IT’S not often our clown prince Johnny Vegas is lost for words… But even the Thatto Heath motormouth was dumbstruck when he came face to face with this wacky penguin statue.

The 5ft artwork - situated on Church Street opposite the Sefton Arms pub – is inspired by the funnyman’s larger than life image.

On Monday the Benidorm star posed for pictures –– while cheered on by pub goers and watched by eager autograph hunters. But husky-voiced Johnny admitted that even he was speechless when he gave the artwork the once over.

He told the Star: “I’m dumbstruck really – I never really expected it to be on such a grand scale.

“Whether it’s captured my good looks I’m not sure…but I think I’ve got a better bum than him, his is a bit too round.”

He joked the character could put him in contention for a future Batman movie…if directors are looking for a new penguin villain!

But he’s also wondering what townsfolk will make of ‘Penguin Vegas’ and how it will go down with town centre revellers.

Choosing his words carefully, Johnny, 38, added: “I’m sure there will be quite a few pictures taken with people alongside it.

“And there’ll be few funny things put on the internet about it, too!”

Artist Tony Bishop, 50, who grew up in Thatto Heath, was the man tasked with capturing the comedian’s characteristics in the flightless bird.

The father-of-two painted the design – featuring a Saints kit and goatee beard – in the conservatory of his Windle home.

And he’s running a competition on the Facebook group page (Johnny Vegas penguin) to find who can come up with the best photograph of themselves with the bird statue.

The statue forms part of a colony of penguins that will be on display for seven weeks in a trail leading from The World of Glass, Church Square and Church Street.

Leisure chiefs hope they will draw plenty of visitors and Christmas shoppers to boost traders.

Organised by Wild in Art - creators of the Go Superlambananas that proved such a big hit in Liverpool - the characters have been created by professional artists, schools and communities.

Eight other 5ft penguins are featured as part of a trail, including Dream Penguin (based at the The World of Glass), which has been created by local artist Kerry Machin and inspired by the award-winning public artwork at Sutton Manor.

St Helens Council secured £20,000 of from the European Regional Development Fund and the North West Development Agency to participate in the Go Penguins.

No council tax money has been used to fund the project.