How did you get started with toy restoration?
The toys I collect usually come from car boot or jumble sales – you’d call them yard sales or flea markets in North America – so cleaning and repairing toys is just part of the process and something I’ve been doing from a pretty young age. A few years ago, a friend of mine, James Bruton from XRobots , and I got into conversation about my toy restoration projects and he suggested I look into recording my processes to share with others. There wasn’t much out there at the time showing people how to repair toys so I started the YouTube channel and things took off from there.
What is one of your favourite completed projects?
That’s a bit like picking a favourite child, isn’t it? I have over 400 videos posted on YouTube so that isn’t an easy question to answer. Perhaps it’s the Action Man figures I recently worked on. A number of those figures were given to me by a friend in early 2016; they came to me as a bunch of parts in a box. I didn’t own these figures as a child so it was fun to have them to restore. I think sometime people get a kick out of giving me things in pieces to see if I can make sense of them and put them back together. It can be challenge but it’s always fun.
How has the advent of 3D printing changed what you do?
It is definitely changing how people approach restoring toys. I have used 3D-printed parts for a few of my projects. It’s handy to be able to make pieces yourself because some components can be hard to find. I do look forward to the evolution of 3D printing because while it’s a great tool for internal components, the quality just isn’t there for components that are highly visible. It’s still better to try and hunt down an original piece for that use.
Can you share a tip with us about how to clean plastic toys that have yellowed?
This is a popular question and there are a couple of videos on my YouTube channel that address this topic. There are a few ways this can be done. Some are more expensive than others. Personally, I like to use hydrogen peroxide and sunshine. Just submerge the toy in the hydrogen peroxide and leave it in a sunny spot for a couple of days. Sure, it takes a little bit of time to completely remove the yellow but this method is cheap and hydrogen peroxide is something most people already have in their cupboards.
I’ve actually grown to appreciate the discoloured toys. It’s a nod to the toy’s longevity, usage, and makes it quite unique. Not everyone shares this opinion.
What advice do you have for people wanting to get into toy restoration?
Just have a go at it! If it’s already broken there’s not much to lose, is there? Don’t worry about it being perfect, you’ll improve your technique with each project.
One of the nice things to come out of my YouTube channel and Facebook page is the community that’s formed around the common love of toy restoration. People are happy to help if you have any questions and very supportive of each other. Observing what other people do is a great way to improve. Also, don’t worry about what other people think of your projects. Some of the groups out there can be a little more particular than others. I’m in this for the fun of it and so is the Toy Polloi community.
Look into the minds of movers and shakers in the play industry – five questions, one fascinating person.