Wallace and Gromit have a close shave in the wrong taxi

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The Independent Online
New York was on red alert last night after Wallace and Gromit, the stars of three animated films, went missing after they were left in the boot of a yellow taxi-cab.

The stars of A Grand Day Out, A Close Shave and The Wrong Trousers, arrived from London on Saturday for a promotional tour with their creator, Nick Park.

The Bristol-based film-maker said that he failed to retrieve the suitcase containing the Plasticine pair from the boot of a taxi after it sped off in a hurry outside the Righa Royal Hotel.

An appeal was made to all police stations in the city and New York's Taxi and Limousine Commission agreed to hunt for the missing models, who leapt to international stardom following Park's imaginative portrayal of their down-to-earth northern charm and original approach to life.

Mr Park, who earlier this year announced that he would make no more films about Wallace and Gromit, was said to be devastated at the loss of the puppets. "I feel as though I've lost my best pals," he told reporters last night.

There may, however, be a chance that the indomitable duo will come to their own rescue

The Oscar-winning models were the originals from A Close Shave and consisted of Wallace on his motorcycle with the faithful Gromit in the sidecar. The motorcycle can turn into a fighter plane, is able to drill through brick walls and has a machine gun that fires very thick porridge at a high velocity. The boot of a taxi is hardly likely to defeat the pair who have already seen off a homicidal robotic dog and a larcenous penguin that dresses up as a chicken.

The motorcyle-cum-fighter-plane originally cost pounds 6,000 to build, but the market value of it and its occupants is feared to be far higher if it were to fall into the wrong hands - or trousers.

Last night, police sources said that the fate of the two puppets bares an uncanny resemblance to the kidnapping of television stars Bill and Ben - the flowerpot men - who went missing from the BBC's studios in 1983.

The verbally-challenged pair turned up a year later at a London auction house, and were returned to the BBC. In a tearful interview afterwards, Ben spoke out about his unrequited love for Little Weed and how he had attempted to alert the police during the ordeal, but couldn't make himself understood over the phone.