Restoring Superboy, part 1


Superboy (with Krypto)
Aurora 1974 Comic Scenes

This is a good candidate for a rebuild job.  The model was first issued in 1965 and in box goes for several hundred dollars.  The later reissue is cheaper, but still one of the harder ones to find unbuilt.

The model consists of Superboy and his dog Krypto teasing a little dragon, I guess boys will be boys.  The one I picked up is complete, often parts of the dog are missing or broken off.  When I received it I found out why this one stayed together:  a whole lot of glue was used.  So the first task was figuring out how to get it apart.

First of all, just accept that there isn't any secret formula that will cause the cement to dissolve and leave you with a pile of parts.  The cement actually melts and welds the plastic together, anything that softens old glue will also melt the plastic.  If someone has tried to glue over paint you're in luck, a little oven cleaner will take it apart.  If someone used only a small amount of glue it's relatively easy to break it apart.  That's why there are so many old models with missing parts in the first place.  I used this model to experiment with several different methods I've heard about, and here are the results.

First I tried just seeing if any parts would snap off, using an exacto blade to slip into the seams and pry them apart.  This kid who built the model must have used a whole tube of glue, I only managed to get Krypto partially disassembled.  His feet remained stuck to the base in puddles of hardened cement.  Then I soaked the model in oven cleaner.  The only thing it did was cause some discoloring of the cement, and the model didn't have any paint to remove, anyway.

I've heard if you freeze the model, the glue will turn brittle.  One person even suggested dipping the model in water first, as the ice formed in the cracks it would expand the model and loosen the joints.  I froze the model overnight, but didn't see any difference.  Dry ice might do something, but the plastic would get brittle and break along with the cement.

Finally I loaded a new blade in the exacto and started cutting and prying it apart, and eventually managed to get somewhere.  Please be careful when doing this, take your time and remember to keep your fingers away from the blade and don't try to force it through the glue.  By going over and over the joints with the tip of the blade I was able to scratch through the glue, eventually, and take apart every piece.  I did break a piece off  the back of Superboy's neck getting the cape off, but some putty and sanding will fix that.   

Now I start sanding and grinding off the old sloppy glue and preparing the model for a good putty and reassemble.  I'll cover that in my next tips page.

Click HERE to continue the tour (next stop: Getting the Superboy back together)

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