Friday, March 12, 2010

Meet the dragons

Following is some information on the several types of dragon species that will be seen in DreamWorks Animations How to Train Your Dragon, directed by the Lilo and Stitch team of Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois:

The rarest and most intelligent of the dragon species, the NIGHT FURY is distinguished by its dark color and piercing yellow eyes, as well as its smaller size, heavy chest and short neck. Possessing the largest wing-to-body ratio of all dragons, it can fly higher, faster and longer than any dragon, and its incredible power-to-weight ratio renders it capable of vertical takeoff. Yet, all that grace in the air translates into clumsiness on the ground. Its unconventional fire (a semi-solid mass alight with an acetylene/oxygen flame) explodes its target on impact. Its signature attack mode is executed after sundown and from high altitude—enwrapped in its wings, it dives like a bullet, pulling up at the last moment to deliver one precise and explosive burst…then vanishing back into the darkness. The only warning is the ballistic noise the diving Night Fury makes. Its kamikaze attack, along with its cautious behavior and analytical mind, makes the Night Fury a devastating opponent with an extraordinary success rate. To date, no Night Fury has ever been brought down.

Don’t be fooled, because the beautifully colored DEADLY NADDER—displaying tropical palettes as vivid and varied as a parrot—is also extremely dangerous. It is flighty, aggressive, and has a quick and explosive temper, which is made all the worse by its preening vanity. Its attack is two-pronged: it can breathe pure magnesium (the hottest dragon fire) hundreds of yards; and it can whip off a load of lethal spikes with a flick of its tail. This—along with the fact that its danger in the air is topped by its danger on the ground—makes it one of the most difficult dragons to fight. Carried by muscular and quick-moving legs, it can also fan spikes on its body and defend itself with its crushing crossbill beak. Its head also doubles as a battering ram, capable of knocking down all but the sturdiest walls and doors. Its weak point is its eyesight – because its eyes are on the side of its head, the Deadly Nadder suffers from a huge blind spot right in front of itself.

The flagship of the dragon species, the MONSTROUS NIGHTMARE is the most visually terrifying and iconic of known dragon species. The mostly red and black Monstrous Nightmare is violent, stubborn and tenacious, first to arrive and last to leave a battle. It is gifted with exceptionally good vision and extendable wings that make it appear even bigger, intimidating its enemies. It can attack on the ground (clinging to walls and utilizing its gigantic mouth and long horns at close range) as well as in the air—even though its enormous wings make it slow-going on land and its size renders it an easy target. That is compensated for by its armory of spikes and its greatest weapon, a kerosene gel fire. This heavy, sticky fire coats surfaces and seeps into cracks and trenches, making it nearly impossible to put out. Its strategy is to coat itself in fire from nose to tail and attack its enemy as it burns.

The GRONCKLE is distinguished by its robust body and relatively tiny wings that can flap with tremendous velocity, endowing it with the ability to fly backwards or sideways. The Gronckle loves to sleep, and can sometimes be seen dozing off in flight or piling on top of its peers, creating a giant heap of sleeping dragons. It divides its day thusly – Flying 1%. Eating 5%. Complaining 10%. Sleeping 84%. While attacking, the Gronckle smashes and crushes enemies with its extendable tail, capped with a mace-like ball, or by using its head as a battering ram. But deadliest is its fire—hundreds of pounds of ingested rocks are melted into lava, which is combined with oxygen (from breathing) and propelled like a flaming cannon ball at its attacker. Its Achilles heel is its terrible vision, sometimes even mistaking rocks as its eggs and sitting on them, waiting for them to hatch.

The most unusual of the dragons, the HIDEOUS ZIPPLEBACK is easy to spot (and easy to figure out where it got its name): just look for the two heads, each on separate necks that can “zip” together. While it’s the longest dragon, it also has the smallest wings, along with short, stocky legs—so it’s neither great in the air nor effective on the ground. Little matter, as its unusual attack is especially lethal. Instead of breathing fire, one head produces a flammable gas, while the other ignites it with a spark. It can, therefore, attack from remote locations, with the gas seeping into corners and crevices before it is ignited. Its physical shortcomings and dull mind have contributed to this beast’s near extinction. Its greatest strength—two heads—is also its greatest weakness, as the two separate and limited minds often disagree, leaving it stalled and vulnerable. Likewise, multiple Vikings can confuse and defeat it. Male Zipplebacks often egg themselves on until they blow themselves up—females are more reasonable and live longer.

Of all known dragons, the TERRIBLE TERROR is both the smallest in stature and the most numerous in population. Even though it travels in packs, it loses the advantage of its large numbers by constant infighting, rather than focusing on creating a cooperative plan of attack. This renders them ineffective in battle, so they scavenge for food instead of hunting for it. Because the Terrible Terror cannot fly great distances, it attaches itself to larger dragons for free rides. This dragon’s high rate of reproduction and its non-confrontational attitude towards humans have allowed it to thrive, despite its disadvantages. Although there are reportedly thousands of Terrors, it is rarely sighted—some Vikings go their entire lives without seeing one.

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