Like a lot of you, I have certain toys in my collection that have stayed with me since the very beginning. These are the toys that managed to live through tremendous battles, parental toy cullings, and being disguarded as childhood interests became adult ones. This Optimus Prime is my example of that.
I remember the day my mom got him for me. She picked me up from school and in the front seat was this huge, glorious box of Prime. Finding a boxed Prime in those days was near impossible in my town, and the prestige of actually owning one sent any lucky childs recess popularity stock through the roof. I remember opening it and making sure I was holding it at a level where all the other kids could see into the car window and envy my newest treasure. This was, after all, Optimus Prime.
Fast forward 25 years, and Prime is still with me… Only not in the glorious shape he once was:
His fists (and really all of his accessories) have been lost to playgrounds, dogs, and countless moves. His once shiny chrome parts are worn and becoming transparent. Also, he seems to have a fracture in his femur, and a leg that is in danger of self amputation next time he tries to “roll out.”
I have had Prime in a safe place for at least the past 10 years, not really knowing what to do with him. Finally, I decided that it was time to pay back this little metal buddy with some TLC and get him battle ready again.
The first thing I always think about before a restoration is cost. I love sentimentality, but I also love my money, and sometimes spending 50$ restoring a toy you can buy in great shape on ebay for $30 isnt always the best idea… Those who read my AT-AT restoration project post can attest to this train of thought. My initial concern with this project being chrome electroplating. Anyone who has ever looked into this knows how much this costs. That alone made the restoration prohibitive. Some people use silver leafing, but I have never really had good results with that personally. Chrome spray paint is cheap, but never looks really like chrome. So what is a budget minded restorer to do?
Well, I chose C, the spray paint. True it wont look like chrome, but I think itll look cool still, and since this restoration is really for ME, and not resale or for a client, I feel that I can get away with it.
I started by taking Prime apart. This was actually really easy. All you need is a small Phillips head screwdriver and some pliers to pull the pin out of the tires that rest at Primes “hip” area. Here he is disassembled:
I took the chrome parts outside and primed them. Be sure to PRIME these parts first otherwise paint wont stick. I had a great photo of this I was going to call “Optimus PRIMED,” but it got corrupted on my memory card. Damn Decepticons!
Once Primed, I did a few coats of hardware store Krylon CHROME spray paint on the parts. I did 3 passes and let it dry overnight.
Once dry, I reassembled. If you are organized when you disassemble, the reassemble is pretty easy. I used a small hammer to help with the hip pin again, but that was really the only extra tool.
To fix the femur, I tried a few things. First, I tried basic superglue. Didnt hold at all. Next I tried 2 part GORILLA GLUE, which I always thought held everything. Well, apparently it doesn’t hold Autobot Femurs. So finally I tried a 2 part epoxy glue that is made for plastics. ACE makes one, and I am sure more companies do. This worked great! Be sure to scape paint off of the plastic connection faces first though!
Once the glue cured (24 hours) I put his legs back on and tested out the stability. I am not going to be roughly transforming him anytime soon, and with that in mind, the repair help nicely.
All that was left at this point was getting him armed. I was going to say fisted but it sounds really gross.
I needed 2 hands and a gun for him. I found some good repro parts online, but after shipping the price seemed like it was in the ballpark of what original bits sell for if you keep your eyes peeled. I managed to get 2 fists and a gun from 2 different ebay sellers for$24 shipped. A bit more than I wanted to pay, but this was my splurge for the restoration, and I like having “original parts.”
Here he is, reassembled. I think this turned out great. The “chrome” actually shines a bit, and really reminds me more of the cartoon coloring, which was an unexpected surprize! Maybe one day I will pick up his trailer if I can find one cheap enough, but for now I am happy just the way he is.