Wild fantasy horses and ponies

Toy horses unicorns and ponies banner

As a kid, magic flying was one of my favourite fantasies. I read a lot of E.Nesbit books including The Phoenix and the Carpet. I loved to imagine a bird’s eye view and cool Peter Pan air rushing past my ears. It was an utterly free, yet totally safe world. A benevolent talisman carpet, genie, winged horse or unicorn (with unlimited powers and no will of its own) was always along for the ride.

Real life was different. There were adventures, but flying through the air was normally part of an accident. Animals had wills of their own.

My sister Jo had access to a very wilful pony called Major and she was allowed to take him out and ride him cross-country. She absolutely loved it and would go out to experience a rush of freedom and power. Without the magic protector though. Major had a nasty habit of bolting (running off out of control at break neck speed), so riding him must have been risky. It’s crazy to think of in these coddled days.

In about the same childhood era, Pedigree had on offer a horse toy with realistic proportions called the Dapple Grey.

Sindy white and grey horse

Buy Sindy’s Dapple Grey horse

Vintage Sindy horse and box 1970s
A horse can’t recognise it’s own reflection in a mirror but a dolphin can.

The level of detail is surprising compared to the stylised Sindy doll it belonged to:  defined muscles and even veins and ribs showing underneath its ‘skin’.


Buy Sindy riding outfit vintage knitting pattern

If you couldn’t afford to buy a doll’s riding outfit, you could knit one.

A little later in 1992 Mattel issued Barbie’s Rosebud. Fairly realistic with a dash of long lashed fantasy. I like her – very pretty and more animated than Sindy’s horse. Although Dapple Grey has beautiful presence.

Barbie Rosebud Horse 1992

Buy Barbie’s Rosebud horse

Barbie Walking Beauty Horse 1998

This 1998 design from Mattel had the best intentions of realism but fell slightly short with this stiff legged but captivating robotic result. It’s fun to play with: you hold the body and touch the hoofs to the floor. Two hoofs move forward by themselves and it feels like it’s walking. Hence the name Walking Beauty. The best thing about this model is that it neighs hysterically when you press its neck. It also has a foal called Kelly’s Pony.

Barbie Walking Beauty Kelly Pony 1998 reverse

Buy Barbie’s Walking Beauty horse and Kelly’s pony

Concurrently, Hasbro was riding high on the success of My Little Pony and into the second generation issue aka G2. It’s a recognisable pony shape but nuzzles for a full oxytocin release and appeals directly to the inner child.

My Little Pony Golden Light Princess 1997

Buy My Little Pony Golden Light Princess G2

My Little Pony Princess Celestia 2010 reverse

Buy My Little Pony Princess Celestia unicorn

At the time of their release, I really disliked My Little Pony – it just seemed like 10 teaspoons of sugar in a cup. But they’ve really grown on me. I recently saw a lame copy in a shop and noticed how far the design fell short. Take a look below – the face looks hard and emotionless. It takes time and skill to create appeal and cuteness. The copy cats put together individual ponyish parts (long curly hair, long eyelashes, cartoon form) but that wasn’t enough. The Hasbro models succeed on every level. They feel nice too. When you hold the little yellow Princess Celestia pony, it fits perfectly in your hand, like a pebble or a stone step shaped under thousands of footsteps. Smooth and pleasing.


If you have a sweet tooth you might enjoy this 2010 sugar candy treat from Mattel. It’s completely transparent and may as well be made from pure sugar.

Mattel Barbie Secret Door unicorn 2010

Buy Barbie and the Secret Door unicorn

Here is a craftsman in China, forming a sugar horse by hand.

Canter forward and today we have Monster High Fright Mares – empirically teenage in temperament and character, inspired by monster movies, sci-fi horror and thriller fiction. Perhaps the safer environment of children today leads to a need for wilder, more ‘dangerous’ toys? Love the packaging and copy writing “Bay Tidechaser: I unlive for the ocean and wind in my mane and the waves on my hoofs. I mean, is there anything better than a gallop on the beach at dawn?”

Mattel Monster High Fright Mare Bay Tidechaser 2014

Ride, ride like the wind!

Credit to Jo Sinclair for the memories and horse riding video link. Nature writing from Jo at her blog Murmuration.

Thanks for reading. Comment here about your favourite horse, pony or unicorn models. Mego deserves a mention but I had to end the post somewhere…

Love Valentine hearts

Valentine’s day is on the 14 February. So now is a good time to search out and reveal my (small) collection of heart themed fashion doll clothes.

Surprisingly hearts don’t feature much in either Barbie or Sindy fashion and I haven’t seen many good designs. However, my favourite outfit is really knockout: the 1983 “Loving You” Barbie skirt and bodice with puff sleeves (looks like a dress but it’s actually a set).

Display tip

Fill the sleeves with a strip of white gauze to make them puff out.

1983 Loving You Barbie 7072 frock

Such a perfect confection. Sprinkles on fairy cake icing.

I have one of these on eBay right now.

Buy Loving You Barbie Valentine set

In a reverse mirror of the Loving You dress is, a rather horrible handmade dress I’ve dubbed the ‘shock frock’. It does have a certain appeal. Like an old threadbare teddy with one dangling eye. I might try and rescue it one day: a piece of ribbon around the waist to cover the wonky waist line, clean hems and gather the bottom of the sleeves to make them puff.

shock frock handmade valentine hearts

In the same vein, this gauzy skirt. It looks as though it’s part of a wedding dress. Unidentified.

Dolls gauze for skirt with white flock hearts

Second favourite in my collection is a beige Sindy sweatshirt with 3 emblazoned hearts from the 1981 Sindy Separates collection.

Sindy 1981 beige sweatshirt with 3 red hearts #44030

Maybe a favourite because I’d love to wear a life size version of it. It reminds me of  fashion label PPQ that my sister occasionally modelled for in the 90s when she was friends with the founder, Amy Molyneaux. They did a few things with sweatshirt fabric – can’t seem to find any examples online though.

I like that sleeve seam diagonal from neck to underarm. It makes a more rounded shoulder. It’s the three overlapping hearts that make the design brilliant. Just that simple overlap gives the graphic loads of character and animates it slightly.

Next up a summery number originally from a catalogue pack for fashion dolls (most likely Littlewoods).

Multi-colour large hearts doll dress

This may be from the same pack?

Multi-colour mini hearts doll dress

This shape of dress – fitted bodice and flared skirt seems to be very fashionable at the moment. I have a lovely human sized one by Damsel in Distress available now on eBay in UK sizes 8, 10 and 14.

Sabina sleeveless dress by Damsel in Distress

Buy Damsel in Distress Sabina dress size UK 8
Buy Damsel in Distress Sabina dress size UK 10
Buy Damsel in Distress Sabina dress size UK 14

Not sure about these two. Probably Barbie but the one on the left has something of a MyScene look.

Barbie dresses with hearts

The hearts seem incidental on this pink Barbie Fashion Fun jumpsuit from 1984.

1984 Barbie Fashion Fun 7906 pink jumpsuit

This is a little outfit for a Pippa 6 inch size doll. It’s part of the rather grandly named ‘Monaco Collection’. The pattern reminds me of sticky back plastic for kitchen tiles – but in a good way. It’s one of the pinafore and dress combinations that I wrote about in 70s Victoriana

6 inch doll red hearts dress and pinafore separate

And here are a few T-shirts which lack imagination really…

Dolls T-shirt with glittery red hearts

3 fashion doll sleeveless T-shirts each with a single heart

But might look good with a pair of cheeky shorts.

Barbie i love your buns shorts

If you liked these, some feature in my Valentine themed ‘On the Rail’ print which is available as a Valentine card or a print in my shop.

Valentine dolls clothes rail with love hearts

Buy a Valentine card

Buy a Valentine print

FYI the white sweatshirt with the zig-zag applique ribbon is 1984 Sindy Fantasia (it went with a pair of green shorts).

5 February 2018
Frankie Sinclair

Rubbery jelly plastic shoes

Willy Wonka and Violet Beauregarde have teamed up to create this fantastic Jelly and Plastic Shoes board on Pinterest. As Mary Quant explains, a lot of the shoes are made simply by pouring chewing gum into a mould!

Screenshot of Jelly Plastic Rubber Shoes Pinterest board
Screenshot of Jelly Plastic Rubber Shoes Pinterest board

OK, only kidding. I created the board to go with the latest collection of ShimmyShim Pop Prints which feature 8 pairs of my collection of over 200 dolls shoes. Because they are all made of plastic, they are more like jelly shoes than any other ‘real’ adult sized shoe. I really love the aesthetic because of the vibrancy of the colours. The actual dolls shoes are less than an inch long, but the prints are 8 inches square, so you can see the ‘patina’ of the plastic on each one. Originally they must have been sculpted in clay and then cast and mass produced, so when you look closely you can see scrape marks.

Red plastic dolls shoes close-up
Red plastic dolls shoes close-up

Red plastic court shoes for dolls

Plastic shoes – set of pop art prints in yellow orange and red

Here is the vintage film in which Mary Quant describes inventing jelly boots. I’m not sure if she was the first to use the technology or not, but her designs are certainly recognised as being at the vanguard of design. And the style of those little ankle boots is to die for!

“You just pour a kind of chewing gum into a mould… They said more or less ‘come and play with our machinery’ and this is how we started making these shoes… Just like making jelly.”

It’s sad and worrying that most real plastic shoes (let alone dolls shoes) are not biodegradable, but they can be recycled and some are described as eco-friendly.

In 2011 there was a company called Figtree Design created these wonderful looking biodegradable slip-ons, but they seem to have disappeared now. What a shame! I look forward to seeing something like this in production again soon.

This Adidas shoe sounds promising: it is made from plastic collected from coastal areas in the Maldives (presumably it once polluted the sea).

Limited Adidas x Parley for the Oceans Ultra Boost

So, it’s kind of ironic, but you can currently buy shoes that look wonderfully like dolls shoes. My favourite two companies are United Nude and Melissa.

United Nude ‘Lo Res Pump’

I can’t actually wear these shoes as they hurt my feet too much, but I love looking at them and they look great on display.

Melissa 'Dragon' shoes by Vivienne Westwood
Melissa ‘Dragon’ shoes by Vivienne Westwood

You can get the collection of Pop Shoe images as an instant download from ShimmyShimShop

Collection of 8 Pop Shoe square prints available to download
Collection of 8 Pop Shoe square prints

Jelly shoe shops list

Melissa – Vivienne Westwood designs and other cartoon princess shoes
United Nude – architectural 3D software style
JUJU – classic jelly sandals and chunky heeled sandals
Jelly Beans – classic glittery jelly sandals
Holster – flip flop type sandals with plastic gemstones
Crocs – light weight anti-hero style


Show me pictures of your jelly shoes!

And do you know of any biodegradable plastic shoes? Let me know here.

Frankie September 2017 x

70s Victoriana

Prints - 3 gingham Victoriana dresses one green, one pink and one blue

Victoriana was a trend in the early 1970s for a nostalgic fashion harking back to the 1890 – 1900 period before the first world war. Perhaps it seemed like a more innocent period.

3 gingham Victoriana dress prints available to buy from ShimmyShimShop

Gingham Victoriana prints in green, pink and blue available now in the shop Buy Now

Laura Ashley was one of the most famous designers producing Victoriana, and perhaps she associated it with a homely feeling of safety, as she had many great aunts who she remembered dressed in the old fashioned clothing during the early part of her childhood in the 1920s.

One of my favourite fashion doll outfits is Sindy’s Pinny Party – dated as a 1973 design by Our Sindy Museum. I really love it for the lurid colours. And it has a very synthetic twist on the Victoriana offered by Laura Ashley.

Yellow and pink Victoriana style smock dress for a Sindy doll.
Pinny Party Victoriana style smock dress for a Sindy doll.

Also worth a look is this Pippa dress from the Monaco Collection (if you love this take a look at more on PippaDoll.net).

Pippa doll Monaco collection red hearts pinafore dress

Laura Ashley loved natural fabrics and harmonised colours with a homely feel, which she actually designed to be worn at home. She demured,

“Most of our garments are to be worn at home. They’re not… for making a splash in a dramatic place.”

Whereas her Welsh counterpart, Mary Quant was famous for clothes which cut a dash with clashing colours and op art graphics.

Laura Ashley dresses in Fashion Museum in Bath UK
1970s printed cotton dresses by Laura Ashley exhibited at the Fashion Museum, Bath, UK in 2013


Ashley on Quant:

“I’m the country one and she’s the town one. She’s marvellously urban… whereas I’ve got my roots in the country”.

Mary Quant mused:

“I think the point of fashion for women should be,

One: that you’re noticed.

Two: that you’re sexy and

Three: that you feel good.”

It’s almost as though, by accident, some of the Sindy doll outfits ended up being a crazy medley of Mary Quant and Laura Ashley designs. Take this orange and silver dress for example – it’s op art and Victoriana combined.

Op art and Victoriana orange and gold dress
Op art and Victoriana in one dress

I was 4 years old in 1971 and my young aunt Fiona got married that year. There was a big church wedding with lots of bridesmaids and pageboys, and I was one of the bridesmaids. We all wore the most amazing matching Victoriana style patchwork dresses with lace trimmed sleeves. We kept the dress which I managed to fit into for a birthday party and I remember being fascinated with it although I didn’t quite understand it. I mostly wore jeans and T-shirts by that time so a long dress with ribbons, lace and glass buttons was quite a strange novelty. After that I really got into dress-up though and it became a favourite game to dig through my aunt’s old clothes which she kept in a big wicker hamper and prance around the garden in them with my sister and cousins.

It’s a shame there aren’t any colour photos as it had lovely shades of mauve in it. I think the glass buttons were a dark purple colour. [Note – might be able to get a photo from our photo album this weekend will post here if I do]

Another childhood memory I have is watching the 1970 UK film the Railway Children

And the American show Little House on the prairie (first aired 1974).

There are some dresses called ‘frontier patchwork’ which were designed by Mattel for the 6 inch Rock Flowers dolls in the early 70s which match this.

Here is a fabulous Pinterest board by terrebella ✽ moda with a really lush selection of both Victorian and Edwardian inspired fashion.

The Laura Ashely quote was taken from this documentary about her life and business (22:20)

And the Mary Quant quote from this CBC interview (towards the end)

IKEA and now

Sindy disco flat pack every girl's dream
80s Twister game slogan the game that ties you up in knots
Were IKEA going for a bit of irony with this?

I went to the IKEA house party on Greek Street in London’s Soho today*.  Loved it! They’ve taken over a whole house and recreated a room from each decade on each floor, starting with the 80s.

Entering the 80s room, I just totally mainlined on nostalgia. It was extraordinarily palpable. Recreated around me was an era I lived through without a smart camera. Moment by moment, lived spontaneously and immediately forgotten. Never revisited until now.  It’s a strange feeling to walk into the re-creation of an era you lived in the moment and haven’t been back to since. The effect was just like sniffing a bottle of the 80s. In fact, if they had worked on the scent in the room, I might literally have teleported back.

I’m a huge fan of IKEA. It’s form and function in affordable harmony. Before that cheap furniture was MFI: tacky, beige, lowest common denominator. MFI never struck out with any kind of aim to fly high and as the Guardian quipped it fell flat on it’s back. IKEA has vision. It sells to millions of people and yet it’s still possible to own a piece of IKEA furniture that none of your friends have. Because they make short run lines as well as classic repeats. I have a slim chest of drawers made from naked wood that I’ve never seen anywhere else. It’s great for storing necklaces, earrings and balled up socks.


On each floor of the house is a room from a different decade. They’ve all been styled perfectly and with humour. Next to the disco in the 80s room is a Twister game laid out on the floor with the slogan ‘the game that ties you up in knots’. Perfect, perfect slogan for an IKEA flat pack instruction manual with tangled up people clearly drawn by the same illustrator.

Climb up the house through the 90s, through the present to arrive at the future. Here is a responsive room with a vegetable garden. In 2025 ‘smart assistants’ are less of a novelty and we’ve stopped asking them silly test questions and posting the silly answers on YouTube. Hopefully they’ll be able to tackle aphid attacks and manage sprinkle systems because we don’t have gardens anymore and our living rooms are furnished with lettuce.

IKEA future room vegetable incubator

Likeable. Anything could happen really. Smart assistants would be handy, even essential  for some people. My friend is currently trying to figure out how Alexa or Siri can help her mother who is unable to move after a stroke but can speak clearly.


*Actually the IKEA house party was 18 October 2017 – I’ve only just got round to finishing this post. It finished that weekend but if you’re interested, head over to the Geffrye Museum in Hoxton (London UK) as the whole museum is based on the same rooms through the ages premise. With easier access as you move along through the rooms rather than up and down stairs.

ShimmyShim shortlisted for humorous sci fi Christmas cards


Buy Christmas in Space cards >>>

I was really excited to get shortlisted in a competition I entered with my ShimmyShim Christmas in Space cards.

A bit stressful though as I was off on a long weekend break to visit family. Spent a lot of the weekend posting on Facebook and Instagram. Some of the other shortlisted companies had thousands of followers so it felt somewhat David and Goliath.

Didn’t get through to the final judging round but I learnt a lot about Social media in a very short time! Including how to create an Instagram story, how to get blocked from posting on Facebook groups for a week and how NOT to email everyone you know on LinkedIn. Aaaaaagh! All part of learning and growing.

The Business Booster competition

The Business Booster competition is run by www. printed.com – they’re a UK based printing company. They will be exhibiting at the Top Drawer designer gifts trade show in January 2018 and they ran a competition to select 2 finalist printed gifts designers to showcase alongside them.

The judges in the final round (after the social media popular vote) were:

Veronica Dearly, Founder, http://www.veronicadearly.com
Sharon Little, CEO, Greeting Card Association, http://www.greetingcardassociation.org.uk
Andy Dunn, Founder, Creators Club, http://www.creatorsclub.co.uk
Nick Green, Founder, http://www.printed.com

All the card designs

Event – So Last Century Sunday 17 September

Happy to say that ShimmyShim will be at the upcoming So Last Century vintage fair in Beckenham, London UK. We’ll be offering greeting cards and pop art prints of microvintage fashion.

So Last Century vintage fair poster in bright pink!

As well as pop art by ShimmyShim, there will be over 40 hand-picked vintage traders selling mid-20th century decor, lighting & design, furniture, West German ceramics, homeware, kitchenalia, brocante, vintage clothes, accessories and jewellery, original 1950s, 60s & 70s travel posters, records, upcycled goods and a whole lot more.

And take a break in Truly Splendid’s Vintage Tea Room upstairs with delicious cakes and scones. There’ll also be top-notch street food, craft beer and excellent coffee alongside more vintage stalls outside.

Sunday 17 September 2017

11.00am – 4.00pm

Entry £3 (or £2 with a flyer, or if you follow @solastc on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram). Children under 16, free.

Venue 28 (next to the Spa and Library)
Beckenham Road

How to find us ShimmyShim’s stall will be upstairs.





Red accents are fireflies in a blue room

Red dolls scarf with blue circle flower pattern

Check out these bejazzling fireflies for a second tinyurl.com/fireflies-on-google

Red in a blue room has the same effect. It sparks. It’s a catalyst for some kind of explosive event. But the whole experience  is calmed down by the blue. It’s as thrilling as fireworks, but you can live with it. Whereas a red room can be too intense: a little disturbing.

Set of 8 red square prints in a blue room


I’ve created a new Pinterest board featuring blue rooms with red accents

Includes this dizzyingly beautiful deep, deep blue room designed by Tamara Kaye-Honey (House of Honey) and featured in Rue magazine.

Tamara Kaye-Honey (House of Honey)

Compare to a plain blue room. Gives you the chills. You need a bit of fire to keep warm. A pure blue room only works if it is actually an igloo. Or an ice hotel.

Design John Bark & Charli Kasselbäck. Photo Asaf Kliger

Sindy’s Pinky

girl with Sindy doll in purple outfit

I suddenly decided it would be a good idea to take part in the Penge Jumble Trail this year about 4 days before it kicked off. If you haven’t heard of jumbletrail.com and you like shopping bric-a-brac (or searching for Sindy doll treasures), go and check it out now. It’s a really useful website where you can either organise your own jumble trail, or look for upcoming jumbles. You select an area and then invite people to join in. In America they call it a garage sale – in the UK we sometimes call it a yard sale but basically you set up a stall outside your house. Obviously it works better if other people are doing one on your street or nearby on the same day and that’s where jumbletrail.com comes in handy.

Luckily someone from another postcode was looking to partner up for a stall in my area and I had some company – not sure how I would have managed otherwise as I seemed to spend the whole day running in and out. I whizzed over to the local supermarket and bought 8 lemons and made real lemonade which went down well. The trick to the recipe is blending the whole lemon, pips, pith, skin and all. Then straining it out. With the sugar it gets that super-tangy bitter sweet taste. Since it was a blasting hot day, cold drinks went down well. My front garden is South facing with no shade, so we lashed an umbrella to a post and huddled under it.

girl on green wooden chair with Sindy doll in purple nylon

My jumble-buddy Jane (who it turned out I’d been calling Kate all day aaagghh bit dyslexic), brought her daughter and she adopted one of my Sindy dolls. I’d put a bag of rejected dolls out, including quite a nice Sindy with somewhat loose hip joints and a missing little finger. Sarah (not her real name but since I’m posting her picture) must have been around 10 years old and worked really hard on the stall with us all day and sold a lot of books for her Mum. Very patient! Instead of getting bored, she started playing with Missing Pinky and assembled a very stylish purple outfit with matching white petticoat, ballet shoes with string ties and a purple bow. It’s funny because I’ve collected over a 1,000 fashion doll clothes since February; I’ve washed and ironed and kept almost all of them except for about 20 rejects put out in the jumble sale. And Sarah managed to make 2 or 3 great little outfits out of them. Fashion designer in the making?

I also sold a Sindy with funny discolouring on her face to a local lady who turned out to be an avid Sindy collector (60s period) with an expertise in hair rerooting. So I’m going to be back in touch with her to see how she transforms the Sindy.

All in all a good day.