Goodbye Patch

1972 is the very last time that we see Patch in the Pedigree trade catalogue and in the Sindy style booklet. The Patch shown is a Canterbury Patch and the style booklet used a brand new reference for this doll (the trade catalogue used the original Patch reference). Patch is shown in her original Dungarees but minus her headscarf, however we cannot confirm whether this is indeed how she was sold, or whether she was actually wearing the dungarees variant outfit that we have shown in 1971, or her ‘Babydoll’ outfit from 1970.

In September 2003, a birthday party was held at Sudbury Hall Museum of Childhood for Sindy’s 40th birthday. David Fear, Pedigree’s Product Manager in the 1960s, was asked what he would have done differently with hindsight back in the 1960s. He replied, “Not Released Patch”. His reply was met with audible gasps from the audience, for some the idea of not having Patch was unthinkable. But, his thinking was that Pedigree lost its way by releasing Patch and Sindy’s other friends, and they stopped focusing on their main product, Sindy (12S, Issue Number 9, Page 8).

We know that by beginning of the 1970s Line Bros. Ltd, Pedigree’s parent company, was in trouble and in 1971 they called in the Official Receiver. Pedigree, along with some of the other Lines Bros subsidiaries, were subsequently sold off to Dunbee-Combex-Marx. 

Whilst Patch is very well loved today, he probably wasn’t wrong. In business, variation leads to complexity, and complexity leads to increased costs. It can also result in a company taking its eye off its main product offerings. Also, there was the issue of the huge number of Patch original outfits that were made. Warehousing and the maintenance of stock is costly; let alone the money that was sunk into buying that stock in the first place (which is dead money until that product is sold). Various accounts tell of how Patch’s original Mint in Box (MIB) outfits were available well into the 1970s, long after Patch herself had been delisted. Indeed, it is still relatively easy to find MIB Patch outfits on auction sites such as eBay today.

Pedigree used a number of different ways to clear that stock. As shown in Museum, in 1970 a Patch was sold dressed in just a simple baby doll nightie, probably hoping that new owners would want to buy clothes for her. At the same time, the prices of those outfits were reduced.

Additionally, Pedigree had introduced Poppet who could wear Patch’s clothes, and in 1971 just as Patch was being delisted, the 1st edition June who was the same size as Patch could be obtained.

All of this brings us to the Debenhams Patch. Dressed in just a pair of panties, this pretty doll was available, along with a special offer of discounted original Patch outfits in Debenhams. She was probably a last-ditch attempt to clear the dolls and the warehouse stock.

There are differing accounts as to when she was sold.  Colette Mansell in the “The History of Sindy” says she was sold from 1971 to 1973 (Page 90). 12S Magazine says she was sold in 1972 and 1973 (Issue Number 9, page 11). Thus we are showing her here on the 1972 page, and presumably she was sold until her stocks ran out.

Colette Mansell wrote that Patch was sold exclusively by Debenhams in her final years. But, the Pedigree literature for those years does not say that she could only be purchased from Debenhams. Therefore all we can say on this, is that she was probably still sold in toy stores (even if they were just selling old stock), and was also being sold by Debenhams. Perhaps the word ‘exclusive’ related not to the point of sale, but rather to the product itself, as she was just sold in her panties in a Debenhams branded box. It’s also possible that at least some of these dolls were a little different (see below).
What we can certainly surmise is that Pedigree were planning to drop Patch from their Sindy range, and the deal with Debenhams enabled them to find another avenue to get rid of their large stock of original Patch outfits.

If you have any more information on Patch in her final few years we would love to hear from you.

Patch (Ref 9GPS2) (Boxed doll outfit?)

Here is Patch dressed exactly in the last outfit that is shown in the Pedigree trade catalogue and in the Sindy style booklet for 1972. We do not know if she was actually available for sale like this, and if this was what she was wearing (see above).
She was shown wearing her ‘Dungarees’ (see 1966 Patch) but without her headscarf. She was wearing a pair of her red shoes.

Debenhams Patch (Ref X006)

This is a mint Debenhams Patch. She was sold for 70 pence, about £8.55 at 2022 prices. 
The box makes no mention of where the doll was made, but it makes it clear that this was a Patch specially produced for the Debenhams Group.
She has the same body markings as the later Canterbury Patches. She has made in England on her neck and 047001 on her back. However, her hair is coarse like the first Made in England Patches from 1966, and her face appears slimmer and more petite. She looks a little smaller than the Canterbury Patch, but she has the same measurements, so perhaps this is just an effect of her hairstyle. However, the colours of her face paint are very different to the usual Canterbury Patch. She has pale pink lips and cheeks and paler blue eyes. The paint has a very matte finish making her face look almost like porcelain. Please see the comparison photos below with a Canterbury Patch on the left and the Debenhams girl on the right.
Although Colette Mansell in the “The History of Sindy” said that the Debenhams’ Patch were sold “dressed in various familiar Patch outfits” (page 90), this is not true. They came wearing just their white cotton pants.
The packaging (shown below) made it clear that you were buying an undressed doll, despite the picture on the front of the box.
We don’t know if these differences are enough to say with certainty that this is a different doll commissioned by Debenhams. Perhaps the Debenhams girls were made on a separate production line which accounts for these variations, but she is different.
But, we have also seen boxed Debenhams dolls with the curlier hair, but we don’t have any information about the texture of their hair or clarity on their face paint. And, it is also possible that the last of the unsold Canterbury Patches could have been shifted via Debenhams.
The Debenhams box was very distinctive in that it was a yellow box with opening end flaps. Although it was a Debenhams styled box, the box still has the look of a Pedigree Patch box about it. It uses Patch’s familiar name logo and echoes Sindy’s original catchphrase with “a doll who’s fun to dress!”.

A number of her original outfits were shown on the back of the box and as you can see were offered at special prices “whilst stocks last”, attempting also to try to clear the very last of the Patch outfits.