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|Article 9 American Collectors - Magazine Article - Sindy Britains Sensational Teenage Fashion Doll. Story & Photos by Carol J. Stover
Collectors of teenage fashion dolls will be interested in the story of Sindy, England's sensational fashion doll, which was introduced more than 35 years ago and is still popular today. She is difficult to find in the United States and, in fact, an early Sindy is even difficult to find in England today. However, if you are fortunate enough to encounter an original Sindy (or Sindy #1 as some refer to her) or any subsequent version, you will undoubtedly be struck by her charm. Sindy's story provides an intriguing glimpse at doll trends in the United Kingdom and at a long lasting doll brand.
In the early 1960s, the well-known British doll company Pedigree Soft Toys, Ltd., a division of Lines Bros. Ltd. at the time, decided to tap into the growing market for fashion dolls by adding one to its line. Undoubtedly influenced by the success of Mattel's 11 inch Barbie in the United States, Pedigree decided to create a slightly Iarger doll. In 1963 it introduced the 12-inch Sindy in the United Kingdom.
The Original Sindy
Pedigree's first Sindy was designed to be a fashion doll, but she did not have the mature fashion-model look of Mattel's Barbie or other more adult like fashion dolls. Instead, she had a "girl-next-door" look and strikingly resembled Ideal's sweet and wholesome-looking Tammy, which had been introduced in the United States in 1962. Sindy's youthful look was aimed at the taste of the British market. Her soft-vinyl head had a light flesh tone with painted side-glancing blue eyes. Her generously rooted hair came in blond, brown and reddish brown, and was always held in place with a red headband. While her straight soft vinyl arms were flexible, they were not poseable, and the fingers were all separate, with flat palms. Her body was made of a hard vinyl (or plastic product), which can grow more yellow with age than the head and arms. Mold marks were clearly visible, especially on the legs, and she was jointed at the neck, arms and legs; the seat detail was a deep "Y." Interestingly, the neck was molded in one piece with the vinyl head, and it fit directly into the body's neck cavity. The doll's waist did not twist, the knees did not bend, there was minimum toe detail, and her feet were flat. She was simply marked "Made in England" on the neck and was presented in a pink box. An unmarked version of this original style Sindy has also been found. Made from a vinyl with more pink in the pigment, it has arms that are slightly more bent at the elbows, and smooth seams on its arms and legs. These dolls probably were produced later and/or at one of Pedigree's other plants, such as the one in New Zealand.
Not only did the original Sindy have a wholesome look, but her first eight outfits were also rather traditional. The most famous of them was "Sindy In Weekenders." This classic outfit included the popular denim jeans stencilled with yellow "stitching," a red, white and blue striped cotton jersey that snapped in the back of the neck, and white vinyl sneaker like shoes with molded laces. Pedigree reinforced the fun of collecting Sindy fashions by advertising on the box, "Sindy-The Doll You Love To Dress."
Pedigree counted on the popularity of these outfits in the British market, and most styles had traditional names like "Lunch Date" and Country Walk." Yet Pedigree kept the look fresh through the 1960s by also calling in famous designers, such as the UK's own Mary Quant, to create fashions for the doll. Sindy's tall boots, op-art designs and PVC fabrics added just enough flair to keep her traditional, yet stylish. The clothing was always well made of fabrics that could withstand playtime. Whatever Sindy wore, she was always very popular in the European market.
1968-1970: The New-Faced Sindy
Sindy and her fashionable wardrobe were so successful that Pedigree made no changes until 1968. That year Sindy's face was redesigned. The basic wholesome look of the doll and the painted side-glancing eyes remained, but a row of tiny, dark eyelashes was added just above the eye for a more realistic look. This doll became known as the new-faced Sindy. The rooted hairstyle was changed to a less bouffant look, and a more sophisticated, longer flip style in blond, black or auburn was created. For an even more stylish look, a side part was added. Pedigree also redesigned the body, adding a twist waist and bendable legs that greatly enhanced the doll's play value. The company then promoted the "...twisty waist Sindy" in all its advertising materials.
The new-faced Sindy continued to have fashionable outfits that were primarily leisure and/or sports oriented. However, some gowns were also included in her wardrobe, and patterns for knitted Sindy outfits were even sold by woolen companies so that little mothers" could knit their own Sindy outfits. Many dolls are found today in these hand-knit outfits.
One very successful Sindy marketing program was introduced in the 1960s and lasted for many years. A Sindy Club was created for "little readers in the United Kingdom." Each member received a membership card
and a Sindy Medallion necklace (i.e. a little girl's bracelet). A charm bracelet with a special charm was also included in many boxes. The company cleverly offered Sindy fans opportunities to buy additional charms with the purchase of other members of Sindy's growing family of dolls, including Patch, her little sister, and friends Paul & Mitzi.
Innovations in Sindy's design were introduced one after the other to keep pace with the mod fashions and trendy tastes of the 1970s. The major changes were in the doll's body design. Sindy was now promoted as being more "alive." Improvements in her body design included the following:
In 1970 Sindy had the 1968 face and twisting waist, but her hair now had a centre part, and she wore a headband. The vinyl was tanner in colour. She was marked on her lower back (033030), upper back (022029) and head (03055).
Lovely Lively Sindy, circa 1971, had joints at the elbows (not wrists), and at the head, shoulders, waist and hips, and could be bent at the knees.
Sweet Dreams Sindy, circa 1979, was the first version of the doll to have sleep eyes.
By 1986 Sindy's face had been completely restyled for a more modern look. She had a wider mouth and a flatter, more youthful face. She retained her painted side-glancing eyes, but the rooted eyelashes were gone.