After a week of press previews and a VIP launch on Wednesday night that saw Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett from the original trilogy and Captain Colton in Revenge of the Sith) meet Pip Anderson from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the new Star Wars experience at Madame Tussauds London is open to the public.
Millions of people have been through the doors of Madame Tussauds in London since they first opened over 200 years ago, and it remains just as popular as it ever was with daily crowds lining up outside to get in — even without a Star Wars exhibit. There’s been a need for a dedicated permanent Star Wars exhibit in London, arguably the spiritual home of the movies, since they were created and filmed here in the ’70s and ’80s, again for the prequels and now for the sequels and new Anthology series of films.
Well, our pleas have been answered. After a year in the making — working collaboratively with Disney and Lucasfilm — Madame Tussauds delivers on its promise of one of the most breathtaking displays of Star Wars characters you’ll ever experience. This new immersive experience allows you to get up close and personal with your favorite Star Wars characters, brought to life as wax models.
At the end of the existing Marvel 4D feature, a new 90-second introduction is played on the planetarium’s dome, culminating in the Star Wars and Madame Tussauds logos and the voice of James Earl Jones as Darth Vader stating “We would be honored if you would join us.” You then walk into the exhibit itself, where existing office space has been repurposed, and from the moment you enter you’re immediately transported to that galaxy, far far away.
As you walk through the corridors of the Trade Federation starship from The Phantom Menace and down some stairs, you’re introduced to the first of 11 scenes — the first featuring the iconic lightsaber battle between Darth Maul, Qui-Gon Jinn, and Obi-Wan Kenobi. The wax models and the setting are perfect, and this isn’t a museum where you’re left to view things from behind a rope. You can literally walk up and touch each character, pose with them, and be transported directly into the films. We were amazed at the sculpting of every detail and we thanked the sculptors and model makers present during our visit for the amazing job they’d done. I won’t go through every detail of each figure, I’ll just let the pictures speak for themselves.
The next scene is the lava planet Mustafar, where you come face-to-face with an anguished Anakin Skywalker holding his lightsaber. Here you can pose opposite Anakin for one of many photo opportunities throughout the exhibit.
From here we move to A New Hope and Mos Eisley, where you’re able to sit next to Han Solo in the cantina. Sitting next to or opposite from Han is a great experience for anyone not named Greedo.
Opposite the cantina set is a desert backdrop where you can pose with the famous droids, R2-D2 and C-3PO. R2-D2 has been brought to life by Oliver Steeples and Lee Towersey, who worked on R2-D2 in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
One of the most amazing wax models is Chewbacca. His hair (real yak hair) has been sewn in place by hand strand-by-strand, a process that took over 1,000 hours, and the result is just stunning. In this scene, Chewbacca is co-piloting the Millennium Falcon and you can take the pilot seat to the left of him for the perfect photo opportunity and a chance to hit a button that takes you on a short journey through hyperspace.
These scenes are unlike anything Madame Tussauds have ever created before and they’ve raised the bar for themselves and the whole museum with this exhibit. For those looking closely, the chairs in the Falcon look like those we’ve seen from the still shots in The Force Awakens.
Leaving the Falcon, you walk through a Death Star corridor and two stormtroopers, which brings you to the swamp environment of Dagobah — and Yoda. Again, the attention to detail is breathtaking right down to the hairs on Yoda’s face. The Dagobah environment itself is simply stunning, complete with hand-painted walls and trees, a soft-molded floor that moves under your feet, and smoke/light effects that truly take you into the film.
Next up is Darth Vader from The Empire Strikes Back and the moment of his big reveal to Luke. This iconic scene allows you to be Luke, complete with directed air conditioning in your face — the perfect photographic opportunity.
The penultimate and most ambitious scene — featuring the second largest wax model ever made (after the Hulk) — is Jabba the Hutt on his throne along with Princess Leia and his sidekick Salacious Crumb. There aren’t enough superlatives to describe how amazing this scene is and it could be studied for hours. A few minor compromises have been made — the detailing on the throne is not as large as it should be (otherwise you wouldn’t be able to get so close) and the hooka is gone (we don’t really want to be promoting smoking, do we?) — but they don’t detract anything from the scene at all. This is another must-have picture. Be advised — when you stand on the rancor pit door, it vibrates!
The final scene is the Emperor’s Throne Room from Return of the Jedi and features the correct version of Darth Vader fighting Luke whilst being watched by the seated Emperor. The detailing on the Emperor and Luke are beyond amazing.
As you can probably tell, we were VERY impressed with this exhibit. I went with my family and the Jedi News team last Sunday, again on Tuesday for various press interviews, and again on Wednesday evening for the VIP launch. I can’t wait to go back there, and very soon! Congratulations to Disney, Lucasfilm, and Madame Tussauds for creating such a wonderful and fully immersive experience.
We expect Madame Tussauds to be high on the list of those visiting London or attending Star Wars Celebration Europe next summer, but for those that live in the UK, we implore you to visit the only permanent Star Wars exhibit in the country very soon. Disappointed you won’t be!
Star Wars at Madame Tussauds London is open now and tickets are available for purchase.
A smaller version of the attraction with just three scenes and 11 characters opened at Madame Tussauds in Berlin, Germany, on May 9. The space used is much smaller and the three scenes consist of Yoda from The Phantom Menace in his Jedi Council chair, Obi-Wan fighting Darth Maul on Naboo, and Han Solo, Princess Leia, R2-D2, and C-3PO from A New Hope on the Death Star, watching Darth Vader — flanked by two Stromtroopers — fighting Luke Skywalker.
Pictures by the Team Jedi News — Left to Right — Brian Cameron, Paul Bateman, Mark Newbold, James Burns, Matt Booker, and Dave Tree (Jonathan Burns taking the photo).
James Burns co-owns and runs Jedi News (with Mark Newbold) — the largest English-speaking Star Wars fan site in Europe — is the co-host of the UK-centric RADIO 1138 podcast, and is a regular contributor to Star Wars Insider and Build the Millennium Falcon magazines. You can also listen to James as part of the monthly Star Wars Collectors Cast, discussing all the latest Star Wars collecting news with Steve Sansweet, a fellow StarWars.com blogger, about the latest goings at Rancho Obi-Wan.