Believe it or not, it is best practice to not have to clean your anime figure collection. Why? You ask. Every time you bring out your figures to clean them, whether it is some light dusting or some serious cleaning, you risk damaging them.
I’m not saying you should not clean your figures when they get dusty. What I’m saying is, it’s better if you wouldn’t need to clean them in the first place.
Anime Figures are Fragile Objects
Anime figures aren’t meant to be handled. They are meant to be displayed. Many anime figures have thin and fragile parts that may snap or break with the tiniest pressure. Every time you handle anime figures, you risk breaking off something. Breaking parts, paint transfer, losing accessories, paint chips and scratches are all too common occurrences. Even if you are very careful, accidents can happen. One rowdy pet or even just a slight mishap can turn your $200 PVC waifu into a pile of broken PVC plastic.
Over the years, I have broken off many parts of some figures while cleaning them.
Recently, I broke off the cat ear headband from the Megumi Kato figure by Max Factory which is now properly glued.
I also broke off the ribbon knot on Tohka’s swimsuit figure by Grand Toys while cleaning her. The microfiber cloth that I was using got caught in the sharp edge and it just popped off. That too was glued back on.
A few years ago, I also broke off Mumei’s ribbon in her Yukata version figure by Fine Clover figure. This also happened while cleaning.
Lately, I also had paint transfer on the Asuna swimsuit figure by Phat Company. This happened while I was trying to put back her swimsuit cover-up after cleaning the stickiness that occurred on her legs.
Notably, I’ve only had one figure that was damaged due to an accident not caused by cleaning.
Lesson Learned: It’s Better if You Don’t Ever Need to Clean Your Anime Figures
An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. This adage rings true and I learned that the hard way. Invest in dust-proofing so you never have to clean your figures. Ever.
It’s not rocket science. If you don’t touch your figures, it’s not likely that they will get damaged.
Not to mention, cleaning anime figures is very time-consuming. Over the years, I have amassed over 200 bishoujo anime figures in my collection. While I do keep all the figures in a covered display, they are not 100% dust-proof so I still need to attend to them every few months. If you’re like most people who display their figure collections in a detolf, those aren’t exactly dustproof either.
I dread figure cleaning time. Actually, it’s more like cleaning week because you can’t clean 200 figures in one sitting. If you do proper cleaning of a figure, each one will take 10 to 15 minutes. More if you have figures that have plenty of parts and accessories. And you can’t really rush the cleaning process because you’ll only increase the risk of damaging your figures. You have to imagine, with over 200 of them, this easily adds up to 2000 to 3000 minutes. We can round that off to around 40 hours. Do you know what else takes 40 hours? A full week 9 to 5 job. Cleaning figures can quickly become a full-time job.
Not to mention, if you encounter any stickiness in figures, that will take more time to clean up. Stickiness in figures occurs naturally when the plasticizer (that is used to soften PVC so it can be molded) is released. When the plasticizer leaks out, it becomes a sticky film that covers the surface of the figure and this stickiness can be very difficult to clean up.
You can also add the time spent cleaning the shelf but that’s actually the easy part.
Check Your Figures Regularly for Stickiness
If you’ve done your part and invested in dust-proofing your figure display, you just saved yourself a lifetime of regret. Still, I would tell you to inspect your figures every few months. Open your display just to air your figures. This is to allow for airflow and prevent stickiness from occurring in your figures. Touch your figures to check if any parts have become sticky since you’ll want to address this right away. When left unattended, this stickiness can harden. It almost appears like crystallization. This will make the surface of your figures shiny which isn’t attractive. Your figures will just look damaged and when this happens, your figure is beyond saving.
If you’ve been building your anime figure collection and have not invested in any form of dust-proofing for your display, it’s better to do it sooner rather than later.
I started the NekoFigs blog in January 2021, 5 years after I’ve started collecting anime figures. It all started with one humble prize figure of Saber Lily which was bought on a whim. Now, I face the big problem of how to deal with over 200 empty boxes.