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!

Dragons Now Race To The Top!

Friends, dragon lovers, countrymen… Lend me your ears!  Season 4 of DreamWorks’ spin-off series ‘Race to the Edge’ is out now, and has turned out to be even more glorious than expected. What’s more, the show boasts of a whopping 17 per cent share of children’s viewership in its debut month itself!

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Image courtesy: How To Train Your Dragon

What’s so exciting about the new season? Well, a couple of instances:

  • The action sequences set in the gorgeously scenic dragon-inhabited islands are seamless, to say the least. Be it skimming the ocean surfaces on their dragons, mid-air spins to escape dragon hunter arrows or just working about on their dwelling place, each scene holds so much fine detailing in it. A feast for the senses.
  • A coming-of-age tale if there ever was one. The characters are their usual selves, albeit a bit more grown up and mature versions of themselves (especially Hiccup, who demonstrates a newfound sense of responsibility and leadership in certain situations). Trials and tribulations come and go, and our characters give it all they’ve got.
  • A complete package is what this season of Dragons is – action and humor, friendships and enmities, challenges and responsibilities. Perhaps this is what makes it an ideal watch for all age groups, not just kids alone.

I’m in a bit of a quandary though; the previous season had the at times annoying, pompous Snotlout as my favorite dragon rider. However, this season it seems the ‘Nut’ twins are vying for my affection, Tuffnut in particular. Just can’t do without him and his ‘Chicken’!

3 Popular Dragon Story Books for Kids

Kids (and adults like me) have always loved dragons. Be it in books, cartoons, games, movies or anywhere else, dragons have somehow always held a charm that is impossible to go unnoticed. It may be hard to believe but we are such a staunch dragon-loving family that we have hand-made dragon eyes of all shapes, sizes and colors, both ferocious as well as friendly, peeking out at us from various corners of our home – the refrigerator magnets, on the doors of the wardrobe in the kids’ room and even a menacing pair on the door of their room proclaiming: ‘Enter at your own risk!’

Let’s talk about three popular dragon story books for kids which my kids are big fans of as well.

How to Train Your Dragon (by Cressida Cowell)

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Image courtesy: Wikipedia

First and foremost on the list has to be the How to Train Your Dragon series by Cressida Cowell. The story narrates the transformation of the quiet, thoughtful son of the village chief into an extraordinary Viking hero. Those who have watched the DreamWorks movies based on the story may not find it exactly like the movie but it makes for a captivating read nonetheless. And yes, Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III might sound like a scary character, but in the story he is the exact opposite of ‘horrendous’ – polite, kind, modest, ever ready to help. The places they explore are dangerous at times but then the Hiccup gang provides a wonderful sense of comic relief to the story, both in the book and the movies.

The Reluctant Dragon (by Kenneth Grahame)

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Image courtesy: Usborne Books at Home

Funny, cute and whimsical – this sums up the story of The Reluctant Dragon. Colorful illustrations make this picture book a hit with young audiences. The English might be a little old world for today’s kids – after all, this classic was published way back in the year 1938 – but the story remains evergreen till date. A dragon who loves poetry becomes friends with a young boy. However, the townsfolk are of the view that a dragon is a dragon and deserves to be slayed, come what may. Now it is up to the young friend of our friendly dragon to come up with a plan to save his life from the people out to destroy him. The Walt Disney movie based on the book was released as an American live action and animated film in 1941.

Eragon (by Christopher Paolini)

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Image courtesy: Wikipedia

Who knew that a polished, blue-colored stone found in the forest would bring forth something that is nothing short of extraordinary – a dragon hatchling? Along with it come all sorts of hitherto unknown magic, accompanied with dangerous enemies, including an extremely evil king. Call it fiction, fantasy, adventure or simply an amalgamation of all three, but as the story of Eragon unfolds, one is left waiting eagerly to find out what happens next as you turn the pages. The movie based on the novel came out back in 2006, an enjoyable adventure flick which the entire family can watch for movie nights at home together.

Wish to add to this list?

Dragon Classes in the HTTYD Universe – Continued

In my previous post about dragon classes as discovered by the Viking’s of Berk, I mentioned the first person – Bork the Bold – to start researching, observing and classifying dragons. We went into 3 dragon classes. This post attempts to talk about more dragons (do I need an excuse?)

Sharp Class

Timberjack_book_of_dragonsThe dragons under this class are supposed to be vain and self-obsessed. They also have a lot of pride and possess a body with sharp parts.

Some of the dragons under this class are – Timberjack, Speed Stinger, Stormcutter, Raincutter, Scuttleclaw, Hackatoo, Shivertooth and Windstriker.

Tidal Class

33fbe18f0b75e6960a72603203219519Usually found near the ocean, these dragons can very rarely use fire breath. They are larger than most dragons. Hiccup has mentioned that Tidal Class dragons can’t stay out of water for too long but it has been proven false for some of the dragons in this class.

Some of the dragons under this class are – Scauldron, Thunderdrum, Seashocker, Bewilderbeast, Shockjaw, Sand Wraith, Tide Glider, Sliquifier, Submaripper and Desert Wraith

Mystery Class

boneknapper_by_xx_nightfurygirl_xx-d5eom1vThey are aptly named ‘Mystery” Class because not much is known about them. They are hard to track and barely give you any chance to observe them. They are easily the most feared dragon class of all of the classes.

Some of the dragons under this class are – Changewing, Boneknapper, Smothering Smokebreath, Flightmare, Sweet Death, Hideous Zippleback, Snaptrapper and Sword Stealer

Strike Class

gift_of_the_night_fury_screencap___toothless_by_sdk2k9-d5dgx3mThis is my favorite class because, well, Toothless. Dragons from the strike class are extremely fast and intelligent. They have amazing firepower and intense strength. They are rare and very close to extinction. They are known to be very difficult to train, which makes Hiccup’s training of Toothless quite an underestimated feat.

Some of the dragons under this class are – Skrill, Night Fury and Woolly Howl.

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.

More About Dragons from the HTTYD Short Films

‘How to Train Your Dragon’ was one delightful movie. If you are like most people, the movie left you wanting to see more of Berk and its inhabitants and spend more time with the adorable dragons. Fortunately, fans did not have to wait too long as DreamWorks Animation soon released three short films based on the movie. Keeping with the high quality standards of the movie, the short films are a delightful way to satisfy your cravings for Berk-esque cuteness! Better still, they actually introduce you to new dragon species not seen in HTTYD, and provide additional information about the nature of these magnificent beasts.

  1. Legend of the Boneknapper Dragon

Everything the Vikings knew about dragons was the stuff of legend, and rarely if ever true. Gobber, formerly one of the most courageous dragon slayers on the island, has a similar history. ‘Legend of the Boneknapper Dragon’ expands on this theme, and tells of Gobber’s history with the elusive beast. However, none of the other Vikings have ever seen this dragon. Can Gobber’s extraordinary tales really be believed? If so, why is the Boneknapper the only dragon that is still hostile to human beings? Something is amiss, and hopefully the young Vikings will be able to solve the mystery and return to tell the tale.

The curious story of the boneknapper dragon is sure to delight fans of ‘How to Train Your Dragon’.

  1. Book of Dragons

This short film lets you imagine that you are sitting among the characters of ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ during one of their dragon training classes. Gobber explains the origin of the book of dragons, and his great-great-great-grandfather Bork’s role in authoring the book. Bork’s numerous misadventures with dragons taught him a lot about their characteristics, and he came up with the idea of classifying them based on their similarities. Along with anecdotes from Bork’s life, the viewer learns about the discoveries made by Hiccup and his friends in their adventures with dragons. The short film also introduces several dragons not seen in HTTYD, and goes into detail about the types of dragons and their characteristics. At the end of the short story, the viewer is invited to try dragon training first-hand.

  1. Gift of the Night Fury

This short film is a Christmas special, though the festival is known only as ‘Snoggletog’ in Berk. The Vikings are looking forward to celebrating their winter festival with their new pets, and are alarmed when all the dragons suddenly depart from the island. No one, including Hiccup, is able to explain the mystery, leaving the Vikings distraught. Though some consider Hiccup fortunate to have a dragon who can’t fly away on its own, Hiccup feels for Toothless and makes him a new tail fin that he can operate independently. Hiccup’s excitement is short-lived as Toothless loses no time in flying away. Where have all the dragons gone? Why is Fishlegs acting funny? And why doesn’t Toothless return when the remaining dragons do? These are the questions that keep viewers glued to their seats during this endearing film.

‘Gift of the Night Fury’ does well with the Christmas theme, using the characters of ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ to dwell on the value of selflessness, spreading cheer and friendship.

Though only about twenty minutes each, the short films are a welcome addition to the ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ franchise. The directors do a great job of taking viewers back to Berk for a brief sojourn with their old friends before returning them home to wait for the next addition to the series.

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The HTTYD short films introduce viewers to new dragon species not seen in the movie, and provide additional information about the nature of these magnificent beasts.

‘How to Train Your Dragon’ Goes on a Cruise

DreamWorks Animation’s popular animated movie ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ has fans all over the world – including the high seas! In an unprecedented move, DreamWorks formed an alliance with Royal Carribean, a world-renowned cruise line brand, to take its beloved franchises to families on their cruise liners. While the characters from Shrek, Madagascar and Puss in Boots make their appearances on several of the cruise ships, ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ is more exclusive. Hiccup and his friends entertain audiences only on Royal Carribean’s spectacular ‘Allure of the Seas’, currently the largest cruise ship in the world.

Photo by brett Jordan

How to Train Your Dragon on Ice

Allure of the Seas’ boasts of many exotic amenities, such as seven distinct neighborhoods with features including a two-deck dance hall, a theatre with 1380 seats and an ice skating rink, which is where Hiccup and Toothless perform. Fire-breathing dragons and ice don’t sound like the best of companions, but they go together rather well in ‘How to Train Your Dragon on Ice’, the ice show based on the children’s hit movie. With world-class skaters dressed in elaborate costumes to resemble the characters from the film, it is easy to believe that you really are watching Hiccup, Astrid, Fishlegs and the other inhabitants of Berk performing on ice. The team have put together an impressive sjpwan impressive perforformancepressive performance, using a variety of props and special effectst is easy to believe that you’how, using a variety of props and special effects to portray scenes involving dragons and fire. The theme is rather unusual for an ice show, as it involves a lot of combat and running about. This is reflected in the performance, which is fast-paced and action-packed. The show is one of the many creations of Royal Cruise Productions, which has another DreamWorks themed performance titled ‘Move It! Move It!’ as well as innovative creations such as ‘Ice Games’, which is based on the board game Monopoly!

What Die-Hard HTTYD Fans Should Know

The ice show may not satisfy every ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ fan, for it does have its limitations. There is only so much you can do on an ice skating rink, surrounded by audiences on all four sides, when you’re trying to re-create a movie involving dragon riders and fire-breathing beasts. While the theatrical production ‘How to Train Your Dragon Arena Spectacular’ uses a great deal of highly advanced technology to make the stage show as true to the movie as possible, nothing of that scale is attempted in this performance. It is more a blend of the story elements from HTTYD with the style elements of an ice show. That means a lot of figure skating choreography is integrated into the story, and there is heavy reliance on light to convey changes in scenery and setting. There is no real dragon riding during the show, but the cast does a great job of portraying flights on the backs of dragons in their own unique style.

All in all, ‘How to Train Your Dragon on Ice’ is a pretty fantastic performance, and fans of ice shows and ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ lovers who can bear to see deviations from the original movie are not likely to come away from the show disappointed.

How to Train your Dragon – Make your own Hiccup Costume

The stupendous success of How to Train your Dragon 2 has inspired a lot of young fans to dress up as Viking warrior Hiccup and it promises to be a popular costume this Halloween. There’s a line of HTTYD-inspired clothing out on the market, but if you’re a DIY aficionado, you might want to put together a Hiccup costume yourself. It is easy and doesn’t cost a bomb either. Check this out!

A Breakdown of the Hiccup costume

Hiccup is the 14-year-old son of the Viking chief in the first How to Train Dragon and about 20 in the second. He belongs to a warrior tribe and flies atop his pet dragon. Through most of the movie, you see him characteristically dressed in brown pants, a green mid-thigh length tunic/shirt and a fur coat that looks like an open-front vest. His accessories include Viking-style boots and hat, along with a brown belt holding a small dagger.

Putting the Hiccup Costume together

Buy some coarse brown felt or fake fur from the fabric store, cut it and hand stitch or machine stitch onto boot toppers and vest. You can make the belt out of cheap scrap fabric or fake suede cloth or use the same material as the vest. Secure fur on the boots and the belt with iron-on Velcro. If you little guy does not own a pair of brown pants, buy or borrow a pair of cargo or corduroy pants.

For the shirt, check out Walmart or Target for inexpensive shirts in various shades of green. Cut a “V” in the neck and attach the string with an easy slip stitch. If your stitching skills are shaky, use a hot glue gun to secure the string. The “real” Hiccup had slits up the sides of his shirt, so you might want to replicate that for authenticity. Feeling adventurous? Spiff up the shirt with suede leather lacing for a dashing yet understated look.

If you don’t want to spend too much for a pair of shoes, try those inexpensive brown suede knockoff Ugg boots at Walmart or Amazon. A plastic dagger for your little warrior can be bought at any dollar store. Top off this cool How to Train your Dragon outfit with one of those cute Viking hats that dollar stores stock in plenty, but if you can’t find one there, it’s available on Amazon for a few bucks.

All told, the How to Train your Dragon 2 Hiccup costume shouldn’t set you back by more than 30 dollars.

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!