Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Unstick Your Gifts and Other Holiday Tips: How to Repair Sticky Vintage Plastic

A big lot of vintage toys after restoration

Enough people have arrived here at my blog by searching for tips to repair sticky plastic dolls and toys, I decided a lot of kids must be getting vintage holiday presents this year. That's totally understandable; my own kids are getting some vintage gifts. My five-year-old, especially, has gotten into watching the Ghostbusters movies on DVD, so I got him a bunch of the old 1980s toys. In many cases, when your child loves an older movie or cartoon, they want the toys to act it out and those are no longer available. My daughter loves the Little Mermaid II movie, so I've searched high and low for an affordable copy on DVD (we just have a VHS tape) and a Melody doll, to no avail. The Melody doll sells for around $200, even used, and during the holidays the price shoots up to $600 or more. Luckily, I know how to make mermaid dolls! Ghostbusters action figures, not so much. I want one of those new 3D printers so I can design my own plastic toys and just print them out!

At any rate, if you're giving a vintage doll or toy as a gift you want it to be as new looking as possible. Often, even though the toy might be in good repair, the old plastic has gotten sticky. This is a really easy fix, so I will show you how, step-by-step, as I restore a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Mega Mutant Killer Bee from the early 1990s.

Apply baby powder to the clean, dry plastic.

First, clean the toy thoroughly and let it dry. I use dish soap and water or Clorox wipes for this. You can also buy special doll cleaners if you want. Just be very careful around painted features like eyebrows and lips or eyes. Some cleaners will remove the paint! When your toy is clean and dry, sprinkle a little baby powder on your hands or directly on the toy or doll. Work in one small area at a time for less mess.

Rub the powder in gently.

Rub the baby powder into the plastic with your fingers, gently. The powder can abrade fragile paint and remove or scratch it, so don't press too hard. After a while the plastic will be saturated; you won't be able to get any more powder to absorb and it will sit on the surface.

Wipe away the excess powder with tissues.

Take a clean, dry white facial tissue (not a lotion-infused or colored one) and rub the excess powder away, again working gently. Sometimes excess powder will not remove this way and you will have to use a damp paper towel to remove it, but try to keep as much as possible on the plastic without leaving a white haze.

The treated plastic toy, all finished.

When you've finished, your plastic should feel clean and dry and much less sticky and your toy should look bright and refurbished. Here's my bee, looking fly (hee hee!). Besides the Killer Bee, I treated the Mutant Module drill vehicle and various parts of the vehicles shown here. As you can see, I have a ton of TMNT stuff, all dating from 1988-1991. You can visit my store to purchase these and many other already-restored vintage toys, so you can at least check one thing off your holiday to-do list! http://stores.ebay.com/atelier-mandaline

My Christmas chore list seems to expand every time I think about it. Christmas is wonderful when you have children, but it sure is more work when you're the mom! Yesterday I had to make something for the marching band bake sale. I'd been thinking cookies, but my friend Tammy suggested chocolate peanut clusters candy, which she made over the weekend. She said her family couldn't stop eating it. There are many versions of this on Pinterest, and I pinned a couple to my recipes board, but since Tammy used to own the town bakery and is famous around here for her culinary skills I used her recipe and I will give it to you.

Crock Pot Chocolate Peanut Clusters Candy
makes about 6 dozen clusters
16 ounces dry-roasted salted peanuts
16 ounces dry-roasted unsalted peanuts
1 10-oz bag peanut butter chips
1 10-oz bag milk chocolate chips
2 10-oz bags semi-sweet chocolate chips
24 ounces white chocolate almond bark or candy melts
Pour peanuts into slow cooker and stir to mix. Layer peanut butter chips, then milk chocolate chips, then semi-sweet chips, then white chocolate bark. Cook on slow without stirring until chocolates melt, about 3 hours. Stir to combine. Drop by spoonfuls onto waxed paper and let harden or drop into mini-muffin tins lined with mini-cupcake liners in the pattern of your choice. The white chocolate needs to be almond bark or candy melts, because regular white chips don't melt well.

As you can see, this recipe is super-easy, easier than cookies, I think. My biggest problem was finding room for all the sheets of drops to sit out and harden. I don't have enough mini-muffin pans to use for this. Tammy did hers that way, but then she used to own a bakery, so she has a lot of pans! I wrapped the ones for the band in clear treat bags and secured them with silver ties.

Jerry felt like all salted peanuts would have been good in the recipe, too. I would probably like more salt, myself.  I don't love super-sweet stuff, and this is on the line for me, so I also might prefer subbing in dark chocolate. Did the sweetness stop me from sampling a few more than I should? NO...

However, if you are like me and prefer less sweet desserts, then you might enjoy different chocolates I make fairly often. Substitute the peanuts in the recipe above for almonds. Then sub all the chocolate for the darkest chocolate you prefer. After the chocolate melts, stir in one cup dried cherries (or more if you love cherries like I do!) and add a pinch of sea salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg to taste and continue the recipe as written. This is a super-healthy, savory variation. I concocted that recipe after I read a similar recipe in Shape magazine the same day I tried a Gingerbread chocolate bar from World Market. I was instantly hooked on the spiced chocolate. I made those and took them to my in-laws' house for Christmas and everyone HATED them so we had a ton left over! So, I should have taken the sweeter peanut clusters over there, but I far prefer the almond and dark chocolate.

 I only gave the band half the peanut clusters because I am working on Christmas treats. We were supposed to go to my sister's house in Asheville for Christmas and I was really looking forward to it because I love the mountains and especially Asheville. I planned to make an assortment of cookies and candy, like my famous truffles (check my God Jul post for that recipe: http://mandalineartfulliving.blogspot.com/2012/12/god-jul.html) to take up there. Yesterday, however, they had a water leak through two floors of their house, so now it looks like it's not going to happen. It's such a bummer, and worse, that means I will probably be hosting again this year. If so, I need to go ahead and get all the fun food done ahead so I can clean and prepare the Christmas dinner closer to the day. All the work on my store and decorating the house means it's really messy around here and I haven't wrapped even one gift or mailed the Christmas cards!

I won't get much done over the next few days, either. Today we had the preschool Christmas party. Tonight we have the Christmas band concert. Tomorrow our five-year-old performs in the preschool Christmas play. He has four pretty complicated lines we've been helping him memorize. He knows them now, but he gets nervous and leaves all the consonants off (this is our speech therapy kid) so you can't tell what he's saying. Then he's on break and our daughter has her Christmas party the next day. Even though I've cleaned and restored all the toys for my store, the Ghostbusters toys I initially ordered the lot for are still all dirty...

 I guess I'll get it together by Christmas; at least I hope so!

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