RetroBlasting received a request from a fan - Tim - who thought he had lost all his childhood toys in a house fire when he was a kid. Recently, however, a shoebox was found that had been in the attic, and it contained one lone survivor. Tim had painted this R5-D4 unit red as a kid and was unhappy with the result, so the toy was tossed in a random box and forgotten. But since it was the only toy he had left, he contacted us to ask if we could salvage this little droid, and we were excited to take on the task!
The droid was in rough shape, so we had to take some extreme measures. To remove the red paint Tim had applied, we disassembled and soaked R5-D4 in Simple Green overnight. This did a great job removing what we assume was acrylic craft paint, and even left some of the original paint intact, although it was quite faded. We put all the white plastic parts through a 24 hour RetroBrite process, which did a great job on all but the legs. Magic Eraser was a great tool to remove any other minor scuffs, but also was useless in whitening the legs.
We further removed all the chipped chrome on the neck piece with Easy Off in a plastic bag for about 20 minutes. This removed all the paint and allowed for a smooth surface on which we could airbrush first gloss black enamel, then Alclad II Lacquer Chrome for Plastic. Due to the legs having permanent staining, we made the hard decision to lightly coat them in a light white coat of airbrush paint.
To finish out the R5 unit, we matched the red-orange paint and touched up the eyes and top of his head, as well as the thin silver strips along the sides of his head. We ordered a reproduction sticker for his body and carefully applied it. We soaked the interior screw, which was rusted, in white vinegar for several hours to remove the rust. To fix the extremely loose legs, we wrapped the leg posts with thread sealing tape, which made them fit more like they were originally intended.
We think the final product looks amazing! Keep in mind - our purpose was to restore this toy for its original owner, not for any current or future resell purpose. We wanted Tim to be able to have a surviving piece of his childhood toy collection that he could proudly display. The extreme measures we took in this case are not things we would typically do, and we want to stress that any of these processes could further damage or destroy your vintage toy, so please use them at your own risk (possibly if you have nothing to lose). For a lone surviving toy who was seemingly beyond repair, this little droid now has a long life of luxury ahead of him!