Martinair Sindy

Martinair is a Dutch airline which was founded in 1958 by the aviation pioneer Martin Schröder. It is now part of the Air France-KLM Group and has been solely a cargo carrier and specialist charter service since 2011. But, in the 1970s it was also a major passenger airliner with many scheduled global routes, and it was a popular European carrier for holiday destinations.

In the mid 1970s, Martinair sold Sindy Air Hostess (or Stewardess) dolls wearing uniforms which matched the livery of the aircraft namely grey, red and white. Shown left is a Martinair Fokker 28 airplane at Coventry Airport, UK in February 1978 using this livery.

The real Martinair uniforms were designed by Dik Holthaus, a renowned Dutch fashion designer. Similarly to the Volendam Sindy, it is believed the Martinair dolls were supplied by Dutch toy company Otto Simon, from Almelo in the Netherlands.

Otto Simon held a Pedigree licence to produce and market Sindy from about 1975 to 1978. It is believed that the company also supplied the silvery blonde Volendam Sindy. You can read about her here Volendam Sindy

These Sindys are brunettes and are wearing a felt version of the Martinair uniform. We know some of these dolls were sold in simple clear acetate cylinder tubes, with a gold painted cardboard base. The cylinder tubes were unmarked. We have also heard that some were sold in plastic bags, but we have no details on these. It is thought they were dressed by International Souvenirs Industries BV who made a number of air hostess dolls and other souvenirs for the Dutch Airline industry. Certainly the redesigned 1982 Martinair uniform worn by Amy, a Daisy-type doll, was made by them. Her outfit is also made of felt.

Martinairs are quite hard to write about because at least some have been redressed or parts of the uniform upgraded by unsuspecting collectors who saw the outfit, but not necessarily the subtle differences between the 2nd and 3rd edition outfits. It has not been helped with the decorative trimmings that were simply stuck to the felt garments, many of which have fallen off, as these would be a great help to identification.

We don’t know when these Sindys went on sale and when selling ceased. Similarly to the Volendam Sindy, the timeline is not completely clear, although the Martinair uniforms do help a little. The first uniform was worn between 1973 to 1977. This outfit is worn by a very distinctive Sindy doll, and we wonder whether Otto Simon were supplying dolls assembled with some parts bought directly from Pedigree before obtaining a licence to manufacture and distribute their own later very characteristic Martinair Sindys. In 1977, the uniform was updated and although Otto Simon lost the Pedigree licence in 1978, there are still a lot of later Martinairs wearing the 1977-1982 uniforms. It has crossed our minds that the final Martinair Sindy dolls, particularly with the Fleur body, were perhaps so sufficiently different that they were not noticed or considered a direct threat or infringement by Pedigree. Or maybe a tacit understanding between the companies existed to permit Otto Simon to fulfil the Martinair contract? Lots of theories really, but unfortunately no direct corporate proof as to what actually went on.

To our knowledge there were four Martinair dolls and three distinct outfits. Originally, we were going to write this page as just three editions, but that approach is difficult because there is some crossover between outfits and dolls, particularly with the 2nd editions.

The Sindy dolls

1st Edition

Sindy has an early gauntlet Lovely Lively type body. She is flat chested, marked with the letter E between her shoulders on her back. Her legs are rigid and do not bend. 

This Sindy has a softer, squeezable head, marked 033055X on the back of her head under her hairline. She has the spiky stick-in lashes. She has a soft blush to her cheeks and a red lip colour. Her hair is a beautiful reddish-brown with a centre parting, and it falls loose just past her shoulders. It looks to be made of nylon. She has a red elastic band in her hair.

2nd Edition

This Sindy also has a gauntlet body. She is flat chested, marked with the letter E between her shoulders on her back, knees click once. But this body is more orange in colour than the first edition. On some of the torsos, the E marking is very faint, and we have one doll where it looks like the E was removed from the mould.

This Sindy has a harder head, more orange in colour, marked 033055X on the back of her head under her hairline. She has lovely big spiky stick-in lashes. She has a high blush to her cheeks and a pink lip colour. Her hair is light brown with a centre parting, she has longer hair than the 1st Edition and it falls loose just past her shoulders. These heads have quite abundant amounts of hair, although the quality isn’t great, and the hair can be very flyaway and frizzy at the ends.

There are two gauntlet face moulds; a rounder face which fits nicely on the neck knob and a slimmer face which does not sit quite so snugly on the neck. Using vernier callipers there is a difference of 2mm from ear lobe to ear lobe between these two Martinair faces. Below round faced gauntlet left and slim faced gauntlet right.

3rd Edition

This Sindy has a basic Fleur body with straight arms. She is definitely not flat chested, marked with the letter E between her shoulders on her back, knees click once. This body is less orange in colour than the second editions. This doll is recognised as the last of the Martinairs. She is known by collectors as the ‘straight-armed’ Martinair.

This Sindy has a different head mould with a very pretty face. Also a harder head than the 1st edition, and marked 033055X on the back of her head under her hairline. She also has the lovely big spiky stick-in lashes, which look very long against her finely moulded face. She has a high blush to her cheeks and a darker pink lip colour. Like the 2nd edition, her hair is the same light brown fibre with a centre parting, and it falls loose just past her shoulders, with a curl at her shoulders. Her scalp is unpainted.

The Uniforms

1973 to 1977

Of the three versions, the first version most closely resembles the real Martinair uniform worn from 1973 to 1977. A grey dress which buttoned down the front worn with a red collarless blazer. The brimless, dome-shaped hat and scarf were good copies of the actual accessories.

1977 to 1982

Sindy’s outfit is more of a representation of the Martinair uniform worn from 1977 to 1982. Whilst Sindy still wore a blazer and dress outfit, in reality the stewardesses wore a smart red waistcoat and skirt with a white short-sleeved blouse. The brimless, dome-shaped hat and scarf were still good copies. 

There were two versions of this uniform.

1st Version

Sindy wore a grey felt, knee-length dress with elbow-length sleeves made of two pieces of fine felt sewn together. A matching collar was sewn to the dress. It was slit down the front and it had no fastenings. Over the dress Sindy wore a red, collarless, long-sleeved blazer made from one piece of felt. It had two rounded patch pockets at the hip. The blazer was decorated with a stick-on Martinair badge at the breast.

The logo was gold on a thin red plastic sticker fashioned to look like the chest pocket on the real uniform. The blazer was adorned with five gold paper, stuck-on faux buttons, one on the front right panel (from the doll’s perspective, on the left in the photos) below the Martinair logo sticker, as a faux fastening button, one on each pocket and one on the end of each sleeve as a faux cuff button.

Sindy wore a narrow (1.5 cm in width) black, red and white diagonally printed nylon satin scarf. For her feet a pair of black soft Trendy shoes plus a pair of white panties.

She would have worn a matching red felt brimless dome-shaped hat which is sadly missing from the Sindy shown right. We would love to show this if anyone has it?

We have only seen the 1st Version uniform on the 1st Edition doll

2nd Version

A knee-length dress with elbow-length sleeves made of two pieces of soft fine red felt sewn together. This version is collarless with a V-neckline at the front. Below the V-neck on the front of the dress was a stuck-on gold paper, faux button. The back of the dress had a V-neckline with a slit down the back with no fastenings. Over the dress Sindy wore a dark grey, long-sleeved blazer made from one piece of felt with a sewn-on collar. It had two larger squarer patch pockets at the hip.

The blazer was decorated with a stick-on Martinair badge at the breast, also fashioned to look like the chest pocket on the real uniform. It displayed a gold logo on a thin grey plastic sticker. Below the sticker on the front right panel (from the doll’s perspective, on the left in the photos) were two stuck-on gold paper, faux buttons.

Sindy wore a red and white nylon satin scarf. It looks like wide ribbon cut as a parallelogram with diagonal cut ends. The scarf was printed with a double red line along each edge with the Martinair logo printed on one end. This scarf can vary in width between 4 and 4.5 cms wide, and it is 22 cms in length. At least some of these scarves were starched and are very stiff even today.

She wore a matching red felt, brimless dome-shaped, soft hat stitched with a stiff red elastic to give it the round shape. The hat was glued to Sindy’s head.

A pair of the black soft Trendy shoes and white panties completed her uniform.

We have found the 2nd Version uniform with both round face and slim face 2nd Edition gauntlets.

Sindy’s red and white nylon satin scarf looks the same as the second version and it is the same length, but it’s slightly narrower at just over 3.5cm in width. 

She wore a matching red felt, brimless dome-shaped, soft hat stitched with a stiff red elastic to give it the round shape. This version however had a transparent plastic shell inside the hat to maintain its shape.

She wore a pair of the black soft Trendy shoes and white panties.

The Version 3 unform is worn by the straight-armed Edition 3 Martinair. But we also have a round faced 2nd Edition gauntlet wearing this uniform, which is believed to be original. This last uniform may have been used to also dress whatever dolls they had left in stock.

3rd version outfit

Her outfit also imitates the Martinair uniform worn from 1977 to 1982, and this is believed to be the last version as it is the one found on the straight-armed Martinairs.

The red felt knee-length dress had shorter sleeves and is a richer red than the second version. This version is also collarless, with a deeper V-neckline at the front and back than the second version. Below the V-neck on the front of the dress was a stuck-on gold paper, faux button. The dress was slit down the back with no fastenings. Over the dress Sindy wore a lighter grey, long-sleeved blazer made from one piece of felt with a sewn-on collar. The sleeves are shorter on this version and the pockets are like the 1st version rounder pockets at the hip.

The blazer was decorated with a stick-on Martinair badge at the breast, also fashioned to look like the chest pocket on the real uniform. This version is made of paper printed with a darker grey background with a gold logo and a gold edge around the sticker. In a difference to the 2nd version the two stuck-on gold paper, faux buttons are on the opposite front panel of the blazer (from the doll’s perspective on the left front blazer panel, on the right in the photos).

Uniform notes and comparisons

By far, the finest quality outfit is version 1. The fabric used for the blazer and dress is a soft, thin felt. Following on from this, the second version blazer and dress is also made from a soft thin felt. The third version blazer and dress by comparison is a much thicker felt. The logo patches on the breast are much nicer on versions 1 and 2, than the printed version used for version 3.

Apart from the quality of the felt used for versions 2 and 3, the main difference is the size of the sleeves on the blazer and dress (even though the dresses are the same length). It appears to us that version 3 was probably designed for the straight-armed Martinairs, whereas the longer sleeves are very effective for the gauntlet arms. Version 3 is also cut slightly tighter under the arms of the dress.

As can be seen in the photos for each version above, version 3 dress has a much deeper V-neck line front and back, and it is a richer red. On version 3, the blazer buttons are on the opposite side to versions 1 and 2, and the colour of the grey felt blazer is quite different.

The scarves are different widths as can be seen in the comparison photo below. Version 2 on top and version 3 underneath.

Although we cannot comment on the version 1 hat; we note that the red felt fabric matches the colour of the dress on versions 2 & 3. The version 3 plastic shell is a great improvement on the version 2 hat, as it stops the hat getting crushed and dented.

In 1982, the Martinair Sindy was replaced by Amy, the Daisy-like doll, wearing the new redesigned Martinair uniform.

We are grateful to Cliff Muskiet for allowing us to use the photographs of the real stewardess uniforms, which have been a great visual aid for this page. If you are interested in air stewardess uniforms, Cliff’s website is brilliant. It is a comprehensive and beautifully photographed reference site, and it can be found here www.uniformfreak.com

Our Sindy Museum is grateful to Patricia Ruiter from The Netherlands, who collaborated with us for this page, and we would be keen to know about your own Martinair Sindys if you believe them to be original.