First unleashed on the world in 1966, Frankenstein, Jr. was Hanna-Barbera's answer to the Japanese "giant robot friend" genre of anime, years before The Transformers and The Shogun Warriors.

Genius inventor Professor Conroy built a 30-foot tall robot who resembled the Universal version of the Frankenstein Monster. The character looked burlier and goofier than his movie counterpart, but his suit bore similar torn sleeves. His chest displayed an "F" set in an inverted-triangle logo which recalled Superman's insignia. He also wore a mask, which made even less sense than when the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles did the same years later. It's not as though a 30-foot robot has much chance of concealing a secret identity. Since he was a mechanical robot, the trademark electric plugs became jaw hinges and a space age ringed antenna grew out of his flat head. He was programmed to fight crime. In keeping with convention, the Professor handed over control to his young son, "Buzz" Conroy.

The robot had the requisite superhuman strength and the ability to fly or travel underwater. Jets supposedly propelled him, though these particular jets functioned in outer space. He could also shoot rays from, predictably, his hands. Naturally, Buzz and Frankie faced endless danger over which they handily triumphed.

Their adventures headlined Frankenstein, Jr. and the Impossibles, though the Impossibles, a group of Beatlesque superheroes, actually received two adventures each episode to the big guy's one and generally proved more popular. Despite the show's silly, cartoony nature, it received complaints from parents' groups about its violence and CBS dropped it after its second "season," which in any case consisted entirely of reruns. Episodes have resurfaced from time to time as part of other shows, and on the Cartoon Network and Teletoon.

Ted Cassidy, best known for his portrayal of "Lurch" on The Addams Family, voiced the giant robot. Dick Beal-- "Davey" of Davey & Goliath played Buzz, and John Stephenson was the Professor.

Frankie's adventures briefly graced comics; Gold Key published one issue of Frankenstein, Jr. and the Impossibles] in '66. The show's brief run also spawned sticker and coloring books.

Frankenstein, Jr. Episode List:

The Shocking Electrical Monster
The Spyder Man
The Menace From The Wax Museum
The Alien Brain From Outer Space, Part 1*
The Alien Brain From Outer Space, Part 2
UFO - Unidentified Fiendish Object
The Unearthly Plant Creatures
The Deadly Living Images
The Colossal Junk Monster
The Incredible Aqua Monster
The Gigantic Ghastly Genie
The Birdman
The Invasion Of The Robot Creatures
The Manchurian Menace
The Mad Monster Maker
The Monstermobile
The Pilfering Putty Monster
The Spooktaculars

*"...From Outer Space," so we know it's not, say, an alien brain that has crept across the border without the proper papers.

Some sources:

"Frankenstein, Jr.." The Big Cartoon Database. s/The_Impossibles/

The International Catalogue of Superheroes.

Don Markstein. "Frankenstein, Jr." Don Markstein's Toonopedia.

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