Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hot Toy Collecting Tip #2: What to do about Cracking Rubber and Disintegrating Suits

When the rubber meets the road! Hot Toys first generation muscle bodies are cracking up all over the place. This is the Hot Toys released 1:6 scale DEVGRU 12-inch military figure from way back and it too has suffered the fate of cracking rubber bodies!

As I had blogged in an earlier post, Hot Toys muscle bodies can CRACK! See my post HERE for more pictures of the damage to the Hot Toys SDU muscle body.

Rubber suits and rubber bodies - what can we do about them?
This has been a problem since the G.I. Joe Rubber SCUBA wet suits in the 1960's. Similarly for the Action Man SAS divers from the 1970s.

Rubber does not hold up well over a long period. This has become a greater issue in the last few years, since Hot Toys started getting into movie-related subjects that lean towards 12-inch figures wearing rubber suits / costumes.

Hot Toys DX02 TDK Batman still good :)

Other known issues that have come up in forums: Hot Toys Iron Man figures (all, except Mk I) discoloration in the crotch area (due to the soft plastic used which is inconsistent with the rest of the body), melted vest on the Sideshow Star Wars 12-inch Anakin Skywalker figure, melted vest also on the Hot Toys Watchman Comedian, and costume disintegration on quite a number of Medicom figures, including the Medicom Darth Vader figure (see picture below), Masked Rider figures including Rider X and TDF UG Dan Moroboshi (Ultra 7 in human form) – Dan was still looking good when posted in October 2008.

Medicom has a history of disintegrated suits. It's probably due to the cheap materials they use in the production process and I've definitely learnt my lesson when it comes to Medicom 12-inch figures i.e. DON'T BUY ANY MEDICOM FIGURE! Medicom figures are WAY OVERPRICED, UNDERSCALE (Medicom's 1/6 scale is like no other company in the market) and WORTHLESS when the suits disintegrate! Talk about bio-degradable, these Medicom stuff really are! Good for the environment but NO GOOD at all for the pocket and really really BAD for collectors. OUCH!

Did I forget to mention that Medicom 12-inch figures (i.e. the base body) are also known to crack and break apart for no apparent reason? One moment they are standing up, the next thing you know, they come crashing down. I've experienced one or two, and have heard horror stories from fellow collectors. Doesn't matter if they are kept in the box either, the plastic body turns brittle and crack! That's why every Medicom figure collector will soon be heard screaming "MEDIC-OMg!" Medicom should really be called MEDIOCRE.

This is the Hot Toys 1:6 scale John Rambo 12-inch figure from "Rambo: First Blood Part II" (also known as "Rambo II"), which is the first Hot Toys Rambo figure ever released (MMS-06) – MORE pictures HERE. This figure, along with the HT First Blood John Rambo figure are prone to rubber-tearing as well. So far so good...

MMS06 is also still holding up :)

While scouring the internet for answers (I myself have none), I came across these pointers which I thought I should share :) "The problem of melting rubber has been discussed in other fields of model making and collecting, in particular with reference to the vinyl and rubber tyres on model vehicles, both die-cast and plastic. There seems to be two main problems: Firstly, there is the problem of drying out and cracking of these types of material - this is caused by a component of the plastic called a plasticiser leaching out of the plastic over time. This process affects all plastics to some degree or another and is affected and accelerated by an objects exposure to heat and daylight, especially the ultraviolet part of daylight.

The second problem is the interaction between different types of plastics when they are kept in contact with each other. This is most noticeable between polyvinyl type flexible plastics and polystyrene type hard plastics. There actually seems to be a reaction between the plasticiser in the vinyl and the hard plastic. There have been cases where the tyres of a model car stuck to a CD case it was left standing on, and similiar tyres melted to a goo because of the plastic wheel they were on."

These rubber suits seem to be holding up rather well :)

So what can we do? Firstly and most obviously, never display any rubber figure or rubber suited figure in a place where there is direct sunlight! Or any figure for that matter. The sun's ultra-violet rays will definitely have a damaging effect on any figure - be it plastic, painted or rubber suited. Also, from what I read, it is not advisable to use any Armor All products because they are alcohol based and actually suck out moisture in the plastic making things appear to be given a wet coat while in reality it's not. Every time somebody uses that stuff on their car interiors, without fail, a couple years later cracks appear.

Rubber needs to breathe! Heat in an enclosed space might cause the rubber to melt. So keeping rubber figures inside a sealed box might not be such a good idea. One day you open the box and find a melted mess stuck to the tray – not good at all. Taking out the figures and displaying them might actually save them and allow them to last longer. Plus they do look much better and you get to appreciate the figure more than the box! Same goes for leather-like suits (synthetic leather / pleather) and coats. Case in point: Hot Toys 1/6 scale Blade 12-inch figure :)

The fact of the matter is, there isn't really any ideal solution! Rubber suits don't last forever, nor do some fake leather materials as well. I've had my fair share of ruined suits / costumes / outfits due to the test of time and weather (the elements certainly play a big part in hastening the fallout process) but the thing is, I try to appreciate the figure for what it is and for as long as it lasts. I might like a particular figure too much to not want to get it (e.g. all Hot Toys Batman rubber suit figures) and so I will get it knowing that it might crack up on me but I will be happy with the years I managed to spend with it and having it in my possession. As they say, material things don't last forever in this decaying world. We just have to make the best of the situation and appreciate what we have for as long as we have them and in the end, it'll be good while it lasted. Don't live life with regrets!

Click on the picture for a bigger and better view :)

The other obvious choice is to lay off rubber suited figures completely. That will prevent any heartaches and headaches when (not if) the figure starts cracking up on you - how long it takes and when that happens, nobody knows. That will also mean that you are definitely not a Batman fan because all the bat suits produced by Hot Toys are made of rubber, as are the suits used in the films. The BEST 1:6 scale Batman movie figures are the ones produced by Hot Toys and they are all made of rubber so if you are a HUGE Batman fan like me who is into collecting 1:6 scale Batman figures (especially the ones from the movies), you might just have to bite the bullet, dig in and hope for the best. Have FUN and enjoy it while it lasts :) Hopefully, with new technologies and improved materials in the manufacturing process, the rubber suits will last much longer than they used to.


Rashpal said...

Thanks for the very informative post. The downside to 1/6th figures. Guess like humans, they have lifespans and expiry dates too, unfortunately.

Anonymous said...


Several years ago I was presented with an interesting challenge. A world famous doll maker, Sasha M, had created hundreds of fantastic dolls from various home-made vinyl formulas.
These dolls are valued in the thousands of dollars and any damage or discoloration is an ongoing nightmare for their owners.
Two of these dolls were brought to me when their vinyl had developed a white film overall. I thought about it for several days and finally (on a hunch) I decided to see if they had simply "dried out" over time. Since vinyl is oil based I tested a small section by rubbing in BABY OIL and within seconds the white vanished. I rubbed down both dolls and they returned to their former beauty.
Over the years, others have tried similar solutions on Sasha dolls will equally good results.

I wonder if this might work on the rubber bodies. I don't think the basic components of rubber and vinyl are the same BUT are you sure these bodies are, in fact, rubber. Rubber toys have always suffered from cracking just as composition dolls and toys have. Mostly this is caused by changes in temperature and moisture in the air variations.

If the HOT TOYS bodies are actually vinyl, or a similar plastic, the oil treatment might be a solution.

Just a thought.

Ted Menten

Timo said...

Alex, thats a meditative tip. to accept that our overpriced dolls will be eaten away in time :).

Ted , that's a very valid thought.

Some Hot toys collectors have known to apply Baby oil on rubber based bodies or costumes.

I myself own a LOT of the batman figures and several rubber based muscle bodies. however I am yet to find courage to rub baby oil on them.

As wacky as it sounds I remember an old tip written on Condom wrappers to NOT use baby oil for lubrication as they claim that Baby oil does damage to condoms.

But that's a lingering thought. I don't know how that will apply to rubber costumes / bodies on long term.



actfigman said...

so its a good thing i never bought any Medicom Kamen Rider figures or HT with too much rubber...but my Medicom Storm-trooper the body really is poor quality...oh well...maybe its gd thing I'm on a 1/6 collecting hiatus...hmmmm...

LEon said...

I think the rubber skin on T800 is good because as years go by the rubber skin crack or melt will reveal the endoskeleton inside. And the metal will rust and look even cooler!

drewflu61 said...

I use 303 Aerospace Protectant on all of my rubber suits and bodies. 303 is a UV screening protectant that will restore rubber to an almost new appearance. It was developed for aerospace and aviation applications and, unlike a lot of silicone based protectants, will not dry out the rubber if you fail to reapply on a regular basis. It is also non-toxic and non-flammable and works on vinyl and rubber. Their tag-line is '"SPF 40" For Your Stuff' and I have found they live up to their promise. The company is based out of California and I buy it from I am a US based collector, so I am not sure of it's availability to other countries.

cosmicbaby said...

Knowing tat it will dry up, disintegrate or melt away... will tat tot stop any of us from getting the upcoming S$300 DX Batman? Or will u put tat $$ elsewhere better...

Anonymous said...

Ferlicia Lim wrote on fb: Firstly wash your hands with soap before you touch your figures. If one have sweaty plam, it will be good to wear a glove before you pose your toys. Secondly place them away from the sunlight n avoid store room or so call bomb shelter (Common thing in SG just in case anyone ask). Thirdly, decide whether you want them display or keeping it in the box. Best choice is to display them in a dust free cabinet or acrylic case. Always go for covered ones to prevent dust because it will ruin your TOY! If your country has high humilty, always use a dehumifier n place them inside the enclosed cabinet or acrylic case. Please note that if your cabinet is not covered, you can forget about placing a dehumifer because it will not wrk!

Replace the dehumidifier every 2-4 months depending on the humility of your house. If you choose to keep your figures in the box, you may keep them inside a cupboard but please remember to wrap the box with a clear plastic n don't forget the dehumidifier once again!

For rubber body, please keep the pose simple n avoid bending the arms or legs is the best way to prevent it from damage. If they r dirty, please clean it with a CLEAN SLIGHTLY DAMP cloth n wipe away the dust n try to keep it away from the dust because with heat n dust = damage to the rubber n it will turn sticky.

Anonymous said...

Koji Ogata on fb: fluorescent lamp lets a color fade. As for the illumination of the room, LED is the best!

ethan said...

For my T-800, I'd used the car dashboard polisher/wax. Compare to the rubber skin, think over time it is the 1st to crack. So far so good. Not sure if the remedy works on the rubber skin, bit scary to try it on a $300 figure. Probably a little experiment first on the extra hand, worst case can replace it from the loose part available in ebay.

On the second thought, nothing last forever....only diamond does. PS: Darn it, hate it when my wife is right on the diamond thingy :p

@lex Gen X 1:6 Hardcore said...

ethan, diamonds might last forever but the pleasure these figures brings us far outweigh diamonds AND these figures don't cost as much either ;p

Andy said...

Okay so I recently bought a set of Briareos, Deunan, and Tereus Hot Toys set (for a very good price) and now I've been reading these horror stories of the rubber cracking, and fading, etc.

I browsed the site, looking also at the Briareos review.
Someone left a comment on the Briareos review saying they used Armor All protective gel and said it worked for them for 5 years.

(link again to that protective gel:

Then a year later, in this more recent posting, Alex says to not to use Armor All.
So what's the true verdict? If that specific type of Armor All worked for 5+ years then is it okay to go with that? Or what's the best way to keep these guys in good condition (other than the methods posted in the blog topic)?

@lex Gen X 1:6 Hardcore said...

I think the general agreement is NOT to use alcohol-based cleaning agents because the alcohol zaps up the moisture and leaves the product dry. Over time, the product WILL CRACK. There have been many suggestions but no sure way of knowing since none of the products have reached the state where they begin to show signs of cracking as the cracks only start appearing over TIME :( Everyone's holding their breath to see how theirs will hold up.

toycollectinggeek said...

As a toy collector, I do agree on the proper way of maintaining these toy collectables so they'll last longer. As a rule of thumb, never expose them to direct sunlight or they may end up being damaged, like discolorations, or melting of their outer layer, no matter what type of material is used (i.e. rubber, plastics).

Code 7 said...

Don't know much about rubber- but handling the material too much can cause the natural oils from your skin to dry them out.

Now, about fake leather- I found out that an occasional application of cocoa butter lotion does the same good for fake leather that it does for skin. Keeps it soft, pliable and crack-resistant. I use it on my 1/6 scale figures as well as my fake leather horseback riding boots. It also makes them more resistant to collecting dust and easier to clean if needed.

I regularly ride horses in muddy, dusty, and dry conditions and leave my boots out in the sun, but after every ride- I put cocoa butter on them and aside from natural scuffing on the toes, they look and feel like new

Anonymous said...

He's not made of rubber but now I'm deeply worried about my Medicom Young Indiana Jones (River Phoenix). He's my baby and I love him dearly. Sometimes, I have a hard time thinking of him as just an action figure. I'd freak out like nobody would believe if something happened to him!

Anonymous said...

"ethan, diamonds might last forever but the pleasure these figures brings us far outweigh diamonds AND these figures don't cost as much either ;p " ===> This comment was posted a while ago but I had to laugh a bit. Yes, for some people, diamonds don't bring us the pleasure that our figures do. I should know, I only got a loan at a pawn shop on my diamond jewelry for the money to buy my Young Indiana Jones (I'm the same person who commented above). They say diamonds are a girl's best friend. HA! My little Indy is this girl's best friend. :P

@lex Gen X 1:6 Hardcore said...

Thank you for sharing with us your views :) we rarely get female action figure collectors. Not wanting to sound rude or offending, girls usually collect dolls and dollies so it's nice to know a fellow action figure collector. Young Indiana Jones is still a hardcore action figure, don't let his age deceive you :) Glad to hear little Indy is keeping you happy and here's hoping he does it for the longest time. CHEERS

Anonymous said...

I posted the comments months ago about my Young Indy. Even if something were to ever happen to his body, I plan to buy a spare body to replace the damaged parts if not swap him onto a whole new body. But I worry about the head. How well do these Medicom headscults hold up? Now, the head can't be replaced. If the paint ever worn away or chipped, I could look for somebody who can give my Indy a good repaint. But I'm worried if Medicom heads can get to a point where they can't be fixed. Btw, my Indy seems to be doing fine for the moment. I'm normally OCD and a while ago when he needed a shoulder repair, I been constantly worried about him ever since. He's the best!

@lex Gen X 1:6 Hardcore said...

Hi I've had some Medicom figures since 1994 and up till today, they are still good :) The later issues have brittle bodies but the heads usually hold up very well. That said, never ever put the figure in direct sunlight as the sun's rays will definitely have a disastrous effect on the figure. CHEERS

Unknown said...

Question guys, has anyone tried Silicone spray? I use it on all my fishing gear including hard plastic, Rubber and metal, it seals rubber and rejuvenates it wonderfully including both freshwater and salt soft rubber and hard rubber lures.

I have used it on different rubbers including bike tyres and seen it fill and rejuvenate minor cracking with great results.

Maybe an option to try.

@lex Gen X 1:6 Hardcore said...

Thanks for the recommendation :) certainly worth a try

Unknown said...

Hi Alex,

Figured you might be the best person to ask.

My Takara Kerberos Panzer Cop figure has suddenly sprouted mould all over the leather parts of its outfit. I've had the figure for 7 years and never had such problems. I'm pretty sure it wasn't there a couple of months back, and nothing has changed in terms of the environment I store it in (enclosed glass case, big room, away from direct sunlight).

Any ideas how to tackle this? Am thinking of using a leather protector solution.

Thanks! Your blog continues to be my go-to site for collectible news!


@lex Gen X 1:6 Hardcore said...

Hi Steven

Sorry to hear about your predicament :( My Female Kerberos figures also suffered from the same fate. I think a leather protecting lotion (I used those meant for leather fabric sofas) might help. Mould is still better than cracking / flaking type seen in some of the other figures.

Cheers & thanks for the support :)


Unknown said...

Thanks Alex! Will try that.

Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Anonymous said...

hi folks, just to give you guys a heads up, Takara Kerberos pleather do flake, especially the early Midori, Chuici & the 1st male also tend to flake/crack, starting from those elastic boots & arm bands.

I'm not sure how those silicon spray do but from what i heard silicon tend to dry up the surface which is not good for rubber.

I applied those leather shoe protectors since day 1, seems it only able to prolong it's shelflife but not preserve, though for past 5 years i've only applied them twice it's too much a core to do so.

And regarding the mold, just get a damp cloth to wipe it clean, or use those non-alcohol based baby wipes to kill the molds and use some leather protector on it.

Hope everything ends well for you folks.

@lex Gen X 1:6 Hardcore said...

Thanks for sharing :)

Looks like disintegrating costumes are something we cannot escape from. So we should enjoy the figures while we still can. I've been meaning to kitbash / repair them by replacing the costumes with other materials or update the look by customizing their uniforms / costumes but all that for another time.

Even Hot Toys Iron Man has suffered from the "pink panty" issue. There are some tutorials out there on how to repaint the discolored armor back to its brand new state.

Fabric costumes / uniforms seem to do well when it comes to the test of time.

Anonymous said...

after checking on the 1st Midori & German Grey Midori, i also notice "Mold" like spots all over except areas covered.

now i'm not 100% sure if it's mold or flakes since when i use waxed cotton bud to roll over it i see all the black flakes, and the white spots seems to focus on the pleather and nothing on the armor (i've had mild mold on 1 of the kerberos and i'm sure the mold was all over the armor too).

but seeing that we have similar case here in similar years, i would say 50% chance it's flake. and seeing how it doesn't affect as much on areas covered, it might be oxygenation on the surface areas.

but as i've said, the elastic boots & arm band goes 1st.

So far closest replacement i've found is the Hot Toys Kerberos pants, but it's not perfect, and the sleeves/boots/jacket, i have no idea where to get a replacement.

If you have 1 totally gone i suggest you try those rubber paint spray cans it gives a vinyl elastic finish, but no leather texture though.

and of course non of the replacement would look as good as the original.

Anonymous said...

also another heads up Hot Toys Sheva's pleather boots/straps/holster seems to suffer the same fake, 1 strap on the boots has little areas coming off.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm a RAH collector *cough*animefan*cough* and I used to collect anime plush dolls. Some of the dolls produced in later years had fancy 'pleather' and coated fabrics, and over the decades I did notice cracking and peeling, though it took a long time! So, when I fell hard for RAHs I was careful to only collect ones that were light on rubber and coated materials due to that experience with plush game prize dolls. However, I couldn't resist Kaneda from Akira. I pose him often so the fabric isn't always touching or pulling in the same places. The other day I did notice very tiny microcracks starting in certain places on the fabric. I'm wondering what I should use to reinvigorate the clothing because it is perhaps drying out? The fabric is nowhere near peeling or separating yet. I'm not sure what is appropriate for coated clothing as opposed to straight up rubber suiting? I am thinking to try baby oil, or the 303 Aerospace Protectant someone mentioned?

I am getting flashbacks of going to the Tim Burton exhibit in NYC and seeing the sad, sorry state Catwoman's Batman Returns costume was in. A crumbled, cracked pile. Not sexy, let me tell you. Not a good look for Catwoman or my figures.

Also, for future reference, my relatively aged RAH of Roy from Fullmetal Alchemist just crumpled one appendage after another, the joint crumbling completely. I contacted Medicom overseas and though they do not have the same parts anymore (at this point why would they?? Can't blame them it's very old) but they said if I didn't mind a slightly different shape or color, they would fix him for me if I paid shipping. I think that is fair, and I doubt many other companies I collect scale figures of would offer to do such a thing. I don't think Medicom is worth sticker price, but I usually snatch RAHs up on clearance for around $100-125 and I've been very happy with them. Looking forward to them rejuvenating my Roy!

@lex Gen X 1:6 Hardcore said...

Thanks for sharing.
I hear baby oil or the 303 Aerospace Protectant might help but I haven't tried them myself. It's nice to hear that Medicom is willing to repair the figure at no cost (except for shipping) although I have to say that's a very rare incident.

Anonymous said...

For the crack you can use paper glue and carefully push the area back to seal out the crack, if it's a new crack it should not be noticeable after you've done it.

I have the Kaneda (mass produced release), some folks has reported the suit getting stretched or thinner after posing it on the bike, i'm putting him on museum pose but nothing much can be done i guess.

303 Aerospace might help but you are only applying it on the top area, things can still go bad from the underside where the vinyl loses adhesion with the base cloth which causes flaking, so i'm guessing unless you spray a layer of clear coat to hold everything in place and not pose it in future i don't know anyway to prevent this tragedy. There are rubber sprays that's flexible but i haven't seen clear rubber sprays.

If the damage is too bad that you can't even touch it without having a patch of pleather on your thumb, try put some leather protectant in a bottle of spray bottle and spray it on the pleather, it might be able to form a seal once dried.

Let us know if it works.

@lex Gen X 1:6 Hardcore said...

Thanks for the helpful tips :) Very much appreciated. Cheers!

jason colyer said...

A good friend who is a fellow collector gave me a good tip sometime ago. He bought a rubber figure of his favorite porn star and was told by the girl that the figure was made to resemble to use water based lubricant to stop cracking. I know some will read this and be horrified at the thought of Astroglide but his figure is over 15 years old in pristine condition. I felt odd the first time I took his suggestion but I think it is working.
He explained that you remove all the figures clothing and slather the rubber completely. Leave the lubricant on the object for an hour so it can be obsorbed and use a clean white cloth to wipe away the excess. He suggested that it be done every 3 months or so. Be careful of the areas that may have paint and make sure the figure is dry before redress, especially if there is black material involved. It also is a great way to remove dust and dirt. I bought a Hot Toys Chris Redfield and was troubled after I read the terrible stories of his demise. Since I started collecting long after he was first released I had to pay quite a bit more to acquire him.
When my friend showed me his collection and the said figure I found she was made of a rubber that wasn't as expensive as Chris Redfield yet she looked as if she was just taken out of the box. I noticed when I looked at another friends collection and his Redfield that the arms looked dry and the slight shine it should possess was lost. I suggested the lubricant and now his looks as healthy as mine after only a few applications.
I know it sounds odd but it is a lot better than losing a loved possession to the ravages of time.

@lex Gen X 1:6 Hardcore said...

Thanks so much for sharing the tip and taking the time to write this, Jason Coyler. It is very much appreciated :) cheers and all the best with your collecting! Viva 1:6