As with any antique or vintage collectible, part of the challange is not only how to keep an item from deteriorating, but also how to refurbish an item to make it look nearly new. Over the years several list members have developed techniques for both continuing the life-span of their Major Matt Mason collectibles, and also making enhancements to worn parts and figures. This cycle of rebirth can breath new life into otherwise wasted items, for the enjoyment of a future generation of collectors (like their kids!). This list is by no means complete. I've tried to include most of the accepted methods, and where I've been able, I've created links to other websites with more insite and instruction.
As with any of the methods discussed on this site, use at your own risk! These methods have been developed over the years by both amateurs and seasoned professionals. Results will vary...so tread lightly. If something seems to be going wrong, stop what you're doing...it probably is going wrong!
- Cleaning by Tom Wentland:
Tom was the first person I encountered who had developed a method of cleaning and restoring figures. Dozens were sacrificed for the cause, and many are featured in his home-produced video. Tom also was the originator of the "v" cut for wire replacement. You can contact him here to order his video.
Tom warns about using caustic cleaning chemicals...
Do not soak figures in Lestoil, Pine-Sol, or alcohol for more than 20 minutes. The cleaning chemicals will leach the plasticizer component
out of the rubber, with hardening as the result. Fantastic is a better choice of cleaner. Also, do not clean figures with alcohol on a regular basis, as plasticizer leaching can take place with each cleaning. Still another choice for cleaning figures is Resolve carpet cleaner. This product seems to be non-harmful to PVC rubber.
- Cleaning by Ray Kolasa:
Simple Green is always my first (and often only) choice when cleaning figs
and accessories. I'll use an old toothbrush to gently scrub away at any tougher stains (though be careful that you don't tear through the paint on the figures -- it gets soft when wet).
For white helmets and harder-plastic accessories, you might try soft scrub w/bleach to rub away any tougher stains (even glue residue).
- Cleaning by Dave Benz:
You know, I've NEVER found anything better to clean matts with than just
basic old handsoap and an OLD tootbrush with very soft bristles. A child's/baby's toothbrush works best.
Really, it works, try it! Just, like Ray said, don't scrub too hard with the toothbrush or you could remove the paint. Because of this, sometimes I use Q-tips instead of the toothbrush if the figure is not too dirty.
- Cleaning by John Eaton:
First my opinion... I often leave the original "patina" or grime layer on a figure, especially if the figure isn't too dirty and doesn't have a funky smell. I get overcome by serendipity when I pick up a figure and it has a little shmaltz on it. When I think back, my astronauts went everywhere with me...into the creek, the dirt-pile in the back yard, sometimes to movies or picnics. It sort of seems more "normal" for them to be a little dirty. With that being said, many figures are pretty badly crudded-up... this is how I get them to display-able shape:
I use Simple Green...have used this stuff for years as a general household cleaner (it's biodegradable and has a pleasant smell). I buy the big gallon jug of the concentrate at Sam's Wholesale or Costco for $7.99. I use a spraybottle with a 50/50 mix of Simple Green and water. First I pop the heads off the figures (I tend to clean a batch of 4 or 5 at a time) and do a light water rinse in the kitchen sink. I then spray the diluted Simple Green on all parts, coating lightly and place the figures in a small perforated tray. Make sure the stopper is in the sink if you're above the garbage disposal. I let the parts sit for about 2 minutes to work at the grime. I then rub the figures with my fingers until a sudsey paste develops...you can see the dirt coming off the figure. Rinse thoroughly with water. Repeat if necessary.
This always works for me...I've never had good luck with using a brush, even an extra soft bristle brush. The paint seems too delicate. When I originally started cleaning figures, I used cotton swabs (like Q-tips) with a little simple green. It would take hours to do a batch of figures. This simple spray-and-wrinse method takes minutes. I do sometimes us a toothbrush to clean really dirty non-painted areas like the joint bellows or the boots.
After the figures are well rinsed (make sure there is not residue or hint of Simple Green... smell the figures...you'll notice if there's any left), I suspend them by their boots from a piece of bent coat hanger. It looks strange, but the results are good. The heads go on the ends of some chopsticks poking out of the dish-racks utencil cup.
- Cleaning White Parts:
I'm not sure who came up with this technique, however I've heard it works (I haven't had the opportunity to try it myself). Fill the bathtub with warm water. Stir in about a 1/2 cup of bleach. Insert white parts (such as Space Station floors) and let set for an hour. You probably shouldn't leave the parts in too long...there may be an adverse affect on the 30+ year old plastic. This technique is supposed to bring back the whiteness of the plastic...it may only bleach the grime layer. My suggestion is that after soaking for an hour, you should lightly scrub the plastic with soap, water and a soft bristle brush. Afterward, rise well (try to remove all the scent of bleach) and let air dry.
- Cleaning by Alec Peters:
I'm once again not sure who came up with this method. I first saw it used by Alec Peters, who has had great luck with the procedure. Fill the dishwasher with plastic parts. Use a mild dishwasher soap and normal heat setting for the water. Turn on for a normal cycle. I would recommend that you DO NOT use the heat drying cycle if the dishwasher has one. I would also recommend that you DO NOT use Jet Dry or another rinsing agent. Let air dry. Of course, any decals present will be toast.
- Cleaning by Matt Jenson:
Hello All, I have found another way to clean MMM plastic items. I used liquid Lava soap in the pump bottle and a soft toothbrush. I tried it on a space sled and the dirt, grime and old adhesive came off with very little work. I used it on a helmets that I had previously cleaned with bleach and water and the Lava soap removed dirt the bleach didn't. I ended up cleaning all my helmets and was amazed at the difference.
As stated above, we make no guarantees of any of these cleaning and restoration techniques and provide a listing of what's been tried as a service only. Try these procedures at your own risk.
Finally, should anybody reading this have any similar information, additions or corrections, then we would very much appreciate hearing about them.
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