Pierce Brosnan is perched on a podium in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Impeccably dressed in his James Bond best, a Walther PPK pistol cocked ready for action, ever-vigilant, poised in a never-ending search for super-villains. All 1.85-metre of the most perfect piece of prime spy hunk - or almost all of it, anyway. Just then Steve Swales walks into the hotel carrying the missing bit. He starts to flap it about above his head, waving Brosnan's missing left hand in the air. Swales fixes it just so, standing back to scrutinise the full illusion - all of which, as master sculptor for Madame Tussaud's, he has painstakingly crafted, every last wrinkle, eyelash and hint of stubble. More than 2.5 million visitors troop through Madame Tussaud's in London each year, the capital's top tourist attraction. The company has also successfully launched similar wax museums in Amsterdam and Las Vegas. Now the eerie effigies are coming to Hong Kong, with Brosnan providing a taste of the famous (and infamous) who will haunt the Madame Tussaud's due to open at the Peak Tower in August. We all know he has feet of clay, within months he'll have a head to match: Jackie Chan is the first Hong Kong Chinese celebrity asked to sit for the wax museum. Despite being ousted by Anna And The King star Chow Yun-fat in the Hong Kong popularity stakes, especially after the married kung fu star admitted fathering a child by former Miss Asia, Elaine Ng Yi-lei, he remains an instantly recognisable Asian icon. Madame Tussaud's spokesman Juliet Simpkins said Chan's recent bad press would not change the group's plans. 'We are non-political and non-judgmental,' Simpkins says. Swales spent two hours with Chan last week, sizing all his measurements and taking hundreds of photographs. Next he will sculpt a life-size clay bust of Chan, from which a plaster cast will be taken and then filled with a mixture of beeswax and vegetable wax, ultimately creating a final fibreglass model. Photographs of his eyes will be blown up 100 times, so every fleck of colour and tiny red vein can be exactly reproduced, using dozens of layers of acrylic paint on glass. A team of artists will work to capture the subtleties of Chan's skin tone via a painting technique honed to perfection over hundreds of years. Each hair will be inserted by hand, one by one, until the thick Chan thatch is complete. Like all the other Tussaud's wax figures, his hair will be washed several times a year and his skin regularly checked for signs of wear and tear. More than 100 figures will be on show in Hong Kong, including likenesses of Bruce Lee, Jiang Zemin, Deng Xiaoping, Elvis Presley, Mick Jagger, Tina Turner, Winston Churchill, William Shakespeare, Luciano Pavarotti, Madonna, Marilyn Monroe and Princess Diana. There will also be a scaled-down version of the famous Chamber of Horrors, a centrepiece of London's Tussaud's, where all manner of medieval nastiness is graphically depicted. Madame Tussaud's is like an exclusive club and many would-be stars have volunteered to be recreated in wax only to be politely rejected. Some celebrities have offered vast amounts to buy their likenesses - but such requests are always turned down. Others have tried various tactics to get the sculptors to trim a few kilograms or erase a few lines from their replicants. Mother Teresa was one of the few people to say no to a sitting. Every British monarch since George III has posed for the museum - in the case of Queen Elizabeth II, about 17 times. The company was established more than 200 years ago. Madame Tussaud - then Marie Grosholtz - was a daughter of the housekeeper for Swiss sculptor Dr Philippe Curtius. He noticed her nascent talent for sculpting and taught her the secrets of creating wax models. They moved to Paris in 1770 and opened an exhibition of famous figures there. 'By the time she was 17, she had already done models of Voltaire and Benjamin Franklin,' Simpkins says of Tussaud. 'In those days, before photographs, television and magazines, the only way ordinary people could see what royalty and famous people looked like was in wax museums.' Tussaud became a feted celebrity, eventually invited by Louis XVI to teach art to his sister, spending nine years at the Palace of Versailles. When the revolution came, she was thrown into prison, destined for the guillotine, before being granted a last-minute reprieve on the condition that she make death masks. She was forced to collect the severed heads of her friends, the king and Marie Antoinette for two, and make a mould of them from which to create wax masks. These gruesome masks were used for propaganda purposes and are still on display today. In 1802, Tussaud left her husband, packed up her tools and two sons and headed for England. 'She was a woman in her 40s, completely alone, she didn't know how to speak the language,' Simpkins says. 'For 33 years she toured her wax figures around the UK. Then she set up a permanent exhibit near Baker Street Station, which is where we still are today.' Simpkins says each wax figure represents an investment of about US$50,000 (HK$389,000) and the current Tussaud's team includes about 100 sculptors, painters and inspectors. There are no rope barriers or glass around the models and customers are encouraged to take photographs with themselves wrapped around the stars. There is one exception: Naomi Campbell. Her bust was being pawed too often by ardent admirers and is now fenced off from the public. 'Some of the stars who have sat for us are very busy people,' Simpkins says. 'I remember Bob Geldof was very hard to pin down, it was around the time he was doing Live Aid. John McEnroe remarked that his likeness was much quieter than he was.' And eagled-eyed former prime minister Margaret Thatcher spotted that her favourite ring was missing and demanded a copy made. 'Some people who are in the public eye for a long time come and sit for us again,' she says. 'Winston Churchill did 13. Mrs Thatcher did four. We are vigilant about how people change. But for some figures, it's better to keep them as people remember them at the height of their fame.' Thus it is the young, handsome Elvis who will inhabit the Hong Kong museum, not the rhinestone-studded, drug-addled, bloated buffoon from his last sad Las Vegas days. 'Madame Tussaud was an amazing woman,' Simpkins says. 'She lived to be 89, and was involved in the business right to the end. She was a great artist, knew how to stage a great show, and she was also a shrewd businesswoman. How many companies are 200 years old, still flourishing and still bearing the name of their founder?'