Creative > How-To

Figure restoration and cleaning.

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Sir Gareth:
As most of you know I buy and sell on Ebay and I have probably sold over a 1,000 figures with 100% + feedback. Every figure I have sold has undergone a fitness test and when required cleaned so that when they arrive they are ready for play or display.
This next lot of posts will show you what I do and I hope you find some of my methods useful

My Playmobil cleaning equipment is mainly just basic household items and I will show you what I use them for. The most important item here is the fine metal polish that I use, I have found that Autosol and Peek are the best for cleaning and polishing Playmobil plastic. These two products will remove most paint, pen and crayon from your figures but be careful with it because they also remove print very quickly. They also remove very fine scratches and leave a very highly polished shine to your figures.
The Windolene is used to remove the white powdery residue that gets left behind mainly around the arms from the polish. It is also good for those figures that are not too old and dirty and gets rid of greasy fingerprints sticky sweet remains and leaves a nice shine to your figures.

The cup of tea is optional and can be replaced by coffee if wished. ;D

I’m going to restore the figure from set 3303 racing motorcyclist mainly because it is white and should show of the end result better.

Sir Gareth:
So it’s now time for the figures fitness test, stand him on his feet and see if his body leans slightly forward and no matter how many times you put him up right he just keeps leaning forwards, this I call the slouch. Now check the wrists, on a lot of older figures these have been cracked and in some cases the hands can be pulled out easily. Hold the arm steady and apply gentle pressure to the hand this will show any cracks to the wrist. If they are cracked in my opinion they are damaged beyond repair and should be removed and replaced. I do know that some people have resealed these cracks by putting a soldering iron close to the plastic to melt them shut. Next check the strength of the arms put a playmobil hand held object in each hand and see if the figure can hold them out straight, you can use a small suitcase for this and if required put a small amount of plastacine inside to increase the weight. If the arms drop down then they will need tightening and the figure needs to be disassembled for this.

In this case the figure has a cracked wrist on the left and a weak arm on the right with a slouching posture so it has to be taken apart.

Sir Gareth:
There are a few methods for taking figures apart the most common is the Hans on method. I haven’t checked up on this but I’m sure that Hans Beck (the father of playmobil) demonstrated this to the creator of Collectobil in an interview hence the name the Hans on method. You can slam your figure down in a seated position held in the palm of your hand onto a hard surface or simply apply pressure to the figure whilst already on the ground.
  I have used both methods and have had a lot of damage to the inner frames from the Hans on method, mainly the back flap snapping, so I now use the Spanish method. I have had some luck simply by using the band on its own and twisting the head to release it, but the easiest way I have found is to use the handles of my tongs to pop the head off, with the band around the neck.

Sir Gareth:
So now I have the figure apart and I can start to cure it’s fitness problems and get rid of the arm with the damaged wrist.

All you need to do now is to work on the inner frame so you have to get this off the legs, you can pull it off or use a small flat screwdriver to release it. I like to work with the plastic hot to reshape, this I do by simply dropping it into a cup of hot water first. To cure the slouch just apply slight pressure to the back flap pushing down towards what would be the front of the figure. You can put the frame back onto its legs to test it for tightness and if it still seems loose just return to the hot water and do it again. The arms are taken care of in a similar way, just push down slightly on the top part of the arm slot to close the gap, again you can check for tightness by placing the arms back into the slots. You don’t have to do this with the plastic hot you can do it cold but this will leave stress marks and to me that’s a weakness to the inner frame.

If your figure just has a slouch you can quickly sort this out by removing the legs and bending the back flap forward whilst still in the body. It is important though to use a small bladed screwdriver for this if its too thick you can crack or stress the body as you force the screwdriver down the side.

Sir Gareth:
Now I have corrected all of this figures problems and found another arm for it I can now start cleaning the figure. For the hard to get into parts I apply the metal polish with a stiff brush, for inside areas I use cotton buds, the rest of the areas I just use a cloth to apply the polish. Once all parts are cleaned then it’s time to reassemble the figure. If you didn’t buff all of the polish off and it dry’s leaving white marks you can remove this by cleaning the figure again with windolene.

If you need to replace the head for any reason make sure you put the right type of head back on. Theres the old plain head with no slots for beards or earrings then theres the head for beards and glasses and the head for anything, beards glasses, earrings and sideburns.


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