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Lord Ace of the Fictional Lands

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Prop Making 2013 - CinderClaw the Terrible Terror and Skyspear the Deadly Nadder

At the beginning of the year I went to see How to Train Your Dragons Live and had a super great time. I left the show wanting my own giant animatronic dragons, but that's a little… beyond me, so I decided instead to make some small dragons and cosplay as Hiccup at San Diego Comic Con.

I wanted Nur to cosplay with me and he eventually agreed and we went as Book!Hiccup and Movie!Hiccup. (I was going to be Movie!Hiccup and I tried to get him to cosplay Astrid, but for some reason he refused. Huh.) This post is going to show how I flailed around for ages and eventually created two small dragons to carry around as we cosplayed.

Warnings: 55 Images!! Some swearing! Rambling!

This is the first design I made. This was from early January. Originally, both were going to be a Terrible Terrors, because those are the smallest of the dragons from How to Train Your Dragon (movie-verse thus far) and pretty much the perfect size to carry around with me. One was going to be a marionette, one was going to be a hand puppet. I had a lot of ideas bouncing around here. Some I kept, but some like blinkable eyes on the hand puppet and retractable tongues were eventually cut.

You can see a little doodle for my Jack staff at the top too!

These are from March. I told myself I couldn't start actually making my dragons until I finished all my cosplay for for Fanime, but I still worked on the designs ever so often. By this point, I'd decided to make one Terrible Terror and one baby Nadder and I had named them, CinderClaw and Skyspear.

Final on the sketchbook designs. These are from April. Things are a tiny bit clearer by this point and I wasn't just throwing everything at the wall hoping it'd stick.

June! Time to start on these two! I decided to work heavily on CinderClaw first. I only had a month and a half to make both of the dragons and I'd rather have one completely done than two half-done. And CinderClaw was first up because he was the first design and he was going to be the dragon I was going to carry around. It's selfish, but I'm the one making them, if we only had one, I wanted it to me "MY" dragon. Book!Hiccup's Toothless isn't a Nightfury, it's pretty much a Terror, so I wanted my "Toothless."

Anyway! I drew out a basic version of CinderClaw so I could figure out the sizes of the different parts of his body. I cut out sections of paper to use sort of like patterns.

I made his head out of upholstery foam, elastic, and some plastic mesh (on the inside to help give the head shape). The white bits are plastic armature. VERY expensive, but VERY nice. A lot of the armature pieces are similar lengths and I didn't want them mixed up, so I labeled them with painter's tape.

I couldn't put the armature together myself (there is an expensive tool to do it that I did not buy), so I taped it together for the time being. I also put a joint in the jaw to help it open cleanly.

Checking the eye positioning. I bought half-spheres from U.S. Plastic Corporation and painted them. I haven't gotten any pictures of it, but CinderClaw's eyes glow in the dark slightly. I just loooooove me my glow-in-the-dark paint.

Made him a torso out of upholstery foam. He looks like a dragon-corgie with his short little legs!! By this point, my mom and dad had helped me put the armature together. Thank-you!! ♥ If I plan on using this type of armature again, I'll just buy the tool and avoid the frustration!

Decided the foam was not giving me the form I wanted, so I started wrapping him in quilt batting. Muuuuuch better.

Now his muscles are all here.

I made wings out of steel wire and a netting material and drilled holes in the wing armature for them to fit in. Terrible Terrors have spikes along their backs, so I used worbla for those. I also reworked his head, making it much rounder and chopping off most of his nose spike. The joint in his jaw is gone, it made the mouth to hard to open. It was replaced with more elastic.

And all of a sudden he looks a lot more dragon-ish! I made his claws, horns, and nose spike out of Sculpy, roughed them up a bit with my pocket knife and some sandpaper, then coated them with a varnish. I simply hot glued all the pieces except the back spikes to him. The back spikes were sewn/tied in best I could. NOTE!!!!!!: The hot glue WAS NOT the best choice. It worked GREAT for everything on the head, but the claws fell off often. I'm not sure what the best way to attach them would be, I used super glue later and even that did not always play nice. Oh! And! As an extra precaution with the horns, I used elastic tied around them and then each other and then hot glued in place. It helped keep them nice and sturdy.

Skyspear makes her first appearance here! Originally I was planning on finishing CinderClaw first, but progress was coming along pretty well, so I decided to start her too. Nur was gone one day and I just sat in front of the tv for many hours, trying to build her. I had a lot of trouble with the head because the back of it goes into this heavily-spiked frill, but eventually it worked out. Her tail is most of one of those wiggle snake toys and swings really nicely when she moves. I had way too much trouble trying to get the tail to stay straight and so it swings at an angle instead of side to side, but it works!! Her legs are only connected to her torso at the top since I wanted them to be able to forwards and backwards. She was designed to be a marionette, after all.

Like CinderClaw, her spikes and claws were made of Sculpy. She has a lot more than Cinder!! Her frill alone has 13 spikes. Nur helped a lot making these. They were roughed up after they baked, then the claws (dark brown) were varnished and the spikes (beige) were painted a couple times with different browns (which were then wiped away so only a bit of color remained in the cracks) to give them more of a natural horn look.

Skyspear is looking a little more dragon-ish! Her eyes were made the same way as CinderClaw's.

From the back! Deadly Nadders have a dew claw/back claw that makes it hard for Skyspear to sit down, so she always has to sit in weird ways, poor girl!!


With the bodies of both my babies formed, it was time to start putting their skin on. I covered their heads in duct tape to make patterns. I couldn't do this on CinderClaw's body because the tape would have harmed the quilt batting and I didn't do it on Skyspear's body because ???? I don't remember, to be honest. I think it might have had something to do with her claws.

I had also bought a plastic viking helmet I wanted to use for Book!Hiccup. My Book!Hiccup is based off of Nico Marlet's AMAZING early Hiccup sketches, so I was completely basing my helmet off of his design. The white is just craft foam glued on.

I used scrap fabric to make a pattern of CinderClaw's legs. I glued Cinder's wings into the holes I had drilled into the wing armature. I had written notes all over both dragons' heads so I knew what I was cutting/where things would go once I cut the pattern off their heads.

I made Skyspear wings out of thing aluminum tubes. They are very light, but they break really easily. I would not use them again. The tape is there so if they break the wing will not fall completely apart. I did not use netting like I had with CinderClaw because it ended up not having a use and just got in the way.

When this was taken, I had made large… uh… rivets out of Sculpy that I then glued to my helmet (bottom left).

This was taken on the 4th of July, so I had about two weeks to finish everything on the dragons and costumes. Gah! I don't remember being that freaked out at the time, but looking back I'm freaking out a bit? How was I not freaking out then?! I was working on my helmet again. I fully repainted the horns white. It took many coats because I wanted to try to cover the big "MADE IN CHINA" embossed on the sides.

I used a hammered bronze spray paint on the helmet.

Then some black, copper, and teal to age the helmet a bit. I painted the tips of the horns brown.

I assembled it and clear coated it a million times. I think I'd like to repaint the horns at some point.

CinderClaw finally has all the patterning fabric on him. I gave him some eyelids, because it would be weird without them.

Skyspear also got eyelids and has all the patterning on!

This is CinderClaw's body pattern. I'm not very good at making patterns. I wanted to use a very short-pile minky so they would be super soft, but I couldn't find one I liked and settled for the beige sueded fabric you see here.

Skyspear's pattern is all cut out and pinned on! BOO! SHE'S A GHOST!

All of a sudden… PANTS!! The pants for both Hiccups were simply pants we bought from Target and I threaded a leather cord along holes I cut on the side. These rubbed our legs REALLY BADLY. I covered the inside of my pants with surgical tape the second day I wore them and they felt fine, yay.

Shortly after I took this picture, Dyson pooped on Nur's pants. Hahahaha, yuck.

Book!Hiccup's vest (still going off of the Nico Marlet version) has a bit of a gradient to it, and I spent a while one afternoon painting and wildly brushing my vest and boots so they could have that sort of gradient. The brushing was so the fur would still be soft and not clump together! This is the before shot.

Annnnd this is the after shot. Sorry the lighting is ten kinds of terrible. I wasn't able to get a strong gradient, but the colors on the ends are different enough from the middle that I'm happy with it.


Pinning everything tightly on Skyspear and gluing bits here and there (mostly around claws and spikes), some with hot glue, some with super glue.

Now her skin is all on properly! She kept losing a claws though, poor girl. "Where is one of Skyspear's claws today and why do they keep falling off" was a frequently played game with her.

Pinning everything on CinderClaw!

He's all sewn up!! Yaaay!! Good boy, Cinder!! This was taken at like… 1am after many MANY hours of sewing him. I don't even know why he took so long! CinderClaw is a handpuppet, and that little flap on his belly right before his front legs is where you can put your hand in. There's velcro to hold it closed most of the time.

Both of my cuties, getting close to being finished! It's a little hard to see here, but I used puff paint along Skyspear's tail to give her the tiny baby-versions of the spikes Nadders have on their tails. There's a little puff paint on her nose ridge as well, because there are some big scales there.

Went to my parents' place with my babies one morning. Taped up Skyspear's eyes, spikes, horn, and claws.

Did the same for CinderClaw.

It was airbrushing time.

After a while of "WHAT AM I DOING WHY DIDN'T I PRACTICE USING THIS FIRST??" I got a base coat on both dragons.

Then a second coat on Skyspear.

And a second coat on CinderClaw.

I guess Skyspear doesn't like being on the ground? I had masked zig-zag patterns on her tail with painter's tape, which I then took off to see.

They're finally are colored properly!

Went back to my parents' place a few days later to make their mouths. I made patterns with paper, then cut out the real things in worbla.

There are CinderClaw's teeth.

The shaped mouth interiors (shaped using a heat gun) with minky tongues.

More airbrushing!

Skyspear's teeth were made out of Sculpy, then hotglued to her mouth.

It's gonna be a little bit of a squeeze getting it in there correctly!

Top and bottom were glued in and she's got her mouth all done!

Awww, such a cute silly girl! CinderClaw asks, "Where are my teeth??"

One more shot of Skyspear's mouth of big teeth! I added a little pearlescent paint in the mixture of her body color, so she has a slight sheen to her skin. (Side note, don't have a picture of it, but I painted over the puff paint spikes on her tail so they stand out from the blue and purple of her skin.)

…Cinder still wants his teeth.

ALRIGHT BIG BOY! HERE YOU GO!!! ♥ I put some minky in his nostrils before putting his teeth in so they wouldn't be blank dark holes.

So… that's how I made my two dragons.

Already posted these in the SDCC post, but...

Photo taken by Chelsea Lauren/WireImage/Getty Images, reposted without permission.
This is how everything looks together!

I want to note that I had planned to make Skyspear a marionette, but it just didn't work out well, so she was just held during the convention. I bought a basket which I slightly modified to be my dragon basket (from the books) and I was able to not only store snacks and water bottles in it, but Skyspear in there when Nur went back to drop stuff at the car. So useful!

And CinderClaw, Skyspear, and the Toothless plush I made a couple years ago are all friends!

I know it keeps all of you up at night wondering what my dragons are like, SO:

-CinderClaw is sort of between dragon teenage and adult ages. He doesn't like big crowds or new people. He enjoys quiet time and has a quick temper. (Physical Notes: Because of the armature in him, he's extremely posable!! His head tends to droop because it's a bit heavy, but all the other joints hold their position VERY well and he's really easy to carry. I like to wrap his tail around my arm as I hold him in my hands!)
-Skyspear is a baby and EVERYTHING IS EXCITING AND WHO IS THIS? WHO IS THAT? I LOVE EVERYONE! She's really like a hyperactive puppy. (Physical Notes: Like I said earlier, it's hard for her to sit because of her back claws, so she has to be propped up. Her tail swings a lot and her feet move pretty freely and I think she's SO CUTE because she always looks super happy.)
-And my Toothless is the best Toothless. But he is very quiet. He likes cuddling. He's my con buddy, I take him to almost every convention I go to. (I couldn't talk about the other two and NOT say something about my Toothless!!)

-Both Hiccup costumes: ~$110, 8-10 hours
-Both Dragons: ~$100, 60-70 hours (not including planning time)

I did buy an airbrush and airbrush paints for the dragons, but I've used it for other projects and will continue to use it for other projects and did not include it in the project total.

Making the dragons was REALLY hard, but holy shit I learned a lot and both of them make me SO HAPPY whenever I see them. I already want to make more!! I'm hoping to make at least plush of the other three main dragon species (Nightmare, Zippleback, and Gronckle) before the second movie comes out and I fall in love with all the new dragons they're sure to introduce! I hope this post helps anyone who was thinking of making something like these two!
Tags: cosplay, how to train your dragon, photos
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