Introduction: Flying 'Toothless' - How to Make Your Dragon!
Completely unrelated to my other 'ible!
This is instructions to make your own FLYING 'Toothless' Nightfury dragon, from the How to Train Your Dragon movies.
My little brother is a huge fan of the films, he lives in England while I live in South Africa. It was his 7th birthday a few weeks ago and instead of ordering something online I thought I would give him (with help from Dad) a little project to make his own toy, and hopefully inspire him to design a few weird and wonderful flying machines for himself in the future.
The project should take little more than 2 hours including painting, and cost me literally nothing!
Step 1: What You Need
1. Some help or supervision using hot glue, sharp knife and scissors!
2. Some a4 sized paper and a printer, with black ink!
3. paint, cotton wool and / or a cigarette rolling paper for decoration.
4. A black polystyrene/styrofoam tray.
5. Some scissors.
6. A sharp knife, like a stanley or craft knife.
7. 4 x bamboo / wood BBQ skewers.
8. 2 x 10cm lengths of wire, easily bendable - paperclip kind of thickness.
9. 1 x Hot glue gun stick.
10. A ball point pen, an empty one is fine!
Hint - The polystyrene tray is the type used to pack fruit and veg or meat, slightly smaller than the A4 / printer paper.
Instead of using a glue gun I used a lighter to heat the glue, under a direct flame the glue does produce smoke which may be toxic, so work in a well ventilated area.
Cost of Project
I asked the butcher at my local store for the tray which he gave me for free, all the other stuff I had just lying around, I literally did not spend a cent specifically for this project!
Step 2: The Chassis
Carefully and without burning yourself, get help to glue 2 skewers together!
Glue them together length-ways then measure 1/3rd of the length of your skewers.
Glue a third skewer on top of the first 2 leaving 2 thirds of the length to overhang at the back. The length where the 3 skewers are joined is the middle, the single skewer is for the tail end and the double skewer for the head.
Edit - The 4th skewer is to re-enforce the leading edge of the front wings , off cuts can be used to make a handle or pinch point at the centre of gravity or CG, see step 6
Step 3: Templates
Save the photo of these templates (I used MSpaint to go over my pencil drawings) and fit the image to A4 / printer paper (borderless.)
Print and carefully cut out.
Use blu-tack or press-stick, chewing gum or whatever, to hold your templates in place on the tray and outline the templates with your ball point pen.
Notice the placement of the templates on the tray in the photo, it is a very tight fit.
For the fins I actually used the corner (between the base and sides) to give them a natural U shape, the same idea was used to give the wings their up-swept tips.
Step 4: Cutting the Tray
This can be tricky, even with a new blade I ended up with some ragged edges I found got the best results using scissors, but ones with a plain steel blade ie. no plastic coverings.
Hint - The head and ear pieces shown here have been updated on the templates page for a better look.
Step 5: Begin Assembly
Its time to start gluing the polystyrene to the board.
Hint - The tail flaps shown here are the most effective point for trimming the flight of your dragon. The polystyrene is quite brittle, to minimise this we need to squash the polystyrene flat where we intend to bend it, the best way to do this is to use the rounded tip of a screwdriver handle - just roll firmly over the flaps. This is easier BEFORE gluing!
Begin with the tail and work forwards, despite the urge to get the wings on first! DON'T DO THE HEAD YET!
Remember if you are using a lighter to heat your glue, put the glue on the wood and add the polystyrene NOT THE OTHER WAY ROUND!
If your glue goes cold on the skewer before you have stuck the polystyrene, you can re-heat it, if the glue goes cold on the polystyrene you will BURN the polystyrene, more toxic fumes and fire hazard!
Step 6: Centre of Gravity
Centre of gravity or CG (combined with centre of lift) is key in any aircraft and Toothless is no different.
The centre of gravity is too far back so we need to add weight to the head. To do this -
Wrap one of your lengths of wire around the very front of the skewers and try to balance toothless on your fingertip.
The ideal place for balance is under the front 3rd of the large main wings, I put a little too much weight on the front of mine, here he is balancing right at the front edge of the wings which is actually still ok!
Add more wire if more weight is needed.
Once you have balance close to the right place give toothless a gentle throw and see how he glides.
If his nose rises too sharply, carefully angle the tail flaps down (remember to squash them or they will break.)
If he nosedives make sure the head is higher than the tail when you release your throw, try again, if he still nosedives try angling the tail flaps up, If he still nosedives there is too much weight and you will need to remove some wire.
Step 7: Attach the Head and Decorations.
Once you have attained a desirable flight trajectory cover the wire with hot glue making sure all the sharp point are covered you can now add the Jaw, Head and Crest.
As you can see here I have tried to make a blue fireball with cotton wool but it didn't turn out as nice as I hoped, neither did the original head!
The tongue is a cigarette paper cut to shape and painted pink, I used cigarette paper because it is thin enough that even after painting it still flaps in the wind!
Step 8: The Stand
Cut the 8 leg sections and measure the distance from the front of the large wings to the middle of the small wings.
If you have enough polystyrene spare (if not use a skewer) cut a piece/s to the measured length and glue the top leg pieces. See the photo how the top leg sections angle forwards, and the bottom leg sections angle backwards, the back section crouched lower as if ready to spring into the air...
Step 9: Finalising Details
I used some black silicone to make these fins, but the silicone was old and had started to go off so I used off-cut pieces of polystyrene to cover the tops of the skewers that were showing through and made some more decorative fins.
Big thanks to 'njacksx' for sharing this -
which inspired this project.
Hope you enjoy!
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