- So Soft Ponies (cleaning, de-flocking, re-flocking) -
Whether it was the family dog, or the child herself who was the culprit, chewed body parts is extremely common in ponies. This used to be a life ender for the pony, but now thanks to Sculpey, Apoxy Sculpt, and similar products, just about any of these defects can be corrected. How well this turns out depends on how good you are at sculpting and mixing paint colors. Practice makes perfect, and hey, what you do can't look worse than those missing ears, right?
No one knows exactly what causes pony cancer or even what it is. The theory that it is caused by a deterioration of vinyl from age used to be the most popular. Now there is some evidence that it is caused by bacteria, or even simply dirt. There is also some debate over whether or not it can spread to uninfected ponies.
Photos courtesy nina85.
Luckily, the general cleaning of ponies is quite simple. Dawn Dish Detergent will remove dust and a lot of surface dirt. Sometimes it also seems to brighten the pony's color. Mr. Clean Magic Erasers will remove more stubborn surface dirt and an OxiClean bath will get rid of more deeply embedded dirt and often brightens the pony's color. Use pipe cleaners or bottle brushes to scrub the insides of the pony. Every collector has his or her own favorite method and tools for general cleaning. You'll quickly develop your own as well! Yum-Yum at the MLP Arena has a cute cleaning video available here: My Little Pony - basic wash and style tutorial.
Dyeing ponies doesn't seem to have much usefulness for restoration and pretty much falls into the realm of the customizers. I do have high hopes that someone will eventually find a way to fix regrind and hide stains using dye, so I'm including a tutorial about it. The dye doesn't affect eye paint or symbols, but it will dye the pony's hair so you'll have to remove the hair while dyeing and then replace it, or do a complete re-hair once you're finished. Keep in mind that the pony's original body color will affect the end result of the dye job. You probably can't turn a dark purple pony yellow, for example.
Photos courtesy Creampuf.
Heat the water to boiling, remove from heat, and mix in your dye. You can make the pony darker and/or brighter by letting it soak longer, or by adding more dye to the water. You can always put the pony back in the mixture or add more dye, so ere on the safe side and use less dye at first.
Continuously stir the water as your pony is soaking to keep the dye mixed evenly in the water. You can also hold the pony down in the water with tongs to help it absorb the dye evenly. Different collectors have different opinions on whether or not to remove the pony’s head.
After the pony has been in the dye for a few minutes, check for areas where the color is not changing due to the presence of excess glue. Sand off the excess glue, or remove it using acetone (this can also be done before you start the dyeing process, if the glue is visible), then continue with your dye job.
Once your pony has reached your desired color, wash its body to remove any excess dye. If you also dyed its hair, you’ll likely have to wash it several times to get out all the extra dye. You might also want to give the pony an OxiClean bath.
Here are several nice tutorials on the subject:
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Customizers who dyed ponies several years ago are starting to see some fading and discoloration in these ponies. This makes the usefulness of dying for restoration purposes even more uncertain. See: Why I don't Dye Also use caution when storing dyed ponies as the dye can stain other ponies if they are touching. Courtesy: BabyStargleamer
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Shadowlark at the MLP Arena donated photos of a badly faded SeaShell that she restored using dye. She looks great!
You'll need to remove your ponies' heads to clean inside them, while boiling them, and for projects like re-hairing.
Lots of regular pony heads can be removed by gently tugging and squeezing at them. Use a thin blunt object to pry off any sections that are still glued to the body. X-Acto knives are very popular for this and the blades can be reversed to help avoid accidentally cutting into the pony's neck or body. Pictured to the right, Sweetlittlejenny recommends a scrapbooking Scoop Tool for a safer version of this..
If you want, you can glue the heads back on using a craft glue such as Aleene's Tacky Glue or model glue, but you probably won't need to. Luckily, ponies usually have small indentations on their heads and bodies so you can see how they're supposed to line up.
For really hard headed ponies, apply heat by dipping them in hot water or blowing on the neck seam with a hair dryer. This helps soften both the vinyl and the glue. Be very gentle when pulling on the head, you don't want to rip any of the vinyl.
Ponies are made of vinyl, which is porous and can grow mold. There are two types of mold most common in ponies, what I'm going to refer to as "brown mold" and "smooze", also known as "pin dot mold". There is also a type of mold which I will refer to as "pony pimples". Any type of mold may spread between ponies if left untreated.
Looking for some great info on how to prevent mold?: Tutorial: Mold Removal and Prevention (For those in humid climates) & That Funky Fungus
The only way to tell the difference between brown mold and pony cancer is that this type of mold usually has a dark dot in its center. There is no known cure for this type of mold, but it is treatable using the same methods as pony cancer. Update: It seems that most collectors now believe that Brown Mold and Pony Cancer are the same thing, both caused by bacteria. This would mean that brown mold is not mold at all and won't spread between ponies. See: Brown Mold . . . Can I Stop It?
Treatments usually involve one or both of the following, bleach treatments, and/or boiling/soaking infected ponies in OxiClean. Molds can't live without moisture, so be certain to dry the pony completely if you choose a method that involves water. Many collectors choose to quarantine infected ponies by storing them in plastic bags away from other ponies. Photo courtesy Raemarie.
Smooze/Pin Dot Mold
For smooze that isn't ingrained too deeply into the pony's vinyl, sometimes rubbing it with acetone fades it. Mr. Clean Magic Erasers and/or boiling/soaking in OxiClean often removes it. For smooze that is embedded more deeply than this, you'll need to do some serious scraping.
The key is patience, patience, patience.
Raised dots and bumps on a pony's head or body that contain fluid or white goo are likely a type of mold.The bumps themselves are usually white or brown, but can be other colors. Squeeze or prick the bump with a needle and let anything inside drain out. Once finished, disinfect the area with any product you prefer. Information courtesy Raemarie.
Photos courtesy Raemarie and Sea_Breeze.
Plasticiser is a part of the ponies' bodies and when it starts to leach out of them you can tell because they start to feel sticky. With some of the smaller accessories, like Brandy the dog or Twinkles the cat, sometimes it causes their paint and faces to smudge off. This can happen both inside and outside the pony or accessory. Once the plasticiser is completely gone, the pony's body will be hard and unbendable. You can soften the pony temporarily by applying heat (with a blow dryer or by boiling, for example), but the body will harden again once the pony cools down.
The article: That Funky Fungus mentions a bit about plasticiser. Another great article provided by Black Curtains, A Survey of Plastics in Historical Collections by John Morgan, provides some very interesting information about plasticiser:
Regrind is believed to occur in vinyl where Hasbro "recycled" old vinyl by melting it and mixing it with another color. It starts to show up as the vinyl ages and the colors separate. Unlike pony cancer or mold, regrind appears in large colorful blotches. It won't spread to other ponies and currently there is no known cure. The only option right now is to paint over it. Attempts to dye it usually end up with a pony that is darker in color, but still has mismatched blotches.
There is more than one report, especially in flutter ponies, of regrind changing the pony to an entirely new, uniform, color.
Photo courtesy Avea2006.
Rust most often occurs inside ponies that have been exposed to water. They have metal washers in their tails and seaponies have metal weights in their bodies, which is why this occurs. OxiClean baths will often remove rust. For stubborn cases, try CLR or Rit Rust Remover. You can use pipe cleaners, bottle brushes, long q-tips, or similar items to really get in there and scrub. I personally put a little bit of OxiClean directly into the ponies body, making certain some gets into all the little spaces. I fill the body with hot water and let it bubble for awhile, then rinse. This usually gets all the rust and gunk of of the tiny crevices that are super hard to reach. Make sure to remove the weights and washers from their bodies and tails. Removal and replacement of the tail washers is discussed in the hair section of the site.
Magic Star was cleaned using OxiClean and bleach. Photos courtesy Emery.
Dawn dish soap rubbed on with a soft tooth brush will remove most dirt and even dried stains from so soft ponies. Wet the pony first then apply the soap. GENTLY scrub with the toothbrush. Pat as much water off them as you can with a towel or napkin. When the pony is dry, gently brush the flocking with a dry soft toothbrush to re-fluff the flocking. If you need a stronger cleaner, the spray on version of OxiClean can safely be used on so softs. Many collectors also use spray on carpet cleaners.
For more heavily stained, or completely yellowed so softs, some collectors have had luck whitening them with a bleach bath. Use bleach with caution as other collectors report bleach having made their ponies even more yellow. The amount of bleach seems to be pretty arbitrary, but over all people seem to use a pretty weak bleach/water solution. This is often used in conjunction with sun fading. Be extremely careful as the bleach will fade the ponies hair, so don't let them soak for too long, and this cleaning method seems to be safest on white ponies. Be certain to thoroughly rinse off any chemicals you use and it's best not to use hot water on so softs.
Other cleaning methods collectors reportedly have had luck with include soaking so-softs in tepid water and Oxi-Clean, running them through the washing machine wrapped in a pillow case, and the much gentle cleaning them with cool water, a soft toothbrush, and baking soda. Be careful as any cleaning method you choose can remove flocking depending on the condition of the pony's glue.
The method of de-flocking so soft ponies that involves the use of Acetone and Jasco seems to be the most popular. Wear rubber or latex gloves while doing this as this method uses multiple nasty chemicals. Also be sure to work in a well ventilated area and follow all directions provided on the product’s label.
First, soften the glue that is holding on the flocking soaking the pony in an OxiClean bath of hot or boiling water. Scrub off as much of the flocking as possible using your fingers or a toothbrush. If you choose to use a brush, be careful not to scratch painted areas like eyes and symbols. Rinse the OxiClean off your pony once finished.
Next, using cotton balls, rub the non-painted areas of the pony with Acetone. Do not let it touch any painted areas as it will take the paint off. Once various body parts are wet with the Acetone, you can GENTLY scrape off the flocking and glue with a sharp object. You can soak non-painted body parts directly in the Acetone to help them soften more quickly. Use Acetone and or a gentle sanding to remove any excess glue from the pony. Rinse the pony again, also washing it with Dawn dish detergent as needed.
Wet the painted areas of the pony with Jasco. Remove the flock off the painted areas by scrubbing them with a cloth, cotton ball, or toothbrush. The Jasco miraculously doesn’t remove paint from the pony, but be careful not to scrub so hard that you scratch the paint. Also, use your common sense, it will remove symbols and eyes if you aren't careful and gentle. Rinse the pony again, also washing it with Dawn dish detergent as needed. You’ll probably need to condition your pony’s hair once this is finished.
Contact your city or county to find out how to properly dispose of your left over chemicals. You should never dump chemicals down the drain.
Here's a nice video tutorial courtesy the Retroblasting folks: My Little Pony So-Soft Restoration: Part 1 - Deflocking
Try Mr. Clean magic erasers and gentle cleansers like Dawn dish soap first for a good surface cleaning. If you used them for general cleaning, and your pony still has marks, try rubbing a little harder. Remember to be careful over any painted areas. It's really amazing the marks magic erasers can get off of ponies.
These pen marks were removed with a magic eraser. Photos courtesy BabyIceCrystal.
Rub at tougher stains and marks with a q-tip and nail polish remover. Nail polish remover with acetone tends to work best. Be careful not to get any of the remover on the painted areas of the pony as it will take them off.
Sun-fading will fade many stains completely away, and is usually the next thing collectors try before harsher chemicals.. Cover everything but the affected area (especially hair, symbols, etc.) with aluminum foil or paper towel and leave the pony in direct sunlight for as long as needed. This can be weeks or months and works best in areas that are particularly sunny. While covering the pony with aluminum foil is quite popular (they call them pony-tatos like baked potato), this can have a yellowing effect on their bodies. No such problems have been reported when using paper towel, napkins, and similar items.
If everything else fails, products like Removzit and acne products containing 10% benzyl peroxide, such as Clearasil or Persa-gel, can remove many tougher stains. Rub the affected area with your chosen product and let sit 15 - 30 minutes. Rinse and continue to let the pony sit. These will usually continue to lighten the area for awhile after the product has been removed. Repeat as necessary. Be extremely careful not to leave the product on for too long as it is possible to over-bleach the stain. Be aware of the color of the pony that you are working on. These are relatively harsh treatments can fade or yellow the bodies of certain colors of ponies. It's always best to test in an inconspicuous area. Reportedly RemoveZit works best on yellow ponies. Test it on white and pink ponies, do not use it on green, aqua, blue, purple, and deep magenta ponies. This product was designed for use with flesh colored dolls, not the variety of colors found in ponies.
Creams can sometimes whiten yellowed ponies when other methods don't work.
BlackCurtains has shown that smooze is actually dirt ingrained in the ponies' pores. See:
De-flocking a so soft isn't exactly a restoration, but sometimes their flocking is just beyond hope. For these so softs, de-flocking is often a second lease on life. A brightly colored very pretty second life, it turns out. They're actually quite colorful under all that yellowed flocking!
If you'd like to re-flock your deflocked so soft pony, here is a lovely tutorial by CherryCake on how to do so: So Soft-Ifying Applejack. Flocking is available at various craft stores and online. You can order it at restoredoll.com or at Hobby & Craft Flocking and Supplies. So far, no craft flocking has been found that matches the texture of the original so soft flocking. You can use the craft flocking to touch up rubs on your so soft ponies, but the texture will not match and the difference is visible.
Templeflower has also reported good luck whitening ponies whose bodies have yellowed using a hydrogen peroxide/sun fading treatment. She's provided a detailed tutorial below.
I think the photos of Daddy Apple Delight whitened using this method might end any doubts collectors may have about the times when this is necessary along with sunfading. Photos courtesy Himmie.
This most often occurs when a ponies legs are bent in a funny way that prevents it from standing correctly or have dents in their bodies.
A great suggestion, courtesy ladyphoenix9, is to take off the ponies head and fill it with boiling water. Let the pony sit until the water cools, then dry the pony out. If this works properly, the water will reshape the pony's body.
Other methods involve boiling the pony, then stuffing paper into it to help it hold its shape while it cools. Hathorcat recommends popping the pony in the freezer while it's still hot to help the shape set.
When the issue is with the legs, usually putting something between them (VHS tapes and some books are usually the right thickness), and letting the pony sit for a period of time will shape the legs back into place.
Photos courtesy Breyer600.
It is all about the chemical makeup of an object. The technical term for color fading is photodegradation. There are light absorbing color bodies called chromophores that are present in dyes. The color(s) we see are based upon these chemical bonds and the amount of light that is absorbed in a particular wavelength.
Ultraviolet rays can break down the chemical bonds and thus fade the color(s) in an object - it is a bleaching effect. Some objects may be more prone to fading, such as dyed textiles and watercolors. Other objects may reflect the light more, which makes them less prone to fade. (Taken from a Library of Congress website about Everyday Mysteries.)
Light + ponies (and other items that have pigment or dyes) = photodegradation."
Sea Pony Weights
To remove sea pony weights, first remove their head. A lot of times the weights are loose and will fall right out. Sometimes they have one weight inside, sometimes two.
Photos courtesy Whizzer19.
If the weights do not come out easily, use a tool like needle nose pliers, tweezers, or hemostats to pull them out. At this point, your pony is probably going to need a really good internal cleaning. If you'd like the pony to float correctly, a great tip from Whizzer19 is to put a glass marble in her tail. This will keep it from rusting again!
Photos courtesy Ringlets: How do I take apart/fix/clean out a seapony?
Photos courtesy Eldarwen.
Also known as saddle sores, theories on the cause of these marks range from thousands of marauding, pink highlighter wielding, children set loose during the 80's, a type of regrind, a type of pony cancer (breakdown in the pvc), and contact with pink accessories such as saddles, bridles, and shoes. If the marks on your particular pony are caused from pens, highlighters, or contact with accessories, then sunfading or other stain removal techniques should remove them.
Photo courtesy Jaybell.
Yellow marks are most often caused by bleeding from chartreuse hair.
Avoiding the use of chemicals on this color of hair and preventing wet
hair from touching the pony's body will help prevent this from happening.
It can usually be sun-faded away. Photo courtesy elish2.
Hathorcat recommends a vinegar treatment to help set the color if you want to prevent bleeding due to environmental factors such as humidity. Please note, this will help, but won't fix the problem entirely. Place tissue paper or a kleenex between the hair and the pony's body during storage.
There is no known cure, methods for preventing its spread range from rubbing it with acetone, bleach, and boiling infected ponies in OxiClean. There is a lot of debate about this as well as some collectors believe that moisture causes the cancer so boiling a pony will make it spread. However, the boiling method is the most popular and the majority of collectors swear by it. The only agreed upon method seems to be simply to quarantine infected ponies by storing them in plastic bags away from other ponies. Many collectors also put moisture absorbers in the bags, such as silicone packs.
There have been reports of the cancer being lightened by
sun-fading, rubbing the spots with acetone, and using Remove-Zit
on yellow and white ponies. Peroxide soaks have been reported to remove the spots entirely, but I don't have details as to how long this may take. Another method that is largely untested is to paint over the cancer, to simply hide it. This won't prevent its spread, but can potentially make the pony look better.
Update: I have had a lot of luck "curing" pony cancer by leaving the infected pony soaking in a clear jar of hydrogen peroxide left out in the sun. I know of one other person who has also been able to cure this using a similar technique. At this point I believe that pony cancer and brown mold (discussed below) are the same thing, they will not spread between ponies, and they can be cured. I'd like to find out if other collectors have had similar results before saying for sure though. Please see my post at the MLP Arena that discusses the pros and cons of using peroxide: Hydrogen Peroxide Soaks versus Sun Fading
Rit Dye is a very popular product for any sort of dye project involving ponies. It comes in liquid, crystal, and powder forms. You’ll have to decide for yourself which version you’re the most comfortable working with.
It will stain surfaces and containers so be sure to cover counter tops and such with newspaper and use bowls and containers that will not come into contact with food.
Be sure to consider this technique carefully before trying it. If used incorrectly these products can leave large faded blotches on the ponies, and there have been reports of ponies re-yellowing some time after the products were used. You can find more information here: Acne Cream Results.