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Doug Sundseth

Reducing the flexibility of Bones figures

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Before I begin, please note that I do not represent Reaper and that neither I nor Reaper is likely to accept any responsibility for anything that might happen to anyone following the procedure noted below. If you try it and ruin your figures, too bad, so sad. Probably shouldn't have done that and maybe next time you'll know better. :devil:

 

Now on with the show:

 

One of the problems that I, and from the posts I've seen here and elsewhere many others, have with Bones figures is that many are too flexible. From the information that I have*, the flexibility is the result of adding a plasticizer to the PVC resin before molding. There is some confirmation from the fact that various figures have very different rigidities.

 

One of the problems that can arise with plastics, including PVC, is that exposure to certain chemicals can cause plasticizer to leach out, causing them to become more rigid and more prone to cracking and failure under pressure. But it turns out that I want more rigidity and I don't plan to put my figures under pressure.

 

I had recently removed the bases from the Hordelings SKU 77335, and found them to be very floppy, especially in the very thin legs and arms, so I decided to experiment. We know that Bones are not affected noticeably by exposure to water, which is an aggressive, strongly polar solvent, so I decided to try an inexpensive much-less-polar solvent that I had around the house: 91% IPA (isopropyl alcohol). Since I didn't want to damage a figure without reason to believe that I'd get an interesting result, I started by soaking trimmed off bits of bases. When I checked them the next day (after about 24 hours of immersion), they definitely seemed to be much more resistant to bending than before they were immersed. I also noted no changes in appearance, though with pieces of bases, it's not clear that I would have noticed anything less than gross problems.

 

That seemed good enough to me to go to a more practical trial. So last night I dropped those Hordelings into a small container with enough IPA to cover them entirely. This morning, I pulled one of the figures out and noted much more rigidity in small-diameter parts, though two of the figures were still more floppy than I wanted. I left those two figures in the IPA until I got home from work, by which time then seemed to be notably more rigid than previously as well.

 

This seemed interesting enough to report.

 

Possible hazards:

  • Miniatures might be damaged or destroyed, or their durability might be compromised in the long term. This is a risk that I'm assuming for my figures; if you try this, you'll need to assume the same risk.
  • IPA is toxic. Read, believe, and follow the recommendations of the safety data sheet for the high-concentration IPA that you use. Here is an SDS for 91% IPA, though I make no claim that it is correct for what you use. Please make an effort not to be stupid.
  • I have yet to try painting over the surface of the treated minis. I make no claim that their utility as a paintable surface will be unchanged, either now or in the future. Again, I'm assuming this risk. More as it happens.
  • There may be other hazards I haven't identified. I'm not suggesting you do this, merely reporting my experiences so far. Please be on the lookout for such hazards. Again, I don't recommend this procedure and have not fully tested all scenarios, so I don't accept any responsibility for things that you run across if you try this. If you do come across other hazards, please report them

 

Future investigations:

  • I have yet to try this with larger/thicker figures. I suspect that the leaching will mostly be a near-surface phenomenon, since I suspect plasticizer migration from the interior of a thick piece will be slow at best. It might be worth a try. If I do try it with something big, I'll let you know what happens.
  • I also haven't tried reposing a figure after treatment. From what I've read, removing plasticizer should significantly raise the glass transition temperature of the PVC, which means that you might need hotter water. And given the results shown on the wings of Wyrmgear, it might not be possible to get the kind of results with a stiffened mini that you can with a mini that still has lots of plasticizer. I'd suggest straightening before leaching plasticizer, but as I said, I haven't done any of that.

If you try things, please let us know what you find out.

 

*  My company has a plastics division, so in addition to my own research I've attended meetings discussing plastics molding, none of which makes me an expert, but I am what I have available, for whatever that's worth. :poke: My research indicated that IPA might have demonstrated plasticizer leaching in other applications, but I didn't find anything directly on point.

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This is similar to results that I achieved with soaking a Bones miniature in pine oil cleaner for too long (I forgot it for over a week).  I haven't tried it with more yet.

 

Some questions:

  • Would the leaching of plasticizer reduce the volume/size of a miniature considerably?  I don't know how much volume the plasticizer takes up in the material.
  • Would the leaching of plasticizer help reduce the tackiness of primer or varnish coats that some have noted?  I have suspected that plasticizers react with these and prevent them from curing.
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Good questions.

  • I don't see any obvious volume change, but I don't have two of the same mini to sit next to each other. Still, if I don't see any difference.... :poke:
  • The tackiness can take so long to develop that it will by tricky to test. I might try spraying some of those base bits to check.
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Interesting.  Soaking in isopropyl alcohol is my age-old method of removing acrylic paint from minis. 

 

Acrylic paints are (moderately) soluble in alcohol.  Alcohol softens the paint film and makes it rub off easily

 

I've never tried the method on a non-metal miniature, though.

 

This would be a sort of artificially accelerated ageing effect, yes?  In the long term, if I understand correctly, plasticizer slowly leaches out of plastics anyway, leaving them considerably less flexible than when newly made.

 

Looking at early plastic artifacts in archives and museums, they may grow unstable over time (getting more brittle or more sticky or more powdery), but they don't seem to shrink all that much :

http://americanhistory.si.edu/blog/2012/01/preserving-plastics.html

http://americanhistory.si.edu/blog/2011/07/one-word-plastics.html

http://risdmuseum.org/manual/322_the_care_and_preservation_of_art_composed_of_plastic

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3 minutes ago, Pingo said:

This would be a sort of artificially accelerated ageing effect, yes?

 

Sort of, if I understand correctly. I think you wouldn't get damage to polymer bonds of the sort that UV causes to plastics over time, but the plasticizer removal might well be similar.

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16 minutes ago, Pingo said:

This would be a sort of artificially accelerated ageing effect, yes?  In the long term, if I understand correctly, plasticizer slowly leaches out of plastics anyway, leaving them considerably less flexible than when newly made.

 

Plasticizer will also allow other materials to soften and migrate, like dyes or hard plastics.  Hard plastics will melt and cling to PVC plastics, and many a vintage Barbie doll has been stained by being left too long in brightly colored clothing.

 

My wife bought some sort of vinyl-cleaning gel or cream (ah, found it: Remove-Zit by Twin Pines) to remove stains from some collectible Barbies she had.  I seem to remember it also contains plasticizers to allow it to penetrate the vinyl and remove deeper stains, but I may be wrong on that account.

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3 minutes ago, Grumpy Cave Bear said:

 

Plasticizer will also allow other materials to soften and migrate, like dyes or hard plastics.  Hard plastics will melt and cling to PVC plastics, and many a vintage Barbie doll has been stained by being left too long in brightly colored clothing.

 

My wife bought some sort of vinyl-cleaning gel or cream (ah, found it: Remove-Zit by Twin Pines) to remove stains from some collectible Barbies she had.  I seem to remember it also contains plasticizers to allow it to penetrate the vinyl and remove deeper stains, but I may be wrong on that account.

 

You could I suppose leave them and call them Pictish Barbies.

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For science!

 

IMG_4410.thumb.PNG.f4142899fc59403b9049a24b01069729.PNG

 

I wanted to try something slightly different, so I wouldn't be duplicating Doug's efforts.  The ghast on the left is soaking in denatured alcohol (methylated ethanol), not isopropyl alcohol, and the ghast on the right is the control.  I put them in at about 7:00 tonight, and I'll check it tomorrow at the same time.

 

The Bones II Kickstarter ghasts are a good candidate, as they are rather soft and pliable -- softer than another ghast I have, which is firmer and has a slightly different placement of mold lines.  Is that one a ghast from Bones I?

 

Will the denatured alcohol leach the plasticizer? Will it dissolve the ghast?  Will the ghast swell up to twice its volume?  And it doesn't matter much to me, as I have four more!

 

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First night: Ghast in denatured alcohol had only a slight difference in in rigidity -- either imagined or at the very edge of my ability to discern it.  I'm leaving it for another night.

 

There's a good reason I'm interested in doing this.  I have a second Kaladrax I want to paint, and the head and tail of the first one I painted was very soft, and became slightly tacky as compared to the rest of the model.  I'm interested in anything that would help prevent this, but don't want to ruin a $75 model with an untried technique.

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Doug, is the IPA you're using just rubbing alcohol or something stronger? Is it likely to leave a toxic residue on the plastic? Or will washing it off with dish soap take it off?

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It's rubbing alcohol, but it's a higher concentration than most. You can probably find it at most pharmacies or supermarkets.

 

IPA has a very high vapor pressure at room temp, so it evaporates very quickly. (Which is a large part of the reason it's used as rubbing alcohol, you can smell it almost immediately, and it feels cold when applied.) The only residue I'd expect to see on the fig would be the leached plasticizer. I would recommend washing with dish soap to get rid of as much of that as possible.

 

But I might be wrong, we're experimenting here. ^_^

 

From the SDS, there's a significant flash hazard, ingestion or inhalation is a bad idea, and you probably don't want to get it on your skin (which, since it's rubbing alcohol, might tell you something about either safety data sheets or rubbing alcohol). I recommend that with any chemical you read the SDS, understand the risks you're subjecting yourself (and those around you) to, and take precautions consistent with your understanding.

 

FWIW, with IPA, I take basic precautions, try not to be too stupid, and don't worry all that much.

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13 minutes ago, hosercanadian said:

And avoid having a smoke in the painting room while you wait...

 

I think that falls into "take basic precautions, try not to be stupid...."

 

::D:

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Interesting results. I'm curious to hear how soaking the mini affects later painting.

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