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View Full Version : The age-old problem of white figures turning yellow



Devo
01-28-2005, 08:34 AM
I just received a VOTC stormtrooper in the mail (I ordered four but received and was charged for only one) and have observed that its a more vibrant white than my other figures which I thought were a rather pure white - including the recent SA clone trooper.

Has anyone ever discovered how to stop this yellowing of white figures? My room isn't well lit, sure its got a big window but its the wrong side of the house to catch direct sunlight. Even on the sunniest days my room is relatively dull.

JediTricks
01-29-2005, 01:20 AM
As far as I know, it happens even if you throw it in cold storage, as long as there's air in the bubble it will affect some plastics and time will do so too. Light and dust and smoke do seem to make this worse faster though, especially to figs that weren't going to yellow otherwise.

CrunchyNug
02-07-2005, 01:41 PM
Unless you never open anything, you might eventually have this problem, but it depends on the individual figure. I just dug up a bag full of Clone troopers from my garage and found that several of them had "yellowed" a bit...or actually turned a light green (similar to the 12" Clone.) The figure that has this problem is the Red Clone on the AOTC card. The repainted versiosns from the Clone Wars Value Packs are affected as well.

I was very surprised to find this since I've taken very good care in storing all of my loose figures, but it's that's one Clone Trooper mold that has lost its brightness.

plasticfetish
02-08-2005, 01:33 AM
Has anyone ever discovered how to stop this yellowing of white figures?Short answer: in the long run, you probably can't.

Long answer: my understanding of why plastics yellow, comes from what I know about objects made from one of the earliest kinds of plastic...

Phenolic resin or "Bakelite" was a plastic used widely in '20s, '30s and '40s for thousands of things. It was popular because it was heat resistant, it could be molded, cast or carved, and it could be produced in a multitude of colors. One of the very earliest uses was as a replacement for objects made of ivory like billiard balls and piano keys.

A lot of jewelry was made of Bakelite decades ago, and for a while my wife collected the old thick bracelets. We'd find some and they'd be brightly colored and vibrant, then we'd find others and they'd be dull. If it was something white, chances were good that it'd be yellowed.

Plastics, like many things (think about how some people's teeth yellow from cigarettes or coffee) absorb pollutants and then change color. The process is sped up by sunlight or UV. In the case of Bakelite, because it happens to be a very hard material, you can take a very fine grit sandpaper to remove the top layer or "patina" from the item. Many times, I've seen old dull Bakelite items made much brighter from a cleaning, but it does mean having to remove a layer of plastic.

So, what can you do to keep your Stormtroopers/Clonetroopers white? Keep them away from pollutants -- which can be tough, because in many cases (like where I live in Los Angeles) the air outside can be a problem. Also, keep them away from direct sunlight -- which isn't too tough, and if you use a UV resistant case for carded figures, it should help.

What can you do to turn your yellowed Stormtroopers/Clonetroopers white? Well, probably not much. They'll turn yellow or patina in different ways, because as with most toys today, they're all made with different mixtures of various plastics. Figures today are made form ABS, polystyrene, poly-amide, polyethylene and bunch of other synthetic materials. They all age and react to their environment in different ways, so the best you can do is try to protect them from things like dust, smoke or even the fumes from other plastics and paints.

-----

As an aside, I have to say that when it comes to some of the older things that I've collected, I kind of like it when there's a little bit of aging. When it comes to vintage toys, over-cleaning something isn't a great idea because you can actually remove paint, and if you use chemicals to clean things, you can cause more damage.

I wash things with a very gentle dish soap, using maybe a sponge or a soft toothbrush. You should dry things gently, but well. In some cases the most you can and should do is just give the toy a dusting, then put it somewhere safe.

:)

Devo
02-09-2005, 09:26 PM
I suppose thats one thing. I rarely dust my vehicles and I never dust figures. Unless I can see the dust and its obvious I just don't think of it. In the past when I have dusted a vehicle like tha A-wing I've been taken by surprise because the dust muted the red so much. Also I washed the canopy and was amazed to note that it was actually transparent! I'd almost forgotten.

My '95 Falcon is always covered in dust and areas of the plastic that used to be white and without 'wear-and-tear' paint are now dirty and yellow simply from sitting on the shelf and not being dusted. It has a certain charm to it and is actually quite film-accurate although I do prefer my new OTC falcon for all its inappropriate whiteness. Given time I suppose that too will dull.