This was an auspicious year for Sindy scenesetters because it was the first year that we see the introduction of Sindy’s classic 3 storey house. Interestingly, Sindy's slot-together Home (Ref 44571 – see 1979 Scenesetters) was still available but the trade catalogue now noted it as “A low priced starter for every new collector.” Thereby positioning it as the low-cost alternative. This is not unsurprising as the new Sindy House’s RRP (Recommended Retail Price) was £29.99 which would be the equivalent of approximately £117.92 at 2021 prices. It was a ‘big ticket’ item, but it was not the only iconic Scenesetter to be introduced in 1981 as we shall see.
Returning to Sindy’s existing Scenesetters:
Sindy's bedroom furniture was now described as “A first priority for Sindy collector” and showed the existing bedroom furniture first introduced in 1976. They were the Wardrobe (Ref 44502), her Bed (Ref 44503), Dressing Table (Ref 44505) and the Bedside Table (Ref 44506). The 'Bedroom Gift Set' (Ref 44585) consisting of the Wardrobe, Bed and Dressing Table was also still available. Added to the bedroom scene in the trade catalogue was Sindy’s Gown Rail (Ref 44387) which had been introduced the previous year (see 1980 Scenesetters). Tantalisingly, the catalogue scene also showed a white wicker-style bedroom chair with the matching aqua patterned seat cushion, but the catalogue remained silent on this item.
Shown next in the trade catalogue was Sindy’s sunshine yellow bathroom and it was largely the same and still included her Hairdryer (Ref 44524), Washbasin (Ref 44541), Toilet (Ref 44551) and Shower (Ref 44573). This year however Sindy was given a new modern style bath replacing her original rectangular bath which was first issued in 1975. We believe the 'Bathroom Gift Set' was updated to include the new bath as it was given a new reference (Ref 44592), although the picture on the box was not immediately updated to show the new bath. It consisted of Sindy’s remodelled Bath, plus the Washbasin and Toilet.
Sindy's “Luxury” kitchen used previous items and their accessories. They were the Hob Unit (Ref 44547), Sink Unit (Ref 44548), and Wall Oven (Ref 44550) together with her new Washing Machine (Ref 44483) which was introduced in 1980. The 'Kitchen Gift Set' (Ref 44587) consisting of the Hob Unit, Sink Unit and Wall Oven was also still available. Sindy’s Magic Cooker (Ref 44481) also introduced in 1980 was still available, and the trade catalogue had now been updated to show the correct orange pots and pans. However, Wall Cupboard (Ref 44546) was neither shown nor referenced any more.
Sindy's Dining Room still consisted of her elegant white Dining Table (Ref 44582) and China Cabinet (Ref 44583) both of which had been introduced in 1979.
New in for 1981 and helping to complete the job that had begun the previous year to update Sindy’s lounge furniture was the introduction of a new look coffee table set and a re-coloured rocker to complement Sindy’s ‘Regency’ style cream Armchair (Ref 44517) and Settee (Ref 44518).
Sindy's scenesetters for her outdoor activities remained largely the same as 1980. Her Horse (Ref 44569), and the vinyl Horsebox (Ref 44567) and Stable (Ref 44578) were still shown in the catalogue for 1981. So were her Camper (Ref 44542 - the buggy and tent) in the blue and white stripe livery and her Camping Scene (Ref 44577 – her large orange frame tent and accessories). As noted in the 1980 Scenesetters, we believe the vinyl Horsebox was revised as shown to address some stability issues that were encountered in the first design.
Interestingly, Sindy's Caravan which was also made of vinyl covered board in 1980 now had a slightly different description and referred to the construction of the caravan as being an “injection moulded and vinyl” caravan. However, it still had the same reference number (Ref 44574) and it looks like a prototype of the Caravan which is shown in the 1982 catalogue which had updated reference. We will therefore show the new caravan in 1982 in keeping with its new reference, although it is mostly likely that the newly designed Caravan became available at some point in 1981.
Sindy’s Garden Furniture (Ref 44386) and Swimming Pool (Ref 44388) which were introduced in 1980 were still available. These items were joined by her new Country Garden described below.
Sindy’s Airport Trolley (Ref 44385) from 1980 still aided her travelling plans, and when she arrived at her destination, her Carrycase (Ref 44563) which opened up into a hotel bedroom was still her instant ‘home from home’.
Sindy’s Scenesetter activity packs from 1980 were still available. They were
- Horse Care Set (Ref 44394) now shown with yellow brushes
- Hair Styling Set (Ref 44396) and
- Spring Cleaning Set (Ref 44397).
Country Garden (Ref 44389)
- A set of gardening tools in red plastic which consisted of a watering can, hand trowel and fork, and a dibber
- Six Richard Sankey & Son Ltd miniature flowerpots
- Five packets of Johnsons Seeds packaged especially for Sindy
- Four Jiffy peat pellets also packaged for Sindy and,
- Three yellow seed trays with drilled holes to allow for drainage.
New designs for product usually came from designers, both in-house and external and of course from Marketing.
Sometimes R&D (Research and Development) staff had ideas but with no incentive they were very few and far between, so I approached the R&D Manager and suggested that if some form of incentive was put to the Department, something might come to fruition.
After some time, it was agreed that if an idea from R&D staff was put into production then that person would receive £100, not bad for the late 1970s. Several ideas/concepts were duly forwarded to Marketing, so I decided it might be nice for Sindy to have a greenhouse in her scenesetters. At that time, we had a garden in over half an acre and being a keen gardener, it came naturally for me design a greenhouse and sensible accessories. I put forward my suggestion and it was accepted by the Marketing Department. The design was formulated, and I made the prototype. Everything went well, tooling was made and it went into production. Ken Gadd who was then in charge of tooling and materials selection was apprehensive about the use of our existing HIPS (high impact polystyrene) which we had used for the clear doors on the Magic Cooker (1980 Scenesetters) for the new flat Greenhouse window glass and researched moulding materials available and he selected K-resin. It was a fairly new material, but it seemed to work really well. I knew that some of the accessories like the little pots and seeds (except for packaging) were already available so this kept tooling and other costs down.
As it happened this was the only product that I know of which was ever put into production with this incentive and quite soon after that the incentive was dropped. I did see one for sale some little time ago, as always I could have got hold of one when at Pedigree but I never did, shame.
Thank you Tom for this lovely Scenesetter.
Rocker (Ref 44554 - updated)
Rocker (Ref 44554 - updated)
Bath (Ref 44513)
Bath (Ref 44513)
Sindy’s new bath was made in the same “sunshine yellow” plastic as her 1975 bath. It was a much softer, more modern design with a curved front and rounded corners. The white plastic moulded mixer tap and a matching plug on a metal chain (which could be fitted into a plug-tidy between the taps when not in use) was repositioned to the back creating a double-ended bath. It still came with the same brown cotton towelling set of a flannel, bath towel and bath mat however the yellow plastic bath tray was omitted.
The old straight-edged rectangular Sindy bath was beginning to look very dated compared to the trend in the real world towards more rounded edged baths, but there was also another pressing reason to redesign it. The old bath was very long for the new Sindy House bathroom (see below) and could only be comfortably positioned against the back wall. So, the new bath was 2 inches (5 cm) shorter so it could be placed on either the back wall or side walls of the bathroom.
Sindy’s House (Ref 44570)
Sindy’s House (Ref 44570)
The interior was also attractively decorated using colours which complimented Sindy’s existing furniture. The walls were adorned with faux windows, and with decorations which match the room's intended use. The floors were also carefully considered and styled with flooring to match the room.
The ground floor was divided into two with a decorated cardboard partition and the rooms were decorated as a kitchen and bathroom.
Despite the intricacies and care in the design of this house, two issues were quickly identified:
The first was quite a significant problem, the cardboard floors turned out to be not robust enough to bear the weight of Sindy(s) and her assorted furniture. So, Pedigree turned to a metal fabrication company in Southend on Sea for an answer. The company normally dealt with designing solutions for industrial problems and they were somewhat bemused at the task of solving a doll’s sagging floors. Their solution was to fit an aluminium metal extrusion lengthways under the middle of the floor of the bedroom and living room similar to a floor beam.
Wall of Sound (Ref 44581)
Wall of Sound (Ref 44581)
The centrepiece for this scenesetter was a fireplace wall with a Yorkstone brick fireplace and chimney breast, which was very fashionable in late 1970s and early1980s. There was an imitation ‘cast iron’ fire basket with burning logs topped by a faux bronze plastic fireplace canopy detailed with rivets. The canopy cleverly hid a speaker grill. The back wall itself was a pale stippled-blue painted wall made from printed card. There were built-in plastic white shelving and floor units around the fire. The wall was decorated with many things that would not have been out of place at the time. if you look closely you can see a macramé owl, spider plants, an ivy and fern planter, and tasteful framed flower prints. Top left as you look at the Wall of Sound there is a statue that looks remarkably like a brunette ballerina Sindy (or that might just be wishful thinking on our part), and next to her is an Aladdin oil lamp which is a nice tie-in to Sindy’s new lounge set (see below). The Wall stood on buttercream faux tile plastic base.
Placed on the shelf above the fire was a red carriage clock, there was a red telephone on the left floor unit and a stereo record player with a Perspex lid on the right floor unit as you looked at the Wall of Sound.
The Wall was switched on by sliding the red carriage clock on the mantelpiece to the left. The ticking clock indicated that the Wall was now switched on. To listen to just the sounds, you had to ensure that the record player arm was in its rest position. This was because the player arm was the on-off switch for the radio and to avoid the Wall of Sound noises spoiling the enjoyment of radio programmes the operation of the radio would automatically cut out the other sounds. The clock could not be removed from the shelf and could only be moved left or right to switch the unit on or off.
Sindy’s telephone was designed to ring at random intervals when the wall was switched on. If you did not want the phone to ring you needed to take the handset off the hook. The handset was made of metal and when it was placed in the hand cradle of the phone, it touched two metal contacts which caused the phone to ring intermittently. The telephone was fixed in position and couldn’t be moved.
Purring Happy Cat
Besides the fire was a mat for a cat, with a flower pattern decorative adhesive label. When the plastic cat was placed on the cat mat and its head was stroked with a slight downward pressure, the cat figure pushed down a metal contact in the centre of the mat. When the cat meowed, you released your finger, it would purr for four seconds and then stop automatically.
By pushing the pointed end of the plastic poker into the little hole at the front of the fire basket, the fire would make a crackling noise and lights would flicker amongst the logs. Leaving the poker fully inserted for 10 to 15 seconds would cause the fire to burn more brightly. Removing the poker, the fire would gradually die away to a gentle crackle. Switching off the unit using the clock switch which would put the fire out completely.
The standard lamp came with a plastic covered wire lead with a plug on the end. Plugging this plug into the socket, which could be found at the bottom of the right-hand wall unit beneath the stereo record player, would switch the light on. Care had to be taken on switching off the lamp, because you needed to grasp the plug itself, and not pull on the wire because it was quite fragile and could pull away from the contacts in the plug.
Sindy’s vacuum looked to be one of her standard upright vacuums from her household cleaning sets. This one was predominantly white plastic with a blue trim. It had running from the base a cord attached to a plug. Similarly to the lamp, by plugging it into the wall socket vacuuming sounds were triggered. And just as in real life, the vacuum was noisy and would drown out some of the quieter Wall sounds. The lead of the vacuum cleaner was decorative only, it was putting the plug in the socket which completed the circuit and triggered the sound.
The stereo record player was a nice piece of kit. It came with two speakers made of red plastic with black felted paper to simulate speaker grill cloths. The speakers were purely for show and could be placed anywhere on the shelves. Also included with the record player were three Sindy records. They were the same ones as was used for Sindy’s 1976 Hi-Fi (Ref 44545). The controls for the radio could be found on the top left-hand side of the chimney breast looking at the Wall. There was both a tuner and a volume thumb wheel. The radio was switched on by moving the record arm over to the centre of turntable which switched off the other Wall of Sounds to aid in your listening enjoyment.
The controls for the radio could be found on the top left-hand side of the chimney breast looking at the Wall. There was both a tuner and a volume thumb wheel. The radio was switched on by moving the record arm over to the centre of turntable.
This Wall of Sound is almost 40 years old and it still works perfectly. Unfortunately there aren’t so many AM radio stations to listen to these days.
Lounge Set (Ref 44584)
Lounge Set (Ref 44584)
On Sindy’s coffee table stood an Aladdin-style oil lamp. Its base was made of copper coloured plastic and it had an opaque plastic lampshade. In a lovely touch, it was also a working battery-operated lamp.
Sindy’s tea set came with settings for two and was similar to her 1978 ‘Tea Time’ set (Ref 44416) but with the yellow and white colours reversed. It consisted of a contemporary plastic tea or coffee pot and lid, milk jug and sugar bowl. There were two teacups, saucers and plates, a chocolate cake with two removable portions on a cake stand, two knives, and two spoons. None of them bore the "S" logo. The knives and spoons are worth noting, they were slim and elegant and are less ornate than the cutlery previously seen with her Dining Table sets.
We have spotted different combinations of the yellow and white crockery and cakes both with and without the white frosting on top.