M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors often have their own personal techniques, tips, and preferences for cleaning figures. When the Silver Boat Paint figures, part of the Purple Claw Project, were first shared with the M.U.S.C.L.E. community the use of 409 to remove the boat paint was one of the methods suggested. It ultimately became one of the two initial methods tested (nail polish remover being the second).
The 409 “testing” was done rather haphazardly and poorly documented. However, there were some positive results yielded. The test figure (#22) ended up in better condition, but far from perfect – for a variety of reasons. At the time, it made the 409 cleaning method seem like a very likely solution for removing the silver boat paint.
While 409 initially ended up being the cleaning solution used, a Google search of popular paint removal techniques for toys, miniatures, and action figures revealed another option – Simple Green. It appeared that Simple Green was a rather popular choice for removing paint from a variety of items.
With two similar cleaning products, 409 and Simple Green, it seemed prudent to simultaneously test their paint removal abilities.
Unlike the Baking Soda Recipie, there was no clear method or recipe that could be found. One learning from the initial 409 testing was that the constant changing of the cleaning solution was largely unnecessary. Having the figure and solution sealed by plastic wrap, or plastic bags, was also unnecessary.
Each painted figure was placed into the glass cup and cover with approximately 3 ounces (90 mL) of cleaning solution. A small saucer was put over the figures to prevent anything from falling into the solution, plus it allowed for any gases that may develop to easily escape.The figures were left to soak for four days. The only time they were handled in any manner was to move the cups for daily progress pictures. The figures were never touched and the cleaning solutions were never changed.
After four days the figures were removed from the cleaning solutions. The figures were then scrubbed with a toothbrush. More delicate and detailed cleaning was done with an eyeglass repair flathead screwdriver. This screwdriver was selected because it provided a flat edge for scraping, a fine point for digging, and was not so sharp that it cut or damaged the figure. Each figure was cleaned with the toothbrush and screwdriver for approximately 40 minutes.The Simple Green figure (#2) was the first to be removed and cleaned. Upon completeion of the first figure, the 409 figure (#93) was removed and cleaned in the same fashion.
The original 409 test (on figure #22) shaped the somewhat pessimistic expectations regarding the overall effectiveness of soaking the figures. The results had suggested that 409 was effective, but still required extensive scrubbing and scrapping to remove the paint and primer. Because of these pessimistic expectations the Simple Green figure was chosen as the figure to be removed from the solution. The hope was that it would be immediately clear if there were any major similarities or differences between Simple Green and 409.
When the figure was removed from the solution, it became immediately clear that the discoloration was a positive attribute. The silver paint looked nearly completely removed from the figure. The white primer remained, but even it had completely disappeared from some places on the figure.
The other immediate observation was that the plastic had not appeared to deteriorate in any fashion. The details, rigidity, and just about everything else seemed completely normal for a M.U.S.C.L.E. figure.The figure was then scrubbed with a toothbrush and unbelievable amounts of primer were removed. It was immediately clear that the Simple Green was more effective than the 409. However, as the paint was removed, the figure, originally thought to be a Flesh #2, looked discolored. The figure now appeared to be an Orange #2. It was impossible to be 100% certain that the Simple Green had not discolored the #2 figure (See Conclusion Below).
The figure was cleaned to nearly original, mint condition – simply because the effectiveness of the Simple Green was so stunning and made cleaning so easy. While the simplicity of cleaning was celebrated it was tempered by the discoloration issue. Further testing need to be conducted to provide 100% assurance that the Simple Green had not discolored the presumed Flesh #2.Upon completing the cleaning of the Simple Green figure, the 409 test figure was removed from its cup. While some paint had been eroded, it was not nearly as effective as the Simple Green. Again a toothbrush was used to clean the figure. This time it was obvious that the 409 was not removing as much paint nor as it removing it as easily as the Simple Green test figure. While the toothbrush allowed for some larger areas to be cleaned, the majority of cleaning needed to be completed with the screwdriver. The 409 had failed to deteriorate the paint and primer in many of the detailed, intricate areas – it had even failed in fairly simple crevices. The cleaning process was slow and monotonous.
The 409 did remove and loosen some silver boat paint and primer, but not nearly as well as the incredibly effective Simple Green.CONCLUSION
Irrefutable evidence has been provided that 409 is vastly inferior to Simple Green for removing boat paint from M.U.S.C.L.E. figures. Sadly the cleaning power of the Simple Green potentially discolored what was originally thought to be a Flesh figure. Without further testing of the Simple Green it was possible that 409 was the safest paint removal choice.
Another Simple Green experiment was immediately set-up. A Flesh figure (#68) was soaked in Simple Green for 5 days. When it was taken out of the solution it appeared unharmed in anyway. In fact, it actually appeared to be cleaner than when it had gone into the Simple Green solution.
It can now be said with 100% confidence that Simple Green does not discolor M.U.S.C.L.E. figures.
It should also be noted that both cleaning solutions left odors on the figure. The 409 left a harsher “chemical” smell to the figure. The Simple Green also left an odor, but far less “chemically” smelling – almost bordering on pleasant. Further experiments will explore whether the 409 and Simple Green smells can be safely removed from M.U.S.C.L.E. figures.
Ultimately both 409 and Simple Green removed the silver boat paint from figures without damaging the figures. Yet when the two cleaning products are compared, Simple Green is far superior in all respects for removing the paint from a M.U.S.C.L.E. figure.
Anecdotally, it appears that Simple Green is currently the most effective and least damaging known method for removing paint from a M.U.S.C.L.E. figure.