It’s come to my attention that my figurines are somewhat dirty. Perhaps it was the fact that my glass shelves had become opaque with dust, or possibly the spider making its way across my Yukanalia figurine as it spanned a thread of web from one wing to the next, but things Were Not Right in my shrine to PVC love.
Now, a pet hate of mine has always been cleaning my figurines. Not because I dislike the work involved, but because I’ve never been sure of just exactly how to clean them. I have an air-compressor, and would regularly wind that up to blow the majority of the dust off. But dust can sometimes be a stubborn beast, and often tenacious particles would cling on in clumps of resistance here and there, mocking me.
Thus, in the quest for scientific progress and the development of knowledge within the human species, I have embarked on a journey of discovery with my grimy PVCs. I hope the following guide and suggestions will prove useful.
Method 1: The sensible method.
I’ve selected Meg of Bakuretsu Tenshi fame as demonstration subject. For the most part, a general blow and dab with a wet (soft) cloth is sufficient, but if you take pictures of your figurines like me, you’ll often find that pieces of dirt remain. Although invisible to the naked eye, when doing a macro shot they become very clear, and will often ruin the entire feel of the picture.
So, what to do? Firstly, find a suitable tub (I find an empty ice-cream tub does the trick) and fill it up with water. Remember that PVC is malleable when heated, so you may want to err on the side of caution and will it with mildly cool water. If you like, you can leave the water to stand inside your bathroom for around half an hour; this will allow it to come closer to room temperature.
Next, if the figurine is made up of multiple parts, break it down into its component pieces. Besides being easier to clean, it ensures that the water is able to get at all the nooks and crannies of your figurines. Once this is done, take a part and firmly trail it back and forth underneath the water. This action is necessary as it creates flow/friction, forcing the more tenacious dirt off the figurine. You can also use a small paintbrush to brush the figurine or part while it is in the water, but generally it’s not required..
Once you are satisfied (about 15 seconds of this action should do it), you can dry the part. If it is made up of multiple parts, you should dry the part first before dunking the others. I recommend using a tissue or toilet paper and lightly dabbing the figure to absorb the excess moisture.
Now, figurines are not simple constructs; they have a lot of angles, grooves, and concavities that may allow water to seep in. You do not want residual water remaining after you’ve cleaned the figurine. I’m not sure if it would cause any damage, but regardless it’s better to get as much of it dry as possible. If you’re lucky enough to have an air-compressor at home, you can use this to blow water out of the cavities. If not, you can purchase pressured air-cans to do the same action.
If both of these are beyond your means, a simple cotton-bud can often serve to clean the majority of these cavities.
Please take a look at the following pictures below. For reference, I’ve included the previous “dirty pictures”.
As you can see, you can get a fairly large proportion of the dust and dirt off with this simple procedure. However, you’ll notice certain marks remain. These are the result of bumping the figurine or smudging the existing dust when handling the figurine. (for example, in a figure shoot, you may touch the figurine to change its angle.), and will not simply come off with a rinse.
Once again, we fall back on the humble cotton bud. Wetting the end and lightly dabbing it on a piece of soap, vigorously rub the affected area of the figurine. Generally speaking, if it is smudged with dirt, it should come off. Scratches or a damaged paint job will remain regardless of how hard you scrub, so if your rubbing appears to have no effect after about five seconds, it’s best to leave it.
Below are the results of the cotton bud procedure. I have circled the prime suspect areas in the left, and the results of the clean can be seen on the right.
Following all of the above steps, I believe you should get fairly good results without damaging your figurines. It can be a time-consuming procedure, so if you quite a lot of figurines I would recommend dividing them into batches and cleaning them like that.
Method 2: NOW, INTO THE REALMS OF MADNESS
One of the suggestions I happened upon during my searches was the suggestion of using effervescent tablets. The reasoning behind this was that the bubbles created while the effervescent tablet dissolves has a ‘scrubbing’ action on the figurine.
Crazy, I know. But the thought appealed to me, so I decided to test it out. However, the results were… less than satisfactory. To begin with, I didn’t have a single effervescent tablet available while I was doing all of this, so I decided to that effervescent powder would work in a pinch.
For the large figurine, the powder foams up far too quickly, negating any cleaning action it may have had. Therefore, it’s pretty useless. You’d have to use an exhaustive amount to keep up the bubbling action, and at R40 ($5) for 200g worth of powder, it’s hardly an efficient method.
On smaller figurines, however, it works like a charm. I tested it out on one of my Range Murata mini collectables, and it does remove a lot of the excess dust without having to wave it back and forth through the water. You can see the action below:
And the results:
Method 3: The Cleansifying
If all else fails… kill it with fire.
Okay, so maybe I DO dislike the work involved. Just a little.