Sunday, January 22, 2012

vintage figure restoration- whiten your whites without fading your colors

My love for vintage toys and other collectibles has forced me to purchase some pieces most people wouldn't touch. I look at a yellowed Stormtrooper or a box of unstrung GI Joes as an opportunity, there's a story behind that toy discarded in that box. Someone loved it greatly and forgot about it in a flash. Recently at the Tampa Comic Con I ran across a table with a vintage 12 inch Stormtrooper standing at attention on a table, but it was already noon.

"Why is it there?" I wondered as I neared the table.
"They probably want a ton for it, might as well keep walking. I might miss out on something cool if I stop and ask about it, besides I already own two of them. What the Hell am I going to do with three? Oh look, it's mustard yellow. That is some serious sun damage, I wonder how much they want for it?"
The booth was run by Kensho Comics out of the bay area, nice bunch of people that were really enjoying the show and had very reasonable prices on everything on the table. Much to my surprise the trooper was only $5, I think they were equally shocked that I didn't dicker with them over the price. As we introduced ourselves, I mentioned my Facebook group (Raging Nerdgasm) and the fact I consider myself a toy historian and restoration buff. Discussing my techniques, we exchanged business information and I left with the figure tucked under my arm and my mind racing with what I needed to do to bring this figure back from almost 35 years of neglect.
Getting the figure home, I assembled my list of supplies. A gallon tub, two bottles of hydrogen peroxide, an oven bag ( newly introduced to me by my loving wife) and a paste of my own concoction. Putting the figure in the bag, I added both bottles of hydrogen peroxide until the figure was fully submerged. After the figure is fully submerged, I pushed all the air I could out of the bag, tied it off and placed it in the gallon tub. Next is the most important thing, a sunny spot to put it in for 12 or more hours. The heat isn't the important thing, it's the sunlight. The peroxide and sunlight is important in reversing the yellow "aged" look.
Roughly two days later (it's Florida here, so most sunny days are soon followed by rain....even in the middle of November) I pulled the figure from it's basting bag and give it a rinse. The Stormtrooper now looks surprisingly clean, not mint by any means but certainly not the mess it was when I bought it. A few treatments with the homemade paste (don't mix chemicals boys and girls unless you are a professional and don't get this stuff on colors because it will fade the crap out of them) and I feel I've done everything that can be done to this figure without damaging it. I've gone from a junk piece that a collector wouldn't look twice at, to a piece that is suitable for even some of the pickiest Star Wars fans. The white is fresher looking, there is absolutely no fading on the black paint or the fabric string to hold the trooper's gun and a little Mop & Glow Future polish in a pinpoint dispenser to tighten the wrist joints and it's ready for display or to be sold somewhere down the line.

Some things to remember-
Don't mix chemicals, it's seriously dangerous if you don't know what you are doing.
Always work in well ventilated areas, fumes get overwhelming quick.
Use the simplest techniques first, once you've gone to far you can't reverse your results.
and most importantly
These are old toys, anything that's too white or clean is going to get some weird looks or a lot of questions.

1 comment:

  1. oh, extra shout out to Kensho Comics. scope out the facebook page