Deterioration and aging of finished builds

Ran across this issue a few times in the last couple weeks and thought a broader discussion would be interesting.

How do our models age/wear/deteriorate over the years? I saw one builder mention mold. I’ve seen UV resistant clear coats which presupposes fading is an issue. What other issues do you regularly see?

Or do we care? After all, few of us are building true museum-quality heirlooms that will be treasured for generations.

A little dust is all,even though they are in a case,but for me its not a big deal.Once in awhile I will dust them off,then you have the small broken bits to glue back on.

Open shelf and no room HVAC climate control is perhaps the worst environment for built kits.

I’ve read of modelers buying acrylic cases, display cases, putting built models in shoe boxes, drawers, cabinets, or clear storage bins. In the end, it’s like a car…any enclosed garage, basement parking, or even a carport is better than leaving the car parked outside to the elements. So built kits should be boxed up if you don’t desire to display them. And it’s easy to do…the smallest scales go into boxes and the largest scales that won’t fit in boxes stay in display cases. This really works if you don’t add bases to your kits as you can lay figures on backs without a base sticking out. Box your most prized builds and expose the ones you’re willing to lose.

As for cleaning, compressed air in a can sprayed from afar works to blast off the dust. Clear coats also work. But if you store the built kits in any kind of box, you shouldn’t have to worry. You can also buy and add desiccant packs to the boxes to control moisture.

One thing to worry is that CA superglue deteriorates over time as it crystalizes with age and expands breaks the bond, meaning your kits may fall apart if handled many years later. That is why I use Gorilla Glue as it does not deteriorate over time as far as I know, but Gorilla Glue will NOT debond with CA Debonder. So if you made a gluing mistake with Gorilla Glue, that is permanent unless you razor saw the join.

In moist climates and in older homes with non-insulated walls, one has to watch out for mold and mildew, especially on built kits sitting on open shelves. It is hard to wipe away once it gets on a built model…Q-Tips might work…but it’s best to encase, enclose, and box built kits that you really cherish.

I don’t intend to throw my builds in the trash anymore unless totally broken or deteriorated. I would rather donate them to a museum, library, art schools, charities, or somewhere worthwhile…or the Probate lawyer can take it for the law firm because I consider my finished kits pretty nice (my skills have really improved with more time and funding of the hobby). There are limitless people who will take things for free…even if they can resell them for a few dollars. Just tell them that the paint may be leaded and not to play with the kits as they’re for adults and display only.


Ye olde vinyl t*res. I built this Italeri Blitz around 1998 and the kit had probably been in the shop for a few years before I bought it, so it’s maybe approaching 30 years old now. They gradually melt the plastic hubs as you can see, soon I’ll have to turn it into a wreck, or maybe sink it up to its wheel-arches in a river-crossing dio…

:thinking: :tumbler_glass:


Resin wheels!
There is a reason why I want to replace all vinyl and DS in all my kits…

I have the same kit, built a little earlier than yours and the wheels started acting up after a few years.

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Indeed – makes me wonder about all those older tanks with poly-caps (if they were vinyl) holding wheels etc. in place. I vaguely recall the melting issue came up either in olde Armorama or Missing Links maybe 6 or 7 years ago, and someone who may have known what they were talking about mentioned Italeri’s old vinyl had a higher acidic content than Tamiya’s. No idea about DS, happily I’ve never touched the stuff.

DS is a hit-and-miss story. I have three bags of Sd.Kfz. front tyres removed from their kits.
In two of them the tyres look like old donuts left out in the sun and the third is in perfect shape.
Some of the Pz IV tracks lok perfect, others have turned into cookie crumbs.
Spinning the lottery wheel and hoping for the best isn’t my way of risk management.

The bloody poly caps …
I have glued all the wheels in place on all kits since the fit was too wobbly, wheels looking like teeth on a teenager scheduled for braces isn’t “my thing”.
I think the poly caps were a solution to the problem with rotating wheels on motorized kits.
Rotating wheels on kits is an abomination anyway, even if it is done with little styrene “washers”.
I glue them solid to avoid issues later.

Sunlight: I only had issues with the unpainted deck (tan coloured plastic) on
a Revell USS Constitution I built close to 50 years ago.
It turned a sickly green after 10 years, the painted parts (Humbrol enamel)
still look as if they were painted yesterday.
The deck has “shadows” were the bulwark
has shaded it from the sunlight.
I’ll have to pull it out of the display box and paint that deck someday,
maybe when I build the larger 1/96 version

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Awww…really? You never, ever rolled something across the table? I did, but of course for higher purposes i.e. to photograph trucks etc on a slope as though in motion. OK no it didn’t work.
Yes good point re. sunlight – cheapskate that I am I’ve always used el cheapo artists’ acrylics to paint camo etc. There’s a reason they’re cheap, the pigments are unstable & react to UV light not in a good way. Not such a brilliant ploy here in Oz, the scheme on that Blitz is a travesty of what I originally painted.

Natural fading of the paint???
Some modelers spend a lot of time and effort to achieve that effect

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Well absolutely you’d think so, but that Blitz has gone the other way – cruder - the brown was much beige-r, the green fainter. I haven’t looked at it for years so I’m still trying to work out what’s degraded…the white content?

Edit – this is the only surviving image of it from 2016, not easy to see but enough to tell the camo’s not contrasting the way it is now…

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I have a couple of vignettes that I built in the late '70s when I was still in high school that still look good, along with another few from the '80s that have held up well. The main thing is to protect them from dust.

I have done major refurbishments on some of the oldest in my collection, though. It’s not for the faint of heart, but I removed the models and quite literally washed them in a slightly warm soapy water. After which I did have to make a few repairs, mostly bits broken off that simply glued right back on.

The bases also got the “treatment,” washing down in running tepid water and after air drying, some refurbishment of the vegetation materials. Most of the original vegetation materials were sacrificed and ultimately replaced, but I tried to retain the original look as a sort of “historical record” of my early work. It’s good every now and again to look back.

As for deterioration, I’ve never had any real problems except for a couple of dioramas that I loaned to a museum once as part of model club project. Those all came back to me infested by an insect called “silver fish” which eat paper products. They chowed down on the Celluclay ground material leaving “tracks” and “ruts” eaten out of the bases. I won’t go into all the details of what I had to do before those could go back into my display cases, but it involved fumigating the dios in closed Tuperware containers for a couple of weeks to kill the infestations.


Note to self: Do NOT use anything that some critter of some kind can eat.

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As others noted , soft vinyl like tires degrade - here is an AFV Club Matador I built a few years back .
The tires have become grey and chalky . Note that the Accurate Armour resin gun tires are fine .

Most of my 1/48 aircraft / vehicles are kept in a display case I built in my shop which is a heated basement like setting but completely above ground.
Some of them get a fuzzy mold , some do not - I suppose it may have something to do with the paints used . It brushes right off with a soft brush -

And the acrylic flat coat ( Mig ? - can’t recall) on my Hayabusa was dead flat when new but has become glossy- I won’t use anything but Dullcoat now .

My old Tamiya Centurion from 1976 or 1977 is about 47 years old and has survived so far. Even the rubber band tracks. Painted with Humbrol, it’s prmuch same color now as it was when new. It survived being washed in warm soapy water and dusted a few times. Stays in a near dust proof display case with the other models.

~30+ years old 1942 Tamiya T-34-76 built ~1992 or 1993 with a resin turret that sat in the garage for years. The Floquil seems to hold up as well as the Humbrol. The superglued tracks have held in place etc.

Not too worried about longevity

Superglue……. couple of questions….

  1. if the superglue is sealed from the atmosphere, i.e. coated with a few layers of paint, does that stop it degrading?

  2. how long does it take to fail?? a few years… a few decades?


30+ years, see the old T-34-76 tracks in above post. Have a JagdPanther the tracks were superglued in the late 80’s one side has held ~35+ years. Model was stored in attic for ~20 of those years etc

Well now I’m worried about using CA on the Big Ed PE set I got for my Hasegawa Raptor!

Guess it’ll be gorilla glue.

I haven’t seen the chalky t*res effect before - were they painted/coated with anything? And are they also melting the hubs?

Hi Tim - the tires ( tyres dan unduh) were not coated with anything and they have not attacked the hubs as far as I can see - I have thought of trying to clean / paint them or disassembly and replacement with aftermarket resin . It is obviously some sort of chemical change . I have another unbuilt Matador in the stash . It is a few years old so it would be interesting to see what condition the tires/tyres are in .

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