G.I. Joe Repairs - How do I fix that?

GI Joe Hospital

I don't customize and I don't create dioramas; but fixing, restoring, constructing and completing GI Joe figures and vehicles is an enjoyable part of the 3 3/4" hobby for me. There are few problems that cannot be remedied in one way or another. So let me first list a small number of issues that, while treatable, simply have no real cure. Correcting the following problems may actually decrease the value of a figure or vehicle and any such repairs should be made public when selling the item.

Some things you just can't call mint.

  • Broken Thumbs, Crotches and Other Body Parts: If you have the plastic piece that broke off, you can carefully super glue it back on. You might not even be able to notice. The best choice is to find a replacement body part.

  • Missing or Worn Paint: Most collectors would rather this be left alone. If you want to touch up your personal collection, by all means - break out the brushes.

  • Yellowing and Discoloration: The white plastic of figures such as Storm Shadow v1 and Snow Job v1 will often turn yellow over time. The commonly held view is that the change is caused by direct exposure to light. Certain figures with grey or blue plastic like Firefly v1 and Cobra Troopers will also discolor.

    So far I have not personally found a way to reverse this affect. I tried the Oxi-Clean method with poor results. There was no whitening but my 1984 Storm Shadow's joints became loose. I am told that ForPro (and I have seen before and after pictures) will make white figures look like new-fallen snow. I have also been told (and I have seen before and after pictures) that PlastX will make clear plastic vehicle parts such as windows look like squeaky-clean glass. I will eventually try these two methods and report my results here. Another option for these figures is a custom paint job or dyeing.

  • Cracked Elbow Joint: The only option is to replace the whole arm. These small hairline cracks don't bother me at all, but many collectors want dead mint specimens for their collections.

Things that can be fixed:

I would personally consider all of the below fixes to be common and reasonable maintenance. None of them should affect the overall value of a figure or vehicle.

How do I fix a...

Broken O-ring or Loose Waist?

Use a small Phillips screwdriver to remove the back screw. Take the figure apart and replace the loose or broken O-ring. Replacement O-rings can be purchased at a variety of places online or at your local hardware store. Look for plumbers' O-rings with a 3/8 inch diameter. Some figures like Zartan, Zandar, Zarana and the Ninja Force do not have back screws because they are glued together. You can try to break the figure in half or cut it apart with a razor blade and glue it back together...good luck.

Rusty or Stuck Screw?

Back screws and leg screws come in different sizes and styles for figures from earlier and later years. Earlier screws have sharp points while many later screws have blunt tips. Leg screws are smaller. Putting a back screw in a leg can damage the leg. If your figure has rusty screws, let me first suggest that you put great effort into trying to save the screws. You will learn that these screws are valuable. Unless a screw is severly rusted, I will remove the screw and then clean it with WD-40 before reusing it. Sometimes I remove heavier rust with sand paper. Damaged figures are the best place to find replacement screws. Spare screws can also be purchased at certain websites.

If a screw is rusty, take it out and replace it before it gets stuck. I feel confident in saying that there is no such thing as a GI Joe figure screw that is permanently stuck. When a small Phillips screwdriver and some WD-40 don't work, try this last resort. Grab your power drill and very carefully begin drilling out the center of the stuck screw with a 1/16 size drill bit - preferably a drill bit designed to drill through metal. Drill slowly. Every so often, stop drilling and try to remove the screw again with your screwdriver. It should eventually come out without damaging the figure in any way.

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