A look at how Madame Tussauds created Pia Wurtzbach’s ‘twin’

March 28, 2019 - 6:48 PM
Pia Wurtzbach with wax figure
Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach posing with her wax figure created by the team of Madame Tussauds. (Philstar/Jan Milo Severo)

Social media users expressed their amazement at the recently-unveiled wax figure of Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach which they considered extremely realistic.

The wax figure, created by the team in Madame Tussauds, will be exhibited in the museum’s Hong Kong branch and joining the rest of high-profile celebrities like Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Madonna and Michael Jackson, among others.

Wurtzbach unveiled her wax figure in EDSA Shangri-La at Mandaluyong but it would be publicly displayed in SM Megamall on March 29, Friday.

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We're proud to finally unveil the first Filipino wax figure, none other than Pia Wurtzbach! A big thank you to our friends from the press for attending today's launch, and to our partners Cathay Pacific and Klook for helping us bring Pia'a wax figure closer to Filipinos. 👑 See you tomorrow at the SM Mega Fashion Hall for a chance to get amazing travel deals! Every Cathay Pacific ticket to Hong Kong comes with a Madame Tussauds Hong Kong pass, redeemable via the Klook app. Limited supply only, so come early! #PiaMadeIconic #PiaWurtzbach @piawurtzbach @cathaypacific @klooktravel_ph #madametussauds #香港杜莎夫人蠟像館 #madametussaudshongkong #hongkong #peak

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Filipinos were impressed at how realistic the wax sculptors have captured the beauty queen’s likeness. Some of them even exclaimed that they couldn’t tell who the real Wurtzbach is between the two.

The beauty queen shared that she felt “surreal” when she first saw the wax figure.

“I’m so happy. As a beauty queen, I know my face and I know my angles. I can say na ako talaga siya. It’s me. It feels surreal,” she said.

“It looks so real and I can’t wait for everyone to see it in person. Mas ma-appreciate mo siya pag nakita mo siya sa personal. Naiiyak ako kanina noong ni-reveal. Parang winning moment uli. Sobrang happy ako,” Wurtzbach continued.

The wax figure is wearing a replica of the iconic blue gown that she wore during her coronation night.

The magic of wax figures 

All of the wax figures in Madame Tussauds are created in its main branch in London. The eight-step procedure takes around three months to complete with an estimated number of 20 skilled artists.

It starts with a two-hour sitting with the celebrity where they take specific measurements of her hair, head and body. The team also takes photographs of her in every angle possible so that the finished product would be extremely accurate.

“Their eyes, hair and skin are also all colour matched from samples, so the team has a complete reference to work from,” their website notes.

Second, an armature is constructed which acts as the “skeleton” of the figure. This ensures that every bone and muscle of the celebrity is replicated. It also supports the clay mold that would eventually become the likeness of the celebrity.

“The head is worked on separately and can take between four to six weeks to sculpt and achieve an exact likeness of a famous face,” the website reports.

The clay is then molded into plaster for around 170 hours and then cast into a durable fiberglass. A finished molded figure would typically weigh 25 kilograms.

Strands of hair are then individually inserted which takes around four weeks, including the eyebrows and other additional features.

The figure’s head is then colored by oil paints for 50 hours, where “over 20 different colors” are used to recreate realistic skin tones. Tattoos, freckles or other distinctive marks will be hand painted as well.

The figure’s clothing is usually donated by the celebrity but in cases where it is not possible, the team would extensively research and then create an outfit considered “historically accurate and authentic in style.”

The eyes and teeth are then created meticulously for almost 32 hours, where acrylic resin and even a dental cast is used to ensure a lifelike portrayal.

Lastly, the head and hands are fitted into the fiberglass body and then the figure is dressed. It will be taken to a photography studio where it would be criticized by principal production experts, retouched and then unveiled to the public.