Sticky bits and white plastic gone more yellow in storage?

Oct 20, 2021
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Hey all. I recently took out my collection to look at for the first time in 15 years. They've been in storage for a good 25 years and in between that I have taken the bagged figures out around once to put them in new sealable bags. They have been stored in poor temps as they were in my parents loft, which could either get too cold or too hot, and then after in their basement which can get very damp. So inspecting them for the first time was daunting.

Whilst a majority are good there was a few that had some slight tackiness to the plastic. I read this could be more due to not 'airing them out often from the sealable bags. I managed to clean with an antibac wipe and warm water. I think Paploo's legs were the worst and not too bad, just a little shinier now then the body.

Anyway something really obvious is how bad the white plastic has yellowed. It's not been exposed to much light in all those years though I suspect what made it worse, especially for the 12" stormtrooper is storing them in cheap white plastic shopping bags. Looks like areas that have touched the bags have yellowed the most.

I thought the yellowing was due to too much light exposure, though can anyone shed more light on this and any tips on better ways to store them? I'm ditching the sealable bags for just putting in hobby boxes.
The yellowing mostly is from age. There's several guys on the forum that can attest that even in the pitch black darkness stuff still yellows. Zip lock bags really make it worse, the figure can't let off it's gas (🙂). I have stored mine in acrylic cases that have a uv barrier. I open them from time to time to let them air out. With that being said, there is no 100 percent way to stop the yellowing/aging. The plastic is just degrading, some worse than others.
Thanks for the info dude. I wish I took better care of them in storage. Though I guess I should be grateful I didn't sell them :D The regular stormtroopers seem ok. My large talking R2 seems to have yellowed a bit more as with my Luke Stormie's torso. Maybe some are more resilient than others. Definitely no more airtight bags now. I'll put them loose in those hobby compartment boxes with a bit of paper towel to cushion them. Maybe one of those silica gel sachets would be good for soaking up moisture.

When I get round to displaying them will definitely need to consider some sort of UV protection.
I've often wondered if the COO matters in regard to yellowing/decay/breakdown, as some of the atmospheric conditions are different and require different formulations of chemicals to stabilize the plastics. Asia is more hot and humid, for example, than the US and Canada are, etc. For some reason the blisters on Lily Ledi cards seem to stay clearer due to that little hole they punch in the cardbacker, so there may be something to limited air exposure/venting. But yeah, I think a lot of the yellowing and tackiness is just age and degradation, there are tons of threads here discussing either issue and how to try to mitigate them.
I've also read that warm soapy water should help with some of the stickiness.
Yeah that helps to give them a toothbrushing with warm soapy water. Before that I give them a bit of a gentle wipe with Dettol wipes to clean off the more stubborn stickiness and dirt. Oddly after blowing air at them and leaving them out they seem better. I now just store them in a compartment hobby box without bags. Any figures with paint like Amanaman or R2s with stickers I keep in the box in open bags to let the air get through.
I keep mine in open (unsealed) figure bags, and nothing has degraded too badly. Some will no matter what. I had some as a kid that already had begun to yellow even in the ‘80s.
I keep mine in open (unsealed) figure bags, and nothing has degraded too badly. Some will no matter what. I had some as a kid that already had begun to yellow even in the ‘80s.
I need to unseal the baggies on mine.
It took me years to figure out, but they’re definitely less gummy than ever now.
From a chemical stand point stickiness is caused by plasticizes outgasing or leaching out of the plastic. This can also cause frosting and white "mold" to appear on toys. Plasticizes are what make hard plastics like PVC soft and pliable. Think of them as a lubricant for the polymer chains to slide against. They are also highly volatile and easily outgas. New car smell or vinyl smell are plasticizes outgasing from a product.

Yellowing is more of an oxidation process. Currently most yellowing in plastics is thought to be the addition of bromine as flame retardant. Most plastics are highly flammable and need a flame retardant to be safe for child's toys. While light and UV light in particular exacerbate and accelerate problem, oxygen is the main problem.
Wow, good info! That helps me understand way more.
I get some frosting even though they are inside cabinets. They also stand on glass shelves and weirdly enough they leave footprints on the glass as they have stood there for years.