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Wallace & Gromit aim to inspire young inventors

 A child poses by a display of a scene from a Wallace and Gromit film, at the media launch of the
A child poses by a display of a scene from a Wallace and Gromit film, at the media launch of the 'Wallace & Gromit Present A World of Cracking Ideas' exhibition at the Science Museum in London March 26, 2009. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor
— image credit: Reuters

By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - The Oscar-winning animation characters Wallace & Gromit have opened the doors of their home to the public, hoping to inspire a new generation of inventors with some ingenious and not-so-ingenious contraptions.

The beloved Englishman Wallace is renowned for his over-elaborate inventions, used for anything from making Christmas cards to deterring burglars, and now children are being encouraged to follow in his footsteps.

Wallace and Gromit present a "World of Cracking Ideas" at London's Science Museum, a full-size recreation of their quaint home at 62 West Wallaby Street where visitors can play video games and study contraptions and miniatures used in the films.

As well as the good ideas -- among the favorites at a press preview were a karaoke disco machine in the shower and a barometer that chooses the right hat for the weather -- are bad ones that appear in the "Those that didn't make it" section.

They include a chocolate teapot, glass hammer and a dog food bowl made of dog biscuits.

Wallace & Gromit creator Nick Park said the idea of the exhibition, which opens on March 28 and runs until November 1, was to encourage children to try out new ideas.

"I used to come here when I was a student," he said at the exhibition. "I used to do anything that was free.

"(I wanted) to inspire kids, to show what Wallace has done as a fictional inventor," Park told Reuters.

"And because of the wackiness of Wallace, to inspire children to not think there are any rules, just start thinking up new ideas and be as wild as you can."

GREEN LIVING

Children are encouraged to pull levers, press buttons, color in their own wallpaper and come up with inventions which then move around the rooms suspended from a conveyor belt on the ceiling.

Fictional inventions by Wallace and his silent dog Gromit appear alongside real exhibits from the Science Museum.

There is an environmentally themed section, teaching children about green living, and Wallace's Collection of Curiosities, a homage to the original Patent Museum which was once on the site now inhabited by the Science Museum.

The show, a partnership between the Science Museum, Aardman Animation which makes Wallace & Gromit and the Intellectual Property Office, cost two million pounds ($3 million) to stage. Adults will be charged nine pounds and children seven pounds.

Park has won four Academy Awards, three for short animated films and one for animated feature film "Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit."

He confessed to being "gobsmacked" by his success.

"What's nice is Wallace & Gromit isn't computer animation, ... it is Plasticine and built by hand, you can see the fingerprints. I think that in some way inspires kids because you can see how it's done.

"I remember I'd watch a Disney film and have no idea how it was done because it's an illusion. I love clay animation because it's like seeing the brush strokes on an oil painting."

(Editing by Paul Casciato)

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