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’!

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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!

How to Train Your Dragon themed Birthday Party – Part I – Food

Birthday parties are an intrinsic part of any kid’s childhood. As a little child, I still remember the birthday parties we had at home – while our courtyard would be full of multicolored balloons and streamers (courtesy dad), mum would be entrusted with the all-important task of baking the birthday cake (chocolate-flavored since that was my favorite). The neighborhood kids would come over, we would have a gala time playing fun games like passing-the-parcel, musical chairs or pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey and wind up the party with a home-cooked meal comprising of pizzas and ice-cream, or something similar.

Cut to the present. Birthday party themes are the rage these days. Kids want an elaborate party that is planned right down to the last detail. So while themes like ‘fairy princess parties’ would mean fairy wings and wands for each girl who attends, twinkling fairy lights to decorate the venue, pink lemonade and pink frosted cupcakes, ‘superhero parties’ are all about flowing Superman capes, eye masks and face paints, accompanied with war cries at regular intervals (but of course).

Along the same lines, movie-themed birthday parties have become popular among kids too. My kids at home are big fans of the How to Train Your Dragon series ever since they watched the first movie of the series. Lately, I’ve been thinking if we could throw a dragon-themed party for my son’s birthday, which is still three months away. Here are a couple of dragon-inspired cake ideas I came across as a result of my research on the same subject.

A Dragon Birthday Cake

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It goes without saying that in a How to Train Your Dragon themed birthday party the main attraction has to be the dragon cake. Have a look at this video o know how to go about making a Toothless cake or this Stormfly cake for those kids who are fans of Astrid’s pet dragon. A layer of chocolate buttercream icing over the body of Toothless gives the ideal finish to the Night Fury cake. A sure shot way to bring a whole lot of oohs and aahs from the kids would be to stick the candles to be blown out in Toothless’ mouth – after all, he is the ferocious fire-breathing dragon, isn’t he?

Dragon Muffins or Fiery Cupcakes

Chocolate muffins work best for the Toothless look. The topping can be made of buttercream as before or even ready-made vanilla frosting. Cover the chocolate muffins fresh-out-of-the-oven evenly with the frosting of your choice. A good idea is to cover the frosting with Oreo cookie crumbs to give a scale-like impression of the dragon’s body. Green and yellow food dyes can be used to give color to the eyes on the cupcake. Freeze the dyed frosting for a couple of minutes to be able to easily cut out the eyes and add them onto the cupcake. You can use melted chocolate to mark out the pupils on the green eye. And you’re done!

Similarly, using orange, red or yellow colored frosting instead of the Oreo crumbs topping, one can get the look of cupcakes which are on fire.

To add to the spread, check out this previous post on dragon cocktails (you would need to convert these into mocktails for the kids’ party) and also dragon desserts (though if you manage to come up with a fantastic cake and muffins as mentioned above, these shouldn’t be required as such).

More ideas on the dragon-theme inspired birthday party coming up in the next few posts!

3 Adorable Dragons in Dragon Games

Dragons have captured the imagination of the masses for centuries. In the recent past, they have become a big part of popular culture, making regular appearances in books, movies and video games. With references in so many places, it is quite understandable that these creatures have been depicted in different ways by different people. However, whether in dragon games or ancient lore, they are most often portrayed as fierce, scary-looking, formidable beasts. They often wreak destruction on land, though it is not uncommon to find benign dragons that form friendships with human beings. It is far more uncommon, on the other hand, to find a dragon that is remotely ‘cute’, so to speak. That has slowly begun to change. Huggable dragons with big eyes, delicate features and rounded spikes are no longer outrageous – some of them are incredibly popular! Just take a look at these three cuties that are also stars on dragon games, and you’ll see what I mean.

Spyro

Spyro

Sundet & Spyro – better quality” by vages is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Spyro is the star of the dragon game ‘Spyro the Dragon’. He is an adorable young purple dragon that is stubborn and courageous in spite of his tender age. In the game, all the dragons in the realm are attacked by a spell from Gnasty Gnorc, and only Spyro escapes due to his size. He sets off to save the dragons and confront Gnasty Gnorc. ‘Spyro the Dragon’ was followed by several more dragon games starring this adorable, fire-breathing beast. It’s tough to tell what is cutest about this dragon, but there’s no doubt that his kind and brave heart add to his charm.

Yoshi

Yoshi is perhaps the most famous of all the dragons that have ever appeared in a video game. If you are one of the very few who don’t recognize the name, I must clarify. Yoshi did not make his debut as the star of a dragon game. He is Mario and Luigi’s friendly sidekick in Super Mario World, and since his first appearance has been part of several other Nintendo games, including a few revolving around him. The bipedal, chubby green dragon is cuteness personified. There is an ongoing debate as to whether Yoshi is actually a dragon or a dinosaur. While in his early appearances he was commonly accepted as a dinosaur, in ‘Super Mario Galaxy 2’ he signs a note as ‘Yoshi the Space Dragon’. The fact that he is a ‘space dragon’ would explain why he is missing some of the common features associated with regular dragons, such as wings.

Toothless

This friendly dragon first made his appearance in the animated movie ‘How to Train Your Dragon’. He reappeared on screens in the sequel ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’, where a more defined personality added to his charm. Toothless has appeared in several dragon games since his movie debut and is extremely popular with fans of the franchise. He does not resemble most dragons, and looks positively benign. He does not have sharp spines anywhere on his body, but he does have a deadly blast.

Are there any other cute dragons that you can think of? Comment and let me know!

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.

5 Things You Didn’t Know About How to Train Your Dragon

Photo Courtesy – School of Dragons

Photo Courtesy – School of Dragons

The second installment of the Vikings-and-dragons trilogy hit theaters this June and DreamWorks seems to have another winner on its hands. How to Train your Dragon 2 has memorable characters, exciting animation and loads of heart. But then you already knew that. So here are 5 interesting facts you might like to know about Hiccup, Toothless and the motley crew of adventurers that comprise the blockbuster flick.

  1. Toothless’ sounds – The Night Fury plays a prominent role in How to Train your Dragon and part of his popularity with audiences is due to his behavior and personality. The filmmakers made audio recordings of elephants, tigers, cats, horses and elephant seals and the voice of Supervising Sound Designer, Randy Thorn. All of these were put together to create the unique sounds made by Toothless. His personality was inspired by dogs, cats and horses; all of which happen to be extremely popular pets with children.
  2. Astrid’s Character was Created for the Movie – The refreshing romance between the two young Vikings – Hiccup and Astrid – is one of the highlights of the movie. But Astrid’s character (voiced by America Ferrara) does not exist in the books that inspired the movie. The producers felt the need for a strong female character that female viewers could identify with and Astrid fits the bill perfectly. Astrid’s is a strong and compelling personality that commands as much respect and importance as Hiccup’s.
  3. While the movie is based in the fictional location of Berk, the makers scoured several real-life locations to bring it to life. The Pacific coast inspired How to Train your Dragon 2’s water-based locations, while the wind-blown cliffs and raging seas owe much to the director’s memories of Iceland. All in all, the movie’s locations are a nicely judged combination of awe-inspiring locales and vibrant touristy places that will make you yearn to visit them.
  4. Gloria, the calm-tempered hippo of Madagascar appears in a surprising cameo role in How to Train your Dragon. Sharp-eyed audiences can spot her astride one of the dragons that surround Hiccup, Toothless and Astrid as they fly to Dragon Island. Gloria is one of the main characters in the Madagascar series, along with Alex the lion, Marty the zebra and Melman the giraffe.
  5. The movie’s original ending was changed to make it more realistic. Hiccup was supposed to survive the finale mostly unhurt but the directors felt that it would have tested audiences’ credulity too much. Since a Viking would never be able to beat the Red Death Dragon without getting battle-scarred, Hiccup loses part of his left leg, just like Toothless was parted from his left tail fin earlier in the movie.

5 Things You Didn’t Know About How To Train Your Dragon 2

As we all excitedly throng the theaters to catch a show of the latest release “How to Train Your Dragon 2”, how much do we really know about the movie? The hard work and conceptualization that have been put into the movie are well known to us, but there still remain a few secrets that haven’t been revealed yet! Let’s find out the 5 things we didn’t know about “How to Train Your Dragon 2”.

How To Train Your Dragon 2

Photo by: howtotrainyourdragon.com

#1

We are all well aware that Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois co-directed ‘How to Train Your Dragon’, while Dean DeBlois took over the sequel, you’ll be surprised to know that they were not the first choice of DreamWorks Animation. Peter Hastings was to take the director’s seat when the studio realized that his vision was shaping up to essentially attract kids, which was not the intention of the producers. The change in the decision proved to be a right move if we go by the movie’s statistics!

#2

Most of DreamWorks Animation’s movies have featured adult protagonists so far. “How to Train Your Dragon” was one of the path breaking movies where the protagonist was a child character. Though he grows up to be an adult in “How to Train Your Dragon 2” and makes us fall in love with him once again, the adorable Tom Sawyer-ish Hiccup finds the regular to be boring and looks forward to exciting adventures!

#3

Did you know the film’s animators were sent to a flight school to get trained in advanced simulation tactics to bring to us a movie that’s world class in its animation with characters who flew and moved realistically in the air? To add to that, the animators graduated with diplomas after the course! Roger Deakins, the living legend of cinematography, was roped in to be a special visual advisor for the film. This explains why almost all of “How to Train Your Dragon 2” was exclusively shot in candlelight!

#4

When Dean DeBlois was signed to direct the film, he had a vision that he wanted to transform into reality. His aim was to portray a land that everybody wanted to visit but in reality it would be difficult to inhabit, much like Iceland. The producers relied heavily on his knowledge of Iceland to capture the film’s bright visual style. Production designer Kathy Alteri also took her team to the Pacific coast in search of locations with watery landforms, colorful hills, and vibrant forests that they could realize into animation.

#5

If you ever thought Toothless resembles Stitch from Lilo & Stitch, you’re not the only one, and you’re certainly not wrong! The director duo of Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois drew inspiration from their previous directorial venture Lilo & Stitch to create Toothless! However, the biggest challenge was to come up with a suitable sound for Toothless. This explains why Toothless’ voice resembles a wide array of living beings – humans, tigers, cats, elephants, horses, etc!

And, now, if you haven’t watched the magnum opus yet, it’s time to head to the nearest 3D theater and embark on some cool dragon racing with Hiccup and Toothless.