Dragon Easter Eggs – The In Thing

Spray painted dragon Easter eggs are the easiest and quickest to make. Just get hold of some plastic or thermocol (polystyrene) eggs and spread a layer of glue on their surface. Now prop the eggs up in an egg holder and allow your kids to paint them all over in bright hues (spray painting is a good option too, although a little messy). Once dried, invert the egg and do the same with the bottom half. When the egg is fully dry, use craft glue to stick on random, odd baubles here and there on the egg – after all, dragons can have weird, yet good-looking eggs, can’t they?

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Wicked Easter” by nicubunu is licensed under CC by 2.0

DreamWorks Dragons fans have a whole lot to choose from: Spray paint the egg a smooth blue and you have a Deadly Nadder egg; a yellow background with red spots could be a striking-looking lava-like Eruptodon egg or simply a black egg with bands of silver paint on it could be a ferocious Razorwhip egg. As many dragons, that many possibilities.

Just make sure all the eggs are hard-boiled before you get around to painting on real eggs!

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How to Train Your Dragon 3 – This Time, Next Year

When both Hiccup and Stoick tend to harp on something, one just has to agree.

In Hiccup’s words: ‘I’m not allowed to say anything. This is what I’ll say, and for whatever it’s worth I do swear that this is not just promo nonsense. It’s by far, the strongest of the stories (of the 3). It’s the movie that the series requires and deserves and it’s the rightful third chapter or third act, I should say. I don’t think anybody will be disappointed.’

In the meantime, Stoick said: ‘So I have How to Train Your Dragon, which I just did my bit on and it’s so beautiful I think it might be the best of the lot.’

Needless to say, we are talking about Jay Baruchel as our Hiccup and Gerard Butler as our Stoick in question.

After a good number of changes in the release dates, the latest news is that How to Train Your Dragon 3 will hit the screens in March 2019 – almost this time, next year. Though Stoick the Vast, much to our dismay, sacrificed himself in order to save his son in the second movie, fans have their hopes high to catch a glimpse of him by means of flashbacks or dream sequences in the third part of the series, especially since Butler is involved in talking about the movie.

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Image courtesy: Flickr

Written by Dean DeBlois, the final film will have the much-loved voices of Jay Baruchel (Hiccup), Kit Harrington (Eret), America Ferrera (Astrid) and Cate Blanchett (Valka), amongst others. Part 2 ended with the formidable pair of Hiccup and Toothless defeating Drago and the Bewilderbeast, emerging to become the Chief of Berk. The story will pick up from there itself.

A new and villainous addition to the HTTYD3 cast is the negative character of Grimmel, voiced by Oscar-winning F. Murray Abraham. Chris deFaria, head of DreamWorks Animation Film Group had this to say: ‘We are thrilled that F. Murray Abraham has joined our How to Train Your Dragon 3 cast as the villainous Grimmel. This character brings a captivating new story line to the culmination of our trilogy. There is a gentlemanly calm to this sinister role, one that dovetails beautifully with this iconic actor’s immense range and talents.’

Having amassed approximately $1.1 billion worldwide at the box office, the first two films together also hold the distinction of three Oscar nominations – one for John Powell’s original score for the movie in Part 1 and the remaining two for best animated feature film. Time will tell how Part 3 will fare but if the fan following and hype are anything to go by, it is well poised to surpass its prequels in terms of popularity.

Nevertheless, the culmination of the endearing franchise is bound to break many, many hearts. The last leg of the story is touted to be a duel to the end – where man and dragon both make the hard decision to do what is best for their kind. Will it lead to them going their separate ways? Predictably yes, and (un)happily ever after!

Chinese New Year Crafts for Kids – Lanterns & Dragons

The Chinese New Year is almost upon us and it’s a wonderful opportunity to spread cheer and good luck all around us in true Chinese style – by means of simple DIY handmade lanterns and dragons. Here are two fun Chinese New Year crafts that you’ll enjoy making with your kids this spring festive season.

Make a Lantern

The 15th and final day of the Chinese Lunar Month Spring Festival celebration is significantly known and celebrated as the Lantern festival. It falls on March 2 this year. Since red is considered to be a lucky color for the Chinese, here’s how you and your kids can make a simple red lantern and set it up at home for the occasion.

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Chinese Lantern” by rejon is licensed under CC by 2.0

Get two rectangular sheets of construction paper, one red and the other yellow in color. From the short end of the yellow paper, cut off about 2-3 cm and roll up the remaining into a cylindrical tube form, taping it up so that it does not open up. Next, the red paper needs to be folded exactly into half lengthwise, followed by using a ruler to draw straight lines parallel to each other from the folded end to the open end about 2-3 cm apart from one another. Using a pair of blunt scissors, carefully cut through the drawn lines and open up the folded red paper. Wrap it uniformly around the yellow tube from the first step and tape it into place. Punch holes on two of the upper sides, insert a string in it and hang up your very own lantern to spread cheer all around!

Make a Dragon

The dragon dance is a highlight of the Chinese New Year celebration. It is believed that the longer the dragon is in a Chinese New Year dance parade, the more luck it will bring to the people of the community. Why not try bringing some luck home too with your very own dragon? My kids love playing dragon games and I’m sure they’ll find this simple dragon craft exciting.

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Chinese Dragon” by grin is licensed under CC by 2.0

For this dragon craft, you will need discarded household items that usually end up in the trash in addition to paint, such as cardboard egg cartons and bare toilet paper rolls. First of all, cut the egg carton into pairs (the two compartments that hold eggs together). These egg holders will act as the menacing scales on the body of your dragon. For added effect, it could be a good idea to get your little one to paint the egg carton holders and the toilet paper rolls in his favorite color (preferable the cartons one color and the rolls another). Use glue to stick the egg carton scales onto the toilet paper rolls (the more rolls you have, the longer your dragon’s body will be). Next, draw eyes on one pair of egg holders to indicate the eyes and use two full egg holders glued on back to back to make your dragon’s head with the eyes stuck on top. Insert a long ribbon into the toilet paper rolls and also attach the head by poking a hole through it and your dragon is ready to hang on your front porch to scare (read: spread luck) to all and sundry passing by!

As they say in Chinese, Gung Hay Fat Choy – wishing you all great happiness and prosperity in the New Year!

A Must-Have: How to Train Your Dragon Toys

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Image courtesy: Playmobil

Fans of DreamWorks Dragons now have a new reason to rejoice – they can have Hiccup and Toothless perched upon their desks while reading and pretend they are Vikings alongside the duo in Berk! How? Well, Playmobil has come out with a brand new line of toys based on our favorite characters, which look as realistic (if not more) as the TV series and/or movies.

All you’ve got to do is to get your hands on one of those impressive blue boxes and assemble the pieces. The DIY assembly isn’t a tedious task at all; in fact, it is super exciting to, say, snap on Toothless’ wings or set up the 145-piece village of Berk, replete with a concealed trapdoor, cute mini dragons and majestic-looking statues with hidden treasures.

Hiccup, Astrid and even Drago the villain are included amongst other Vikings with their dragons in the extremely well-designed sets. The attention that has been given to detail is immense, which is evident in the likeness of these physical characters to their movie and Netflix counterparts. Pirate ships, flame darts, flight shields, battle helmets, fire blasts from Toothless and wonderfully illuminated LEDs glowing on his back spikes – these are just a few of the reasons why a DreamWorks Dragons lover should own these sets. Can’t wait to get my hands on them myself!

How to Make a Simple Toothless Halloween Costume

Since Toothless became such a loved character all around the world, I’ve come across several parents of newborns dressing up their babies for their first Halloween as Toothless, on the basis of the literal meaning of the word – without teeth. And why not? After all, Toothless is a cute, friendly dragon – and needless to say, one of the major stars of the How to Train Your Dragon series.

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Pinata” by arqgalindo is licensed under CC by 2.0

Here’s how you can make a simple Toothless Halloween costume for kids at home. Get hold of a plain black body suit, sweatshirt or better still, a hoodie for your little one that is just slightly big for her. You would also require a roll or two of black, green, red and white felt (for the body and wings, eyes, tongue and center of the eyes respectively). Sew on two big black felt ears accompanied with two smaller ones on the hoodie cap, such that each side’s ear comprises of a bigger and a smaller part, both representing parts of one whole ear. This will somewhat resemble the structure of Toothless’ natural ear. Cut out the two green felt eye pieces in the shape of oval eyes and sew them on below the ears. A good idea would be to stuff in some cotton to give the eyes a protruding look.

Make sure the green eye pieces are big enough, as you’ll have to follow them up with smaller black and still smaller white pieces within the eye for that ‘glint’. The smallest white pieces that make up the center of the eyes can also be stuck on instead of painstakingly stitching them. Next, measure out the length from your child’s underarm to her wrist and cut out an equivalent piece of black felt. Create a webbed look at the bottom of it, sewing the non-webbed part on to the lower side of each sleeve.

The tail could simply be cotton stuffed into a rectangular piece of felt and sewn on at the bottom. A simpler and longer tail could also be made by gluing a number of discarded toilet paper rolls together and then sewing them into a piece of felt such that they trail behind, dragging a little on the ground for added effect. Don’t forget to add a red webbed felt piece at one end of Toothless’ tail… Remember the missing left side of the Night Fury’s tail fin, the prosthetic one Hiccup constructed and replaced himself so Toothless and him could glide over the seas in perfect sync with each other?

Another simpler and quicker alternative for a Toothless costume which does not involve sewing could work like this: On an oversized black hoodie, glue on 2 black felt wings on either side of the back. Similarly for the eyes – if you’re in a hurry or short on time, do away with the sewing and simply use fabric glue instead. Black felt spikes glued all the way from the top of the cape to the bottom of the tail look realistic enough and are super-easy to do. For added effect, cut out spikey white teeth from thick cardboard or white felt and glue them on the underside of the hoodie.

And thus arises the question which comes up in my mind every now and then: Toothless has menacing teeth.  Retractable yes, but when Hiccup met him for the first time, he was greeted by a mouthful of not-so-welcoming set of teeth. The next time they met, there seemed to be no teeth at all – just gums. In this case, our beloved protagonist could have just gone ahead and named his dragon Tooth-full and not Tooth-less. Wotsay?

Last but not the least, have a look at this video of my favorite scene of Hiccup and Toothless – their expressions are just so adorable!

The Harry Potter Dragons – Part II

In the last post here, we talked about the wild Common Welsh Green and the Chinese Fireball dragons. These formidable creatures were faced by Fleur Delacour and Viktor Krum, the first two champions of the Triwizard tournament. But for Harry Potter fans like me, the more interesting ones are those faced by our very own Hogwarts champions – Cedric Diggory and Harry Potter.

  1. Swedish Short-Snout

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Image courtesy: Weasyl

While the book says this dragon is silvery blue in color, the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire shows it in a yellowish hue. As the name goes, the Swedish Short-Snout is believed to be a native of Sweden, with an average length of about 22 feet. It prefers to live in its natural habitat of wild and uninhabited mountain areas.

Long and pointed horns along with an extremely hot yet beautiful (from afar, of course!) blue flame are its characteristic features. Cedric Diggory decides to use Transfiguration – turning an object into something else altogether – to divert its attention. He transfigured a rock into a dog and managed to momentarily divert the Short-Snout’s attention, but then got a bit burnt in the process of retrieving the golden egg, costing him points.

  1. Hungarian Horntail

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Image courtesy: Wikia

According to Charlie Weasley who studies dragons in Romania: “I don’t envy the one who gets the Horntail. Vicious thing. It’s back end’s as dangerous as its front.” It was but obvious that our protagonist would have to face this most vicious of all the four dragons. And Harry Potter did precisely that.

An over-sized lizard with black scales and yellow eyes, the Hungarian Horntail is known for its deadly tail with protruding spikes. With a flame that can reach close to fifty feet, this dragon could prove to be lethal in most cases. The gravity of the situation can be gauged by Hagrid, the dragon lover calling it: ‘a right nasty piece of work’. The Summoning Charm worked perfectly for Harry and got him his broomstick to get past the dragon to its egg. His quidditch skills also helped a great deal in tricky maneuvers.

Given a choice, which dragon would you pick to get past safely? I would any day prefer virtual pets or even real pets over dragons of any shape, size or kind!

 

The Harry Potter Dragons – Part I

It is only fitting that we talk about Harry Potter when September 1 is upon us. What’s more, it’s not just any September 1; we are talking about the September 1, 2017. The closing lines in the epilogue of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows say: “The scar had not pained Harry for nineteen years. All was well.” September 1, 2017 is the post-nineteen years date that Rowling was talking about. The new generation of Potters, Weasleys and Malfoys are now on their way to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for their official entry into the magical wizarding world.

Since our blog is about people meeting dragons, let’s talk about the four ferocious creatures which exist in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the fourth book of the series. We’ve talked about friendly dragons in story books, School of Dragons with dragon riders and sun-eating solar eclipse dragons in the past. But these dragons in the Potter books seem to be more ferocious than the entire lot of the others put together.

Here are the first two dragons faced by two of the champions of the Triwizard Tournament.

  1. Common Welsh Green

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Image courtesy: Wikia

When Harry surprisedly asked Ron to confirm that there weren’t any wild dragons in Britain, he replied: “Of course there are. Common Welsh Green and Hebridean Blacks. The Ministry of Magic has a job hushing them up, I can tell you. Our lot have to keep putting spells on Muggles who’ve spotted them, to make them forget.”

A native of Wales, this relatively subdued, two-horned breed of dragons has a surprisingly melodious roar and emits fire in narrow jets when angered. It enjoys eating sheep and other smaller mammals. This was the Common Welsh Green dragon Fleur Delacour of Beauxbatons faced for her first task in the Triwizard Tournament at Hogwarts. She put the beast into a partial trance of sorts in order to retrieve the golden egg. In the process, the fire-breathing dragon snored, resulting in the hem of her robes catching fire.

  1. Chinese Fireball

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Image courtesy: Wikia

Popularly known as the Lion Dragon and native to China, the Chinese Fireball is characterized by a rich scarlet skin with smooth scales along with yellow blazing eyes. Viktor Krum from Durmstrang had to face this creature as a part of his task to get past the dragon and steal the golden egg. He decided to temporarily blind the dragon using a conjunctivitis curse. In the process, the dragon ended up crushing some of its own eggs, due to which Krum lost a couple of points.

With protruding eyes, golden spikes around the head and face and flaming nostrils, this Fireball gets its name from the large mushroom-shaped ball of fire it emits when annoyed. The story goes that it is also fond of eating mammals similar to the Common Welsh Green, preferably humans and pigs. Needless to say, the gigantic creature weighing between two and four tons is a force to reckon with.

For those of you who aren’t very familiar with the storyline, in a nutshell here’s what the Triwizard Tournament was all about. In the next post, we’ll talk about the remaining two dragons faced by the Hogwarts champions at the Tournament.

The Sun-Eating Dragon is On Its Way

On August 21 this year, the sun-eating dragon will make its appearance. And the spectacle is bound to be frightening, beautiful or frightening beautiful; depends on how you choose to look at it.

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Eclipse” by Buddy_Nath is licensed under CC by 2.0

The word ‘eclipse’ has its origins in the Greek word meaning ‘abandonment’. Come solar eclipse, and the sun suddenly abandons the earth – light begins to fade, a disc of pure blackness slides across the face of the sun and the birds stop chirping altogether. In the early days, the ancient Chinese would bang on pots and drums and create a clamor, apparently to frighten away the dragon that ‘ate the sun’. Astrophysicist David Dearborn rightly noted: “In many ways it makes sense that eclipses would be seen as bad omens. For most early cultures, the sun was seen as a life-giver, something that was there every day, so something that blots out the sun was a terribly bad event, filled with foreboding.”

In a total solar eclipse like the one that is occurring this August, looking directly at the sun is akin to looking at moonlight. But beware – the rays can remain dangerously bright even though they may appear faint, so one should use special eclipse glasses while observing the sun.

From the point of view of science, this is what will happen in the total solar eclipse – the moon will pass between the earth and the sun and for about 2 minutes and 40 seconds, blocking out all or part of the sun. According to Thomas Zurbuchen from NASA’s Science Mission Directorate: “These cosmic moments where nature speaks to us in an emotional way, sometimes come loud, like thunderstorms, storms, hurricanes and earthquakes, but this one… will be silent. Day will turn into night and back again.”

 

The Land of ‘How to Train Your Dragon’

Welcome to ‘How to Train Your Dragon land’ at Motiongate theme park in the heart of Dubai! If the pictures and videos doing the rounds are anything to go by, then this exciting space is as magical as the movie characters and their Viking escapades.

‘Camp Viking’ is an interactive playground within the DreamWorks section of the park wherein kids can run amok, armed with crawl nets, water guns and other dragon training tools. Then there’s a suspended in the air, inverted roller coaster of sorts with twisting seats called ‘Dragon Gliders’ stationed above the village of Berk replete with scenery befitting the Viking village, which, in the words of the makers themselves, is ‘storytelling through the use of technology at its very best’.

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Image courtesy: TravellerCzech

Last but not the least, the third major attraction is the gondola-shaped ride called ‘The Swinging Viking’. With this, you can embark on a hijacking adventure with the mischievous twins Ruffnut and Tuffnut, and hold the ship to ransom. This is as real to the reel story as it can get; rest assured, we all know where we are heading to for our family holiday in the next vacation!

Pet Dragons, Anyone?

Last weekend, my son had a declaration to make on the dinner table to the entire family. His best pal in the neighborhood had a pet dragon (apparently), and so he couldn’t for the life of him figure out why he wasn’t allowed pets of any kind, dragons or otherwise. We’ve had a strict ‘no pets’ policy at our place since the beginning, due to various factors. However, as the little tyke said, it was high time we ‘changed our policy’. As for me, I was more interested in what type of ‘dragon’ the neighborhood friend had as a pet.

When I first heard of it, I was pretty sure it must be one of the following: either a dragon toy car or animal which could be pulled by a rope behind you (we played with these types of rope toy steam engines back as a kid), a tortoise which looked like a dragon (since I couldn’t imagine any other domesticated pet which would resemble a dragon even remotely), one of the dragon-like animals from the pet games that are the rage with children of all ages these days, or simply a non-existent, make-believe creature which held pride of place only in their imaginations. Little did I know that the ‘dragon’ being referred to was actually a real pet. What’s more, it was a dragon, in the literal sense of the word. A bearded dragon at that.

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Image courtesy: Shieldsink

For those of you who still didn’t get it, let me throw some more light on the neighborhood dragon pet. I did some research on the creature and here’s the gist of it all. A bearded dragon is nothing but a lizard species. These ‘beardies’, as they are lovingly called (though why in this whole wide world would someone refer to lizards lovingly at all escapes me), are supposed to be low-maintenance, easy-to-nurture pets, especially for kids. Originating from the Australian subcontinent, they get their names from the flat spines on their throat area.

Reasons why bearded dragons are ideal for a pet, according to the neighborhood mum who, I now learnt, was also averse to pets of any shape or size till the recent past: First and foremost, they stay awake when humans do and sleep at night, unlike certain other species of lizards. Two, they are known to live for at least a good 8-10 years, under normal circumstances. Three (which was a very important factor for her kid while choosing his pet), they come in a variety of colors – brown, red, yellow, orange. All in all, they are hardy yet docile creatures which are good for the purpose of companionship (which I assume meant that if you just wished to say no to your child for a high-maintenance puppy, go for this bearded dragon).

I admit I’m still not fully convinced welcoming a beardie or anything else within the four walls of my house. One, I don’t think a pet lizard is cute from any angle whatsoever. Two, I’m convinced that my son will simply grow bored of his pet sooner rather than later and then the responsibility of looking after it will automatically be transferred to his lizard-fearing mum. Last but not the least, there are tons of things I would rather do instead of looking lovingly into the eyes of a supposedly adorable lizard.

Thankfully, there are lots of like-minded people like me out there. For instance, have a look at this article which talks about destruction and pets combined. Amen.