Krista's Doll Restoration


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GREEN EAR: This is a result of metal earrings having oxidized and stained the surrounding vinyl.  
Please see more information about this on my Beauty Spa page and my Green Ear Removal page. 
Q. How do I clean very dirty vintage dolls?
A. On the vintage/Mod bodies (non-painted legs) the safest way is to use liquid dish soap and warm water
Q. I have a Midge with the factory 'painted legs'. How should I clean the legs, they are a bit dirty.
A. Be very careful cleaning these delicate legs! 
It may be safest just to wash them carefully with a little warm water.   Test the bottom of the feet  before you do the rest of the legs to check how the paint reacts.
Q. On the bottom of the foot of the vintage dolls, I have seen 'Japan' written lengthwise and also horizontally. What is the difference between the two markings?
A. The leg molds could have either type. Neither marking is more valuable or more desirable than the other.  The limbs were just randomly matched to the torsos and put with the doll heads. There is no difference or significance.

Q. I would like to know how to switch the heads and limbs on the vintage Barbie dolls.
A. It is  possible to switch vintage 'body parts' on Vintage and Mod dolls.
Check the markings on their bottoms so that you put appropriate arms and legs with appropriate bodies, etc.
Before removing/reattaching heads or limbs, you must soften the vinyl at the neck or sockets first with hot water (*Please see my NOTE below). 

Once the vinyl is soft, very gently pinch the head off of the body.

For arms and legs:  Boil some water and then pour it into a pie tin or bowl and let sit for a minute. Cover the doll with water so that the torso and limbs are submersed. After a few minutes, the vinyl should be pliable enough for you to pop the arm off or pry the leg off with a butter knife.  Be careful not to injure or burn yourself, or tear/crack the limbs.
Of course you should always practice with a 'practice doll' first!

To reverse the process: and re-attach the limbs, submerse the torso so that the vinyl at socket openings is softened. Then snap the limbs into place (You do not need to submerse the limbs -- Just the socket openings on the torso itself)

*NOTE:  When using boiling water, it is best to boil the water on the stove (as opposed to in the microwave where it might get too hot).    

*These instructions do not apply to the 'Miss Barbie' doll. Her head is attached with a small rubber 0-ring inside. Also, using water on this doll may damage the eye mechanism.

*As with everything, always experiment with  a 'practice doll' first when trying out new techniques, and proceed carefully in order to avoid damage or injury.

Q. How about a 'swingy' hip on an AG (or other B/L body)? I now have two girls who rode those Brier horses one time too many! How do I repair the swingy legs?
A. This can be a very frustrating repair to do!   I have fixed swingy hips by heating the torso and socket area (soaking it in hot water) and then gently popping the leg off and re-gluing the broken wheel inside the hip area. Be sure to spray some silicone spray on the knob before attempting to pop the leg back on. The problem is that the repair can re-break when you apply pressure to the leg while popping it back on, so use gentle pressure. 
I stopped doing this repair long ago after I accidentally tore the vinyl on a client's leg while attempting to get to the wheel inside.
I replaced the leg with a leg from my own collection, but since then I have not been comfortable doing any type of restoration that I don't have complete control over.  It may be best to just live with the swingy legs if you can rather than risk damaging them further -- or find a nice replacement body that does not have the swingy legs (although after nearly 50 years it is an extremely common 'flaw').
Q. How do I re-attach a leg from a Talking Barbie - the leg has a knob?
A. Here are the instructions for replacing a leg with a knob.  It can be a frustrating repair to do since the knobs often re-break when the leg is replaced, so please be aware of this.
1) Boil some water on the stove and pour it into a cup or bowl.
2) Soak the leg, hip down, in the water for a few minutes.
3) Remove the leg and use a sharp object (like a seam ripper, small pointed scissors, etc.) and
dig out the little piece of knob that has broken off inside the hole.
4) You may need to take a pair of needle nose pliers in order to grab the piece out of the
5) Now you need to get the old glue off of the knob piece. I use acetone to remove the glue.
6) Now you need to re-glue the piece back onto the knob on the body. I use any glue that is formulated for plastic/vinyl and follow the directions for the glue.
7) The next day, boil some water, pour it into a cup or bowl and soak the leg in the water
once again (hip end down) for a few minutes
8) Meanwhile, spray some silicone spray on the knob. 9) Dry the leg well and carefully but
firmly pop it back into place on the knob.

Q. Lots of my dolls have cuts on their bendable legs so that the vinyl has split in areas. Is there any way I can fix this?
A.  You should be able to at least improve them a bit and prevent future tearing by using any superglue-type glue that is formulated for vinyl/plastic. This works on repairing neck splits, etc. as well.

fixlegs.jpg (11642 bytes)

Q. I bought a vintage Barbie and her legs are spaced widely apart - I guess you would call this "splayed"? Is there any way to bring the legs closer together again?
A. Boil some water on the stove (not in microwave!), pour it into a mug and wait 30 - 60 seconds for the water to cool a bit.  Submerse Barbie's legs in this water. After a few minutes, remove her from the water, towel dry, and while the vinyl is still soft, wrap a folded strip of plastic wrap around the legs, pulling them closed and in the proper position. Secure the wrappings with a piece of scotch tape.  I recommend leaving this on as long as possible so the legs will be trained to stay in this position. If after removing the plastic you find the legs are stuck together (unlikely, but I have had one report of this occurring), re-submerse the legs into hot water once again to loosen. Please note: It is important not to use water heated in the microwave as this may become too hot and damage the vinyl.

Q. I just got a beautiful color magic, but she has no legs. I've heard that Malibu legs can be bleached and used. I know how to remove the legs and replace them, but have never bleached legs before. Can you tell me a little about the process and how long (approx.) does it take for
the bleaching to work? Thanks for any help!
A.  Here are the instructions for bleaching Malibu legs that fit onto the Color Magic (i.e. American Girl) body:
The legs must be from a MADE IN JAPAN Malibu Barbie in order to fit the torso properly, but please be aware that there are reports  of  some strange things happening during (as well as after) this procedure;  from 'Japan' Malibu legs that never seem to lighten, to legs that lighten to the perfect color only to darken again!   Give it a try since you have nothing to lose, but keep in mind that this can be an experiment in patience as well:
You remove the legs from the doll and place them in a tall vase filled with pure bleach (You can also bleach arms and save those for vintage replacement arms as well).  You leave them completely submerged in the bleach but CHECK on them every 30 - 60 minutes or so.  When I tired this process, it took the legs nearly 36 hours to bleach nicely.  For others, I have heard that it has taken only a matter of a few hours -- all the way up to a few days.  However, if you do not remove them from the bleach promptly after they have reached the desired color,  they will become greenish and very unattractive.
Wash the legs really well afterwards with warm water and soap.  
NOTE:  The collector later informed me that the above process worked great on the Japan Malibu legs.  She said:  "It took 24 hours but they bleached perfectly."

Q.  Hello, and thank you for a very informative site! I have a question about #3 Barbie. Do you know how to fix her unevenly faded vinyl? She has faded white/ivory legs, but a very tanned torso and arms that for my opinion are darker than the original patent colour (almost like sunburned). Looks like the vinyl has reacted in a weird way during the years. Do you know what have caused this? I do believe the torso is original, and not from another Barbie since her hands are very white from the palms and wrists and then gradually go darker towards the elbows. Also her face has some white spots, but otherwise has maintained its original colour. It Looks almost like the process of fading is still going and not completed. Do you think she will fade evenly, or is this permanent? And is there anything to make her fade completely (sunbathing maybe?).
A.  The #3 Barbies are my favorite of all the dolls.
Because they are nearly 50 year old toys they have all sorts of little inconsistencies which make them vintage -- and, in my opinion, these perceived 'flaws' are exactly what make them special.
While there is nothing that can be done to 'fix' uneven fading (please don't leave her out in the sunshine, under any type of light, or use any type of chemicals, etc.), one must realize that this is the inherent beauty of vintage. These old dolls are treasures from the past and are not meant to be perfect/brand new. They are unique and none of them will be (nor should be) exactly the same.
The brand new dolls one buys in the boxes today are all perfect, and they all look alike. For some, it is preferable to collect these new dolls.
But as a vintage collector I personally would much rather own vintage dolls with a history -- as well as inherent inconsistencies. 
Therefore please do not look at her uneven fading as a flaw. This is just a natural occurrence after years of being on this planet.
They age -- just like we do --and they each have a story to tell.

Q. Your site is a virtual font of vintage Barbie collecting, restoring and identification.  I reference it often.  Recently I added an interesting bubble cut to my collection, interesting for me because the Barbie only body has the slimmest hips I've ever seen on a Barbie.  I know some of the legs have thinner hips than others, but these are almost nonexistent.  The sides look to be sanded down and quite concave at the center joint.  Also one leg is firm and has a darker tint to the tan/grey color.  The other leg is quite pliable, and even bends freely at the ankle.  This leg is lighter in color than the firm leg but does not feel like the more rubbery legs of the 4's or 3's.  Also one arm has quite a matte finish, the other looks like the usual hollow body arms, except for the hand, which is matte like the other arm.  So, my question.... is this poor gal just an oddity or have you heard of a collection of incongruities like this before?
A. Thank you for your email and your kind words about my website.
I am glad you are enjoying it and that it is helpful to you.
Yes, your doll sounds typical of the inconsistencies I see. This is the beauty of vintage in my opinion; None of the dolls look alike (contrary to what non-collectors say!).
There are so many variations in how the dolls were played with, how they were stored, the climates they have 'lived' in, etc.
After 40+ years they all have aged differently and this shows.
I try not to get too concerned with these inconsistencies and just look at the basics: Do they have all ten fingers and ten toes? Is the body correct for the head? Are there any neck splits or green ear?
I hope this helps.  I look forward to hearing from you again if I may be of restoration assistance.

Q.  Hi!  I bought a  Barbie doll  that was advertised as a #3. When I received it, it looked just like my #4 Brunette ponytail doll color-wise.  It came in a TM labeled box.  It smells like crayons but the color is like my #4 doll.  The seller claims the doll was stored in the box and never  played with.  How can I be sure it is a #3 doll?  The #3 and #4 dolls are so similar.  Thanks for your response.
A. It can sometimes be very hard to tell the difference between the #3 and #4 dolls.
Unfortunately it is impossible for me to say for certain without seeing your doll in person, however I do have some helpful information on my site at this link:
If this doll looks exactly like your #4, however, my guess is that the seller made a mistake and the doll may be a #4.
Still, I would need to see her in person in order to help you.
I do offer a written appraisal service or, if the doll needs any restoration you are welcome to send her and I will ID her once I see her (at no extra charge, of course).

Q.  Many of my Mod era (pink skin) bendable leg dolls have green spots on their legs. What causes this and can these be repaired?
A.  Unfortunately the metal wires inside the legs are oxidizing and causing these discolorations. There is no way to remove the green on the legs since the oxidation occurring inside will continue discoloring them.

  • Hair - General information about cleaning, re-flocking and re-rooting
  • Faces - General information about caring for the faces, green ear treatment, neck split repair, and re-coloring Mod dolls

The general information I have chosen to include on these pages is here as a courtesy to collectors of Vintage and Mod BarbiesŪ and friends. 

I am unable to answer your 'how-to' restoration emails, nor do I provide further step by step instruction.

This Web site is for your personal and non-commercial use only. You may copy information on this Web site for your own personal use, however other than copying for personal use, you may not copy, modify, distribute, transmit, display, perform, reproduce, publish, license, create derivative works from, transfer, or sell any information obtained from this Web site.

Every reasonable effort has been taken by me to ensure the accuracy of the information contained within this entire web site. However, I take no responsibility for any losses, injury or detriment whatsoever, real or implied, arising from the information and/or references contained within this entire site.

Before continuing any further, please carefully read my disclaimer page.

Please note that I have limited (or no) experience with non-Mattel fashion dolls, modern Mattel fashion dolls (anything newer than 1970 and/ or not made in Japan), or any other types of dolls.

**I do not identify dolls via email, nor can I verify authenticity, unless I see the doll in person.  I do offer this as a paid service.  Please email me if you would like to send your doll or collection for a written appraisal.  An appraisal fee + return shipping costs will apply.**






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opyright 2013
All rights reserved.  This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed

The information, photographs and writing contained in this website are the property of the owner of this website. I retain sole and exclusive rights without limitation which may not be granted to another without my written permission and consent.

This website is for your personal and non-commercial use only! You may not copy, modify, distribute, transmit, display, perform, reproduce, publish, license, create derivative works from, transfer, or sell any information obtained from this website.
I am sure you can appreciate the huge amount of work and research that has gone into this website.
If I become aware that any of my copyrighted material, including any photograph, is visible elsewhere without my written permission, appropriate action will be taken.
Thank you for respecting my copyright!

*A Special Thanks to the wonderful artist, Dennis Beltran who kindly drew the cartoons you see on my site.*
All photographs on this site that belong to others have been used with the owners' permission.

Barbie,  Ken,  Midge,  Skipper,  Francie,  Casey, Allan,  Stacey,  PJ,  etc.  are registered trade marks of Mattel, Inc.
Barbie collecting and repair are my beloved hobbies, and I am in no way affiliated with Mattel, Inc.
The general information I have chosen to include on these pages is here as a courtesy to collectors of Vintage and Mod BarbiesŪ and friends. 

Every reasonable effort has been taken by me to ensure the accuracy of the information contained within this entire web site. However, I take no responsibility for any losses, injury or detriment whatsoever, real or implied, arising from the information and/or references contained within this entire site.

Before continuing any further, please carefully read my disclaimer page.