Saturday, September 8, 2012

She Blinded Me With Science: Frankie Stein Character Spotlight

There was a time when I didn't really care for Frankie Stein. When Monster High first caught people's attention Frankie was the breakout character; her doll was incredibly popular and she got the lion's share of attention on the webisodes. I felt she was kind of overrated. I was much more into Lagoona's doll and on the webisodes I felt Cleo was a better character. Over time her pretty dolls and endearing character won me over, and Frankie is now one of my favorites. It's hard not to love such a fun character.

Image: Mattel

Frankie Stein is based on Dr. Frankenstein's monster. The original story was written by Mary Shelley and first published in 1818 as Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus (talk about a mouthful). The story touches on themes of obsession, responsibility, and self-awareness. Frankenstein is widely considered the first true science fiction story and has been adapted numerous times for the stage and screen. The most well known of these, the 1931 film, Frankenstein, starring Boris Karloff as the monster, is the biggest influence on the character of Frankie Stein.

Boris Karloff as the monster.

Images: Universal Pictures

 As directed by James Whale, the film focuses more on the monster and the isolation he feels as a creature who is reviled by those who don't understand him. The film establishes many elements that inform the look of Frankie, most notably the stitched together skin and neck bolts. Our Frankie also has mismatched eyes (one blue, one green), and green skin. The film Frankenstein also has green skin, which surely influenced the design of Frankie, but since the film is black and white it's fair to say the film as a phenomenon is the influence here, rather than the film itself (I know, splitting hairs).

Speaking of hair, there's another important influence on Frankie. The 1935 film sequel, Bride of Frankenstein, introduced a female companion to Frankenstein's monster. The Bride is constructed in the same way the original monster was and once again brought to life by the doctor. As portrayed by Elsa Lanchester, the bride has black hair with bright shocks of squiggly white streaks on each side. This has become an iconic look that you see every year at Halloween, and was the influence on Frankie's own black and white streaked hair. Frankie's visual motif of lightning bolts is a reference to the lightning strikes that breathe life into the monster and his bride. The monster is often wrongly called Frankenstein. That name actually refers to the doctor who created him; the monster itself has no name.

Elsa Lanchester as The Bride.

Images: Universal Pictures

In the webisodes Frankie is the main character. She functions as our portal into the world of Monster High; as a creature who was brought to life only a few weeks ago we share Frankie's first experiences of life and her introduction into Monster High. Frankie is upbeat, positive, dependable, and outgoing. She also functions as the voice of reason within the show. When the other characters are getting caught up in whatever drama is currently going on, Frankie is usually the one who takes a step back to view the situation from a more even point of view. She likes to solve problems and bring people together. As such, Frankie is the unifying force of the entire series. She is usually the first to tune in to a problem and see the resolution; though Cleo is the one who leads the group, Frankie is the one who sets things in motion.

Frankie heads the monster group.

Images: Mattel

Frankie's dialogue is littered with puns -- she declares things voltageous and often has to bolt. Her sewed together body works as a metaphor for a teenager who is falling apart; parts of her body seem to come undone at just the wrong time. Her upbeat nature keeps her from staying down too long. When she gets excited electricity crackles around her bolts, and she can't get in water with others or she'll electrocute them. Initially Frankie was perhaps a bit too much of a goody-goody but as the series has continued she has gotten a little more rambunctious (though she still always makes the morally correct choice in the end).

Image: Mattel

As the main character there are a lot of Frankie dolls. More often than not you will see her in the themed lines, and so far every wave that introduces new basic versions of some of the core group includes her. Her dolls always have black and white streaked hair though the arrangement of the colors varies. It is usually long though her recent Skull Shores doll featured short, chin length hair. Sometimes she has bangs and sometimes she doesn't. She always has two different colored eyes, a stitch mark on her right cheek, and additional stitches spread across her body.

I <3 Fashion Frankie

2.0 Basic Frankie. Images: Mattel

 Lightning bolt patterns adorn her clothes and her jewelry and shoes often feature lightning bolts as well. Another detail sometimes used on her is scissors, usually appearing as earrings or as the heels of her shoes. These refer to the thread used to stitch her together.

Classroom Frankie. Image: Mattel

 Bright, bold colors are used on Frankie, especially blue, and her style could be described as goth (but peppy). Her face mold looks human but her stitches, skintone, and neck bolts signify that she is, in fact, a monster. She always looks very pretty; though she's a monster, her upbeat, positive nature is always reflected in her dolls.

Skull Shores Frankie

Basic Frankie. Images: Mattel


  1. I really liked this part of your blog you focus on the one character and really tell us your input i completly love this part on your blog and have loved both cleos and frankies spotlight it was very instresting to read and maybe you can do one on spectra who is my absolute fave

  2. Thank you! I love the classic monsters and I get a kick out of revisiting them for this blog. It's cool to have a way to incorporate them here.
    It's so funny you say that about Spectra because I just watched the new webisode which features her, and was thinking about how fun it's gonna be to do her spotlight. But I have one more girl from the core group I want to do before I branch into the other characters. But yes, Spectra's very high on my list!

  3. Maybe I'm imagining things, but I feel like Frankie has undergone quite a bit of character development? Like her basic doll, as with her introductory special 'New Ghoul @ School' (yeah, I know it's not her first appearance) she was playing it safe with colours (black, white, blue and red) and style (school girl).
    Maybe it's a nod to her naivety and youthfulness?
    But her subsequent dolls are much more adventurous with colours, like pink, yellow, green, and brighter blue. And dolls like her ILF and SS are much more edgy & daring.
    I think it suits her personality, being the 'voice of reason', as you say it, and the ghoul most accepting of others. 'Be Yourself. Be Unique. Be A Monster.'
    Her theme song should totally be 'Black or White' by MJ. :D

    1. I think there for a while they were really developing her character, giving her an edge and interesting storylines in the webisodes and specials. But the last couple specials I feel they've gone back to basically turning her into a motivational speaker, always "you can do it!", without any edge. I love love love Frankie and have high expectations, so maybe I'm being too critical?

      As for her dolls, they've definitely been taking more chances and doing edgier stuff the last couple years, and I've been loving it! Her ILF doll in particular stands out -- that super-dark eyeshadow gives her such an interesting, almost evil, vibe, but in a good way lol. I loved seeing her with the bob for SS and would be cool with even more short-haired Frankie dolls.

      In general I really am a huge Frankie fanboy, I probably love her just as much as I love Cleo. I love her bubbly personality and positivity, and she often has some of the funniest lines of the series. I could totally see Black or White being her unofficial theme! Great song imo!