Toys / Toy Collecting

Say Good-Bye to Action Figure Yellowing

By Randy Herkowitz
January 18, 2009 - 07:36

Perhaps one of the greatest frustrations of collecting action figures out of the package is the test of time. For many action figures that use white plastic, which includes Star Wars Stormtroopers, G.I. Joe’s Storm Shadow and a plethora of Transformers toys this has been a nightmare because up until now collectors had very little control over preventing this yellowing effect from happening. Many collectors recommended keeping items away from sunlight or in acid free cases. As a collector, I tried the many of the recommended procedures. Nevertheless, the yellowing would still happen. I clearly remember the sadness I felt when I noticed my original Star Wars Power of the Force Luke Skywalker in Stormtrooper fatigues action figure was starting to discolor. He was once a gleaming white and beyond my control the white was starting to look like it had caught jaundice.


yellowing test1.jpg

Now in the 21st century, there may very well be a solution to this problem and I am here to tell you about it. Please note, the testing process is in its infant stages. Therefore, long term effects are currently unknown. Also, if you choose to attempt this possible cure, know it is at your own risk and finally, chemicals are involved. Therefore, it is important to think about safety. Such as wearing gloves and keeping the chemicals out of the way animals and children. Now let me begin with the process.

What you need is a chemical called Hydrogen Peroxide 35% food grade. I have read of other people using a lighter grade but I am solely going by my successful test. This chemical can be ordered off of the internet and I am told it can also be purchased at health food stores. A bottle will run approximately $18.00 unless you go with a higher quantity.

When I received the chemical I transferred the liquid into a clear jar with a screw on top. Again, please wear gloves. This chemical can temporarily turn your skin white and cause itching. I didn’t make an effort to see what else it could do to my skin. Just be smart.

I used two action figures for my test; A Starcom Tony Barona action figure that is virtually all white but had begun yellowing and a Transformers Action Masters Jazz. Jazz has not only other paint applications but also has an Autobot sticker. I chose not to take him apart and just put the whole figure into the jar.

Once in the jar, seal it with the top and place it in or near sunlight. It’s rather ironic that what is known to cause the yellowing problem is also a part of the solution. I live in Vermont. Therefore, a sunny day is not as predictable as if you live in California. I left both figures in a window and to my surprise I started to see results right away. Thankfully, on the third day of this experiment the sun was out shining. Therefore, I took the jar outside to give it as much sun as I could.

When the day was at its end I brought the jar in and to my amazement, what was yellow was now white. I put my gloves on and grabbed some tongs and removed the figures from the jar. I rinsed them off for about thirty seconds with lukewarm water and laid them to dry. After about a half an hour, I patted them dry with a paper towel and picked them up. To my amazement, the plastic did not seem to have any adverse affects. The yellowing was gone, no paint was damaged and the sticker on Jazz was not affected.


yellowing test2.jpg

This was a very exciting day for me as it appears I may no longer have to worry about the aging of my plastic play things. This also appears to work on other discolored plastic due to aging as well. However, as I said, this procedure is new and if it has any long term affects has yet to be seen. I only wish I didn’t sell that Luke Skywalker in Stormtrooper disguise out of frustration as I could have brought him back to his “like new” appearance.

Please feel free to ask me any questions in the comments section and I will do my best to answer them.

Last Updated: September 6, 2021 - 08:15

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