View Full Version : cleaning vintage figures

06-02-2002, 11:19 AM
I apologize if this has been discussed in the past, but here it goes...

I recently got my vintage figures and vehicles out of storage some of them have layers of dust and grime on them. Other than that, they're all mint. Does anyone have any suggestions on the best cleaning solution and methods to clean the figures. I didn't want to use anything that may ruin the paint jobs. Also, the AT-AT and AT-ST have many nooks and crannies, so I was hoping someone might have some ideas on cleaning those hard to reach places.

06-05-2002, 05:24 AM
battery operated toothbrush and washing up liquid seem to do the trick. Then you don't get too much water on yuour stickers. Also I then dab with Bounty or something like that.

TIE Pilot
06-11-2002, 12:11 AM
And don't use any solution that's "lemon scented". I've been told it'll make the white plastic yellow in time.

06-17-2002, 06:28 PM
The best thing I have found is just plain water. I'll use a little water and a q-tip for my figures and small area on vehicles. For bigger areas a small lint free cloth. Final for the real tight spots really the only things that works is air. A little can of air, like for cleaning the inside of a computer. But this has one draw back, you can blow the stickers right. Hope that helps.

06-18-2002, 03:18 AM
I found that the vintage stuff is really resiliant. I had my Star Destroyer under the shower and it's been fine!!!!

06-18-2002, 03:27 PM
Lime-Away and a wire brush.:D

No really, the tips given here already are pretty good. I usually use dishwashing liquid (thanks for the warning about lemon-scenting TIE Pilot).

I used to use Windex with Ammonia for my vintage vehicles, it smelled but didn't seem to have any effect on the plastics or coloration.

06-18-2002, 07:09 PM
Thanks for the tips, guys!

06-30-2002, 12:33 AM
Oh I should say, the only reason I avoid using chemicals is because I worry about future interactions between the plastic and the chemical cleaners. But that's just a personal reason.

07-01-2002, 07:37 AM
onto that question. I have an Original 12" stormtrooper who now has yellow tinting to him. Soap did not work to remove the coloring. Does anyone have any ideas as to how I may get that BRIGHT white coloring back?

07-02-2002, 12:48 PM
Sorry yellowing is not something you can clean. Its a photochemical reaction in the plastic. Most light colored or clear plastic yellow as they age. Normally its from exposure to sun light. Once yellowing has started you can't undo it. But you can slow it down and affect how much any item will yellow. The best thing is to store your Stormtrooper in a cool, dry, and dark place.

07-30-2002, 01:20 AM
Originally posted by bigbarada
Lime-Away and a wire brush.:D


I totally bit when I read that.
("Oh my god ... what did he say?")

My big worry has always been the toll that age takes on the plastics used in the older figures. A few of my figures have started to display signs of decomposition ... some of the plastic and paint have actually gotten sticky or tacky. Specifically ... the "Death Squad Commander" and "AT-AT Commander" have sticky feet and hands, as if the paint is going soft. I generally (when it comes to vintage toys) never worried too much about cleaning ... I'll use simple green and sometimes Windex and a q-tip or soft cotton cloth ... but given the state of these figures I've begun to worry about using things with ammonia or any kind of dyes.

I would say water is the safest thing. That and a gentle hand ... these old plastic toys can't last forever. Which is why I've gotten very used to and fond of the typical signs of aging, like dust or small blemishes.


08-03-2002, 03:44 AM
That topic was discussed earlier where the figures crystallize so that a sugar-like substance coats the figures. This is due to the cheap plastic used in some of the factories in Asia toward the end of the vintage line. Earlier figures (I'd say pre-1983) shouldn't have as much problem with this. I have some figs that have done this as well (Teebo, 4-lom, rebel commando, etc.) but I still display them and I don't think they're going to fully decompose in my lifetime anyway.

08-03-2002, 04:25 AM
Originally posted by AdmiralPiett
That topic was discussed earlier where the figures crystallize so that a sugar-like substance coats the figures.

Hmmm ... sugar-like ... that's a weird one. Yeah, perhaps ...
... though, these are older (pre '80) figures ... and it's more of a softening of the plastic and paint. In particular the black painted areas of those two I mentioned. No doubt, they wont be turning to pudding in the near future (hah) but it's safe to assume that 25+ year old plastics can start to show some interesting signs of aging. Most of my figures (and most of mine are from '77) show signs of softening around the joints and then turning brittle in other places. I think it's just the nature of the beast ... and how long they last obviously has a lot to do with what additional chemicals/polutants you expose these plastics to.

At any rate, I have no doubt that heat and plain old bad Los Angeles air are the biggest threat to most of my older toys.