21 August 2009

How to remove price tags, stickers, from Transformers boxes and Transformers

One of the key push/pull factors in whether to purchase a particular G1 Transformer MIB or Transformer box is whether there is a price tag stuck somewhere on it, especially if it was on somewhere prominent.

Imagine a price tag doing this to your beautiful vintage G1 Transformer box.


Transformer boxes with price tags stickered over the box art or the clear plastic window is likely to be less in demand and command lower prices (at auctions or through private sales). To the discerning collector, it is almost regarded as a defect. On the other hand, Transformer boxes that are price tag free tends to command higher prices and are more in demand (at auctions or through private sales).

I know this because I have over the years been purchasing MIB Transformers or Transformer boxes with price tags on them, that are consequently generally lower in price at auctions.

Why would I do that?

The answer is: because 90% of the time, I can remove the price tag or sticker from the box without damaging it one bit.

How do I remove price tags and stickers from delicate, 20+ year old Transformer boxes?

The secret is Zippo Lighter Fluid which over the years, I discovered that this works best for the purposes of removing price tags/stickers.

Here are some simple steps:
  1. Dispense Zippo Lighter Fluid onto and around the edges of the price tag/sticker. Be careful not to let it smear over, or flow onto other areas of the box unnecessarily (have a piece of tissue paper around to soak up excess lighter fluid).
  2. Lighter fluid is very volatile and will evaporate fairly quickly. BEFORE the fluid on the price tag/sticker dries completely, repeat step 1.
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 until the price tag/sticker is soaked through. You will know the price tag/sticker is 'soaked through' when (a) it begins to appear semi-transparent and you can see the box art below it and (b) when you can start lifting the corner or corners of the price tag/sticker off the box WITHOUT tearing the box.
  4. Attempt to completely lift the price tag/sticker off the Transformer box. It should lift off so easily that it does not feel like it is a price tag/sticker or have any stickiness at all.
  5. If you are unable to lift it off completely at some stage because you feel there is resistance and that continuing would result in you tearing the Transformer box, STOP. Repeat steps 1 and 2.
  6. Continue to repeat steps 1 and 2 while intermittently continuing to try and lift the price tag/sticker off, in an incremental fashion.
  7. If there is some sticky gunk or residue on the box after the price tag/sticker is removed, dispense Zippo Lighter Fluid on the affected areas, and just before the fluid dries off wipe that area with a piece of soft tissue. The gunk or residue should wipe off easily. If not, repeat this step until all the gunk or residue is removed.
The key to successfully removing price tags/stickers from vintage Transformers boxes is - patience. It can take as little as 5 minutes to completely remove a price tag/sticker and all its residue; or it could take as long as 1.5 hours if you encounter a particularly stubborn price tag/sticker (these are usually the poor quality prices tags back in the day and where the moist gluey part has completely dried off making the price tag paper almost merge with the box on a molecular level).

I removed the Japanese price tags from 5 of my 6 Liocaesar individual boxes at the rate of around 20-25 minutes each. See result here.


Before and after removal of price tag on vintage Killbison box

The price tag on my Kickback box for example, is one tough customer. I struggled with it for over 1.5 hours but still did not achieve 100% success. See top right hand corner. The price tag was so stubborn that it mercilessly tore away some parts of the box art (white patches in the photo); it was so vicious that it had stained the box slightly yellow as well.


Vintage Kickback box with price tag removed from top right hand corner


Removing, repositioning stickers/decals on Transformer figures
This above process may be used to remove stickers on your Transformer toys as well. These come off a lot easier and there is little to no risk of tearing off a chunk of box art. It is a painless process to remove old and worn stickers from toys and then replace them of fresh stickers.

The advantage to this process is that this - stickers removed this way will regain their stickiness once the lighter fluid dries completely! That means you can remove badly applied stickers and reposition them.

I have used Zippo Lighter Fluid to remove and reposition entire sets of stickers on many, many Transformers over the years. I must say that it works wonderfully.

My Blitzwing arrived with badly applied stickers that were mostly out of position and crooked. I used lighter fluid to remove all the stickers, waited for the fluid to dry and the stickiness of the stickers to return before 'professionally' reapplying them onto Blitzwing.

This is the result.












Caution
As far as I know, beware of the issues in the following non-exhaustive list when using the above steps to remove stickers from Transformers figures:
  • DO NOT let the lighter fluid come in contact with transparent plastic parts (for example windscreens of G1 cars), it will quite irreparably turn that area smoky and make it a lot less see through.
  • DO NOT let the lighter fluid come in contact with chrome parts. It will, in most instances, make the chrome less shiny.
  • If the above process is used on clear stickers (by these I mean stickers of the type used on Wheeljack, Roadbuster, Whirl, Omega Supreme, etc), they will not retain their stickiness when the lighter fluid dries. The sticky goo will remain on the plastic of the figure while the lighter fluid allows you to peel off the sticker.
An example of what I mean by clear stickers. You don't want to be removing the stickers off these babies unless you don't intend to keep the stickers.


Clear sticker on transparent plastic. You definitely don't want any lighter fluid coming near that Autobot symbol on Whirl.


Have fun! If you have any questions, feel free to email me here.

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8 comments:

  1. You are freaking GENIUS!
    I tried it and it totally worked!

    All the goo was gone too. I can't believe I wasted my time on those other gimick removers.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Glad it worked!

    Spread the word, breath new life into old Transformers stickers and remove those irritating price tags from boxes!

    ReplyDelete
  3. were there any other tools you used to lift stickers off of the figures? tweezers or anything? I have a few figures i'm looking into dismantling for parts and i need to remove the stickers over screw holes and seams to do so. Thanks. I love your blog by the way. I've learned a ton just scrolling through your passages. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  4. hi Puma, I use an Olfa cutter with NT cutter blade or an Exacto modelling knife. Alternatively, standard pen knife should help you lift most stickers, but if the stickers are over a screw spot on rested in a recess, you might need something with a slimmer blade (like the 2 suggested above). However, the Zippo lighter fluid should in most cases allow you to just lift the sticker off with your bare fingers (just be careful not the crease the sticker when lifting with bare fingers!)

    ReplyDelete
  5. thanks for the quick reply!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Finally, a man of genius. Can't wait to try this on a transformers toothbrush box that I have. Those meddlesome stickers. THANK YOU!!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Blitzwing looks good as new! Great tips here, thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete

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