Sindy gets dressed up for revival

Half a century after the Sindy doll came onto the market in her platform boots and patterned mini dresses, her British owner is hoping for one last revival.

by Elizabeth Anderson
Last Updated: 05 Feb 2016
She was once the UK’s best-selling toy in the early 1970s. But Sindy has struggled to win the popularity contest against her American rival, Barbie, and has all but disappeared in Britain.

As her 50th birthday approaches, Pedigree, the British owner, is looking for a partner to give her one last push on the high street. Pedigree has moved away from its focus on toy manufacturing and now Jerry Reynolds, the chief executive of the Exeter-based company, wants to license the Sindy brand or share equity.

Sindy was first introduced in shops in 1963 as a British rival to the American Barbie. She had a successful start and was even given a partner, Paul, during the height of Beatlemania in 1966. The US toy giant Hasbro brought the rights and attempted to introduce her across the pond in the late-70s, but the dolls failed to crack America. And after a series of unpopular makeovers the dolls gradually gathered dust on British toy shelves.

Hasbro returned the manufacturing licence to Pedigree, the original Exeter-based creators, in the 1990s. But by the end of the decade most major retailers no longer stocked the dolls. Sales, which peaked at £64m in the mid-1990s, slumped to just £3m-£4m a year. In 2006 Sindy returned to the high street through Woolworths but after the group collapsed in 2009, she disappeared from the shelves altogether.

Reynolds is confident that the ongoing popularity of Barbie in the UK (the British doll market is worth about £100m) means there will be a market for the Sindy dolls. Pedigree just needs to find its Paul (or Justin perhaps?) in the meantime.

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