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"Cause & prevention of Lead Rot" Topic

18 Posts

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1,361 hits since 17 Sep 2015
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Black Cavalier17 Sep 2015 1:26 p.m. PST


Summary, don't store your figures in wooden boxes. & cast a critical eye at white glue, enamel paint & The Dip.

It might even affect current metals used for figures depending on what the alloy is.

Tony S17 Sep 2015 2:32 p.m. PST

Very interesting. And reassuring.

The authors mention that the purer the lead, the worse and faster the corrosion.

"Contrary to our first thoughts, antimony, copper, and tin in lead castings apparently tend to retard or reduce the formation of lead carbonate."

If I'm not mistaken, most alloys used by modern manufacturers don't contain much, if any, lead. A few years back in the States were there not some laws passed banning lead in toys…which included our beloved toy soldiers, causing most US manufacturers to switch over to lead free alloys?

Personal logo 53Punisher Supporting Member of TMP17 Sep 2015 2:35 p.m. PST

Very informative. All things considered, it looks like there's really nothing that can be done once lead rot occurs short of complete replacement of the item. Thanks for posting.

Personal logo Endless Grubs Supporting Member of TMP17 Sep 2015 6:31 p.m. PST

Without reading the article but having an advanced degree in museum work as well as training and employment as a preparator, I assure you the greatest villains we (or our collections) will encounter are common (acidic) boxes for storage, dust, sunlight, oak, and enclosed boxes of any sort coated with any sort of lacquer or epoxy or paint.

Personal logo Endless Grubs Supporting Member of TMP17 Sep 2015 6:32 p.m. PST

oh, and throw in fluctuations in humidity over a short period of time…..

Black Hat Miniatures18 Sep 2015 1:55 a.m. PST

Tony S,

No, its a misconception that lead was banned. There was a fuss in New York about lead in toy soldiers but it was never outlawed. A major distributor decided to implement the requirement themselves so a lot of USA manufacturers switched to lead-free pewter.

Most UK manufacturers I know still use a lead/tin alloy.


Timmo uk18 Sep 2015 8:35 a.m. PST

Endless Grubs genuine interest here can you explain the type of damage that a typical non acid free card box could cause to miniatures painted and varnished with acrylics and over what sort of time scale such effects might be noticed.

I've had much of my collection in card boxes for about 15 years with no signs of any issues that I can see, yet. I'm now wondering if I should switch everything over to Really Useful Boxes instead of A4 file boxes.

Personal logo Endless Grubs Supporting Member of TMP18 Sep 2015 10:28 a.m. PST

Sure. The issue is that the acidic cardboard boxes come into contact with other materials--perhaps bases, paint, the miniatures themselves, and cause subtle chemical reactions that, in turn, cause other chemical reactions. Also, tanins in the cardboard or wood boxes (oak is the worst culprit) off-gas over time and trigger chemical reactions in most metals. It's worse in enclosed boxes. Time frame is affected by humidity and amount of exposure. I, myself, in a fit of paranoia finally purchased some boxes from Gaylord for my 15s and 28s. I bought a few at a time and slowly rehoused everything. Your mileage may vary.

Personal logo Endless Grubs Supporting Member of TMP18 Sep 2015 10:33 a.m. PST


These are what I purchased of varying sizes, depending on fig scale and shelf size, banners, pikes, etc. The are packed flat and are folded and hot glued together and can be safely stacked. You can reinforce the bottom for strength and stability with a sheet of acid free foam core.

Personal logo Endless Grubs Supporting Member of TMP18 Sep 2015 11:46 a.m. PST

Just a short recognizable example would be the highly acidic newsprint that turns yellow and brittle and brown quickly just sitting in our heated or air-conditioned homes after a few days or weeks…. Someday, we can talk about plastic figs and plasticizers. For now, be thankful, your figs aren't made of cellulose nitrate.

Timmo uk18 Sep 2015 2:45 p.m. PST

Thanks. Definitely got me thinking. I'm guessing a lot of your professional work has been ensuring things don't get UV damage? In the UK archival storage boxes are quite expensive, more expensive than Really Useful (RU) boxes. If the figures were kept in RU plastic boxes in a cupboard so they aren't exposed to UV light would they provide a suitable long term storage environment or really is there no better bet than acid free archival boxes?

14Bore18 Sep 2015 5:16 p.m. PST

As this comes up often I am amazed or lucky in 33 years never seen it.

Personal logo Endless Grubs Supporting Member of TMP18 Sep 2015 5:52 p.m. PST

At this point avoid wood boxes, cardboard boxes, or soft foam for cushioning. Storing figs in plastic boxes is ok although they should not be airtight. You DO want the glues and varnishes on your figs/bases to be able to dissipate rather than build up in the boxes. Find a reliable source of archival boxes if you wish and buy one or two every couple of months or so as a long term project. Store figs indoors and away from sources of heat and off the floor. They are an investment of money and time and effort--treat them like that.

KTravlos Inactive Member19 Sep 2015 4:09 a.m. PST

So mu chessex boxes are ok as long as I take out the foam?

Timmo uk19 Sep 2015 4:19 a.m. PST


The RU boxes are listed as being acid free but since they are airtight presumably the best thing to do would be to drill a few holes in them? However, would that be enough since small holes are hardly going to allow the air to circulate.

I notice that all the acid free card boxes in the UK are not exactly airtight but they don't have any venting slots cut in them. The standard box file boxes I have all have a small hole in them but is that enough to allow these harmful acids to dissipate.

What's the issue with soft foam does it give off acidic gases?

I only ask as if I'm going to improve my storage I want to make 100% sure I'm doing the best that I can. Are there any problems with metal tool boxes?

Personal logo Endless Grubs Supporting Member of TMP19 Sep 2015 8:12 a.m. PST

Most storage foam is urethane foam. First, it rubs on objects and, second, it deteriorates. It will crumble and the plasticizers can become gooey and stick to the figs. Any air holes are better than none; you just don't want airtight so that the off-gasses build up over time. Metal boxes might do as long as they are not painted or coated or plated. If drilling holes, drill on the sides, not on the top of the boxes. If you want foam, look into a product called ethafoam--its a stable polyethylene foam with a soft surface that is not reactive and comes in various thicknesses and lengths.

Bunkermeister Supporting Member of TMP21 Sep 2015 11:43 a.m. PST

"we can talk about plastic figs and plasticizers."

Please Endless Grubs, why are thousands of unpainted soft plastic figures stored in plastic boxes going brittle on me?

Mike Bunkermeister Creek

Henry Martini21 Sep 2015 3:49 p.m. PST

Polyurethane figures eventually go brittle no matter what the storage medium is.

Last Hussar27 Sep 2015 6:34 a.m. PST

Timmo – I use RUB's. Not sure how airtight they are, but after a while how much fumes will come off a figures

Last Hussar27 Sep 2015 6:34 a.m. PST

Timmo – I use RUB's. Not sure how airtight they are, but after a while how much fumes will come off a figures

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