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Now, MOST of us have a clue where the monsters came from, at least in a rudimentary sense. Tolkien invented the orc as we know it, and the giant spider in fantasy; Robert E. Howard seemed to have a thing for giant snakes. We know that centaurs came from ancient Greece, dwarves and trolls from Scandinavian myth, goblins from Western Europe, dragons from more or less everywhere, and so on. No, don't correct me; I'm bein' general here, and approaching a point. I'm kinda curious, though: Where'd some of the weirdier critters come from? It is legend among the Gamers and the Geekosphere about the bulette, the owlbear, and the rust monster. The legend has it that Gary Gygax, or perhaps Dave Arneson, back when The Game was just getting off the ground, had difficulty finding miniatures to represent various dungeon denizens. Keep in mind that historical miniatures, at the time, were relatively easy to find, (Knights, Archers, Men At Arms, and characters in general) but fantasy gaming as we know it did not yet exist. No mythological monsters! So Gary or Dave, or whoever... cheated. And several inhabitants of the first edition (and later) Monster Manual had some rather peculiar origins. In the picture, at center front, you see what became the Bulette, whereas to the left, there's a Rust Monster and to the right, an Owlbear in brilliant yellow. In the seventies, you could get these critters in bags in the dime store or on a spinrack in the drugstore, anywhere that sold cheap toys from no-name manufacturers. They were usually marked as dinosaurs, but this particular mob resembles no known prehistoric creatures; the majority of them seem to be knockoffs of monsters from Japanese TV shows like Ultraman, Spectreman, and other ancestors of the Power Rangers. Gary himself spoke about using plastic dinos in lieu of dragons, and the AD&D Monster Manual has the majority of dinos known to pop culture as of 1975. So Gary noticed them at the dime store, bought a bag, and pitted them against his players. And these three creatures became the dreaded Rust Monster, Bulette, and Owlbear, as well as becoming obscure but treasured collectors items among the lords of geekdom. Which means that all the owlbear miniatures being made right now are all because of a cheap Taiwanese knockoff toy based on a man in a suit monster who appeared on a Japanese kidshow back in the sixties. Or seventies. Or whatever. It could be that this thread will be doomed to obscurity. I rather hope not. I'm hoping that others will add to it with critters that started out as obscure toys that later achieved a sort of immortality as modern gaming mythology. Do add to it. I'm still more'n a little curious.