If you want to see Nick Fury, you first have to make it past the table covered in arms.
At least, that's the experience MTV News had when we went behind the scenes at New York's Madame Tussauds to get an exclusive sneak peak at their brand-new wax figure — based on Samuel Jackson's character from "Marvel's The Avengers."
Winding your way through the back of Madame Tussauds, the world-famous wax museum, which specializes in eerily accurate replicas of celebrities, is like seeing a Disney character with their head off. Literally.
But we were there on a mission, to get a sneak peak at the leader of S.H.I.E.L.D. himself. The whole figure — new to the New York Madame Tussauds and created expressly for exhibit here in the city — won't be unveiled to the public until this weekend's New York Comic Con. We got a chance to check him out first, in the flesh (or wax, if you will). As we winded our way past the limbs and bodies, we entered a back room... And there he was.
Honestly, the experience is akin to meeting Sam Jackson, if Sam Jackson just sort of glowered at you instead of yelling at you the same time. We later joked with Petra van der Meer, the figure maintenance manager who made this figure, asking her if the figure ever sassed her like the real Sam Jackson ("I don't know what you mean. Sorry, I'm Dutch," said the extremely affable van der Meer), but if the figure did come to life, we wouldn't have been surprised.
Van der Meer wasn't there just to deal with our terrible jokes, though. She also filled us in on the fascinating process of making the figure. Turns out, the Nick Fury figure used to be a Samuel Jackson figure made in 1999, and was completely altered to become Fury.
It all started back in Prince's favorite year to party, when Tussauds welcomed Jackson for a session they call a "sitting."
"Sitting is two hours a whole team of sculptors, color artists, photographers, spend with a celebrity to take as much information back to the studio as they can," said van der Meer. "It's over 250 pictures from every part of the body. It's all the measurements. They measure from ear to ear... The color artist takes color samples so they work closely with oil palettes, look at the celebrity, and mix up the tone that are later used to put on the skin, on the wax."
From there, the figure is built. In this case, Jackson is a wax head, a fiberglass body, fiberglass hands, and replica clothing. For the "restyle," Petra and team worked closely with both their U.K. studio, which provided exact replicas of the clothing Jackson wore in the Marvel movies, and Marvel Studios itself. After multiple rounds of approvals, the figure was ready to be resculpted from Sam Jackson, and into Nick Fury.
The biggest challenge? Fury's scar, which took multiple tries to get right. "To get the scar right, to really get the scars in the right position, because Marvel has to approve everything, it has to be right there, it has to be spot on," said van der Meer.
Not so challenging? Jackson, who hasn't changed that much since his original sitting in 1999. "If you look at recent pictures of him, he's doesn't change that much. In his character, it's pretty much the same Jackson from a long time ago," said van der Meer, laughing.
And after months of work, Nick Fury is ready to unveil to the public, something that van der Meer has been looking forward to for a long time. "[I'm excited to see] the whole thing together," said van der Meer. "When you work on the head for a long time, and then the clothes, when you put the whole thing together, it's a very nice thing for people to see."
You'll be able to see the full Nick Fury figure at Midtown Comics' booth #1736 at New York Comic Con starting Thursday at 3:30 p.m. After that, it will take up permanent residence at Madame Tussauds' Marvel Super Heroes 4D Experience in Times Square.