Mint in Box or Rotting in Box?

#1

Between the amount of new and old boxed product I’ve gone through over the years and spending some time lately working my way through opening and refurbishing some older boxed figures in my collection I’ve gotten a fairly good idea of how things hold up over time from our favorite brands. Given a large sample size I’d thought I’d share my experience. Conditions are pretty much ideal as humidity is very low and a temperature controlled environment without extremes.

DAM

  • Generally hold up quite well when left in box.
  • Adhesives used on products hold up well, have only seen degradation with helmet velcro. Patches, kneepads, and elbow pads seem without issue.
  • Head sculpts are susceptible to staining from their darker fabrics. Most fabrics don’t seem very dye safe. Have seen chemical interactions from some of their earlier releases that had darker fabrics shirts where there was a chemical interaction with the upper rubberized torso causing an oily mess that couldn’t be removed.
  • Bodies now use a plastic cling film around the necks to help with dye transfer, but that film can interact with the neck and upper torso causing an oily film. I’d recommend swapping out darker fabric shirts that go under uniforms with a lighter color fabric as those seem less problematic. Plastic over top of head sculpts doesn’t seem to cause any issues.
  • Plastic items seem to fair well, no observed issues.
  • Paint on molded items like boots and hands is holding up fine, no deformed parts.

Soldier Story

  • By far have seen the most issues with their product being stored in box. I do not recommend leaving them kept in the box.
  • Adhesives used on knee/elbow pads, boots, helmet velcro, strobes, and patches are all problematic. Typically start to see failure after 3-4 years with the adhesive turning into an oily goop that stains everything it touches. Clothing? Stained. Patches? Stained. Boots? Falling apart and stained. If you address it early enough it can usually be removed with some work. If caught early enough a bit of heat will get the adhesive pliable and you can remove it. Signs of pending failure are a loosing of the adhesives hold. Grab the knee and elbow pads and move them around, if they can wiggle or shift around the adhesive should be removed. You want to catch it before it turns into a liquid mess that permanently stains things. If dealt with early enough there is no staining of the fabrics. It’s only a matter of time, have seen this from their earliest figures up to the SS90+ range.
  • Plastic wrap used on head sculpts some times has a chemical interaction which causes paint damage, usually on the nose where the plastic is in close contact. At a minimum I would remove the plastic film and use something like tissue paper instead.
  • Arms on most generations of their body have an issue with the plastic “freezing” or becoming brittle. If you get a stuck joint apply heat before trying to rotate it as that will usually unfreeze the joint. The S 2.0 series body in particular had many issues with the arms falling off.
  • Plastic items seem to be holding up quite well, no problems observed.
  • Paint on molded items like boots and hands is holding up fine, no tackiness or deformed parts.

Caltek/Flagset:

  • Since they are the same OEM as Soldier Story the same comments from Soldier Story would apply. In particular adhesive issues are the same and have been seen even with relatively new product.

Toys City:

  • Hold up reasonably well but the paint on molded items is an issue.
  • Adhesives on older knee pads and elbow pads tend to fail over time, but without any staining
  • Heads and bodies hold up well with no observed issues.
  • Plastic Items hold up well with no observed issues.
  • Molded items are problematic. Paint often becomes tacky on gloves, boots and knee pads. With boots and gloves this can cause paint transfer to fabrics they are in contact with. Deformation of parts not uncommon as the paint interacts.

Easy Simple:

  • Early on in their product cycle but only problems observed are tackiness issues with the paint on molded items with some of their early releases. The paint on these items has improved over time so hopefully that doesn’t cause issues. No issues with adhesives yet.

Hot Toys:

  • Given their age, these have held up remarkably well.
  • Haven’t noticed any issues with adhesives staining but some issues where adhesive has just failed over time and needs reapplying.
  • Rubberized bodies do not fair well over time. Cracking of the material as well as in box joint failures observed. Regular truetype bodies have held up remarkably well, haven’t seen a single one with an issue. No issues with heads other than the poor paint applications they were originally given.
  • Plastic items show some signs of brittleness over time. Usually an issue with some of the smaller components where there was less material, but generally they have all held up well.
    *Molded items generally have held up very well, a few instances of molded boots shrinking and deforming but little in the way of paint tackiness.

Sideshow:

  • This only applies to their GI Joe line, but hold up fairly well with one big caveat that the head sculpts very often suffer from a chemical interaction between the paint and the sides of the plastic clamshell tray they are in contact with. It usually shows up as an oily film on the paint and your mileage will vary with fixing it. Often causes irreversible paint damage.

BBI/Dragon:

  • Unfortunately I don’t have much in the way of BBI and Dragon figures but the few I kept or had come over the years haven’t showed much in the way of issues.

Mint in box is probably one of the worse applied terms with our hobby. Die hard collectors often thinking keeping things in the box preserves them, but in our hobby that doesn’t really hold true. While most things hold up quite well for a reasonable period of time, some brands, and in particular Soldier Story and products from their OEM, do not fair well when kept in the box, even when kept in ideal conditions. In particular, failing paint and adhesives can cause irreversible cosmetic damage to the items they come in contact with. If you want to keep your figures for the long term, the best thing you can do is get them out of the box, use the product, and give some of the problem areas an annual checkup as preventative maintenance. Replacement adhesives are cheaper than replacement parts after all. With all that said it is quite a joy opening some of the early Hot Toys military figures and seeing just how well they have held up in both condition as well as the original quality of the figures.

2 Likes
#2

Good read Adam, as most of my considerable collection remains in their boxes it’s nice, or in some cases worrying, to know how they hold up.

#3

Thanks for this comprehensive rundown. I’ve had a pretty good run with my almost universally Dam! based nrfb collection, with the one noticeable problem of adhesives in shoes/boots sometimes failing badly. I actually purchased an MCToys set a few years back that came with the boots literally covered in mold, which I assumed at the time was a QC problem at the factory.

#4

Most of the problems are generally workable if you catch them soon enough. Helmet velcro can be replaced and in most cases a boot swap is often an upgrade. If you have any Soldier Story figures that are past the 3 year mark you might want to look at the kneepad area, which you can do without opening. A telltale sign is you’ll start to see darkening along the outside edges that looks like a liquid stain. If you don’t mind opening the box, give the kneepads and elbow pads a wiggle, if they start lifting and shifting it’s a good time to get them fixed up. If the adhesive is yellow and sticky it’s going bad. The next time I refurbish a uniform I’ll try to get some pictures to show what they look like.

#5

I’ve had one or two DAM boots I picked up loose where the the soles came off, I think from their M27 USMC figure it was. Soldier Story Danner boots tend to be the same as well.

The molded boots seem particularly problematic. I’ve had random ones so bad the boots were getting deformed from whatever chemical breakdown was going on. With MCToys their paint tends to be very reactive with the “rubber” like material they use. Had never seen the paint on a helmet melt and turn into a gooey mess before.

#6

After reading various posts by toy designers and others working in the industry I gained some more insight into one of the reasons we see this. The oily film we sometimes see is from the plasticizers. Plasticizers are a common additive for softening materials and increasing flexibility and are common with PVC, the material most head sculpts are made of. The plasticizers evaporate/offgass over time. With an opened item this is fine as it just evaporates into the air but in a tight sealed package that vapor condenses back onto the item causing a sticky oily mess. Makes sense as I come across this as well with figures where they put baggies over the head sculpt.

#7

The MCToys Altyns are all damaged were the mic and cable cover sits. The lense covers had an oily film as well, but no major harm done to the scope. Probably, because it’s black and not painted.
Funnily, the more recent M069 held up worse than the older M046 when considering lense covers.

#8

Great information, and I’d be depressed, if the years hadn’t left me unreasonably happy, despite it all. I enjoy much of this hobby in progress, and the many people I have met. Which is what life is mostly about.

#9

Those are a good example of the issue as those particular parts need to be softer and flexible, hence the use of the plasticizers. This is what an example of that looks like over time, where the cover was in contact with the paint and the plasticizers leeched out causing a reaction with the paint. In this case I would just remove the cover and leave the mic in it’s extended position away from the helmet to avoid the issue. Fortunately for this project I only needed the front shield and the inner liner for other projects.

To remove the film, what one designer suggested was soaking the part (ie just the cover in this case) in a diluted solution of something like a dish soap/water solution in a 10 parts water to 1 part soap mix. If it’s not too bad then using a non-shedding cloth (something like a qtip would leave shedded fibers in the sticky mess) wetted with a similar mix would work.

#10

That is a good point to emphasize. Problems like this are also a good opportunity to learn about the issues and perhaps pickup some ideas or techniques to get around them in the future.

#11

Interesting read. I agree with most of these observances myself.

I have recently been going through my older figures to clean or prepare for sale. The BBI and Dragon figures for the most part have held up very well, both in and out of the box, although there are only a couple of each still in box. The worst failures are the glues on badges and knee pads, or velcro surfaces that were glued or taped on, and that is mostly on the BBI figures, as Dragon didn’t use that method on many of the figures I have.

Hot Toys biggest issues with early figures have been the knee joints, and a couple of the bodies. For the most part the True Type bodies are great, but they did have a few runs using a different plastic, and those are very brittle, and break easily. And wrist joints can be a bit dodgy as well.

Toy Soldier Workshop; Uniforms hold up well. Badges suffer from adhesive problems now that most are more than 10 years old. Hard plastic parts were hit and miss before, and probably more so now that they have had time to age, and that would apply to accessories, and to the bodies too. The bodies tended to have poor knees and hip joints, and I think the aging plastic may not have helped the matter much either. I have noticed the same issue as the Sideshow GI Joe headsculpts, with the paint apps getting a whitish residue on them. It seems to be fixable with a wipe from a rag, but there could be more concerning problems with breakdown of incompatible materials of wrong paints applied to the type of plastic used, going on there.

ACE Workshop. My only observed failures have been the soles of the lace-up boots falling off. Adhesives getting old seems to be the issue. Otherwise, all the sets seem to be holding up well.

I have had a few Medicom military figures as well, and while they are neat specimens, the bodies are pure junk, and made of a plastic that was brittle right out of the box. The best fix is to replace the bodies from one of the slim type bodies made by HT, ZC or the clone HT bodies, as they are the few bodies small enough to fit the Medicom gear.

I should probably check out the few Soldier Story figures I have in the box. I need the time to build them up, but this little bit of info has me thinking.