Starlight Sindy was a loft find. I had been through a long, frustrating period of trying to get hold of an original-sculpt doll (sometimes known as “sad Sindy”, “wistful Sindy” or even “sulky Sindy”) in decent condition but it hadn`t gone well. I`d find a Sindy, think she was OK, get her home and discover missing hair plugs, pushed-in eyelashes, broken fingers, split knees (since this time I`ve been doing some work on these poor things, which I will feature later). All this time, this Sindy had been waiting patiently in the loft, with her perfect shiny hair and her unchewed hands and feet. The sad thing is, she was in with a load of Barbies who were heavily played with, so she`d obviously not been a big favourite. But that`s all changed now, as I think she`s fantastic.
What is it about Barbies and Sindys? In the same way that people often feel obliged to like either cats OR dogs, people seem to fall into one camp or another with these dolls. It was certainly that way during my childhood but thinking about it, I`m really not sure why. Did we take some of the rivalry of the manufacturers on board, on some unconscious level? I had Sindys, but I don`t remember them very well. I suspect that they were hand-me-downs from my cousins, and I don`t recall being very impressed. I cringe about it now, and am constantly pestering my Dad to poke round in the loft in case there are any up there, but at the time I much preferred my Barbie. I didn’t like how Sindy`s hair grew in rows, and I hated the way she looked partially bald unless you kept her factory hairstyle. Mostly, I think for me, Barbies represented the shiny and new and contemporary (and unaffordable) whereas Sindy was mundane (and second-hand).
Several times, I have read that when first produced, Barbie`s body shape was a controversial change from the childish, chubby contours of the fashion dolls who came before. Sindy certainly falls into this camp, with her plump cheeks, small breasts and narrow hips. Ruth Handler created Barbie because she believed that “little girls want to be bigger girls”, eg children don’t want to play out fantasies about being adults with dolls that look like children, that given the choice, they would rather pretend to be a womanly, grown-up-looking doll. When I started collecting again last year, I was surprised at how much I liked vintage sculpt Sindy. However, I suppose that now I am a bit older and I have had a child, my perception of what`s beautiful has changed. Youth is nothing special to the young, who have never known anything else – often its something that they want to get away from as quickly as possible – but as I`ve got older, I`ve started to think that youth is completely special, and sublimely beautiful. I can see similarities between the vintage Sindy face and my nearly-three-year-old`s face; I`m sure he wouldn`t thank me for pointing this out to the world, if he could read and understand what I meant, but I don`t mean he`s effeminate. He just has the full, plump cheeks, wide bright eyes and smooth skin that are universal markers for vigorous good health and the capacity for growth – and so does Sindy.
Anyway, Starlight Sindy was produced in 1984 and was one of the last dolls produced with this sculpt. The following year, Starlight Sindy was produced again as a Smirky. I managed to identify her, even without her sparkly jumpsuit, by her side parted, crimped hair, thanks to this site: http://www.sindy-collectables.com/index.cfm?articleid=1868. The only fault I could see was that on one side, she seemed to have one piece of hair shorter than the rest, but then on the Flickr photostream of purple_monkfish I found a photo of the same doll, in Blonde, who was showing the same fault. The photographer said she thought this was so that when her hair was in its factory style, which was a side ponytail, the ends would be even. Duh! I felt a bit daft, but was relieved to hear that my great loft find was perfect once more.