Obama fans wax lyrical at Red Carpet

  • Nation
  • Saturday, 26 Apr 2014

President Barack Obama may not be here to stay — but his realistic wax figure is.

THE possible security lockdown during United States President Barack Obama’s two-night visit to Malaysia may dampen your already slim chances of meeting him.

But fret not, there is a way to not only boast to your friends that you have met him but also have a picture to prove your outrageous claim.

All you have to do is head over to Red Carpet @i-City in Shah Alam and you will find the president waiting for you inside – and you only need to sneak past one Secret Service agent.

Well, if you haven’t already guessed, it’s not actually the real president!

However, it’s a strikingly realistic wax figure crafted to such extreme detail that none of your friends will be able to tell the difference.

The Obama wax figure, clad in his usual suit and tie, stands with his arms crossed at a podium bearing flags of the United States, Malaysia and other countries.

Across from Obama is a statue of his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, but at the moment no one can steal Obama’s thunder as his arrival has visitors excited.

College student Rue Chen, who visited the museum with a group of friends recently, was startled when the wax figure of the Secret Service agent turned his head to greet her.

“The wax figures look extremely realistic.

“It’s like taking a picture with Obama himself,” she said as she positioned herself for a selfie with Obama.

On her first impression of the “president”, Chen said he was handsome, drawing peals of laughter from her friends.

“On a more serious note, I think he is a very intellectual man.

“He must be intelligent to become the first African-American president for the world’s most developed country,” the 21-year-old said, adding that she would like to meet the president in person.

She hoped that Obama’s visit would promote democracy, freedom and justice in the country.

“To make his stay here a memorable one, Obama should try switching from his usual suit and tie to Malaysian traditional clothes.”

A Bruneian tourist, known only as Shah, said the wax figures were “eerily realistic”.

“When I climbed up the stairs, I thought the wax figure sitting at a distance was a real person. I will leave Malaysia before Obama arrives so I won’t be able to see him in person but at least I got to meet his wax figure.

“During his visit, I think he should try savouring the local food, especially nasi lemak and teh tarik,” the 30-year-old said.

At Red Carpet, visitors can also have their picture with Obama edited to have the background of the White House Oval Office.

I-City information manager Tang Soke Cheng said the Obama wax figure was among the favourites at the museum.

“Almost every visitor will take pictures with the Obama wax figure.

“If you search for pictures of the museum online, you’ll find the most commonly uploaded ones are those taken with Obama,” she said.

Tang expects visitors to be more curious about Obama’s history and accomplishments following his visit.

“Red Carpet introduces people to world icons, celebrities and sports heroes, hoping to ignite the curiosity to delve deeper into their history,” she said.

Citing an example of the death of anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela last December, Tang said his wax figure became more popular in the days after his death.

“Visitors spent more time at his figure. Parents even took the time to explain to their children who he was.

“I think it will be similar with Obama’s figure after his visit, as people may be more curious about his past and may end up learning something new about him,” she said.

Red Carpet allows visitors to get close and touch the figures without any rope barriers.

“We are more than a museum. We want the visitors to experience a moment with the legendary icons,” Tang explained.

A previously made wax statue of Obama was among 10 wax figures destroyed in a fire at Red Carpet in January.

Other figures that were damaged included those of Queen Elizabeth II, Mao Zedong, Nelson Mandela and Jackie Chan.

“The Obama figure was completely charred, so we ordered another figure from overseas and assembled it locally,” said Tang.

Red Carpet was relaunched on April 14, just in time for Obama’s visit.

In addition to the interactive experience, Red Carpet is set to offer visitors a chance to make their own Mini Me statues via a revolutionary 3D scanning facility, which is expected to be ready by the end of next month.

All a visitor needs to do is pose in the 3D studio for three minutes while high-tech cameras capture the visitor from all angles.

The captured images will be sent to i-City’s partner in China for graphic designers to render a 3D model of the client, which will then be printed and assembled to form a statue.

The completed product, measuring 15cm to 35cm, will be shipped back to Malaysia and delivered to the client.

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