Chewed and chopped off body parts can be molded with Apoxi Sculpt. Dents in the body can be filled in with Apoxy Sculpt, sanded smooth, then painted to match.
Lumps and bumps on a pony's body can be sanded with fine sand paper until smooth. Look for sanding sticks made for plastics and vinly or hobby sand paper versus that made for wood. The vinyl can be softened using acetone as needed and buffed with a nail buffing block. Information courtesy Cookhuman.
Photos courtesy MustBeJewel.
It is commonly believed that these brown spots, found on various types of dolls 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.
Dawn Dish Detergent will remove dust and a lot of surface dirt. Mr. Clean Magic Erasers will remove more stubborn surface dirt. An OxiClean bath in hot water will remove more embedded dirt. I usually give my ponies an OxiClean soak for a few minutes before wiping them with Dawn and a magic eraser.
When using magic erasers, rub lightly. They are abrasive and can scratch the surface of a pony. Never scrub eyes, blush, or symbols with any cleanser, but you can go over them lightly with a magic eraser. For a more gentle clean, rub the body with Formula 911 and a cotton pad. Do not rub painted areas with this product as it will remove them. Scrubs can be made from a mixture of baking soda or Oxiclean and water.
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 hope 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. 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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
These products were recommended to me as a potential bleach free way to kill and remove mold stains from ponies. It looks promising but until it's been tried multiple times with good results it can't be assumed that they are safe. Concrobium products
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.
Heat a pot of hot water, hotter is better. Dip the pony in the water then smear the affected areas with liquid hand soap. Scrape with a sharp flat object - I use nail scissors. Repeat until the smooze spots are gone.
Photo courtesy Fanny L.
Bumps can appear on a pony's head or body that contain fluid. 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.
A 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, metal washers were used to hold pony's tails in place, sea ponies have metal weights, and other types of ponies such as brush n grow and happy tails also have metal parts. This rusts over time.
OxiClean baths will often remove rust. For stubborn cases, try Rit Rust Remover. You can use pipe cleaners, bottle brushes, medical swabs, or similar items to clean hard to reach areas. I personally put a little bit of OxiClean and hot water directly into the ponies body, making certain some gets into all the little spaces. 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.
Other cleaning methods include soaking so-softs in room temperature water and Oxi-Clean, or scrubbing them with a baking soda paste.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 flocking, which is especially common with the second set of So Softs, there are various products that can be used to loosen the glue indluding acetone, Jasco, and Goo Gone. You need products that are intended to remove adhesives and epoxy. Soak the pony in hot water and oxiclean to soften as much glue as possible. Apply your adhesive remover to an area of the pony that i not painted for 5-10 minutes. Then scrape the area with a sharp flat object such as scissors. Repeat as necessary until the flocking and glue is gone, then move to the next area.
Use Jasco over painted areas. It is less likely than other products to remove symbols and blush, but be gentle as you can. Cover the area with the Jasco and let it sit for about 30 seconds. Carefully scrape this area or rub with a toothbrush. Rinse and repeat until the flocking is gone.
Here's a video showing the process of a de-flock: My Little Pony So-Soft Restoration: Part 1 - Deflocking and here's a tutorial: 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. Formula 9-1-1 applied with a cotton pad will also remove stains without the abrasiveness of a magic eraser.
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 and yellowing without the need for harsh chemicals and works on any color of pony. Cover everything but the affected area with paper towel , secure it with tape, and leave the pony in direct sunlight or under a UV bulb for as long as needed. This can go quickly in areas with intense sun, or take months in cloudier areas.
Aluminum foil is sometimes recommended to cover the pony's body, but this can have a yellowing effect on their vinyl so I recommend putting a layer of paper towel under it.
Products such as Removz-it and acne creams containing 10% benzyl peroxide often pop up during discussions about restoration. They were commonly used to remove stains until it was found that they cause severe discoloration and yellowing.
RemoveZit hese products can leach chemicals onto other ponies if they touch. The damage often doesn't show up immediately as the fading continues after the product has been removed. Many collectors will not buy a pony if these products have been used on it.
Leave your stained pony soaking in a clear container filled with Hydrogen Peroxide and exposed to the sun or a UV bulb. 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 sometimes be a safer option for ponies who will burn during regular sunfading.
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 just about anywhere that sells craft supplies. I don't know of 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 may not match.
Here's a patch that turned out very nice. Photo courtesy Leslie DT.
Here's a video showing the process of using 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.
Marbles can be placed in the legs of ponies who don't stand well, to help evenly distribute their weight and make them more stable.
Photos courtesy Breyer600.
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 prevent wet
hair from touching the pony's body.
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.
Rit Dye is a very popular product for any sort of dye project involving ponies. It comes in liquid and powder forms. I don't find much of a difference between the two.
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.
Heat water to boiling, remove from heat, and mix in your dye.
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. Possible solutions are to paint over it, or try to fade the rest of the pony to match. 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. They are held with glue which can be softened with hot water.
Your sea pony will probably need a good internal cleaning.
If you'd like the pony to still float correctly, a great tip from Whizzer19 is to put a glass marble in her tail.
You can also remove stains and lighten yellowed or discolored vinyl by soaking a pony in hydrogen peroxide while exposed to the sun. Photos courtesy Himmie.
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, a stiff toothbrush, or the sharp edge of a knife.
Many of these spots can be removed by painting on Salon 40 Creme then leaving the pony in the sun. Reapply daily until the spot is faded to your satisfaction. Do not cover areas you do not want to fade such as symbols and eyes. Regular symbols and eyes can be protected by painting over them with low quality white craft acrylic. This will wipe off with water even after it has dried. Glitter symbols can't be painted but you can cover them with paper towel if you are worried and a lot of times they don't fade in the sun. Cover hair with paper towel to keep it protected from fading.
Photos of Baby Moondancer are courtesy ManaMaiden. Nightlight is one of my restorations.
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 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
Gusty photos courtesy SpookyTrees.
These techniques can be used on any color of pony.
Wind Whistler photos courtesy Tori Y.
Glitter on ponies' symbols will often rust and cause stains that look similar to age spots.
Treatments for this are the same as age spots, try an H2O2 treatment or paint over the spots to hide them.
Photos courtesy Alisha C.
Dark colored ponies are often left with light spots when this process is complete. It actually seems that somehow the staining from the fungus fades these ponies. These spots can be painted over to hide them when necessary.
Here are several nice tutorials on the subject:
Dyed ponies can fade and discolor over time.
See: Why I don't Dye
Use caution when storing dyed ponies as the dye can stain other ponies if they are touching.
Shadowlark at the MLP Arena did a great job restoring this Seashell using dye.
This photo, courtesy of Relcelestia, shows the difference between an unfaded head and a sunfaded body.
When other methods don't work to remove them, stains, discoloration, and marks can be hidden with paint. This Majesty was restored using a full body re-paint. Photos courtesy Jennifer H. The Mexican princess pony is a restoration i did by painting the body.