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? Chew marks and dents in the body can be filled in with Apoxy Sculpt, sanded smooth, then painted over to match. Lumps and bumps on a pony's body can be sanded with fine sand paper until smooth.
Cookhuman at the MLP Arena provides more details about sanding: "Use a little acetone to soften the vinyl (apply sparingly with a cotton square). Start with a fine grit sand paper and sand the area. Hobby type sand paper film or sanding sticks made for plastics/vinyl tend to work much better and come in much finer grits than wood type sandpapers. Make sure you sand in one direction. Next sand with super fine grit paper. Then use a nail buffing block on the buff/shine side to smooth the vinyl back out. You can even add a little water to the area when doing this."
Photos courtesy MustBeJewel.
It is commonly believed that age spots are the deterioration of the vinyl due to oxidization, heat, and UV exposure. However, in his book The Definitive Book on the Care and Preservation of Vinyl Dolls and Action Figures; Nicholas J. Hill explains that there is no such thing as "vinyl deterioration syndrome". Instead brown marks on vinyl can be caused from a reaction to sulfur (doesn't effect all vinyl), exposure to chlorine, and various fungi. The brown spots commonly found on ponies is likely staining caused by colonies of fungi. These types of fungi live on the surface of the vinyl.
Dead bacteria has been found in the infected vinyl when it was looked
at under a microscope, but that doesn't mean this is present in all
spots as this was just one pony.
The fungus can be cleaned off and fungicides such as those found in
athletes foot remedies will stop the growth. 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 Maybe
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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, to avoid ripping the vinyl.
Soften the neck again to replace the head. If your pony is especially difficult, you can cut a piece out of the neck seam to make it go on more easily.
Ponies, like pretty much anything, can grow mold and are susceptible to bacteria. Something known as an actinomycete causes many of the pink stains known as highlighter marks. Stains from fungi are also responsible for many of the brown spots knows as "pony cancer". Plastisized PVC is especially susceptible to mold and fungus because PVC is an acid system (which fugus likes), and fungi feed off of plastisizers. Common types include surface mildew, which can stain, a white fluffy mold that looks like dust, and dark mold that grows inside the pony. Molds can also cause spots that look like blackheads, which is often referred to as "smooze" in the pony collecting world. The same cleaning and stain removal procedures that work for other stains can be used to clean and disinfect mold.
Here's some great info about molds: Tutorial: Mold Removal and Prevention (For those in humid climates) & That Funky Fungus
"In order for a microorganism to thrive, certain conditions must prevail. Bacteria must have a water phase in which to live. Fungi and actinomycetes need humidity (usually seventy percent or more) and a nutrition source. The humidity does not have to be constantly high. When it is sufficiently high, the microorganisms will grow. When the humidity drops to a level that is not conducive to growth, the microbes will wait patiently for more agreeable times. The nutrition source obviously is the materials in the doll . . . Soil, stains, and fingerprints (skin oils) serve as substrates that will invite microorganisms to set up housekeeping and grow as soon as the conditions of moisture and temperature are ideal." from Vinyl Dolls by Nicholas J. Hill
Smooze can be caused by dirt that has gotten into the pores in a pony's vinyl, like a blackhead in human skin. It can also be caused by the roots of fungal colonies. 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.
Sometimes raised dots and bumps appear on a pony's head or body that contain fluid or white goo. The bumps themselves are usually white or brown, but can be other colors. You can squeeze or prick the bump with a needle and let anything inside drain out. Once finished, disinfect the area with any product you prefer, in case this is a type of mold. Information courtesy Raemarie.
Similar bumps may also not have fluid inside. Theories on what causes these range from a reaction to heat to reactions to chemicals in the pony's environment. Dark colored ones may be a form of pony cancer. It doesn't hurt to disinfect these, just to be safe. Photos courtesy Raemarie and Sea_Breeze.
Plasticizers are chemicals added to PVC to make it malleable. When it starts to leach out you can tell because the pony's body starts 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 plasticizer is mostly gone, the pony's body will be hard and un-bendable. 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 plasticizer. Another great article provided by Black Curtains, A Survey of Plastics in Historical Collections by John Morgan, provides some very interesting information about plasticizer:
For inexplicable reasons, ponies have metal parts inside them. These metal washers and weights rust over time. 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 so they don't rust again. Removal and replacement of tail washers and rust tails are discussed in the hair section of the site.
Photos courtesy Emery.
It's safest to use cool water when cleaning so soft ponies as hot water may loosen their glue. 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 may 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 water and Oxi-Clean, running them through the washing machine wrapped in a pillow case, and the much gentler 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.
JamieDey5 gets great results with her so soft cleaning method:
For tougher glue, try Acetone and Jasco. 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 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, but acetone is damaging to pvc so don't leave for too long. 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 soft 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 can discolor the vinyl if left on. Leaving it on for a just a few seconds, rinsing then repeating as necessary is probably safest. 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
And here's a tutorial on the MLPTP: Deflocking Tutorial
Try Mr. Clean magic erasers and Dawn dish soap first for a good surface cleaning. Be careful over painted areas as magic erasers can rub them off. You can clean over them, just don't rub too hard. It's really amazing the marks magic erasers can get off of ponies.
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. Photos courtesy BabyIceCrystal.
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 areas that will fade such as hair, symbols, and eyes, with paper towel and leave the pony in direct sunlight for as long as needed. This can go very quicky in areas with intense sun, or take months in cloudier areas. Aluminum foil is often used to cover the pony's body, but this can have a yellowing effect on their vinyl.
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.
These are harsh treatments and can fade or yellow the bodies of ponies. It's always best to test in an inconspicuous area. RemoveZit Severe discoloration can occur with these products and the chemicals can leach on to other ponies if they touch. Many collectors will not buy a pony if these products have been used on it.
Creams can sometimes whiten yellowed ponies when other methods don't work.
See BlackCurtain's experiment:
Simply leave your stained pony soaking in a clear container of Hydrogen Peroxide exposed to the sun. You can get Hydrogen Peroxide in the pharmacy section of any store. The amount of time you need to leave the pony soaking will vary by the amount of sunlight in your area. Peroxide breaks down into water and oxygen quickly when exposed to sunlight, so you may need to change the solution when it's necessary to leave a pony soaking for long periods of time. This can often be used with ponies who will burn during regular sunfading.
See the Hydrogen Peroxide section of the Materials & Directions page for information about the pros and cons of using this chemical.
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.
If you would like the flocking on your pony to stand up, like it does on most toys, consider trying a flocking gun: Flocking Teddy
This is when a ponies legs are bent in a funny way that prevents it from standing correctly. They may also 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 and letting the pony sit for a period of time will shape the legs back into place.
Photos courtesy Breyer600.
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."
Sunfading Tutorial courtesy Relcelestia
Photos courtesy Eldarwen. This photo was originally provided 2/21/2013. On 12/4/2016 Eldarwen reported that the pony is still in as good of condition as the "after" photo.
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, and contact with pink accessories such as saddles, bridles, and shoes. There is also a type of fungus which waste products cause a red or pink stain. It usually lives inside a vinyl doll and the staining is caused when migrating plasticizer pulls the stain to the surface of the doll. Sunfading and other stain removal techniques will often remove these stains. If the stain is caused by a fungus it may reappear as the movement of plastisizer brings more of the waste to the surface of the pony. Be sure to clean both the inside and outside of your pony to kill the fungus.
Photo courtesy Jaybell.
Yellow marks are 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 acid-free tissue paper between the hair and the pony's body during storage.
"Cures" for age spots include painting over the spots to hide them, or a hydrogen peroxide/sun soak.
Painting the spots will not prevent their spread, but when the colors are matched perfectly, you can't tell the pony has been painted. See the Materials/Paints section.
See: Materials and Directions/Hydrogen Peroxide to read about potential side effects.
My Results: Here (I've done this multiple times since this was posted with great results. I'll be updating the my collection section soon-ish with these photos. Baby MoonDancer photos courtesy Keira Wheeler.
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.
See: Materials and Directions/Sculpey & Apoxie Sculpt
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.
Photos courtesy Ringlets: How do I take apart/fix/clean out a seapony?
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.
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.
You can also remove stains and lighten yellowed vinyl using a hydrogen peroxide (H2O2)/sun fading treatment. Photos courtesy Himmie and thanks to Templeflower for being the first to recommend this method for the site.
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 the pony's glue has broken down, then you may be able to do a complete deflock simply by soaking the pony in hot Oxiclean then rub the flocking of with magic erasers and a stiff toothbrush.
Many of these spots can be removed using a hydrogen peroxide/sun soak.
You simply fill a clear jar with hydrogen peroxide and leave the pony soaking in it while exposed to the sun. The amount of time you leave the pony out will vary by the intensity of the sun in your area. The peroxide bubbles when working and not all spots show the bubbles. I suspect that this works when the spot is a stain caused by something like dirt, bacteria, mold, etc., and the peroxide is cleaning out the stain. When the spot is caused by discoloration from exposure to sulfur or chlorine, the peroxide will have no effect.
To prevent the spread of fungus, the best thing to do is keep the humidity in the area where the doll is stored low. "There are millions of fungal spores in the air we breathe. We know of 80,000 species and they are all floating around looking for a susceptible surface to sustain their life. If the humidity goes above seventy percent there will be a microbial hit whether it is a doll or a vinyl shower curtain or food in the refrigerator. On the other hand, if a doll is clean and dry (humidity below seventy percent) there will not be a fungal problem." - from Vinyl Dolls by Nicholas J. Hill
Faded vinyl can also be dyed using artist marking pens when you want to mix a very specific color and/or only dye a specific part of the doll. I don't know that this has ever been tried on ponies. Please email me and let me know your results if you try it.
"Dye can be replaced in such vinyls using artist marking pens. These pens have a pointed end and a flat end. They are available in a broad spectrum of colors at an artist's supply or crafts store. Any brand of artist marking pen that is not water-based is an appropriate choice. . . The colors are mixed with a blending pen. The blending pen is in the same rack as the pens; it contains no color. The technique is simply to match the color of the doll first on white paper. To do this use a sheet of white paper and make adjacent parallel stripes of colors that will be blended to achieve the color of the doll. To blend the colors use the blending pen to mix the parallel stripes. Allow the paper to dry completely and compare this with the color of the doll to be treated. A proper evaluation can be made in natural light. After you have achieved a match on paper duplicate the color on the doll. After blending the colors you have chosen allow the colors to be absorbed into the plastic for a few days and observe the results of your work. If you find that your coloring is off a shade, make the adjustment and observe after a few days. Repeat the application as necessary to achieve an exact match." - from Vinyl Dolls by Nicholas J. Hill
If you want to sunfade a large section of a pony's body, you can protect the painted areas by covering them with watery acrylic paint. Cover the painted areas directly with white paint, then wipe off with a soft wet cloth and/or rubbing alcohol once finished (use caution on glitter symbols). You can also cover the area with clear cling wrap and the body will still fade. You can cover areas you want to protect with any color of paint and this is safe for glitter symbols.
Photos courtesy SpookyTrees.