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More Repairs for Vintage Barbie Dolls

Replacing Limbs, Repainting, Removing Magic Marker Stains

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In Easiset Repairs You Can Make To Vintage Barbie Dolls, we covered repairing green ear, washing and detangling hair, and restyling hair. In this article, we'll cover a few more difficult repairs you can make to a vingage Barbie doll to help restore that doll to a condition that will let you display her in your collection.

1. Repairing Sticky Vinyl Faces

As some of the old plastic used to make vintage Barbie dolls degrades, some of the faces of the dolls have gotten "sticky." The stickiness occurs as plasticizer leaches to the surface of the doll's skin. Unfotunately, there is no permanent fix for this problem, which occurs most frequently in some of the ponytail Barbie dolls from the early 1960s, especially #4 and #5 Ponytails. The best you can do is to wash the face with mild soap, and then lightly dust it with talcum powder to absorb some of the stickiness. Some collectors use alcohol on these faces, which I do not recommend since it can do further damage to the doll's face by causing even more plasticizer to leach out of the doll.

2. Repairing Neck and Leg Splits

The vinyl on vintage Barbie's necks can split at the neck joint, or on the legs especially in the knee area. Since the repair for this problem involves glue, care must be taken not to further damage the doll or end up with glue on the doll that cannot be removed, or glue that shows in the split. Various collectors swear by different glues--some like Plastix, made by Locite, or other similar two-part superglue gels. Others sprefer vinyl repair compound made for pools. Whatever you do, apply sparingly, and then be prepared to hold the split in place until it is fully set closed.

3. Removing and Replacing Vintage Barbie Limbs

Not all vintage Barbie limbs can be easily replaced--some of the legs are attached by various mechanisms that are complicated or which easily snap off. But, if you have an early straight-leg Barbie or similar doll, you can replace a limb. Of course, you'll need both a Barbie with a ruined limb and a donor limb from the same type of Barbie doll to even attempt this. You'll need to boil some water, and then to pop out the arm or leg, dip the limb and surrounding torso area in the boiling water for about 30 seconds. The arm or leg should then be easy to gently pry out. If it doesn't come out easily, dip the area in the boiling water again. Repeat again if you have a donor doll. To get the donor limb on the doll, again dip the doll you are fixing in the water, and your new limb should pop right in. You can remove and replace heads using boiling water as well for many of the early dolls.

4. Removing Ink or Magic Marker Stains From Vinyl

Removing ink or magic markers from the skin of a Barbie doll can bne quite tricky, because sometimes when you remove the ink or marker, you also remove some of the skin color from the doll. Collectors have used various solvents to remove the ink, including Goo Gone, Removzit, and photo emulsion cleaners such as PEC-12, from archival houses. My favorite is Removezit from Twin Pines. You may need several applications of the solvent to get the ink to come off. Especially on mod-era dolls, the skin tones can come off with the ink, which vastly complicates the repair. If that happens, you may be able to use magic markers (I know, ironic isn't it?) such as Eberhard Faber's Design Art Markers to re-dye the spot where the skin color came off.

5. Repainting Features

Repainting features on a vintage Barbie doll is one of the hardest repairs of all. As with many of these repairs, once done, the doll should no longer be sold without disclosure of the repair. In any event, to repaint any portion of the eyes or lips on a vintage Barbie, you'll need the tiniest brushes you can find. Many collectors use Liquitex acrylic paints to repaint features, trying to match colors as close as possible to the original dolls. Be careful to use paints sparingly as they can bleed into the surrounding vinyl on the dolls. It helps to have an original doll with good paint to copy, or at minimum a good, clear picture, to accurately duplicate the doll's face painting.

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