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!

Dragon Sports Teams

Photo Courtesy - http://hockey-blog-in-canada.blogspot.in/2010/09/reptiles-and-rampage.html

Photo Courtesy – Hockey Blog in Canada

I told myself I would upload this blog this week but was going through a bit of a writer’s block. This had in part to do with all the sports that was on TV. You know what it’s like when you’ve settled down for a nice long, lazy weekend. You can hardly motivate yourself to get food. Last minute panic made the idea bulb go off. How about teams that have dragons as their mascot? Et voila! My blog topic of the week!

Baseball –

Sichuan Dragons, China

Chunichi Dragons, Japan

Dayton Dragons, U.S.A.

Basketball –

Jiangsu Dragons, China

Welcoat Dragons, Philippines

Football –

Dublin Dragons, Ireland

Dudelange Dragons, Luxembourg

Delft Dragons, Netherlands

Barcelona Dragons, Spain

Los Angeles Dragons, U.S.A.

Ice Hockey –

China Dragon, China

Verdun Dragons, Canada

San Antonio Dragons, U.S.A.

Dragons de Rouen, France

Rugby –

Engadine Dragons, Australia

St. George Dragons, Australia

St. George Illawarra Dragons, Australia

Shellharbour City Dragons, Australia

RC Dragon Brno, Czech Republic

Catalans Dragons, France

Newport Gwent Dragons, U.K.

Soccer –

AS Dragons, Democratic Republic of the Congo

AS Dragons FC de l’Ouémé, Benin

Dragón FC, Equatorial Guinea

Darwin Dragons SC, Australia

A.S. Dragon, Tahiti

AS Dragon, Guadeloupe

Chesapeake Dragons, U.S. A.

Jersey Dragons, U.S. A.

Thomasville Dragons, U.S. A.

C.D. Dragón, El Salvador

I had no idea there were that many teams. You should check out the dragon teams in Lacrosse, Cricket and various other sports! I’m off to see if I can follow the careers of some of the more fascinating teams on this list.

How to Train your Dragon Halloween Costumes

Halloween is just around the corner and it is time to get your costumes ready to trick or treat. Some of you may have planned and executed a fabulous costume months in advance. But for those of you who are trying to catch up and get a costume ready in time, here are a few Halloween costume ideas for your kids inspired by the movie How to Train your Dragon (HTTYD).

If your kids are HTTYD fans, they will love dressing up as one of the movie characters this Halloween. To get them into the mood and to figure out which character excites them, get your child to play a game of How to Train Your Dragon, or, if you have the time, grab some popcorn and sit down to watch the movie to find the right fit.

HTTYD Characters

A few of the popular HTTYD characters are Hiccup, Astrid and Toothless Night Fury. Here’s how you can dress up like them this Halloween!

Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III

Hiccups’ costume is easy to put together. You start with brown pants and a green shirt. Hiccup’s belt can be replicated by using brown scrap fabric. You need to get your kid a pair of boots if he doesn’t have one yet. The fur vest and fur on the boot can be made using coarse brown felt. You can also go ahead and cut a V-slit on the front of the shirt and run a brown string through it for a more authentic look.

Toothless – Night Fury

A sweat suit in solid black works well for this little costume project. This is the easy part. Next, you need felt material to make Toothless’ big eyes. It can be sewn onto the hood. Likewise with the horns. Batting can be stuffed into it and sewn before you attach it to the hood. All that’s missing is the dragon wings, and here’s a simple way to make your own dragon wings.

Astrid Hofferson

A lot of details go into Astrid’s costume, so it would require more effort than the other two costumes. A striped top and a pair of leggings can be bought from the store. You will have to work on the rest – from the boots and head band to the skirt and armor. You can put together the entire look by following this comprehensive how-to tutorial.

Happy Halloween Pumpkins

Attribute – “Happy Halloween!!” by binkley27 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

While these costumes are available in stores they might be sold out this close to Halloween, in which case you can easily whip up these costumes in time for Halloween night.

How to Train your Dragon – The Book Behind the Movie

How To Train Your Dragon 2

Photo by: howtotrainyourdragon.com

With How to Train your Dragon 2 taking the box office by storm, it’s time to go behind the scenes and take a look at the book series that inspired the phenomenally successful movie and its predecessor.

A Quick Look at How to Train your Dragon the Book

Set in the fictional world of Vikings, How to Train your Dragon is a twelve-part series of children’s books, written by British author Cressida Cowell and published by Little Brown and Co. in the United States and Hodder’s Children’s Books in the UK. The first book in the series appeared in 2003 and was a runaway success. The latest instalment in the series came out in 2014 and has won critical as well as commercial acclaim. In addition to the projected movie trilogy by DreamWorks Animation, the books have also spawned several short series and an animated TV series by DreamWorks Animation.

All the books in the series, narrate the adventures of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, son and heir of the appropriately named Stoick the Vast – chief of the Tribe of the Hairy Hooligans, a warlike Viking clan.

3 Major Characters in How to Train your Dragon the Book

  1. Hiccup Horrendous III

Hiccup is the unlikely protagonist and hero of the Vikings-and-dragons saga, thin, red-haired and intellectual. He speaks Dragonese and is only saved from nerdiness by his excellent swordsmanship. Hiccup owns two dragons – the hunter Toothless and the flier Windwalker. A bite by an evil Vampire Spydragon leaves him paralyzed on the left side of his body.

  1. Fishlegs

Wimpy, squint-eyed and asthmatic Fishlegs is the unlikely hero’s unlikely best friend, but his enemies would be rash to underestimate him. Fishlegs can be cunning when it matters and extremely dangerous in full-fledged battle. Unlike Hiccup, Fishlegs doesn not have aristocratic blood running in his veins – his mother, the daughter of a Murderous Tribe chieftain married an ordinary fisherman. He owns two dragons – Horrorcow a Basic Brown and Deadly Shadow, a three-headed dragon that can emit lightning and flames and camouflage itself when the need arises.

  1. Stoick the Vast

Hiccup’s father and Viking chieftain is a typical warrior – strong but fat and not over-burdened with intelligence. Like any Viking warrior of noble birth, Stoick owns three dragons – Bullheart, Newtsbreath and Hookfang. He is as different from Hiccup as it is possible for a father to be. His character is much the same in the movie series, though the book does not really focus on the strained and complex father-son relationship.

Reading the book series only whets your appetite for How to Train your Dragon the movie! Can’t wait for the third one!

Dragons you can hope to see in How to Train Your Dragon 2

 

While some of your favorite dragons from How to Train Your Dragon will be back, you’ll get introduced to some new ones too in the sequel – How to Train Your Dragon 2. The adorable pets will definitely ensure that your movie experience will be a rocking one!

Toothless

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Hiccup befriends this Night Fury dragon in How to Train Your Dragon when he injures Toothless in a dragon slaying fight. He cannot bring himself to kill the little feline looking dragon and instead nurses and helps him to recover from his wounds. The two start bonding and Hiccup finally names his pet ‘Toothless’! Hiccup creates a makeshift tail-wing that he can use to direct Toothless as they fly together. However, when Astrid discovers this new found friendship between Viking and dragon, she threatens to spill the beans. The duo takes her on a ride through the clouds and the sky, leaving her mesmerized. Eventually, when the rest of the village comes to know of this relationship, Toothless proves his loyalty and love for Hiccup by rescuing his friend from a Monstrous Nightmare.

Stormfly

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Stormfly is Astrid’s pet dragon and we’ll see her in the same avatar in How to Train Your Dragon 2 too. We first met the Deadly Nadder in A Hero’s Guide to Deadly Dragons. She was locked up in the film for Dragon Training, but was eventually released by Astrid when the entire dragon race was fighting against the Red Death. We see Astrid riding on the Nadder, along with the other young Vikings and their dragons, in the climax scene of How to Train Your Dragons 2’s prequel.

Barf and Belch

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Ruffnut and Tuffnut’s Hideous Zippleback dragon has two heads named Barf and Belch. The twin headed dragon has trouble deciding which head goes in what direction and in focusing on one target. However, unlike their owners, the heads can cooperate with each other and work together. Ruffnut and Tuffnut ride upon the Zippleback to fight with the Red Death, just like Hiccup’s other friends.

Thornado

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Photo Courtesy – How to Train your Dragon Wiki

Combining Thor and Tornado, you have Stoick’s dragon Thornado! He is a Thunder Drum dragon who first appeared in the Dragons: Riders of Berk episode of How to Pick Your Dragon on October 3, 2012. He has also made brief appearances in Portrait of Hiccup as a Buff Young Man, What Flies Beneath, Breakneck Bog, and Gem of a Different Color where he and Academy dragons work together to save Hiccup and Toothless from the Outcasts. Will we finally get a glimpse of him in How to Train Your Dragon 2?

Wait till How to Train Your Dragon 2 releases on June 13th to catch your favorite dragons and Hiccup back in action!