MMM Restoration - Figure Cleaning

Image from Toy Tinker Tim's video below

As 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 tread lightly. If something seems to be going wrong, stop what you're probably is going wrong!

Cleaning by Tom Wentland:

Tom was the first person I encountered who had developed a method of cleaning and restoring figures. Dozens were sacrificed for the cause, and many are featured in his home-produced video. Tom also was the originator of the "v" cut for wire replacement. 

Tom warns about using caustic cleaning chemicals...

Do not soak figures in Lestoil, Pine-Sol, or alcohol for more than 20 minutes. The cleaning chemicals will leach the plasticizer component out of the rubber, 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 figures is Resolve carpet cleaner. This product seems to be non-harmful to PVC rubber.

Cleaning by Ray Kolasa:

Simple Green is always my first (and often only) choice when cleaning figs and accessories. I'll use an old toothbrush to gently scrub away at any tougher stains (though be careful that you don't tear through the paint on the figures -- it gets soft when wet).

For white helmets and harder-plastic accessories, you might try soft scrub w/bleach to rub away any tougher stains (even glue residue).

Cleaning by Dave Benz:

You know, I've NEVER found anything better to clean matts with than just basic old hand soap and an OLD toothbrush with very soft bristles. A child's/baby's toothbrush works best.

Really, it works, try it! Just, like Ray said, don't scrub too hard with the toothbrush or you could remove the paint. Because of this, sometimes I use Q-tips instead of the toothbrush if the figure is not too dirty.

Cleaning by John Eaton:

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 shmutz on it. When I think back, my astronauts 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:

For cleaner, 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 Costco or Home Depot. I use a spray bottle with a 50/50 mix of Simple Green and water. First I pop the heads off the figures (I tend to clean a batch of 4 or 5 at a time) 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 sudsy paste can see the dirt coming off the figure. Rinse thoroughly with water. Repeat if necessary.

This always works for me... I've never had good luck with using a brush, even an extra soft bristle brush. The paint seems too delicate. When I originally started cleaning figures, I used cotton swabs (like Q-tips) with a little simple green. It would take hours to do a batch of figures. This simple spray-and-rinse method takes minutes. I do sometimes us a toothbrush to clean really dirty non-painted areas like the joint bellows or the boots.

After the figures are well rinsed (make sure there is not residue or hint of Simple Green... smell the'll notice if there's any left), I suspend them by their boots from a piece of bent coat hanger. It looks strange, but the results are good. The heads go on the ends of some chopsticks poking out of the dish-racks utensil cup.

MMM Figure Cleaning Videos:

Toy Tinker Tim's take on cleaning MMM figures:

All Mattel images and captions are copyright Mattel and used without permission. All other content, including images and editorial, is Copyright © 1997-2024 John Eaton and/or contributors unless otherwise stated. If there are any comments or objections, please contact John Eaton.

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