize most of them except Jet Li and F4. The room (which was larger compared to others) was sponsored by Pepsi.

There was a room dedicated to show how the wax figures are made. It was very interesting to see how they make the molds and the eyes and the other parts of the body. I found out that each statue takes over 800 hours to mold, measure, paint and sculpt. The process begins when the star is invited for a sitting where detailed measurements are taken. If the star is unable to come or has passed away, the team gathers over 250 photos and precise measurements to work with. Usually, the Tussauds group regularly gives out a poll for the public to decide which celebrity to be made next. Visitors to the Shanghai branch can even order wax models of themselves.

The experience was exciting because it was as if you were standing in front of the actual celebrities. Many of the figures were so lifelike that you would expect them to suddenly move and smile at you. In Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, you can’t really tell which of the people are real and which ones aren’t. In fact, I was surprised many times when a figure I thought was a wax statue would move and talk to the person next to them!

The Madame Tussauds Wax Museum is located on the 10th floor of the New World Building on Nanjing Xi Lu. It’s the one with Samsung written across the top floor. I included the directions because none of the locals knew what we were talking about and it’s tricky to find.

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