A life-size model gorilla dressed as Darth Vader is about to go up for auction.

The iconic Star Wars baddie has been reborn as a full size gorilla standing on all fours, measuring 140cms tall, 120cms long and 60cms wide. He comes complete with helmet, cape, a glowing light sabre and a talking chest-plate.

London-based artist Mandii Pope created the extraordinary figure as part of Paignton Zoo’s Great Gorillas Project. The project, celebrating Paignton Zoo’s 90th birthday, put a host of life-size model gorillas, sponsored by businesses and painted by specially-commissioned artists, on the streets of Exeter and the English Riviera this summer.

The Great Gorillas Project culminates with the grand charity auction on Wednesday 6th November.

The Zoo, a registered charity, is holding the auction at the Palace Theatre, Paignton. Nearly 30 large sculptures will be up for auction. The ticket-only event will be led by auctioneer Robin Barlow. To register your interest in the auction, go to http://www.greatgorillas.org.uk/about-great-gorillas/auction or telephone 01803 697509.

Mandii Pope: “Making Darth Vader was a labour of love, working at lunch times and for 3 hours each day after work and at weekends.” She was supported by Landmark Plc in London (two directors of the company live in Devon): “They let me create Darth Vader Gorilla at Royal Mint Court - without Landmark Plc I could not have done this, as he is too big to fit anywhere else!”

Mandii has exhibited in London, Dubai, Bucharest and Auckland and sold work in the South Pacific, America, Asia, Europe and South America.

Darth is made of some surprising items. His boots and gloves are camping foam, his mask features knee pads for the eyebrows and mouth and a plant pot forms the top of his helmet. You might also spot a plastic cup, a length of garden hose and an old pair of oversized 1970s fancy dress glasses. His chest box makes breathing sounds and speaks, and he wields a working light sabre.

The design was chosen and sponsored by Cavanna Homes, South West England’s largest independent house builder, who also mark their 90th birthday this year.

Let’s hope the real gorillas of Paignton Zoo - Pertinax, Kiondo, Kivu, N’Dowe and Matadi - don’t join Darth, as they could be a pretty imposing force…

Quotes It's got to be said, Paignton Zoo is hard to beat! Quotes