Restoring your Shogun Warrior and other Japanese ToysAs with any antique or vintage collectible, part of the challenge 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 many of my friends have developed techniques for both continuing the life-span of their Shogun Warrior 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.
Not sure who originally gave me this tip - over time the glues used by manufacturers becomes dry and brittle - it ends up as a hard (sometimes sticky) residue. To get the stickers off heat them up a bit using a blowdryer - this warms up the glue and allows the paper sticker to be carefully lifted - if you're careful you'll be able to peel them off intact and then use a bit of gluestick to reapply them.
If the stickers are trashed, use the edge of a credit card to carefully scrape up any remains - you'll find that this is the least offensive to the original plastic.
Cleaning FiguresAs 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!
Warning on the use of Chemicals
Do not soak figures or parts in Lestoil, Pine-Sol, or alcohol for more than 20 minutes. The cleaning chemicals may leach the plasticizer component out of the plastic and vinyl, 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 is Resolve carpet cleaner. This product seems to be non-harmful to PVC.
Cleaning by John Eaton
(adapted from my foray into Major Matt Mason cleaning) 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 toys 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 displayable 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. I use a spraybottle with a 50/50 mix of Simple Green and water. If the stickers are too far gone to keep, I first pop the heads off the figures using a blowdryer to soften the head and neck area; 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. I do sometimes us a toothbrush to clean really dirty non-painted areas like crevasses between the joints.
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), allow the bits to dry thoroughly.
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 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.