Beads of sweat start prickling at your skin as the fiery hot dragon breath warms your face. You can feel the leathery, scaly dragon hide as you pat your new pal on its ginormous bumpy forehead. Some Vikings might think that dragons are a bit of a problem—that they’re even meant to be slayed—but three How to Train Your Dragon movies later, and you know better. As majestic as dogs are, man has a new best friend—and it’s a dragon.
DreamWorks Animation introduced the world to Toothless, the elusive Night Fury dragon, and Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), the fearless Viking who befriended him, on the big screen in 2010 with How to Train Your Dragon, followed by 2014’s How to Train Your Dragon 2. Distributed by Universal Pictures, the fantasy saga follows the story of Hiccup as he goes against the traditions of his tribe when he trains a dragon he’s supposed to kill, proving that everything his people think they know about dragons is wrong.
There’s a star-studded cast, including the voices of Gerard Butler, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Kristen Wiig, Cate Blanchett, and Kit Harington, to name a few. The first two films were both Academy Award nominees for Best Animated Feature Film in 2011 and 2015, respectively, and the sequel won the Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature Film in 2015, among other awards.
The third and final installment in the trilogy hits theaters on Feb. 22, and it is full of glorious new dragons and villains. In How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, Hiccup is all grown up and living in a world in which dragons are vanishing. A new villain named Grimmel is on a mission to hunt every dragon into oblivion. Hiccup discovers that his buddy Toothless isn’t the only Night Fury around, and they set out to find the mythical Hidden World, a secret safe haven for dragons that his late father told him about. It’s time for them to fight for their freedom.
MEET THE CHARACTERS
Of course, Toothless is back, but our adorable dragon friend is in for some romance this time around. Light Fury is a new dragon in town—and she’s just as rare and intelligent as he is.
“She’s a variant of the Night Fury species, and she and Toothless develop an immediate bond that continues to grow throughout the film,” Universal Brand Development (UBD) says.
And what’s a hero without a villain? Enter Grimmel. He doesn’t believe dragons and humans should live in harmony, and devises an evil plot to exterminate any and all dragons he can’t control.
“Grimmel believes that he has driven all the Night Fury dragons into extinction, and once he discovers Toothless, he moves Toothless to the top of his list to eliminate,” UBD says. As powerful as dragons are, they’re no longer safe. Battles will arise between good and evil, and viewers will find themselves on the edge of their seats as they root for their favorite characters.
RESONATING WITH FANS
Over the span of three movies, fans watched Hiccup grow from a young boy who didn’t know his place in the world to a strong, respected leader. What began as an unlikely friendship between an adolescent Viking and a fearsome dragon turned into a life-changing friendship and an epic adventure, ultimately making How to Train Your Dragon a coming-of-age story that appeals to fans both young and old.
“It is this epic action-adventure story, but it is also grounded by this powerful and heartwarming bond between Hiccup and Toothless,” UBD says. “The overall theme is about finding the wisdom to let go, which taps into an emotion that all fans can relate to and embrace.“
As the movies come to an end, the fun doesn’t have to. Kids can bring the adventure home with a series of imaginative new toys and games, helping the story live on.
THIS MERCH IS ON FIRE
The success of the franchise inspired a medley of How to Train Your Dragon merch—ranging from video games to bedding and action figures—to fully immerse fans into a dragon-inspired world featuring the characters they know and love, and the newcomers too. “Toys are very popular, as fans around the world love to play out their favorite scenes and train their own dragons,” UBD says.
Fans can expect new products from Spin Master, Funko, Playmobil, Ravensburger, and more. Spin Master’s collection includes glow-in-the-dark features, dragon-glow effects, and color-changing technology. Playmobil, a partner since 2017, introduces “a strong line to support key-story arcs from the DreamWorks Dragons franchise and film,” UBD says.
Build-A-Bear Workshop released Toothless and Light Fury plush with the option of adding sound chips to each, as well as a special edition Toothless plush with bioluminescent fur for a shiny dragon glow.
There are also books, such as The Art of How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, from Dark Horse Comics. Returning publishing partners include Simon & Schuster, Readerlink, and Bendon in North America. The publishing program features storybooks, activity books, early readers, and more.
While Outright Games will collaborate with Universal Games and Digital Platforms for a new console game, the brand will also see a new mobile game for fans to take along on their adventures. DreamWorks Dragons: Titan Uprising is a new mobile game that launched globally on the App Store and Google Play. Developed by top mobile game studio Ludia, also in collaboration with Universal Games and Digital Platforms, DreamWorks Dragons: Titan Uprising is a match-three puzzle role-playing game. Fans can hatch and nurture their own brood of dragons, from small-scaled babies to towering Titan Wings.
Kids and adults alike are in for a wild ride as the gates to the hidden dragon world are about to burst open, and fill our world with the majesty of these high-flying friends.
Check out more of the Dragon merch here!
This article was originally published in the Pop Insider’s Winter 2019 Issue No. 2, click here to read more!