|Major Matt Mason Restoration - Rewiring and Repainting Figures
The question has arisen about the relative value of re-paints/re-wires.
Many collectors value them less than original painted figures and some think
that even a figure with broken wires and most of its paint gone are worth
more than repaints. Here are some considerations:
1.) Most re-paints/re-wires (shortened to rp/rws for convenience) are done
from shot figures, most are un-poseable and have little of their original
paint. The value of these shot figures is negligible (they can usually be
bought for less than $15). If not rp/rw they usually collect dust in a bag
with pals in similar condition. Rp/rws offer an option for those that are
kept hidden and not enjoyed.
2.) Rp/rws can be painted with custom colors, introducing a rainbow of
astronaut suit options. The heads can be painted with beards. Blondes,
black hair or titian coloring can be incorporated for an unlimited number
of design variations. Here are a few exceptional ones from Pat's site:
You could populate a whole otherworldly landscape with
re-painted figures while your original, valuable ones enjoy a rest, safely
tucked away in safety. Or an option is to repaint your figures using the
prototype paint schemes from earlier Mattel dealer catalogs:
3.) Rp/rws offer a new display option. Because they don't have original
paint, many collectors don't mind posing them in more difficult displays.
Who would sacrifice a nice original paint Jeff, for instance, in the talking
backpack knowing that the paint will come off from rubbing against the strap?
4.) Many of the rp/rws have a heavier gauge wire, often of stainless or
better material, which resists breakage (at least they're stronger than the
30 year old wire presently in original figures) and is easier to pose.
Because the paint is fresher, the figures hold up to wear and handling better
1.) Depending on the rw/rp technique used, there could be detectable joint
seams (the following example has not been re-painted so the "v" shaped cut
is more noticeable):
2.) Some paints "aromatize" (a term for the "gassing out" of plasticizers
changing the composition of the paint) and become duller or have "blooms"
or other defects. Some paints take months to harden and are as delicate as the
original paint. The original paint is paint developed for covering
latex..others are merely substitutes.
3.) The new paint may be "too shiney" and cause the figure to be extremely
glossy, not approximating the original paint (which had some gloss but not
as much as a gloss paint. Somewhere between semi-gloss and gloss).
4.) Some re-paint artists have little skill and can really butcher the job
(especially the details of the flag).
5.) Some use stainless steel wire which is actually more brittle than
regular steel wire (of course, fresh, heavier gauge stainless wire would
still be stronger than the original, 30 year old played-with wire!).
With this in mind we come to the real worth of the figures. Are they
worth more or less than original painted figures? Considering a nice minty
Matt is worth $75-125 on today's market (look at what he's fetching on eBay
if you don't believe me!), I think a nice re-paint is worth at least $50-75.
Most who are willing to rw/rp figures charge around $40-50 to do the job
Add in $10-15 for a beat-up figure and you've got $65. Add in shipping
charges both ways and the trouble to re-sell the figure and $75 seems
reasonable indeed. If nothing else, the figure is worth far more than the
original beat-up figure. The value is really relative to the purpose of
having the figure re-done. If the figure is enjoyed as a poser that
otherwise would have been locked away on a dark shelf, its value is
There have been many people who have rw/rp-ed their figures. I've seen
pics of figures painted with many different types of paint...Latex Acrylic
from Home Depot, Enamels, Polycarbonates, and real paint for Latex. The
Latex acrylics and Enamels seem to hold up to wear the least, the
Polycarbonates take the longest to dry (if they ever!), and the Paint for
Latex seems to be the best (as it's what Mattel appears to have used).
Steve DeLong, a collector in Atlanta painted a Matt with a green
Polycarbonate paint. He added a little automotive de-glossier and an
automotive drying agent to approximate the original paint. Although a nice
figure when I received it, over time the paint has become tacky and has
stuck to the stand I placed it in. Steve did a beautiful job painting an
ecology flag on his chest, though...
Patrick Storto has experimented with re-painting his own figures. Pics are
(there are more in a link above)
There are four who have previously offered their services as rw/rp
specialist (at different times, they have withdrawn their services due to
overwhelming orders or work/home responsibilities so an answer to an e-mail
may be ignored):
1.) Tom Wentland email@example.com
(no longer has time to rw/rp but still
has copies of the video)
Produced a video tape for the DIY enthusiast (you can order one directly
from him). One of the first to offer his services and has done a lot of
research. Uses a heavier gauge wire.
Tom Wentland adds:
Copper wire, 14 gauge, should not be used in white Matt figures. This will
cause the same problem as the Barbies with brass earrings. That is, the
Chloride in the PVC figure will react with the copper to form cupric
chloride and discolor the figure. (over 20 years or so, but I want the
figures to last for someone else when I'm gone).
I previously used polycarb paint in my video, in light coats with a long dry
time, however recently I attempted a repaint for a client and it turned into
a mess. The paint would not cure; I thought it was a bad mix, so I bought
another can, and had the same problem. I suspect that Pactra may have
changed it's paint mixture slightly- I have no other explanation and don't
know why it happened. I have updated the addendum in my Matt repair guide
to reflect this.
The paint to use for Matts is called Perma-Matt, from Monster Makers. 7305
Cleveland Ave, Cleveland, OH 44102. 216 631-4329. This stuff is PERFECT
and is the exact paint Mattel Used, as far as I can tell. It is also
water-soluble. It comes in amounts from $20 and up. The base is white;
then you buy color to add to the base. For those who don't have an
airbrush, Home Depot sells disposable air brushes for under $10 that accept
any type of paint.
2.) Tom Langland firstname.lastname@example.org
(I receive a bounce back so I believe the address has changed)produces a fine line of rw/rps.
(Try Tom at Tom.Langland@quickmail.llnl.gov)
3.) Dennis Widner (The Toy Surgeon) email@example.com
Uses paint that is the closest approximate to the original Mattel paint. Go
to his Web site:
I actually did testing on wire and found that stainless is more durable.
I have also used heavier gauge copper which works well also. (but see Tom
Wentland's warning above about White Rubber Matts).
As for the seams, You can ask my customers about them. I actually cut on
the original seams. In some cases the seam must be filled and I can do
that. I try not to disturb the original surface as much as possible. I
used to cut down the zipper but I have quit doing that in liu of making
more cuts. The zipper area is very noticeable and any disruption here is
a disaster. I have sucessfully opened at the zipper area and the
sharkman and others have a couple. I now make more cuts, but very
I have my own questions on durability and longevity. I ask my customers
to report in from time to time to see how my work is standing up.
I tell everyone that I know the value is less but at least its more
appealing to see a rp/rw, than a half stripped Matt with broken
I have also customized, they have been very successful. I am actually
working on a line that will be out for review soon. Not just different
paint jobs !
I think the stand idea is really functional. It allows you to stand him
up with gear without anything touching the paint. I will be expanding
on them also.
I also "brand" my work under the left foot for those people out there
who will try to pawn them off as mint. There are a few out there without
In closing, I would like to say that I do this only as a hobby and to
honor Major Matt Mason. Everyone knows why we are into them. As kids
they brought us joy and amazement and these are things we remember for a
lifetime. I am just glad I was born to be able to enjoy them. I hate to
see bruised MMMs anywhere and I try to bring them back to their glory
4.) Jim Hampton firstname.lastname@example.org
Created the John Glenn custom...pics here:
- John Eaton
As stated above, we make no guarantees of any of these cleaning and restoration techniques and provide a listing of what's been tried as a service only. Try these procedures at your own risk.
Finally, should anybody reading this have any similar information, additions or corrections, then we would very much appreciate hearing about them.
All Mattel images and captions are copyright Mattel and used without permission. All other content is copyright 1997-2001 John Eaton or the content's contributor. If there are any comments or objections, please contact John Eaton, by clicking here.