Rubbing shoulders with world celebrities at Wuxi's wax museum

By Wang Quan ( China Daily ) Updated: 2015-01-17 07:10:40

Rubbing shoulders with world celebrities at Wuxi's wax museum

A wax model of Jiang Wen at PinLa. Jiang is a Chinese film actor, screenwriter and director. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Seeing The Hulk at the entrance of PinLa Star Wax Model Producing Pavilion was deja vu - it reminded me of my visit five years ago to the New York Madame Tussauds, the world-renowned wax museum where visitors are also greeted by the green giant.

At PinLa, it seems the humongous monster has shrunk two sizes and he doesn't look as green.

PinLa Star Wax Model Producing Pavilion was an unexpectedly interesting discovery during my visit to Wuxi Studios, the fast growing filmmaking base in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province.

Climbing up the neon light staircase, I entered the first showroom which displays political figures such as former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, just to name a few. Next to each leader, there is a podium and the corresponding national flag.

It took me a few seconds to recognize the waving and smiling man who stands between Putin and Merkel as US President Barak Obama. I almost mistook him for a young Nelson Mandela, South Africa's apartheid fighter and leader, if there had been no US flag.

Finishing taking pictures, I continued walking along the corridor. Around the corner I found Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga standing not far from each other. Lady Gaga is in the bold costume she wore for her video Bad Romance, while Michael Jackson is in his signature white shirt and black suit.

This second area features Chinese and international movie stars, music icons and sporting greats, which is not a surprise if one has ever been to any Madame Tussauds.

Just as in the Hong Kong Madame Tussauds, actress Audrey Hepburn is sitting at a table enjoying her high tea; kung fu legend Bruce Lee is in his yellow body suit and wielding his nunchakus; and football star David Beckham is posing for a red carpet event.

I noticed that the skin of the wax figures was not as real as that of those I saw at the other Madame Tussauds. It made me wonder if the technology used here might be different.

"Our wax figures are made from materials and technology different from those in other Madame Tussauds," the guide tells me.

"It usually takes months and costs millions of yuan to make a traditional wax figure. At PinLa, however, designers use 3-D printing technology and polymeric powder material that allow them to finish a wax figure within two to three months. The cost does not exceed 200,000 to 300,000.

So this explains why Obama's profile is slightly off and basketball player Kobe Bryant is a little short.

Having visited Madame Tussauds in New York and Hong Kong, I thought I wouldn't expect to see anything new, but I was wrong.

"What's most special about us is that we can custom design a 3-D figurine for our visitors. Of course it will be a mini version, but it only costs 3,000 to 4,000 yuan and it can be a very unique memento," the guide said.

This special service is definitely something new and different compared to the other wax figure museums. According to the guide, many visitors order a 3-D figurine for themselves or their friends as birthday or anniversary presents.

At the exit, I took a final picture of Sun Wukong as he appeared in The Monkey King 1. The handsome monkey looks like he is about to jump and turn a somersault; his face lit up with pride and confidence. I wondered why PinLa did not have Sun Wukong at the entrance instead of The Hulk, since this is in China?

The original purpose of my trip was to explore Wuxi Studios, where a host of blockbusters were shot and produced. Some well-known works include Transformer 4, Captain America, Monkey King in 3-D as well as the latest movie Gone with the Bullets.

If you go

PinLa Star Wax Model Producing Pavilion

Where: Inside Wuxi Studio, 64 Lihu avenue, Wuxi, Jiangsu province

When: 10 am-9 pm

Contact: 0510-8261-0118

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