23 Jan 2018

Tesco Sindy

Surprise review this one.

Now, in 2016 when Pedigree announced a relaunch of the Sindy franchise, everyone was of course a bit excited. For a lot of people well... older than me, Sindy is a huge part of their childhood and the nostelgia was strong.
Sadly, what materialised on shelves was not... at all... what anyone anticipated.

Instead of an 11 inch fashion doll, heck, instead of a fashion doll at all what we got were glassy eyed 18 inch American Girl wannabes.


She was exclusive to Tesco and being produced under license not by Pedigree themselves but by a company called Cititoy. Who incidentally, produce the "My Life As A" line of 18 inch dolls.
The Sindy 18 inch dolls are VERY similar to the My Life As range, even down to the dead eyed stare I often find so repellent in dolls of this style.

Now don't get me wrong, I understand why some people like 18 inch little girl dolls, but i've never been into this style of doll at all. I've always found them a little too like a porcelain doll for my tastes (which is kinda ironic given I collect bjds but for whatever reason they don't spook me out as much)




Anyway,

The Tesco Sindy dolls were so unlike anything anyone expected that suffice to say, the collectors were pretty up in arms. This was NOT a Sindy doll and using the brand name was just an insult... and so on.

And I have to say, in a lot of ways I agree. The Sindy brand has attached to it a huge amount of nostalgia, as a fashion doll. For British girls over the age of about 35 she IS the doll of their childhood. As a result, using that familiar logo and brand was clearly an attempt to draw attention of those now parents. A lot of companies do this, relying on parental nostalgia to sell toys to kids. You buy kids the books you loved as a kid, the toys that remind you of toys you had as a kid. We've all done it, don't pretend like you haven't other parents.
Sindy is a brand with 50+ years of history behind it, a name that would immediately be familiar to those over a certain age, that age being parents and grandparents.

So resurrecting the brand but in a form so unlike that memory I think was a big mistake. It immediately alienated those you'd just made look twice because of the branding. "that's NOT sindy" you'd hear people mutter as they walked up the toy aisle. "What the heck did they do to Sindy?"

And what was most bewildering was that Pedigree had already MADE THIS MISTAKE BEFORE.

Back in the early 2000s they relaunched Sindy in a new size for a new decade. She was 6 inches tall and dressed in pink sneakers and a track suit. She was so unlike a Sindy doll, more like what Polly Pocket at the time looked like (and let's not even start with Polly Pocket and her shift to not even resemble her original self yeesh) which confused consumers.
How much of that Sindy incarnation's failure came down to her being too different, how much was her terrible outfits (all tracksuits all the time, bletch) and how much was due to her main retailer Woolworths going under I don't know, but she didn't sell particularly well or last very long.

And here they were doing it again.

Infuriating.


Anyway, along with the giant Sindy dolls (Someone in the sindy group i'm in dubbed her Sindyzilla and I love that so i'm calling her that) they also released minis, presumably inspired by the Lori dolls for Our Generation, the mini American Girls and such forth.
at 7.5 inches tall they're smaller than a standard fashion doll but larger than a mini doll, kinda like a kid sister size really.
Stacie sort of height?

Those also had thousand yard stares, only instead of inset eyes there creepy dead eyed stare was painted on.

Picture from Ebay

Also bewildering was the decision to label these minis as "sindy, laura OR Kate" to make it extra uncertain who the heck you were buying and what she was. 
Wth?

The minis came in mini, simplified versions of their bigger doll's honestly, rather dull outfits. The simplification made them imo even blander. 

Sindy here actually has the best outfit of the lot. She lost her scarf and her shorts are now a skirt but it's a fairly decent rendition of an outfit that's kinda.. okay.

For whatever reason the token black friend did NOT get a small doll. (damnit stores, why? why do you keep pulling this crap?) 


The other two dolls in the line are Kate and Laura... I think Kate is the brown eyed one and Laura is the green eyed one but it's pretty ambiguous. Only the big dolls appear to have names on the boxes. 

And their outfits are SO BORING. Grey knit top with black leggings, wow... that's so exciting. And a white shirt and some "jeans" (leggings, they're jeggings) 
I mean sheesh, I know these are cheap (the 18 inch dolls retail at £20) but come ON! a belt? a little jacket? something? 
Something actually.. colourful? Like Sindy's scarf?
no?

the minis are just as bland. 

So of course, despite my love of all things Sindy, I simply couldn't justify buying these. They were NOT Sindy. They were too different, too cheaply designed, too "in name only" and it bugged me. 
I could tolerate tiny little early 2000s Polly Pocket Sindy because at least she was still a "fashion" doll, but I don't consider 18inch American Girl style dolls to be fashion dolls, they're a whole different sort of toy. Sort of like the difference between a matchbox car and a tonka truck. Yeah they're both vehicals, yeah you play with them in a similar way, but they're not the same toy and nobody's ever gonna claim they are. 

I will get to the point eventually.

Here it is:

Today, Husband returned from the supermarket declaring he'd bought me "a present"
Now, often when he claims to have bought me a "present" it'll be something like a pen, or an eraser, or something I needed and was moaning about needing. 
Instead, he presented me with a small pink box.

The mini Sindy dolls had dropped to £3:50 (they were about £7 originally) and he thought this one had a "kinda cute outfit"

Somewhere along the line Tesco sneakily released a second wave of Sindy dolls, and not many people, myself included, even noticed. 

I looked it up, and yep, they released all four bigger girls in new outfits (though the black girl's outfit is just a recolour of her original outfit because you know, can't give any real love to the darker skinned character can they?)  and the 3 white minis in replicas of those outfits.

Apparently Tesco had literally ONE doll left, the one husband grabbed. 


Actually looking at her... they changed a LOT for this second release.

Her eyes aren't starey, they're side glancing! she actually... looks almost... cute.

wth?

The box has changed too, gone is the confusing "this one, or this one, or this one" at the bottom, now it just says "sindy and friends doll" which is a bit less bewildering. 
It also encourages me to take this girl everywhere with me. 
Now.. I dunno, but I kinda feel like there's probably some places it's not appropriate for a 30 something yr old to take a small dolly.... you know, people tend to look at you a bit funny if you show up to a job interview with a dolly... or attend a school pta meeting with a doll peeking out your purse... you definitely don't want to take a dolly to jury duty or when standing before a judge... Strip club? Swingers party? 

Feel free to add your own inappropriate dolly scenarios. 

Anyway, I think this girl is called Laura and this is her larger scale doll:


And I gotta say, MAN that's a huge improvement over her original doll's outfit. Grey teeshirt and boring black leggings, or a cute plaid shirt and proper jeans. I know what i'd pick.

She still has staring eyes and these bizarre spikey eyebrows that seem to be a Cititoy thing (their "my life as a" dolls all have these same spiked eyebrows.


See? What is UP with those? they look weird.

The original mini dolls had these same strange ladder eyebrows and it made them look MEAN at small scale. 

Now because I don't own a mini first wave Laura, i've had to pilfer some ebay pictures, because tesco has no stock pics I can take. *sigh* I don't like using other people's pictures without permission, it feels really naughty even when it's just basically a stock image. 


Here's old Mini Laura (or kate, or sindy) 


And as a reminder, NEW mini Laura (or "and friends").

The box is looking a lot less "budget bargain basement" isn't it? It's amazing what a little font change can do. 

The new doll has larger eyes, simpler eyebrows and a substantially more interesting outfit (grey cotton is never a good look for a doll, it's grey, grey is boring, no kid wants grey) 


Opening the box was actually really easy. It's only taped at the top and the backing card slides right out.

Laura is held in place with only two tabs. One around her throat (looks uncomfortable) and one around her ankles. 
Then her hair is held in place with a strange little grey plastic ladder thing that holds the elastic bands at the back. 

It took all of 30 seconds to debox her. I approve. 


Sadly, as you can see here, the mini doll doesn't have the awesome wellington boots of her larger doll. A shame, but I suppose they didn't want to invest in a new shoe mold for the small scale and everyone just gets the same little slip ons. 

I'm not sure why they're blue and not say.. black at least but eh, at least they don't clash with anything. 

It's worth mentioning that the box, though small and simple is kinda cute. The sindy logo is so familiar but this time rendered in a lovely fushia shade rather than a bright pink and the whole box has "sindy" written all over it in a sort of pattern with a little heart and an x. 
The backing card itself is all hearts and crosses (kisses and love?) 


The back of the box has a short blurb written in multiple languages.

It's hard to read here but it says:

Sindy and her friends are lots of fun. Sindy just loves fashion, Laura's really into her music, Kate loves animals and Zoe is great at solving puzzles. Why not make friends with all four of them? You'll have lots of adventures together! Complete the Sindy collection!

it them tells me to chose a doll to take everywhere with me. 

What I find baffling about this is that as far as i'm aware, Zoe didn't even GET a mini doll. So I can't chose her! 
I'm also a bit bewildered by the descriptions of their likes. If Kate's so into music why doesn't she have any sign of it on her doll? If Kate is the animal lover, why is she always in sportswear indicating she's the sporty one of the bunch? And why does Zoe's outfit have a pony on when she's apparently NOT the animal loving one? 
I mean yes, real kids don't wear clothing that codes their interests, but usually dolls DO. Usually dolls have a representation of their personality in their outfit that gives a hint as to what sort of character they are. The animal lover will have animals on their shirt or come with a little dog or something, the music lover will have musical notes or something. Puzzles is a new one though, I don't think i've ever encountered a doll who's passion was "puzzles". Kinda random. I mean, I love a good puzzle, but yeah... it's a new one for me. 
I kinda want Zoe now... Damnit guys, why didn't she get a mini doll? 

I can't find any photos of these second wave minis btw. There's no sign of them on tesco's online or anything. It's bizarre. I can find their large dolls but their minis? it's like they never existed. Spooky. 


Anyway, here's Laura out her box.

She's really hard to make stand up. 


This is why. In classic Sindy style, one leg is way longer than the other.

I'm amused by this. In any doll other than a Sindy it'd piss me off as a manufacturing fault but with Sindy it just feels RIGHT. Original 60s Sindys always had this problem, so did the early 70s ones, so did the tonner sindy. It's like it's a feature of a sindy doll to just be a little bit shit and it cracks me up.


She's absolutely tiny alongside a vintage Pedigree Sindy, like a little sister or something. 


Her body is small and squishy. It's actually SQUISHY, she's like a little dolly stress toy. It amuses me.
All her limbs are the same squishy vinyl of her body. 

It's a pretty simple body, looks rather like well... all the minis of this type if i'm honest. 

Her back is marked 2016 Cititoy and China.

Her head has the big Sindy logo on the back, just like some of the later 80s dolls which is quite cool.It also has some numbers under it and the date 2016. 

Her limbs don't bend, at all. They're soft and squishy sure, but they don't bend. You can force her hands to her face but her legs are a bit harder and she's not really designed to be bent like this.


I took her hair out of the weird style to see how it was rooted. She has a nice side parting and her hair is pretty thick and beautifully soft. It's a lovely shade of dark brown with I think lighter brown streaks. It's really shiny and so blended together it's very hard to tell. 


Her hair is pretty choppily cut and longer on one side so it's clearly designed to be in a side ponytail (how very 80s) 


Like a pre 88 Sindy, Laura's head pops off with a little force and is held in place just with a little knob.
I like this idea. The head isn't overly easy to get off, but it does mean should force be applied it'll just pop off without destroying the doll. I think that's a really good idea. 

Sadly the neck hole is too small to fit onto a vintage sindy taller body heh, I did try. You could probably mod it if you really wanted to but i'm not sure why you'd want to go to that effort. 


I tied her hair back into a side ponytail, more like her bigger doll's hair. 

This is the extent of her articulation. Typical hip and shoulder movement, up and down with no side to side motion on the arms and legs that splay out like crazy.
She can't sit in a ladylike fashion at all. 


her outfit is pretty nicely made. The shirt velcros up the back and has no buttons, just a simple red stitch running down the middle to emulate the closure. It has a little ribbon sewn to the front and a little seam around the middle to look like a belt (the ribbon is literally just a bow). The whole shirt made from a soft fleecy flannel fabric and has a collar and fake rolled sleeves. (they can't be rolled down). It's cute. 
Her jeans are a thin cotton fabric with a very convincing denim pattern printed on them. They're not overly shiny like a lot of barbie jeans that do similar and feel a little less smooth which helps add to the illusion. Overall they're a pretty effective simulation. They have a sewn in crotch seam that seems waaaaay too far to one side to be at all convincing. They have an elasticated waistband and no closure so they just pull up like leggings.

Her shoes are soft, squishy blue slip ons that stay fairly well on her feet but come off easily for redressing. 

Overall dressing and undressing her is pretty easy and painless. The thick cuffs of the shirt really help avoid her fingers getting snagged and her limbs being so squishy means you can bend her into stuff without much effort or fear of breaking anything. 

Overall, I think she'll tolerate play quite well. 

Playing with her and looking at her, I can't help but be struck by how much difference those larger side glancing eyes make.
 

 
Her eyebrows were definitely inspired by vintage sindy here, as were the shape of those eyes, even down to the positioning of the white dot.


Putting her alongside a doll with sparser eyelashes the similarities are far more striking. Same little snub nose, very similar eyes, same big ol' hamster cheeks and even the same squared off jaw line. 

If her lips were painted slightly bigger on the bottom lip I think they'd be a pretty good likeness. 

Of course, vintage sindy dolls have indented eye wells while the new minis have totally flat eyes. Vintage sindy dolls also have rooted lashes. 
Still, it's remarkable what something as simple as changing how they painted the eyes and brows was all it took to get this mini girl LOOKING LIKE A SINDY DOLL. 

Interestingly, before this second wave got released there were collectors buying the original minis and painting their eyes like this. So did Cititoy or Pedigree notice? 


I've dubbed this girl "Hobbit Sindy", as she's about half the size of the other girls. 

But i have to say, she looks more like a vintage Sindy than the Hasbro and Vivid attempts pictured here (and forgive 87 Sindy for her baldness, i'm still trying to decide what to reroot her with) 


She'd make a cute little sister for vintage collectors, apparently her clothing might even fit Patch but I haven't had the energy to go find my Patch doll to test that. 


She's sort of endeared herself to me. Which isn't bad for a doll I sort of expected to just steal the outfit off of and forget about. 

She's a funny little thing and obviously rather different to what anyone expected from a Sindy relaunch, but I think... had Pedigree and Tesco decided to go this route from the start, maybe there would have been less protest. Certainly if these are what we'd got on shelves initially instead of Sindyzilla and her other 18 inch pals, i'd have bought a lot of them. 

She's smaller, she's younger, but her face has a certain "sindy" quality to it that I appreciate.

Also she's fun to squish.

As a toy, she's pretty well made. For a doll that only retailed at just under £7, she's pretty decently made. Her clothes are really simple but there's no reason you couldn't buy some Lori fashion packs for her (she's the same size, they should fit) but her hair is well rooted and feels like decent fiber and her body feels to me like it'd withstand some fairly rough child play time. She's easy to dress and undress, her hair is rooted in such a way that she can wear it down or up depending on preference and her shoes stay on her damn feet.

All these things I think make her a decent little toy.

So it's kinda a bummer that after finally getting something right, it feels like it was too little too late for Pedigree and Cititoy. Tesco looks to have discontinued the line already. 
A pity. 

While I don't think these would have ever been as popular as Sindy was back in the 70s, they were a decent cheap doll for a kid to enjoy. 

And I did kinda want to see how their large scale horse for the 18 inch dolls compared to the Our Generation horses. But they're all gone from tesco online now. Dangit. 

So there you have it. Tesco Sindy, and what a difference decent face paint makes. 

I give this mini Laura a resounding 9 out of 10 rampages through Tokyo. I think she's cute, decent quality for her price point and i'm pleased husband brought her home. 
She's a worthy addition to my Sindy collection, which I never thought i'd say about the Tesco Sindy dolls. 
While deboxing her and playing with her for photos I have to say, nothing about her surprised me, but neither did it disappoint me. So that's nice.

1 comment:

  1. She is a very nice mini-doll. What a great present! Thanks for all the details. I'm in the US and don't know a lot about Sindy, but from what I hear she had some excellent furniture.

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