30 December 2010

Whitening yellowed Transformers toys with Hydrogen Peroxide

Disclaimer: The below is a record of my experience. If you try it, it is entirely at your risk. You must not let your bare skin come into contact with Hydrogen Peroxide.

As mentioned here, I bought an MIB Galaxy Shuttle from Japan for E. I got it at a good price, the box, foam and paperworks were great, but the toy was not so good.

It was not really yellowed, as one would expect G1 white toys to be, but it was brownish. Almost like someone dropped it in mud and left it there soaking the mud in for a few days. I was initially quite displeased with the toy condition because the seller only stated that the sticker condition was not so good but didn't mention that the toy was brown(?).

However, with the recent 'discovery' of the wonders of H2O2 (Hydrogen Peroxide; can be bought at pharmacies), E and I decided to do our own little project and restore Galaxy Shuttle to his former glory.

This is a picture of Galaxy Shuttle before the restoration - many parts of that were white has clearly turned brown; his upper legs are also visibly yellowed.


STEP 1:
The first step was to completely remove all the stickers from the toy using my trusty Zippo Lighter Fluid removal of stickers technique.

STEP 2:
We then proceeded to disassemble the entire toy. Below is a diagram we drew to tell us which part goes where and which screw goes where.


These are all the white parts that require soaking in H2O2.

The parts are clearly brownish/yellowed as can be seen here. The white portion remained white because there was an Autobot symbol there previously.

Badly yellowed upper legs.

STEP 3:
The whitening process - soaking in H2O2 liquid.

I used 2 small bottles of 250ml, H2O2 at 3% concentration. I have heard of people using 6% or even 30%, but was not willing to apply something so corrosive to a rare and expensive toy (note: 30% is industrial concentration H2O2, which should be used with proper hand protection; I don't think this can be bought off the shelf at pharmacies anyway).

I soaked the yellowed parts, all at once in a glass bottle which can sealed air-tight.

I soaked them for 3 days under mild sunlight of about 2-3 hours a day. Then relocated the bottle to my office which faces Sydney Harbour, where it was exposed to intense sunlight of 4-6 hours per day for 1.5 days.

Sunlight is the catalyst for the reaction that will whiten yellowed parts.

I have found that, unless the yellowing is severe, it does not matter whether your toy part is completely submerged in the H2O2 or not. What is important is that the bottle is sealed so that the H2O2 evaporates and condenses within the air-space of the bottle itself.

Summary of key aspects (please read!):

  1. Bottle must allow sunlight to hit objects inside but must not react with or to the H2O2 (I think a glass bottle from jams and etc will easily do).
  2. The bottle should be capped at the very least. I prefer that can be sealed 'air-tight'. This is for the H2O2 to continually evaporate and condense as the sunlight makes it react.
  3. It does not matter that the toy part is not fully submerged in the H2O2 as long as the bottle is capped/air-tight.
  4. The H2O2 does not usually affect painted parts of the toy, but there are exceptions, and I don't know them all (see example below where Galaxy Shuttle's blue painted windows remain unaffected even after the entire canopy has been restored to white).
  5. According to OZ Formers, the 1987 US released Transformers react badly to H2O2. Please read more here.
  6. Soaking toy parts in high concentrations of H2O2 (talking about 30% and above here) for long periods, may permanently and irreparably damage your toy. Please read more here (the example is Fortress Maximus parts).
  7. Many experiments with different years' G1 Transformers have been conducted and posted in this thread here, in detail. I highly recommend that you read this thread, consider the details and learn from others' successes and/or mishaps before proceeding with your whitening process.
  8. Note: See also * Update 26 April 2011 * further below for more tips.
Results after 3 days under mild sunlight (slightly overcast sky).


For further information, please see the 'pioneering article' here: "Yellowing Treatment" from the Transformers.net forums. (H2O2 was used on Seacons, Jetfire, Ratchet, Cyclonus, Cerebros, Metroplex parts, TF rubber weapons and more in the thread).

Another good information resource is the discussion in the OZ Formers forum where over the course of almost a year, different members tried H2O2 (of different concentrations sometimes) on various G1 Transformers: "Whitening Yellowed Toys with Hydrogen Peroxide" on the OZ Formers forums.

These are how the parts look after the soaking process (there are side to side comparison pictures further down)


The canopy has turned completely white with no visible damage to the blue painted windows.


Before (left) and After (right) side by side comparison. Click on pictures to see larger photo.
 

 

 

 

STEP 4:
Reassemble toy and reapply stickers (which if my instructions are followed, will still be sticky).

This is the result.



C-326: Galacy Shuttle back in its foam.

The one on the left has been whitened to the one below...

MIB, with an emphasis on "Mint" once more!

***

* Update 26 April 2011 *

A member of OZ Formers, Atlmyk, from Atlanta in the USA has given the above process (more of less) a shot and discovered further interesting facts and tid bits about the whitening process that prospective TF restorers can try.

This is what Atlmyk said:

"Not sure if this has been mentioned here before but I know glass blocks most UV light. Here is the best explanation I can find and link on the webbernets...
http://www.physicsforums.com/archive/index.php/t-382015.html

The point being that using a glass jar is like putting spf 100 sunscreen on the pieces before putting them out to get as much UV light as possible. Knowing this I tried a different method and got full white in about 1 hour. And putting a jar behind a window is about as good as sticking it in a dark closet.

I used a glass roasting pan like this
 

I only used regular store bought 3% peroxide amped up with 1tbs of oxygen cleaner per 50ml. I arranged the pieces and placed outside in a nice sunny section of my deck. I mixed the peroxide and powder in a pitcher and only poured on after I had the roaster where I wanted it. Thin liquids and somewhat shallow pans are a big splash risk and I would hate to get this on my carpet. I covered in plastic wrap and since I had one to use I propped up a mirror next to the pan to drop even more uv rays on the brew. I did this in hopes of avoiding multiple days of soaking, Victory Leo had extensive yellowing. After a little over one hour I went out to make sure the brew was still out of the sun and adjust the mirror. After adjusting I got curious and pulled back the plastic wrap and fished out a piece from under the foam and I was shocked, it was one of the pieces that was almost beyond yellowing and at the point of browning but now after only a few minutes it was white as mountain snow. I brought it in, washed and compared and it was fully whitened.

Long story short (tldr) Get as much uv light as possible and don't worry about strong peroxide. I did this on April 9th in a north Atlanta suburb in 2pm sun."

***

See the restored Galaxy Shuttle in its full glory here...

17 comments:

  1. great article! wish i had some yellowed TF's to try this on.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Puma. Let me know your results if you do try it!

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is pretty amazing. SCIENCE!

    ReplyDelete
  4. i finally got around to trying this out. I did it on a G1 Ratchet figure. I had only about 3 hours yesterday until a thunderstorm with hail came through. in that time, i was able to get the pieces fairly white from its original state. I took another crack at it today with the pieces out in the sun for 3 hours. It was even whiter. the pieces look awesome now. Unfortunately, the zippo trick doesn't work too well on the stickers. a lot of them got ruined. this was fine because i was planning on getting a new tank with better stickers anyways. i just wanted to test it out before i moved onto a G1 Red Alert. I had fun doing it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Seems to work even without sunlight, in cases where the plastic has not yellowed but got slightly darker. Tried it with my Hun-Grrr that has faced sea (!) to very nice result.

    ReplyDelete
  6. After almost 2 years, has the yellowing returned or has it remained white?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It depends on the toy and the plastic (some times even on the year!). Some toys has remained white and good, while others have started to become a little yellow again.... =(

      Delete
    2. Did Galaxy Shuttle stay white?

      Delete
  7. This is such a great idea. My son has a transformer that is yellowed and I never thought of using peroxide to clean it.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi. I would like to use your tutorial to translate to spanish an publish in my blog. blogtrooper.blogspot.com. I saw you dristribute this content under creative commons licence ut I would like to have your permision first. Thank you very much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello, yes permission is give. Please feel free to use.

      Have a link back to this page please =)

      Delete
  9. I am trying this, does it have to be real sunlight like or could it be UV light from any source. I have a sunlight therapy lamp that produces UV light as well as UV bulbs for my wife's lizard..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I believe that any form of UV should do (I know of people who has used UV lamps before). However, it might take longer than natural sunlight for results to show.

      Delete
  10. May I ask about what to do with the leftover H2O2 after using it to clean the yellowing? is it still reusable (and put it back to the h2o2 bottle) or you throw out the liquid? thank u !!

    ReplyDelete

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