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.