Wield a lightsaber, chill with Han Solo at Star Wars exhibit in Britain

A fan poses by the wax figure of Star Wars character Chewbacca at the Star Wars At Madame Tussauds attraction in London on May 12, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP 
A fan poses by the wax figure of Star Wars character Chewbacca at the Star Wars At Madame Tussauds attraction in London on May 12, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP 
Wax figures of Star Wars characters Ben Kenobi, Darth Maul and Qui Gon Yin are pictured at the Star Wars At Madame Tussauds attraction in London on May 12, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP
Wax figures of Star Wars characters Ben Kenobi, Darth Maul and Qui Gon Yin are pictured at the Star Wars At Madame Tussauds attraction in London on May 12, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP
A wax figure of Star Wars character Han Solo sitting in a booth at the Star Wars At Madame Tussauds attraction in London on May 12, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP 
A wax figure of Star Wars character Han Solo sitting in a booth at the Star Wars At Madame Tussauds attraction in London on May 12, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP 
Fans take position with light sabres by wax figures of Star Wars characters Luke Sykwalker and Darth Vader fighting at the Star Wars At Madame Tussauds attraction in London on May 12, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP
Fans take position with light sabres by wax figures of Star Wars characters Luke Sykwalker and Darth Vader fighting at the Star Wars At Madame Tussauds attraction in London on May 12, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP
The finishing touches are made to Star Wars character Jabba The Hutt and Princess Leia at the Star Wars At Madame Tussauds attraction in London on May 12, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP 
The finishing touches are made to Star Wars character Jabba The Hutt and Princess Leia at the Star Wars At Madame Tussauds attraction in London on May 12, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP 
A fan battles with a wax figure of Star Wars character Annakin Skywalker on show at the Star Wars At Madame Tussauds attraction in London on May 12, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP
A fan battles with a wax figure of Star Wars character Annakin Skywalker on show at the Star Wars At Madame Tussauds attraction in London on May 12, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (REUTERS) - Fancy wielding a lightsaber with Anakin Skywalker amidst the lava of Mustafar? Or how about chilling with Han Solo before stepping onto the Millennium Falcon ship with his Wookiee warrior co-pilot Chewbacca?

Star Wars fans can come face to face with the heroes and villains of the sci-fi universe at a new interactive experience at London wax museum Madame Tussauds, which has recreated scenes from one of the most popular movie franchises of all time.

A team of 180 sculptors, hair artists, colourists, set designers and prop makers took more than a year to recreate 11 famous Star Wars scenes, including the iconic one when Darth Vader reveals he is Luke Skywalker's father.

The new experience, complete with lightsaber sound and space visual effects, comes ahead of the much-anticipated next instalment Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens, scheduled for release in December.

The museum said it had worked closely with Walt Disney Co and Star Wars producer Lucasfilm to bring the sets together.

"We approached Lucas(film) to say we want to create an experience that's never been done before," Madame Tussauds London general manager Ben Sweet said.

"A figure would normally take around four months to make... the bigger figures such as the gargantuan Jabba the Hutt took a little bit longer and we did have to create him in a warehouse."

Jabba, one of the galaxy's most powerful gangsters, is the largest figure on display, at 2.9m long, 1.5m high and weighing 222 kilos.

The smallest is his court jester, Salacious B. Crumb, measuring 41.2cm tall.

Chewbacca took nearly 1,000 hours to make by 10 hair inserters, who used real yak hair.

Madame Tussauds said the figures cost around £2.5 million (S$5.2 million).

Fans were invited for a preview on Tuesday, ahead of the official opening on May 16.

"I'm just over the fourth moon of Endor about it, this is just fantastic," fan Richard Bennett said, referring to a moon in the Star Wars universe.

"It's like being in the movies, it's like being up close and personal."