Sindy and Tammy Dolls

Barbie's Competition 
Mattel's early success with fashion doll Barbie did not go unnoticed across the Atlantic and in 1963 a rival doll was produced by British manufacturer Pedigree Dolls & Toys. "Sindy" was less voluptuous and more wholesome looking than the well stacked Barbie - she had a round, plump face. a 60s bubble cut, an understated figure and an innocent, childlike expression.

 Collette Mansel's  History of Cindy. Amazon
Although Mattel had already offered Pedigree the licence for Barbie, the company had declined due to Barbie's poor performance in market research. It seemed British children found Barbie's very adult appearance hard to identify with.

However, Sindy was not wholly dreamt up by Pedigree; rather she was modelled on a 12 " sweet-faced US doll called Tammy, made by Ideal toys. Tammy was more insouciant teenager than fashion-obsessed babe and her clothes less grown up, though she was marketed as "the doll you love to dress", a tag line that would also be applied to Sindy.

Alas, Tammy's  existence and period of popularity was brief. In the US, the  Barbie machine was a powerful competitor and the Tammy doll folded in 1966. In recent times however, her collectability has risen markedly, particularly in Japan, where she has a cult following.

The happy Tammy gang. Tammy and Dolls You Love to Dress. Amazon
Sindy's Success
The Sindy doll however, went on to bigger and better things, as she proved to be very popular with British children - more popular than Barbie. Her steady sales ensured that soon Sindy had companions joining her on the toy shop shelves. There was a boyfriend Paul, friends Vicki and Mitzi, a younger sister Patch and her friends, Betsy and Poppet. Some of her clothes were created by top designers - such as Mary Quant and later the Emmanuels, who had designed Princess Diana's wedding dress. In addition, Sindy had a huge range of accessories, mostly based around domestic chores...ironing boards, cloths lines, etc.

By 1968,  Sindy had become the best-selling toy in Britain and she retained that status until the 70s. In 1978 she was introduced to the US via a company called Marx Toys but when that company folded, the rights were signed over to Hasbro. Hasbro redesigned the doll to give her a more American look- much like Barbie, which seemed a strange decision, since the dolls major drawcard had been that she presented an alternative, younger look. Why would children opt for a lookalike when they buy the original? After the change and a lawsuit launched by Mattel, Sindy's prospects declined and sales began to seriously slump, in contrast to Barbie's continued good fortune.

Despite some facial modifications, a shift into the French market  and a massive advertising campaign in the 90s, Hasbro failed to  restore Sindys top market position and in 1999, a new-look, younger faced and culturally updated  Sindy was let loose and the licence sold to Vivid Imagination. Over the next decade more changes were made and her current incarnation is that of a young teenager - In effect, back to where she began and still an alternative to the more mature Barbie.

Sindy fashions in the 1980s

A History of Barbie