here be dragons

ninjago four-headed dragon
It had been a while since I drew in my son’s toys-and-other-things book, so I decided to get back to it with more Lego. This is his four-headed Ninjago dragon, part of a big Lego set he got for Christmas. Really big and a little unwieldy to actually play with (all the other Ninjago stuff is semi-permanently all over the floor, it’s a boy’s favourite) but was immense fun to build (I did all the hard work). The wing span is impressive when flying but I needed to fit it all on the page so it is in standing mode. Imagine having four heads. Well I suppose we all have foreheads. Some people (my dad for example) pronounce forehead as “forrid”, whereas I pronounce it like fore-head, which may lead to fork handles style confusion. So, the four-headed dragon from the Ninjago series. I have drawn erroneously with the golden ninja as the rider, but it should in fact be ridden by the green ninja, though they are in fact the same person a.k.a. Lloyd Garmadon, son of Lord Garmadon who used to be the main bad guy (having in his youth been bitten by the Great Devourer, a giant snake creature who lives underground until he was resurrected by snake people and who devoured the ninja’s flying pirate ship, until being defeated by Lord Garmadon himself after a battle with the Ninja and the four-headed dragon) oh and who also had four arms (not fore-arms) so that he could use the four golden weapons, resurrect an ancient being called the Overlord to destroy and rebuild Ninjago City in his image, until that went awry and Lloyd became the Golden Ninja to defeat the Overlord (though he would later return first as a computer virus and then as head of an army of cyborg ninjas before turning himself into a giant spider) and turn his father back to the good side where he became Sensei Garmadon and went back to having two arms and no longer wearing a bone in his hat. Oh and the dragon’s four heads represent the four elements of earth, fire, um, lightning and, er, ice.

Lego is waaaay more complicated than it was in my day.

ninjago red fire mech

ninjago red ninja

It’s all about the ninjas these days. This is a ‘Ninjago’ red ninja fire mech, oh yes it is. What exactly that is I’m not quite sure; the Ninjago world is something a little beyond me, though the boy is watching enough cartoons (“Masters of Spinjitsu”, I kid ye not) this week to give me an education. This is what all the kids are into now. You have to be careful not to plan too far ahead at Christmas time, not get too many things on the original list, because the list changes fast and there are all new things to add. All the endless ads and target catalogs don’t help, but mostly it’s guided by the trends in the kindergarten playground. Next week it’ll be something different. I remember being that age – it was all Star Wars, no Battlestar Galactica, no Mr Men, no Hammer House of Horror (honestly, we played that more than anything at our school).

Right now, Lego is the main thing, the super-hero sets mostly but now it’s Ninjago that fires the imagination. Kids love ninjas. I remember when the Turtles first appeared, a little bit after my time to be into them, but in England they weren’t called ‘Ninja’ Turtles. The were the “Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles”. Ninja was deemed too violent a word or concept. Eventually that changed. Ninjago is just Ninjago, but with added whole-point-is-to-sell-more-toy-sets commercialism which the kids lap up. So do the adults, they enjoy looking for and buying all these things every bit as much, don’t tell me they don’t. My son, he’s at the age where he really enjoys building the Lego sets from the instructions now, all those tiny little pieces. Lego is different from when I was a lad, smaller, more complicated, lose one miniscule piece and basically the whole thing may not work. I like to build them too, but mostly I like to draw them. This is another entry the sketchbook of in my son’s stuff, a Stillman & Birn Alpha book.