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View Full Version : Ack! Saga and Newer figures yellowing badly



JediTricks
11-29-2009, 02:16 PM
I just went over to my setup with my Republic Gunship (to attach the turret pod), it's pretty much my only purely Ep 2 setup. I get in there, and first I notice that my POTJ preview Clone Trooper's feet has completely stuck to the floor and footpegs he's on. As I'm working this out, I look over and see Saga Arena Escape Padme and her torso is FULLY yellowed, horribly so in fact. Then I look behind her and the Clone Wars realistic line Clone Trooper's torso is also yellow!

I have a couple more of those Clones handy, and 1 of them has also got his torso yellowing, while the 3rd barely has it starting. Due to the fact that the less yellow clones aren't in the Gunship, I can only conclude that the gunship itself is what's turning them yellow. Maybe it's a coincidence, but it's not the sun because there's another clone in there facing the lighter side of the room who doesn't have yellowing, and the yellow figures have it evenly.

I guess this was bound to happen. I wonder if in another 5 years we'll be noticing the same problem with Ep 3 and The Clone Wars figures as well. :upset:

Old Fossil
11-29-2009, 03:42 PM
Same thing happened to my 3 CW realistic Clones (basic white) as well. I had them in my CW Gunship. None of the blue or yellow or green Clones I had with them had that problem. I sold the yellowing ones on Ebay earlier in the year, along with the cursed Gunship.

My Saga Commander Cody yellowed similarly, albeit worse. His torso went light yellow-green, in sharp contrast to his limbs which were still blast white. I gave him away to the 6-year old son of one of my wife's friends.

JediTricks
11-29-2009, 04:50 PM
DANG! I wish you hadn't said that about Cody, I just checked mine, he's starting to yellow in the chest as well, that's a bummer. It's not as bad as my Phase 1 Clones.

Mr. JabbaJohnL
11-29-2009, 05:02 PM
I have read on various GalacticHunter articles about possibly wiping this stuff off with a wet towel, but it sounds like what's being discussed is the plastic itself, not some film that has been mentioned on there. It could be worth a shot, though.

Either way, I've seen this too, particularly on arena Padmé. Some of the older clones are not holding their color as well as the newer ones, but as JT said, we'll see about that in a few years. It seems like they switched to a different, whiter plastic a few years ago, but who knows.

JediTricks
11-29-2009, 05:21 PM
Cody is a pretty new figure and was quite a bright white when I got him, it doesn't bode well for any shiny white plastic figures.

There was someone recently who formulated a fluid that took it out, but I'm always nervous.

El Chuxter
11-29-2009, 10:40 PM
My Cody seems fine, and I've had him in direct light for most of his life.

Ando
11-30-2009, 02:20 PM
Which gunship(s) are the suspected culprits?

JediTricks
11-30-2009, 03:02 PM
My Cody seems fine, and I've had him in direct light for most of his life.
WEEEEEIIIIIRD!


Ando, my Gunship is the original version from the Saga line.

Ando
11-30-2009, 04:41 PM
Ando, my Gunship is the original version from the Saga line.

Thank you, JT.

I have 4 of those older AOTC version gunships that I got well after the original release (2 on eBay still in the box back in 2007 and 2 more loose this past summer from a toy store that was moving and didn't want to display them at the new location).

I don't have any troopers in them right now or even displayed for that matter, but I will keep an eye out for any yellowing of clone troopers that get placed in them.

JediTricks
11-30-2009, 04:49 PM
Good luck there, if you have 4 gunships you probably have a ton of figures to watch out for that went with it.

Ando
11-30-2009, 04:53 PM
Good luck there, if you have 4 gunships you probably have a ton of figures to watch out for that went with it.

I do have a ton of troopers to go in them, yes.

It will be a few years yet until I have them loaded with troopers and displayed in any permanent way.

plasticfetish
11-30-2009, 08:18 PM
Maybe it's a coincidence, but it's not the sun because there's another clone in there facing the lighter side of the room who doesn't have yellowing, and the yellow figures have it evenly.Yellowing is caused by heat and UV exposure... and I swear, the effects seem to be totally random when it comes to Star Wars figures. There can be a lot of variation when it comes to the mix of plastics used on figures like clones, so sensitivity to temperature and UV can vary significantly.

JediTricks
11-30-2009, 10:10 PM
Well, heat and UV are worse on the other side than the one that yellowed, so it is very confusing. And that side has one of those SA clone wars ms Clones next to another preview Clone.

Mr. JabbaJohnL
12-01-2009, 07:10 PM
My Cody is also fine, as are pretty much all of my post-2004 clones. The repacked AOTC clone that came with the Darth Vader carrying case in 2005 is a little more off-white than the several other figures from the mold I've bought since 2007. Arena Padmé's chest is quite yellow, but everything else - even in the gunship - is fine. When I unpacked my stuff from their boxes and baggies last year, my Jabba Glob was secreting something nasty, but it wasn't the "glob" itself. I know this stuff wasn't made to last forever, but most of the vintage line has seemed to hold up, so hopefully the modern line will be good for a while.

El Chuxter
12-01-2009, 07:11 PM
I actually checked my Cody thoroughly a little while ago. Not a single spot of yellow anywhere on him. Just a teeny-tiny pinhead.

IG 8D8
12-02-2009, 09:17 PM
I buy a lot of used figures and rarely encounter yellowing with newer figures. The one thing to watch out for is figures that have been in the house of a smoker. I bought a large lot of SW stuff this year that looked good in the photo but once I got them they were really yellow. I mean there were some jedi that looked like a different race. They smelled very smokey too. These were mostly POTF/Ep. 1 figures.

JediTricks
12-02-2009, 09:36 PM
I'm not a smoker, so it'd definitely not be that with the figures I mentioned.

I once bought a box of MASK vehicles on ebay, and when it arrived, they reeked of cig smoke, had to leave them on the balcony for a week and even that didn't do it.

Old Fossil
12-16-2009, 02:19 PM
I noticed that my Elite Coruscant Clone Commander (the one from the Evolutions that was later put out as a single carded figure -- has the fancy pattern on his 'skirt') suffers the same problem as my old Cody: a yellowing torso.

It's just wierd. I don't smoke and I keep them in plastic bags, stored in plastic totes, at the top of my closet -- away from sunlight and with low humidity.

elvandrik
12-16-2009, 06:29 PM
Alot of of my Commtech Stormtroopers are starting to fade to yellow. Not real bad, but when you put them next to the new Stormtroopers the color fade is pretty obvious. Anyone else seen this issue with the Commtech stormies?

Snowtrooper
12-16-2009, 06:53 PM
I think some yellowing is normal. My commtech troopers are starting to yellow a bit too. Same as you, I can't really tell by just looking at them, but its noticeable when you compare it to a brand new trooper. I have a VOTC stormtrooper who looks a little off colored also.

Old Fossil
12-21-2009, 07:08 PM
The torso on my VOTC Lando is turning a subtle blue-green. The limbs are still blue.

I can't figure it. I keep him inside my BMF, tending Bespin Luke. This is the only figure I have out of storage that has a part turning a different color. I've never kept Lando in storage for more than a few days, or a couple of weeks at most.

JediTricks
01-04-2010, 06:24 PM
I honestly don't think it's environmental at this point. Yes, leaving them in the sun can have negative effects, but I wonder if that's not what we thought before, it's merely acting as an age-accelerator and these were always destined to do this. It could be as simple as mold-release oil, or as complex as the breakdown of dying agents in the plastics. I think Hasbro had been asked about this in Q&A before, but I can't find the question, nobody has asked about "yellowing" that I can find.

pbarnard
01-05-2010, 05:15 PM
I honestly don't think it's environmental at this point. Yes, leaving them in the sun can have negative effects, but I wonder if that's not what we thought before, it's merely acting as an age-accelerator and these were always destined to do this. It could be as simple as mold-release oil, or as complex as the breakdown of dying agents in the plastics. I think Hasbro had been asked about this in Q&A before, but I can't find the question, nobody has asked about "yellowing" that I can find.

Chemically it has to be an environmental causing the color changes. Something is shifting the electrons around in the dyes, and that just doesn't happen on it's own. The mold release oil should be washed/air blown off in factory. It's possible that one figure occassionally will have some residue, but not be coated in it.

I've asked about plastics and upcoming research on them (FYI Hasbro cut that entire division at the end of 2009), but not about yellowing in the past (it's at FFURG).

JediTricks
04-18-2010, 07:36 PM
I just opened 4 or 5 TAC Stormtroopers, and 3 of them had varying degrees of yellowing on their torso pieces. The upper torso seems to yellow less than the main core. These packaged figs were all in the same bag out of the light, so they should have reacted the same as each other. I also found my already-opened a TLC Luke Stormtrooper and his torso was yellowed, and yet I found my already-opened TLC Han Trooper and he had no yellowing at all.

I guess I better change the title of this thread.

LusiferSam
04-18-2010, 09:09 PM
Chemically it has to be an environmental causing the color changes. Something is shifting the electrons around in the dyes, and that just doesn't happen on it's own.

I think you're only about half right. Yellowing a surface phenomena, which means it has to be environmental. Otherwise the yellow would be even though out the whole piece of plastic. I don't believe it's the dyes. Modern dyes are pretty stable.

So, what I think is happening the same reason vintage figures yellow, flame retardants. In particular flame retardants that have bromine. Bromine is highly reactive to UV light and ready bonds with oxygen. When this happens you get a yellow to brownish color on the exposed surface. If the base color is very dark, like say black, you likely wouldn't notice anything. But in the case of a light color it will stand out sooner.

Now if someone wants to be brave and try some peroxide whiting of their yellowed figure, I'd be glad to pass on the right way of doing this.

JediTricks
04-19-2010, 03:20 PM
I have heard that using peroxide on figures takes away the surface yellowing but then encourages the yellowing to come back much faster afterwards, like a few weeks and it's back.


I misspoke, the torso on Luke wasn't yellowed after all, so it's just the TAC Stormtroopers. I also opened some TAC-era Saga Legends Sandtroopers, none of them had yellowing - ironic in my book, since they'd look better with it. :p

LusiferSam
04-19-2010, 04:29 PM
I have heard that using peroxide on figures takes away the surface yellowing but then encourages the yellowing to come back much faster afterwards, like a few weeks and it's back.

That's odd. When I've tried this it works like a dream. I'm currently running a long term experiment on this technique. I'm using Lego bricks (of which I have tons of) rather than one my SW figure (which I have fewer of). The brick that's getting full Sun really hasn't changed that much. I'll check them against the control bricks in a few weeks. I do know different plastics and different flame retardants can have mixed results vs ABS. Also the fact the limbs and torsos are made from different plastics is also an effect.

JediTricks
04-19-2010, 10:16 PM
I looked it up because I couldn't remember for sure. It turns out it was Transformers pieces that were darker and discolored being over-bleached by the peroxide, it was the base color fading, not yellowing, that I was remembering. So, hydrogen peroxide 35% plus sunlight plus EXTREME CARE AS THIS STUFF IS DANGEROUS can equal de-yellowing, but on colored parts you have to be careful not to overdo it.

El Chuxter
04-19-2010, 10:32 PM
Acetone on the harder plastic will take off any yellowing. It will also make your figures look awesome, like dessicated zombies dipped in lava.

JediTricks
04-19-2010, 10:40 PM
Acetone on the harder plastic will take off any yellowing. It will also make your figures look awesome, like dessicated zombies dipped in lava.
It amazes me how much good advice you're full of, Chux. Yessir, I always tell people "El Chuxter is really full of it."

El Chuxter
04-19-2010, 11:08 PM
Stupid as it sounds, I discovered that the hard way. Acetone in small batches works wonders to get stubborn paint off the rubber parts of SW and Joe figures. A hard plastic Flint torso, not so much. Unfortunately, it screwed it up so badly I couldn't put it back together, or I would have a total zombie Flint figure now.

Neuroleptic
04-20-2010, 08:47 AM
Currently, I only have one figure that is yellowed. My white protocol droid (I want to say his name is R-3PO, but I could be wrong) from the hoth patrol battle pack has yellow hip joints. The rest of him is a nice bright white, but both his hips are yellow. No idea why, as he's preaty new, and kept in the same condition and on the same book shelf as my army of stormtroopers (all of which are bright white).

JediTricks
04-20-2010, 02:43 PM
Jeez Chux, have you considered NOT dunking your figures in caustic chemicals? ;)


Neuro, you are thinking of K-3PO, and that figure always had yellow joints because it's using the Endor C-3PO body which was originally designed to be vac-metalized over most of the body and those joints were toned with gold to try to match (they didn't). The K-3PO redeco somehow screwed up the joints pretty bad, probably because of the material used on the joints, which isn't standard ABS. As you can see, it's evident case-fresh right out of the box: http://www.rebelscum.com/tlcBPHothPatrol.asp

El Chuxter
04-20-2010, 02:49 PM
I stupidly didn't consider, when it worked on the rubber, that it was too strong for different plastics. I have not repeated that error. (Luckily, the Flint torso was totally an extra piece and I didn't have to buy another one..)

LusiferSam
04-20-2010, 10:25 PM
I looked it up because I couldn't remember for sure. It turns out it was Transformers pieces that were darker and discolored being over-bleached by the peroxide, it was the base color fading, not yellowing, that I was remembering. So, hydrogen peroxide 35% plus sunlight plus EXTREME CARE AS THIS STUFF IS DANGEROUS can equal de-yellowing, but on colored parts you have to be careful not to overdo it.

35%? I have no idea even where you'd buy concentrations that high. Anything over 10% can cause chemical burns and I thought highest concentration you buy over the counter (in the US) was 6%. I've only used the typical 3%.

Now something I spaced out about modern figures and that's the plasticizers. There's a lot more plasticizers in modern figures than were used in vintage figures. Plasticizers are highly volatile and leach fast. It's the new mouse droid smell Tycho likes so much. This has to have an effect on the aging. As to what it might be I can't say off hand.

JediTricks
04-21-2010, 03:41 PM
35% isn't something you find at the drugstore, that's 3% and has added stabilizers which change its safety and make it unusable for human consumption. 35% is used in food prep, and you should be using "35% food grade" (as there's another marketed 35%, but it's for industrial use so it has added chemicals which could adversely interact with your figures). Food grade 35% is strong stuff, but it's "food grade" not because you can ingest it as-is, that would be horribly deadly, but because diluted it can be ingested when used for food prep such as keeping away fungus in fish and dairy and egg items. It's strong, dangerous stuff, but supposedly is the best one for de-yellowing white figures as it's quicker and more controlled, and doesn't have additives found in drug store H2O2. It's something you can get online for around $10.

If the plasticizers were less common in vintage figures, it wouldn't be a cause of yellowing because those figures have more of it than new figures. I believe when plasticizers outgas, that is just excess from the production process, but over time if you leech out plasticizers from the rest of the material, I believe that would lead to brittleness. That said, I haven't noticed any POTF2 figures getting brittle or stiffer, so I think the plasticizers aren't leeching.

LusiferSam
04-22-2010, 01:06 AM
I don't think I'm communicating my point about the plasticizers very well. The plasticizers aren't causing yellowing. But they are important in the ageing process. The different plastics and different plasticizers mean POTF2 and later figures will age different than the Kenner figures. The Kenner will all basically age the same, keeping in mind that storage condition as vary great. So we can't look to the past as an indicator to how modern figures will. I go so far as to say we can't even look to the POTF2 figure as a guide to the current line aging. I know the POTF2 and Saga figure have a different feel, ie different plastic and/or plasticizers.

Now I complete disagree with your statement about the plasticizers not leaching out after an initial outgasing. I agree the initial outgasing is from the production process. But as I said earlier plasticizers are highly volatile. By their very nature they have to leach out. Also the plasticizers are embedded in a matrix, in the case the plastic, and are not part of that matrix. It's like air in a balloon, over time the air leaks out. How fast it happens is something I don't know. I would say we should start seeing problems with plasticizer loss in the next 5 to 10 years. And yes as plasticizers leach out the plastic becomes stiffer and more brittle. But you have to have fairly high loss levels before brittleness really becomes an issue. So that should be an issue in the near future for the oldest of the modern figures.

Currently plasticizers leaching out is a major problem for Barbie collectors. The heads get sticky (honey head) or have clear droplets form on them (weeping Barbies). Vintage SW figures also can become sticky or have a white crystalline film (frosting). It's not a mold, like I've heard some people say on other sites. Does the same fate await our POTF2 and later figures? I'd say yes.

JediTricks
04-22-2010, 05:34 PM
Oh, ok, I see what you mean about how they're different from one type to another.

I would also agree that the material used on POTF2 doesn't have the same qualities as the more modern lines.

Over the course of eons, yes, the plasticizers will leach out of the figures (thanks for using the correct word which reminded me that I was using the homonym, this isn't my field so I don't use it often), but do you really think that within the "operational lifespan" of the figures (the time that a single generation of collectors is alive and able to enjoy their figures), they will significantly leach and cause breakdown? I don't believe so, not based on the performance of the POTF2 figures. Yes, they're different, but I believe their ABS is essentially the same as what we're seeing with newer figures, just a variation on that mix. We're not getting the sticky stuff and white stuff you're talking about with those older toys so far. Keep in mind, these figures are 15 years old, and yet they seem to be holding up fine. These don't seem to be the less stable, earlier plasticizers of the '60s and '70s. And most of the Star Wars vintage figures out there are holding up pretty well considering they're 4 decades old.

I will ask my step-dad, he's a manufacturing engineer who has worked with this stuff most his life. But at this point, I think we'll see probably a functional lifespan of 60 years or more out of these modern figures, minus the white plastic discoloration concerns brought up here.

LusiferSam
04-23-2010, 06:14 PM
I have no idea which "right word" your taking about, but I guess your welcome. :confused:

Well I guess we'll have to agree to disagree on this. Most figure torsos are a styrene type plastic, as to whether its ABS or some other type I'm not sure on. ABS is pretty stable plastic. The legos I have from the 60's some very little sign of aging other than some discoloration. Now Lego brick don't have any plasticizers in them as far as I know. If Hasbro has been using ABS in the torsos I don't believe there would be much use of plasticizers.

The limbs are a different story. Those I believe are made from PVC. PVC is normally a very hard plastic. But most limbs on SW figures "soft." The plasticizers give than nice pliable feeling to them. PVC isn't a stable as ABS, particularly with the addition of a plasticizer. It's the limbs that have me most concerned for aging.

So what type of time scales are we talking about. I would say in the "normal functional lifespan" of a toy you aren't going to see any thing. What's the "normal functional lifespan" of a toy? I'd say under 10 years. Most people grow out of their childhood by the time they're teens. We here are the odd balls in that we have acquired and hung on to our toys for so long. In 60 to 70 years, the time when most of us should be pasting our collections on, I'd say you're going to see I wide range of age related effects. A lot of it will have to do is storage and display.

So I check a bunch of my figure last night. I didn't check everyone but a group of them. The figures I personally worry the most about are the Battle Droids. The limbs are very thin, very rubbery and in general they're white figures. I was highly bothered by the fact the all of the Ep 1 and one of the POTJ Battle Droids were all a bit tacky feeling. That tells me the plasticizers are leaching out and I need to store these figures different. If you Battle Droids are on display they be outgassing better than mine or a tin layer of dust might be masking the tackiness. In any case this won't the first or last indecent of sticky modern figures.

JediTricks
04-27-2010, 04:44 PM
I have no idea which "right word" your taking about, but I guess your welcome. :confused:"Leech" vs "leach".


Well I guess we'll have to agree to disagree on this. Most figure torsos are a styrene type plastic, as to whether its ABS or some other type I'm not sure on. ABS is pretty stable plastic. The legos I have from the 60's some very little sign of aging other than some discoloration. Now Lego brick don't have any plasticizers in them as far as I know. If Hasbro has been using ABS in the torsos I don't believe there would be much use of plasticizers. What makes you think LEGO bricks don't use plasticizer? They're extruded or molded parts which generally requires a plasticizer to avoid cracking during temperature shifts or to cracking during the manufacturing process. Just because they are hard plastic doesn't mean they didn't require plasticizer, they're just not using as much, and not using a phthalate - the plasticizer that's been in the news so much the past few years. They absolutely use plasticizers or else they couldn't be molded or extruded into the shapes they take, especially the high-tolerance shapes that LEGO parts specifically conform to.


The limbs are a different story. Those I believe are made from PVC. PVC is normally a very hard plastic. But most limbs on SW figures "soft." The plasticizers give than nice pliable feeling to them. PVC isn't a stable as ABS, particularly with the addition of a plasticizer. It's the limbs that have me most concerned for aging.They say they use ABS and PVC. I would say your uses seem correct, torsos get ABS while limbs and heads get PVC.

As for the plasticizer, I talked to my step-dad, he's a manufacturing engineer, at length about this issue on Saturday. He said that with these materials, the plasticizer cannot leach out, once mixed together with the base material, the plasticizer molecularly bonds with the original material to make the new material, that they combine to make "the plastic". Any plasticizer that comes out isn't leaching from the material, but unbonded excess. The only ways a plasticizer will leach out is if the molecular bonds of the base material break down either from the material exceeding its lifespan or if another material is breaking apart the molecular bonds, and then you have total breakdown of the product, it doesn't just get brittle, it crumbles apart.

Considering we've ruled out light exposure as the cause of the yellowing in these figures, and I can rule out temperature extremes for mine, that leaves chemical influences. In this case almost has to mean impurities in the original mix, my step-dad says that a lazy individual factory machine runner (I forget the term he used for this person) might produce these issues by improperly mixing in the dyes or flame retardants or other additives just in that batch, and that these are what's breaking down in the color issues showing up only in SOME of the figures. It's from not being properly bonded to the material in the initial manufacturing process, causing early rapid tinting or breakdown of the dye.


So what type of time scales are we talking about. I would say in the "normal functional lifespan" of a toy you aren't going to see any thing. What's the "normal functional lifespan" of a toy? I'd say under 10 years. Most people grow out of their childhood by the time they're teens. We here are the odd balls in that we have acquired and hung on to our toys for so long. In 60 to 70 years, the time when most of us should be pasting our collections on, I'd say you're going to see I wide range of age related effects. A lot of it will have to do is storage and display.I highly doubt the lifespan is set under 10 years only because of storage, shipping, and storage times before it gets into the consumer's hands. I can see 5 years before getting into the customer's hands being perceivable, which would leave just 5 years before the material is intended to break down. Hasbro is extremely concerned with customer safety with their products, they're the best-testing major toy retailer to come out of the recent toy scandals. I can't see them arguing for less than 15 years from factory to disuse on those merits alone.

Maybe we should pose this question in Q&A, another site asked about the lifespan of the figures in regards to storage, but not to intended use, so they didn't get a specific answer since Hasbro doesn't concern itself with collector storage.

Considering that ABS and PVC products can be made with operational lifespans measured in generations (look at some PVC plumbing from the 1930s that is still holding up today), it seems unlikely that the lifespan on on figures would be focused as short as 10 years, that would be weaker than a plastic milk jug (in terms of permeability).

Of course, there are different lifespans to consider, colorfastness may be a tertiary issue to them. On the other hand, I will point out again that with POTF2 figures, we've got 15 year old Hasbro-manufactured product holding up fine and 32 year old Kenner-manufactured product holding up too.


So I check a bunch of my figure last night. I didn't check everyone but a group of them. The figures I personally worry the most about are the Battle Droids. The limbs are very thin, very rubbery and in general they're white figures. I was highly bothered by the fact the all of the Ep 1 and one of the POTJ Battle Droids were all a bit tacky feeling. That tells me the plasticizers are leaching out and I need to store these figures different. If you Battle Droids are on display they be outgassing better than mine or a tin layer of dust might be masking the tackiness. In any case this won't the first or last indecent of sticky modern figures. I just grabbed 3 Ep 1 Battle Droids, 1 "clean" and 1 "dirty" variety (for those who don't remember, there were 4 paint scheme varieties) and 1 from the STAP, and they are indeed tacky after a decade in simple loose group storage. But here's the thing, these figures haven't lost any pliability whatsoever, and the STAP one is less tacky than the others despite being the same (it was displayed but sat under some papers after losing one of its missiles). They've also all held their colorfastness, in fact both pliability and color seem better than I remember them originally being. So this could be excess plasticizer that wasn't bonded to the plastic to begin with, it could flame retardant, it could even be mold-release oil, but I don't see any signs of the plastic breaking down at all, which is what would happen if the surface of the material were leaching its plasticizer. You'd see a loss of pliability and you'd see cracking.

If plasticizer were leaching out, those rubbery Saga battle droids would be hardening up over time, but they're not, they actually seem to be getting worse, more rubbery. As a thermoplastic, that means either they are warming up beyond their set temp, or they are suffering from gravity's effects more. I can again attest to mine not getting significantly hotter.

I suspect this is not an incident that is leading to "the beginning of the end", as it were, just excess additives leaching out over time, not a breakdown of materials. I have found other Ep 1 and earlier figures that are tacky, and I've even found more POTF2 figs that have had color issues (the shoulders on my gray Ugnaught are showing a little fading), but when you wipe away the tacky surface, they perform the same as new.

In fact, I'll do a test. I've wiped away a very tacky surface on one of those '99 Battle Droids, on the thigh. Now I've pushed my thumbnail into the plastic (without lateral movement) until it has left a mark, and performed the same action into a Clone Wars Battle Droid's thigh until it left a mark. They took roughly the same amount of pressure to mark on the surface, the very area where a leach of plasticizer should have broken down the plastic soonest and been more brittle or even crumbled away. I did the same test with their forearms, and got similar results. I don't have a durometer, so this is the closest test I can perform, but it also gives direct tactile results and I can tell there is no cracking where I cut down into the part.

I think what's going on is standard outgassing, not leaching, that normally would just evaporate into the air, like how "new car smell" eventually goes away, but either by storing the figures in areas with poor air movement, or suffering exterior surface contact through dust or what have you, the outgassing has built-up the excess that normally would have evaporated, causing to condense on the figure's surface. In fact, the tackiness has already started to subside on those battle droids I left on my desk about 20 minutes ago when I started my reply.

Also, tackiness isn't really a good sign of problems in of itself, I've gotten a lot of new figures the past few years from other companies like Mattel that are tacky straight out of the package.

Getting back to colorfastness, my step-dad says that white is pretty much the hardest color to get plastics to take, it's very easy to mess that up. Most of my yellowed figures are white - Stormtroopers and R2's body are my main examples of yellowing. The clear stand on my STAP is also yellowed some, and it doesn't seem to be a UV issue since the yellowing appears uniform (with regards to thickness) even where it was partly covered by the STAP collection point. Clear plastics also seem to show the most color issues over time in other Hasbro lines, especially Transformers. Does that mean they're leaching plasticizers, or is it something else? The clear parts usually start brittle - I've had them break down upon opening - and never have tackiness that I've heard about, so I don't think it's a plasticizer issue in regards to leaching. And they are clear, which means not dyed, so it's not dye breakdown. That leaves flame retardant aging, mold release oil (assuming they put it in the mix and not just sprayed down on the mold after a few runs), or another additive that is aging, tinting, or breaking down.

LusiferSam
04-28-2010, 08:40 PM
Because this long post for me to reply to, I'm going to do something a little bit different and use some dictation software to write it. I'll try and watch for bizarre mistakes, but hopefully this should keep the normal level of dyslexic errors to extreme minimum.

First, the proper terminology is outgassing. You reach into a solvent, like water, and outgas into an atmosphere. So technically your step dad is right there is no leaching occurring, unless you happen to store your figures in water. However he's wrong about the materials. Plasticizers do not bond to the plastic to become part of the polymer chain. If they did the result would be a copolymer. Plasticizers are dispersants in the matrix of plastic. It's more analogous to an alloy where you have molecules plasticizer trapped by chains of polymer. Also the US and EU aren't talking about banning Phthalates, a whole class of plasticizers, because they're staying put in plastic.

Second, I still think what I'm saying about plasticizer loss is still not coming across well. You have to lose a lot of plasticizers before you start seeing effects due to loss of the material. With vintage figures we are still not seeing any major negative facts on the plastic itself due to plasticizer outgassing. So I highly doubt you see any noticeable difference with your pressure test. What I am saying, is that a residue that is formed on the surface of the figure is evidence of some type of outgassing. The most likely additive that I can think of that would out gas is the most volatile. The most volatile additive that I can think of would be the plasticizer.

A tacky figure itself is not necessarily a sign of plastic breakdown, but it shouldn't be ignored. In the case of the battle droids I find it to be slightly disturbing because I know these figures were not tacky, sticky, or oily when I bought them. It's a change that is occurred while I have owned them. Something is leaving this sticky residue behind. Additives are in the plastic for a reason, into something is outgassing it is no longer serving its purpose in the plastic. The long-term prospects of storing plastics for say 50 to 100 years are what I'm concerned about when I talk about plasticizer loss.

I assumed Lego bricks didn't have a plasticizer because of the polybutadiene. Polybutadiene is an artificial rubber and has many of the characteristics that a plasticizer would have. I spent 3 and half hours searching for what additives Lego adds to it it's ABS. But couldn't find anything beyond the conform to government safety standards. So I'll stick by my original assumption unless you come up with anything to the contrary.

So back to the discoloration, your step dad is absolutely right about white being very difficult to get right and keep consistent. I think it's a little hard to absolutely rule out UV exposure unless you've kept your figures in a sealed black container. Many households light sources are capable of putting out small amounts of UV. Also photochemical reactions can happen with lower energy visible light. However in this case I think oxidation is more likely cause. Given what I currently know about the flame retardants, I would say they are your most likely culprit.

Well I hope I've caught most of the mistakes, but a long post like this and I'm likely to have missed a few.

El Chuxter
04-28-2010, 09:06 PM
LusiferSam, that was a very intelligently-written post. Since this is the internet, I am obligated to respond stupidly.

Plasticsizer makes yer feets stink! LOL! Buuuuuuurn! I got u good!

JediTricks
05-14-2010, 05:10 PM
First, the proper terminology is outgassing. You reach into a solvent, like water, and outgas into an atmosphere. So technically your step dad is right there is no leaching occurring, unless you happen to store your figures in water. However he's wrong about the materials. Plasticizers do not bond to the plastic to become part of the polymer chain. If they did the result would be a copolymer. Plasticizers are dispersants in the matrix of plastic. It's more analogous to an alloy where you have molecules plasticizer trapped by chains of polymer. Also the US and EU aren't talking about banning Phthalates, a whole class of plasticizers, because they're staying put in plastic.ABS is a copolymer, it polymerizes Acrylonitrile and Styrene in the presence of polybutadiene: http://plastics.inwiki.org/Acrylonitrile_butadiene_styrene
http://www.matweb.com/reference/abspolymer.aspx

Also, I don't see your analogy to an alloy, as I understand it, an alloy is a matrix of elements, not a sandwich of elements.


Second, I still think what I'm saying about plasticizer loss is still not coming across well. You have to lose a lot of plasticizers before you start seeing effects due to loss of the material. With vintage figures we are still not seeing any major negative facts on the plastic itself due to plasticizer outgassing. So I highly doubt you see any noticeable difference with your pressure test. What I am saying, is that a residue that is formed on the surface of the figure is evidence of some type of outgassing. The most likely additive that I can think of that would out gas is the most volatile. The most volatile additive that I can think of would be the plasticizer.

A tacky figure itself is not necessarily a sign of plastic breakdown, but it shouldn't be ignored. In the case of the battle droids I find it to be slightly disturbing because I know these figures were not tacky, sticky, or oily when I bought them. It's a change that is occurred while I have owned them. Something is leaving this sticky residue behind. Additives are in the plastic for a reason, into something is outgassing it is no longer serving its purpose in the plastic. The long-term prospects of storing plastics for say 50 to 100 years are what I'm concerned about when I talk about plasticizer loss.50 to 100 years is likely beyond the operational life of the plastic itself though, so the plastic would be breaking down and then leaching out the components. The plastic on these is not breaking down, if you lose the plasticizer from the finished product, the material left behind loses the characteristics it gained from the plasticizer. That's why I argued it was outgassing excess plasticizer that was never amalgamated into the matrix to begin with, not suffering a breakdown of the material itself which has the plasticizer as an integral component.



I assumed Lego bricks didn't have a plasticizer because of the polybutadiene. Polybutadiene is an artificial rubber and has many of the characteristics that a plasticizer would have. I spent 3 and half hours searching for what additives Lego adds to it it's ABS. But couldn't find anything beyond the conform to government safety standards. So I'll stick by my original assumption unless you come up with anything to the contrary.LEGO posted a press release a couple years back saying their plasticizers have never been phthalates. They don't use much, but ABS without any plasticizer is too brittle to be used, it's like glass, it is very difficult to survive the molding process.


So back to the discoloration, your step dad is absolutely right about white being very difficult to get right and keep consistent. I think it's a little hard to absolutely rule out UV exposure unless you've kept your figures in a sealed black container. Many households light sources are capable of putting out small amounts of UV. Also photochemical reactions can happen with lower energy visible light. However in this case I think oxidation is more likely cause. Given what I currently know about the flame retardants, I would say they are your most likely culprit.Some of these were stored in a lightless closet under lots of other stuff, UV exposure was limited to only time in factory and very brief time on shelf at the store, yet they yellowed. In my book, that rules out UV.

JediTricks
01-24-2013, 03:22 PM
Last night, I went to check out my Vintage Saga Collection Biker Scout and its torso parts were yellowed to hell, pretty much identical to my VOTC Stormtroopers.

However, this time I looked inside the torso joint and even on the inside of the parts, where no light or dust or ANYTHING could have gotten to them, the parts had yellowed - that rules out any environmental factors except air. No UV, dust, or smoke exposure on this figure is possible.

My best guess is that Hasbro's chinese factory vendor didn't mix their plastics properly for the torso parts, which are ABS while the rest of the figure seems to be PVC, and the dye or another additive broke down after an overly-short lifespan.

Considering this is a collector-focused item and came with a premium pricetag, one would think they should have taken more care than the average cheapo throw-away toy sold to 6-year-olds.

Bel-Cam Jos
01-28-2013, 08:40 PM
I just haven't looked at most of my stuff in likely a couple years. Therefore, not only haven't they yellowed, but they have IMPROVED their condition and value. :naive: :rolleyes:

Nice to know that they "really do care." :(

JediTricks
01-28-2013, 08:58 PM
They care about making disposable baby toys, basically. :p Who cares what happens 10 minutes after the little bastages rip open the package and lose the figure under the couch?