Here is a neat Frankenstein* action figure that I had as a kid (note: this is not an actual picture of the one I had, mine was obviously out of package for most of the time we spent together).
One prominent memory I have about the figure was receiving it from my mother when I was aged about 4 or 5, as a surprise gift. As a kid that regularly asked for (and received) action figures outside of the normal occasions like birthdays and Christmas, it was extra surprising to get something like this when I had not asked for it, as you'd think that my mother would have exploited every occasion that I did not ask to be bought toys...by not buying me toys.
This was (to my apparent lasting delight) not the case this time round and Frankenstein was mine without even the modicum of effort required to pester anyone for him (I scored the 4 original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in a similarly unexpected fashion) and this unanticipated introduction to "Frankie" led me to ask questions.
Not being well versed in 19th century gothic literature or Universal horror movies as a 4-5 year old, I had immediate questions as to the origin of this pallid, hulking icon I held in my paws.
"Where did it come from?" I asked, referring to the figure.
I hadn't posed my question particularly well, and suspect I may not have even known what I meant when asking it, and that was the problem. I had grown up in the age of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Ghostbusters, Beetlejuice etc, and all of my favourite toys had associated media explaining the characters and their worlds.
These characters had cool origins.
I saw the toys of said characters, not just as toys, but as plastic representations of beings with real personalities and goals. Having not yet been exposed to any Frankenstein related media I couldn't see the thing in my hands as anything but a toy, and this literal mindset had led me to posit an equally literal question.
I was not asking who had made Frankenstein, I was asking who made the toy. This, my mother missed...
"Oh...a doctor, an evil man in a laboratory made him" .
This stuck with me for years. I can't remember why I didn't choose to continue the line of questioning after this bombshell (perhaps I did and have forgotten where it went) but what is to be sure, is that I now totally believed that the toy I owned (not the character) was the product of some demented toy making lunatic. I pictured a lank haired, shabby man in some sort of action figure laboratory/jail cell putting together toy after toy to be shipped off to Woolworths as some sort of punishment for unspeakable, still possibly toy related crimes. Was the evil genius biding his time with playthings until the world itself would become his plaything in some sort of devilish bid for universal power? Were the toys dormant minions that would awaken and turn on their owners in force when their master called for it? Was I now a minion of evil myself for owning such a thing?
The answer is probably no to all of those questions. For those who care to know, the toy was in fact manufactured by a company called Imperial who almost certainly did not make a habit of employing supervillains planning world conquest. One thing, however, was now for certain...
My toy had a pretty cool origin.
*I've never gone in for the whole "Frankenstein's Monster" thing. I know the monster itself is not called "Frankenstein" but it's a convenient shorthand that keeps me from going in to too much detail...much like this.