Oooooh, shiny! I have a box of dragons here! Folkmanis makes the best puppets ever, and their dragons are some of the finest of their puppets.
The first to slither out of the box is the Blue Dragon. At 13 inches he is just the right size for little hands to play with. He’s an Asian-style dragon, with a long sinuous blue and silver body, amber eyes, and silver horns on his elegantly ridged head. He has finger holes for the front legs and one for the tail, so front and back can be moved independently, though this is a little awkward and would mean that for an actual puppet show a single puppeteer would be needed just for this one puppet.
Blue Dragon appears on the Folkmanis page in a setting of snow and ice, and he does indeed look like a creature of winter. The story tag that accompanies him provides some trivia about Asian dragons, and a Japanese folktale about Tatsuko, a beautiful girl who wishes to stay young and beautiful forever, and so is transformed into a dragon.
Green Dragon comes out next. His description on the site is a little confusing, as it mentions knights and fair maidens and chivalric fantasy, thus giving an impression of Western mythology, while in fact he is another Asian dragon with the same long, lithe body design as Blue Dragon. He is a beautiful spring green, with lovely gold wings, furry ears, and a little gold horn on his nose. He has a long forked shiny red thing protruding from his mouth, which is either a tongue or a suggestion of fire being exhaled. He has the same fingerholes on front and back though he is slightly fatter than Blue Dragon and a little more difficult to operate even with both hands.
His story tag has the same Asian dragon trivia as Blue Dragon, but this time with a Chinese folktale about Kun, the first dragon.
Of all of the Folkmanis dragons, I think I love the Three-Headed Dragon the most. He is fat and round and beautiful in blue and turquoise, with filmy wings and three very menacing looking heads. His heads glower at the world with bright yellow eyes. His tail has no finger holes, which is fine as there’s more than enough to do operating his two paws and three heads. The site marks him as having workable mouths, but since the fingerholes only extend into the head and the lower jaw is attached separately, this really isn’t quite true. But he’s still a marvelous little guy; of course I grew up watching Japanese monster movies and he reminds me of Ghidora, so I’m prejudiced.
Three-Headed Dragon also has a tag with dragon trivia on it, and not the same dragon trivia as Blue and Green Dragon this time. It also has an excerpt from Greek mythology – Hercules and the Hydra, of course.
Finally, there is a non-dragonish puppet in the box: the Phoenix. What a gorgeous creature this is. He’s covered in metallic orange, red, and gold, with long silky flame colored threads all over meant to suggest the fire he rises from. This is one amazing firebird. He is operated through a hole under his tail, and his head and wings can be moved separately. He would be perfect for puppet shows, and yes, Harry Potter fans will associate him with Dumbledore’s phoenix. Because of the long fibers covering him, this isn’t one I’d give to very young children, as hard play and lack of care will have him a tattered mess in no time.
His tag has phoenix mythology trivia, and I expected to see something from the Russian, but the little story included is actually an Egyptian myth.
These four puppets are lovely examples of why Folkmanis is the single premier fantasy puppetmaker. This is just a small sampling of their dragons and other fantastic creatures; they have several other dragons, a sea serpent, a pegasus, a unicorn . . . and boy do I have my eye on the griffin. Folkmanis puppets are great for kids who want to use their imagination in play – but I really think they’re better for adults like me who never really plan to grow up.