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!

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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 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!

Good News & Bad News for Dragon Lovers

Well, for all you dragon lovers out there, we’ve got both good news and bad news. To make you feel better in the end, here’s the bad news first. The release date of How to Train Your Dragon 3, earlier slated for 2018, has been pushed back yet again to March 1, 2019 (which, we admit, is a long time away *sob*). Notwithstanding the fact that the third movie in the series is bound to be a tearjerker of sorts, with our beloved Toothless being drawn away from his best friend and master in addition to our hero having to take some extremely difficult decisions in order to save mankind, this ‘culmination of Hiccup’s coming of age’ is undoubtedly something all of us are eager to watch.

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Image courtesy: PasteMagazine

Now, for the good news – to assuage your sadness, here’s what you should do. Come February 15, just visit the stands and pick up the brand new graphic novel called How to Train Your Dragon: The Serpent’s Heir. The best part? Its story begins right where the second film ended, so you can perhaps make do for now with the gripping tale of how Hiccup and the gang encounter a new enemy with a deadly dragon on an earthquake-plagued island. Rest assured, if the news pieces doing the rounds are anything to go by, the graphic story turns as thrilling as the films as you eventually turn the pages. Definitely some spectacular fire-breathing action in the offing!

Go Dragon Crafty this New Year

Happy Holidays to all you dragon lovers out there! This New Year Eve I was looking around for some interesting crafts to try my hand at with the kids and the Chinese New Year dragons came to mind. What’s more, I found two really cool yet simple dragon crafts while surfing the internet and decided they would make great decorations for our kids who love anything and everything dragon too – dragon games, dragon art, dragon comics, dragon cartoons and dragon everything else. Here goes, sharing them with you.

Hand Print Dragon

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Image courtesy: Activity Village

What you need:

  • Different colored chart papers (Black, blue, red and yellow)
  • Glue
  • Pencil
  • Black sketch pen
  • A pair of scissors

What to do:

Ask your child to draw out their handprints using pencil on the chart papers (at least 6). Now, help them cut out the colored hands along the drawn lines using the pair of scissors. Two legs and a tail need to be drawn similarly on the chart paper and cut out too (preferably on red paper). For the head, you could either print out a readymade dragon head template from the internet or else put your kids’ artistic skills to work and let them draw the head of a dragon, with the venomous tongue protruding out, evil black eyes marked out with black sketch pen and all. Cut this out too. Now, glue on the cut-out handprints in a line back to back, with the fingers all pointing towards one direction. The tail is stuck on at on end and the head at the opposite end, with the legs forming part of the lower section of the body. Voila! Your bright and colorful Chinese New Year dragon is ready. Simply punch in holes in the head and tail and insert a string through them to hang up the craft, or just put it up over your kids’ table using pins. Remember – the longer the handprint body, the better and brighter your dragon will be!

Paper Plate Dragon

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Image courtesy: Learn with play at home

What you need:

A paper plate

Black sketch pen

A pair of scissors

Adhesive tape or a stapler

Crayons/paints/buttons/pieces of fabric/glitter

What to do:

In the first step, cut the paper plate exactly into half from the middle using the pair of scissors. Now cut one of the halved pieces into half again – that makes it a total of 4 pieces. Now, take hold of the one-fourth cut out portion of the plate and cut out the rim part of it. Cut out the inner side of the rim into a jagged border with a pointed edge for the tail of the dragon. Ask your child to draw a dragon face – be it friendly or ferocious or both – on the remaining quarter from which the rim has been cut out. The two smallest pieces of the paper plate need to have jagged edges too, since a dragon’s body is all spiny – these would make the wings of our monster. Now, decorate your dragon – this is the most fun part of this craft activity. Your child could use anything – from paints, crayons, old fancy bits of fabric, buttons, ribbons – after all, who really knows what dragons actually looked like? All we know is that they have rough, scaly bodies so the more colorful, the better it is! Once the paints and glue have all dried up, staple the pieces of paper plate together. You could use adhesive tape to make sure the pieces hold together too. Black eyes, bulbous nostrils and a smiling mouth complete your craft! A fun dangler for the kids’ room.

Both these crafts remind me of the traditional Chinese dragon dance that forms an intrinsic part of the New Year celebrations there every year. Here’s hoping you have a ferociously fantastic New Year 2017!

Craving something sweet? Try these ‘Dragon Desserts’

Thinking of dragons, these are the words that cross my mind (and in this particular order, since we have big-time dragon fans at home) – dragon movies, Toothless, animation, my kids and their dragon games, dragon-themed birthday parties, menacing, vicious, gigantic, threatening, hair-raising, petrifying, beasts, thunderous, awe-inspiring, formidable, mammoth, thundering, desserts… Yes, you read it right. ‘Dragon desserts’ seem to be the flavor of the season, and the latest addition to this list. Menacing creatures they may be, but dragons probably have a sweet tooth as well 😉

We’ve talked about refreshing dragon cocktails in a previous post – blushing dragons, happy dragons and the like. We can do without cocktails once in a while, but without desserts? Nah! Hence, since there is always room for dessert come what may, here you go.

Chocolate Dragon Dessert

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Did you know that chocolate is ground from the beans of happiness? I had always presumed so, given its heavenly flavors. This recipe is all about crushing scrumptious chocolate sandwich cookies, adding instant chocolate pudding along with cold milk into it, stirring it all together with whipped dessert topping and leaving the mixture in the freezer for a while. What do you get as a result? A perfect, mouth-watering chocolatey concoction, which becomes all the more inviting provided you top it up with worm-shaped candies and jelly beans as mentioned here.

Dragon Beard Candy

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Similar to the popular cotton candy which is a favorite of kids all around the world, the Dragon Beard Candy (or Dragon Hair Candy as it is sometimes referred to) was first introduced in China. Stuffed with peanuts, coconuts and doused in maltose syrup, this Chinese cotton candy is threaded, chewy, rich and very sweet (everything that kids – and adults like me – would love!). Legend has it that during the Chinese Han dynasty, an imperial court chef was entertaining His Majesty one fine day by performing the steps involved in preparing a new confection; a candy composed from rice flour with a dough-like mixture which had small, thin, sticky strands. For some unknown reason, the Emperor was reminded of a dragon’s beard, and hence the name stuck. So does the candy 😛

Dragon Fruit Dessert

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This one is particularly for all those health-conscious dessert lovers out there. Pitaya, more commonly known as the dragon fruit, is beyond doubt one of the most good-looking or I should say exotic looking fruits I have ever come across. A leathery, bright red skin; sweet, kiwi-like flesh; high in fiber content as well as Vitamins B & C – no wonder this miracle of a fruit has such a weighty name! Have a look at this simple recipe involving yogurt, cream, gelatin, vanilla extract, honey and dragon fruit and you have a dessert fit for dragons, not kings!

And now, with Easter right around the corner, no points for guessing what would be the best time to tuck into these desserts!

Villainous Dragons in Popular Fiction, Movies and Television Series

While my superhero was busy maneuvering through the dragon game on his tablet, I immediately started to get visions of the dragons from books I read and the television series and movies that I watched for years. And, here I am with my blog post, on my three most favorite villainous dragons, each from a popular fiction, movie and television series.

Tiamat from Dungeons & Dragons

Dungeons & Dragons is a popular television series that’s based on the popular dragon game by the same name. The story revolves around a group of friends who are accidentally sucked into the “Realm of Dungeons & Dragons” while on a roller coaster ride at an amusement park. On their arrival at the realm, each of them is given a magical item that they have to use to find their way back home. It’s during their homeward journey that they encounter Tiamat, a five-headed dragon, who is named after a goddess on Mesopotamian mythology. Tiamat is the queen and mother of all evil dragons and one of the members in the pantheon of gods in D&D. This evil dragon can unanimously be called one of the greatest evil dragons in both dragon games and dragon series as Forbes calls Tiamat “the most fearsome dragon in D&D’s history”.

Dragon from Beowulf

Beowulf is perhaps the first known piece of English literature to present a dragon slayer as its protagonist. The dragon slayer returns to his homeland after many an adventure and becomes the king of the Geats, the people of his land. Fifty years after he reigns as a wise king, his kingdom is attacked by a rampaging dragon. Beowulf, with his troop of men, set out to defeat the dragon only to be deserted by the men because they found the dragon to be extremely intimidating. Though Beowulf himself is slain in the end, he deals the final, fatal blow to the villain and occupies the place of one of the most beloved tragic heroes in ancient literature. Though there have been instances of other fictional animals presented as villains in Scandinavian and Germanic literatures, Beowulf poet was first among his peers to combine features and create a distinctive fire-breathing dragon in the poem. Beowulf’s villainous dragon, hundreds of years later, is still an inspiration for contemporary fictions such as J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, and others.

Muddy Bewilderbeast from How to Train Your Dragon 2

Not many may agree with my choice of the third most villainous dragon in popular fiction, movies and television series but the Muddy Bewilderbeast from How to Train Your Dragon 2 has to feature right here in the list. I had never seen such a beast in any popular source of entertainment till I came across the Muddy Bewilderbeast. With large spikes protruding from back of neck, gargantuan tusks, fins around tail, and an aura that will put any contemporary, titanic villain into an existentialist crisis, Muddy Bewilderbeast possesses the power to enslave every dragon around it with its mind. Muddy Bewilderbeast’s most notable and feared ability is to exhale streams of ice-turning water like liquid nitrogen. The ice-blast can freeze anything for years that comes in contact with it and create ice masses that are far larger than its own body.

My list has come to an end but the tablet continues to work overtime with the overloaded dragon games that keeps my teenager engaged for hours!

Have a Dragon, Eat it Too!

No, no, I’m not suggesting that sort of violence where you find an exotic creature and murder it for meat. No, this isn’t a post like that. This is a post about my sweet tooth and obsession with baking shows – trash TV at its best! I was watching Sugar Stars the other day and one of their very first episodes had a Game of Thrones table with three beautiful dragon egg cakes. They were so realistic that it was hard to believe they actually were cakes and not the real deal.

This, of course, led me to this article idea. Being obsessed with fancy, larger than life cakes, I had to Google dragon themed cakes and I was blown over. The talent of some of these people is just incredible. Cake decoration is an art – albeit one that would easily be destroyed by people such as me because, really, who can resist cake.

Here are some of my most favorite ones!

Dragon Wedding CakeImage Source – http://www.pinterest.com/pin/231935449534926324/

This beautiful Disney Wedding cake with a beautiful white dragon – look at its delicate wings.

HTTYD CakeImage Source – http://www.pinterest.com/pin/169940585915281168/

This How to Train your Dragon themed cake, makes me want to go for a ride in the skies, cake in hand!

Little B Dragon CakeImage Source – http://www.littlebcakes.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Dragon-Cake.jpg

This intricate green beauty must have been the highlight of one great party!

Sweet Spoilers Dragon CakeImage Source – http://www.pinterest.com/pin/169940585915440708/

This gravity defying work of art is such a pleasure to watch and I can only imagine, a great pleasure to eat!

3D Red Dragon CakeImage Source – http://cdn.cakecentral.com/a/ab/900x900px-LL-ab3581a9_reddragon_final_withwatermark.jpeg

This intricate beauty – I can’t imagine how many hours of work went into making this. I wonder if the people for whom this was made ever felt a hesitation to cut this one up.

GIVE ME CAKE!