Wait wha?.. Welcome back readers! Before I continue, I feel I should state extreme caution should always be used while handling any chemical. Be sure to use gloves, eye protection and any other required protection. Now, onward.
Today We’ll be looking at using Oxygen Peroxide to restore vintage figures and vehicles that were produced with white plastic, back to their original shades of white. Figures and vehicles such as Snow Job, Iceberg, Stormshadow and the Snow Cat vehicle, and really any old toy cast in white plastic, are prone to turning an ugly shade of yellow over the years. What causes this color change? Break down of chemical compound on the plastic, Direct exposure to sunlight, cigarette smoke, artificial ultraviolet light, Heck, I’ve even heard that a fire retardant was originally added to the chemical make up of the plastic during the production process. Whatever the case, figures and vehicles are turning yellow with age. So can this effect be reversed? Yes, if with different degree of success. From the research I’ve done both online and talking to other collectors, results are greatly varied. Some get fantastic results, while others report less than stellar results. I did find one common denominator though, The “formula” varies depending on who you ask, as many tend to have their own spin on what combination of chemicals and chemical amounts to use, and how much exposure to the sun, or more explicitly, ultra violet light, is needed for success.
The procedure involves submerging the specimen in Oxygen Peroxide and setting both out in the sun for a few hours or up to a day depending on the severity of the yellowing. In addition to peroxide, some add oxygenated detergent such as Oxy Clean. Yet another variable is using Corn Starch to solidify the mix into a gel like consistency. Peroxide comes in different grades starting at 3% grade all the way up to food grade 35%. For my attempt, I’m going to be using the 3% grade purchased at Target. Why? because it’s the most widely available and you can try this with your figures after reading this entry.
Our guinea pig for this experiment is going to be Clifton L. Nash, aka Iceberg. The reason I chose Iceberg is that while most of his outfit is white, he does have some blue and green on there as well and I wanted to see of those colors would affected by the peroxide. I attempted two separate trails :
Trial one involved a mixture of two chemicals, oxygen peroxide and Oxy Clean in liquid form mainly to avoid any graininess that might come from the powder. Into a glass bowl, I poured a cup and a half of Peroxide and two Table Spoons of Oxy Clean. I submerged Iceberg completely dissembled, covered the bowl with Saran wrap and set outside in direct sunlight for a good 10 hours. the result were good as I could see some improvement in the overall tone of white on the figure. The yellow wasn’t as pronounced. My only doubt with this trail run was the effectiveness of the added Oxy Clean as the mixture did not dissipate into a clear mixture like I initially thought it would. The mix remained a cloudy blue, the color of the Oxy Clean so I wasn’t sure that any ultra violet light even touched the figure. Nonetheless, there was improvement.
Trail number two involved only Oxygen Peroxide only but with 2 days worth of sunlight. Same procedure, Clear bowl and Saran wrap. This time the results were really good! I can’t imagine a figure off the production line in 1987 looking any better. I was really surprised to see the Peroxide without the Oxy Clean work even better, but ultimately it did.
Here are the before pictures:
And the After! Success!
I snapped these pictures in the same light at the same exposure so hopefully you can see the difference after just one treatment. The white plastic is definitely a few shades brighter, while the blue and green and brown skin tone remain unaffected. After the peroxide treatment, I took the figure through my usual restoration procedure which in his case included a new O-ring, Rust treatment for his screws with CLR, some minor paint touch ups on his hands, and a complete once over with 303 to bring out the shine. The end result is a good as new Iceberg.
Welcome back buddy!
I hope to try this again with stronger grade Peroxide on something bigger, perhaps with the Polar Bear or Snow Cat. C’ya then!