“Rust Monster” (1974)

Meet the rust monster, a critter that is the terror of metal-wearing adventurers everywhere.

Like the bulette and the owl bear (examples of which seem to be fairly rare), the rust monster didn’t spring forth from the imagination of Gary Gygax, but rather from a bag of plastic dinosaurs manufactured in Hong Kong. Apparently, these bags were filled out with some fanciful critters in addition to the real world thunder lizards, which lead to collectors calling them Chinasaurs.

The rust monster is a common one and it is still out there (I got one in a bag of dinos not more than ten years ago). It is…uh…certainly a distinct creature, a bit like a lobster or a cockroach. You can see elements of dinosaurs in the design – the propeller-like tail perhaps inspired by a stegosaurus, or the plated abdomen perhaps drawn from an ankylosaur. Maybe it was just a fever dream of a trilobite. Regardless, it is a delightfully doofy looking thing that inspired an iconic monster. Disappoint thing? The antennas on the toy don’t cause metal to rust. I want a refund.

There are plenty of other Chinasaurs out there from the same period that I am surprised haven’t found their way into a monster manual. There’s still time, I suppose…

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