Temperatures Rise, Figures Fall! A Recipe that Helps.
May 11, 2008

Have you ever been woken up in the middle of the night by a crashing sound that gets your heart racing for as long as it takes to realize the sound came from some of your displayed figures falling over? Well, it is that time of year again. Phoenix hasn’t reached 100 just yet, but we’re close. Warmer days mean plastic gets soft. For most action figures its not much of a problem. But some figures are made of an already soft, flexible plastic. This means when the temperatures rise, these figures fall! What can be done to help? The following is a recipe to alleviate this problem and the general issue of figures that have difficulties standing…

 

 

 

Its usually pretty predictable. Out of all the figures in my Justice League case Dove will be the first to fall. Others that share the same body mold tend to be problematic. Every now and then, however, a figure that I’m not expecting will bite it. This morning it was Mr. Miracle. He took the other New Gods with him.

If you’re like me, it really gets under your skin when a figure has trouble standing. It didn’t take me long to learn that if you heat up a figure’s plastic it becomes soft and malleable. The first figure I decided to experiment on was a Star Wars Bespin Has Solo. I took the Han Solo and held him above a candle flame long enough for his legs to soften. I then repositioned his foot and ankle so he’d stand better. After doing this I noticed his boots were very shiny. Yes, they had started to melt. Lesson 1: Heating with an open flame is not the best method! Here a recipe for a better way:

Gather your tools: One dish towel, one microwave safe measuring cup, one bowl large enough to fit a figure and both your fat hands. 

Heat 1 2/3 cups of water in microwave for 3 minutes or until boil.

Fill bowl with cold water and 2 handfuls of ice. 

Remove boiling water from microwave. Grab figure by head and submerge all limbs needing adjustment in boiling water. 

Keep in boiling water until small bubbles form around figure. (According to the U.S. government this is not considered torture.)

Once plastic is soft remove from boiling water, realign problem limbs carefully and gently submerge in cold water. You will feel the plastic begin to stiffen immediately. Hold in water until plastic feels rigid. Remove and test the adjustment. Repeat process if you’ve over or under compensated. 

Finally, dry figure with dish towel. 

Enjoy the fruits of your labor and an uninterrupted night’s sleep! 

Unfortunately, there are figures that are just stubborn and need repeated treatments. Others will learn their lesson with one adjustment. This is the method that works for me. Please post any alternate tips and tricks!

Alright, who’s next?

 

   

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Danny "CantinaDan" Neumann
Action figure anthropologist, Professor Cantina Dan Neumann has been a scholastic contributor to the online community studying the complex world of parumplasticus populus {little plastic people} since the turn of this millenium. His primary focus is the visual cataloging of species exhibits through photo-journalism.
Read other articles by Danny "CantinaDan" Neumann.

 

 

 

9 Comments »

  • zach says:

    Great article! Very funny, practical, and informative. I am going to have to try this right away…my Mr. Miracle fell over the other day as well and wiped out my entire GLC. thanks!

  • elvis8batman says:

    Thanks for this, I know I’m going to have to do the same on a few of my JLU figures. But how permanent is it? If the temperature rises will the figures start leaning again or does this put them right once and for all?

  • CantinaDan says:

    This is only a temporary fix for a few figures made from especially crappy plastic. I’ve treated Dove numerous times! Others respond well to a good adjustment and will stand straight for the long haul. My Wildcat had problems when I first got him but hasn’t toppled since I gave him “the treatment.” I think a lot has to do with how well you get the balance and weight distribution. It will help a weak ankle if there is not a lot of weight leaning either forward or backward.

  • Erik superfriend says:

    Are there any issues with paint being disturbed by this process? I’ve always been worried about ruining the paint.

  • Pierre Airmax says:

    Ha! Awesome, I *just* had someone ask me about this over the weekend – and now I have some place I can send em for a write up with pictures.

    Love that shelf/display too.

  • CantinaDan says:

    Erik, I’ve personally never had issues with paint using this method. The only problem I’ve had was with manhandling the soft plastic too much after it was heated and inadvertently molding it kind’uv crooked. But this was with Elongated Man so I could justify it!

  • Veil1 says:

    This is also a great way to re form legs and arms that have been warped by being put in their bubble wrong. My Nemesis had a pretty severe case of club foot. But using Dan’s technique, he can now fight crime unhindered by his disability.

  • MisterPL says:

    This is the time of year when I find DC Direct figures on the floor due to increasing temperatures. It’s really bad when figures won’t even stand with the bases they come with, worse when the heat – and we’re talking upwards of 70-75 degrees – topples displays.

    There were a few reasons why I stopped collecting Mattel’s JLU figures. One was the legs. I drilled far too many holes in their feet just so I could use generic bases to get them to stand. Shouldn’t have to boil ‘em either.

  • DanMan says:

    Hey Dan, I know this is a late response, but I was just admiring the display you have there. Where did you get those nice glass shelves?

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