Thursday 24 May 2018

Fancy owning your own waxwork? Wax Museum selling off life-sized statues ahead of move

Controversial: the Ryan Tubridy waxwork was said to look more like Henry Kelly
Controversial: the Ryan Tubridy waxwork was said to look more like Henry Kelly
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

Is there is a person in Ireland who hasn’t glanced at the Ikea sideboard in their living room and thought, ‘By jove! I know what would set that off nicely — a life-sized statue of Brendan Grace’?

I thought not.

Well, good news. That pipe dream could soon become a cold, hard reality.

Next month, The National Wax Museum Plus opens the doors of its new home in the Lafayette Building on Dublin’s Westmoreland Street.

The museum has had to downsize slightly — and, sadly, some wax figures will be let go.

Grace, dressed as his alter ego school boy Bottler in a peaked cap, green blazer and knee-high socks, will not be making the voyage to the new building.

Neither will Panto Dame Maureen Potter, actor Noel Purcell, and a few of the less memorable Popes.

But waste not, want not.

The proprietors of the museum are open to selling the figures for a cool €25,000 a pop.

You could probably get the real-life Brendan Grace to stand in the corner of your living room for that, but how and ever.

According to proprietor Ed Coleman, to utilise space and ensure visitors get bang for their buck, there will also be a new ‘Wall of Famous Heads’ — where statues have been downsized/decapitated.

While that might conjure up an image of a gruesome hunting gallery of celebrity heads, Ed says it will be nothing of the sort. “It will be a great place to take a photo.”

Personally, I am delighted to hear that the Wax Museum is re-opening. So many of my formative childhood memories come from there. I remember wandering into the foyer, and wondering why Barry McGuigan, Pat Ingoldsby and ET were all sat side by side. Perhaps they were friends? 

And I loved crawling around ‘The Tunnel’ which, in hindsight, may have been nothing more than a carpeted air vent.

“I’m glad you brought up The Tunnel,” Ed says.

“The Tunnel is coming back, but this time people will be crawling through Gotham City. The Tunnel was one of the most popular features of the wax museum in Parnell Square.”

While lots of the pieces are skilfully rendered — others have occasionally come under fire.

When the statue of Ryan Tubridy was unveiled in 2011, people said it looked more like Henry Kelly than Tubs.

“Look, we’re never going to be Madame Tussauds — they can turn the stuff out so fast,” Ed said. “But we are now using 3D printing and technology so we’re at the forefront of the industry.

“And visitors can get their head scanned and have their own wax figure of themselves made if they want.”

Sorry, what? “It’s the only service like it in Ireland,” he says. No kidding. 

At €30,000, getting yourself cast in wax is more expensive than buying Bottler but if you are a shameless narcissist, then I’m sure you won’t mind ponying up.

The last celebrity they sculpted was Gerry Adams, the next will be Conor McGregor. I ask if any of the older pieces will be updated.

“Like what?”

The U2 statues circa The Joshua Tree?

“But it’s the 30-year anniversary,” he says.

“We catch people in time — an image of them that the public remember. It might not be the most up-to-date, but it’s the most memorable.”

That’s true — be it Jedward and their gravity-defying hair, Bono in a fedora, or Pope John Paul II riding high on the Popemobile, these figures are like mosquitoes trapped inside amber — saying as much about the time they were preserved as about the person.

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