Plastic degredation: brittle & crumbly?!

Discussion in 'The Toyark' started by ryan.j, Oct 5, 2009.

  1. ryan.j

    ryan.j Well-Known Member

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    hallo! i'm sure this has been discussed to death, and god know i tried to search for it, but the search on here is slightly terrible and i couldn't find anything.

    i picked up a vintage AT ST on the 'bay the other day. was fairly cheap by ebay standards and although was clearly the wrong side of yellow, i've been reading about the dilute peroxide miracle cure that's been doing the rounds and was anticipating giving him a bit of that action. he arrived today in one piece, so i gave him a once over before leaving for work and left some nice feedback. all was well.

    however whilst giving him a gentle scrub with some warm soapy water this evening (he stank of mildew and such) i noticed some of the fine surface detail on the yellowy-brown bits was breaking away, on closer inspection the surface of the plastic had become incredibly brittle and thin parts seemed to crumble very slightly if i gave it a tap.
    i stopped 'giving it a tap' at that point. i'm also fairly confident that peroxide will strip it to the bone... is the AT ST knackered and it's legs doomed to collapse? is this a normal thing for extreme cases of photoblahblah degradation or am i just Special?

    i'm wondering if i'd be better off mat varnishing/painting them to try and retain some surface integrity, or will half hour of peroxide not do too much damage.

    <pics to follow if next time i'm near the thing in daylight>

    PS. if anybody has a pair of cheap vintage AT ST legs off a junker so i can try bleaching it (or a mint one you want to sell me for peanuts out of sympathy!) how much you want for them?
     
  2. ryan.j

    ryan.j Well-Known Member

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    apologies for the blantant bump, but i'm still hoping somebody who knows a bit about plastic degradation on vintage toys will be able to offer some general advice.

    no pictures though, because i completely forgot. imagine some yellowy-brown looking plastic.
     
  3. Seawing

    Seawing Lurker of the depths Moderator

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    Without seeing pictures, I can only guess that the plastic is too degraded and it is disintegrating. Unfortunately we as collectors don't know how well plastics are going to hold up in the long run. Over time all plastics will degrade and depending on the plastic used, sunlight, chemicals, age, stress, temperature,etc. causes the plastic break down faster. That is why most collectors try to buy figures in really good shape; the chances of it disintegrating are less frequent (but it can still happen). In my opinion, the Hydrogen Peroxide treatment does work in the short term but nobody knows how the figure will hold up in the future. Will it crumble in 5-10 years? Do you want the figure to last that long or do you care if it does? While the better figures may cost more in the short term, they are usually a better investment in the long term. As for your AT-ST, it sounds like it is pretty much junk. The plastic is going to keep disintegrating and I don't know how it would hold up to the Hydrogen Peroxide treatment. It could be a good practice figure to test it on and see what happens but unfortunately if you want a pristine one, you'll have to buy another. Hope this helps.
     
  4. LigerPrime

    LigerPrime Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, I agree with regards to plastic degeneration. If I'm not mistaken hydrogen peroxide also eats away the plastic? If so, I wouldn't be surprise if it weakens the overall structure of older plastics.
     
  5. ryan.j

    ryan.j Well-Known Member

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    cheers for the advice chaps, that's pretty much what i was thinking. the damage itself looks like normal photodegradation (albeit quite i'd speculate the moisture somehow got into the damaged surface and has started to break it down.

    the AT ST's only partial junk since the yellowing is only particularly horrible on the legs and everything else is ok. i think i'll pick up a less junky junker to mix & match and bleach the old ones to see what happens. (assuming i can change the legs, i've not given it much thought...)

    normally if i buy vintage toys i'll buy the ones with little/no yellowing, but the price was right on this one.
     
  6. ckhtiger

    ckhtiger old skool fool

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    a buddy of mine just gave me his voltron 3 (gladiator) to sell on ebay. as I was separating them, one of the heads just shattered on me. those things are the epitome of brittle right now.
     

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