Are zipper storage bags destroying your toys?

Action Figure Fury notes a potential danger to your collection. Evidently, those Ziploc bags we all (well, I, at least) use to store our action figures could be hurting them:

The plastic that most bags are made from are actually acidic. If you are using them for daily life like storing your sandwich for eating later that day then I’m sure that you will survive. But if you are going to be storing your action figure in there for years on end then you might be having some problems later on down the road.

The acid will slowly over time destroy the paint and even the plastic of the figure is you leave them in the bags long enough.

I tried to dig around for more information on this – because as much as I respect AFF, I try not to take things I read on the Internet at face value – but only found this similar post at One Per Case. Both blogs recommend using GTZIP’s “Ultra Clear” line of bags instead of the traditional zipper bags. They’re not cheap, though.

So, any chemists or scientist-types out there who can shed some light on this either way?

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  • Weird, I just had this on my mind yesterday. I hope it's not true. I like the diversity of sizes and shapes that Ziploc bags offer. Also, it's hard to justify spending good money on pricey bags when it could be spent on toys.

  • I just use plastic bags from the grocery store. I drop a figure in, roll the bag up around them, and it creates some decently cushioned protection. I just use ziploc bags for accessories, and glyos figures, but I might have to consider moving them to grocery sacks too.

    • If Ziploc bags have acid, you can bet that grocery bags do as well. The costly factor is the removal of the acid (same as in paper) so there's no way such an investment is made in disposable plastic like grocery bags.

  • The main problem with Ziploc bags that I’ve noticed is that figures tend to get sticky if they’re sealed up for a few years. How figures are affected depends on the softness of their plastic; the softer the plastic, the stickier the figure gets.

    But I don’t think it’s the plastic of the Ziploc bag that’s the problem, because I also notice this with figures taken off the card for the first time. Off the top of my head, this has happened with both vintage and modern Star Wars, vintage TMNT, and Toxic Crusaders. I think the problem is the fact that the figures are hermetically sealed. For whatever reason, figures need to “breathe”, and the Ziploc bags force whatever gases that are leaking out of the figures to stick to them.

    (On a similar note, vintage Playmates Trek figures tend to be slippery (early TNG waves) or develop a powder on their limbs (Voyager) that you notice the first time you pull them off the card. This could be a breathing problem, too.)

    I guess you could say that the plastic of the Ziploc bags are causing the figure to decay, and hence, the stickiness, and that the reason why this happens with carded figures is that the bubbles are made of similar plastics. But there’s no real way to know, so I stay away from bags altogether and just store my figures in Sterilite boxes.

  • Well, this sucks. I have a ton of my old figures stored in generic Ziploc style bags. Looks like I'm going to have to figure out some other way to store my figures.

  • As Nathan Pointed out you may only notice after a few years. This may be the point that it is too late to save your collection though. I don't think that $35 for 1,000 bags is too much do you guys? I think that it's well worth the investment.

  • I should also mention that those figures that were sticky could be cleaned by scrubbing them with soap and water. The guy at One Per Case mentioned that his figures were ruined, but in my experience, figures are usually not permanently damaged by either being in a Ziploc bag or on the card too long. It’s gross, and it takes a while to clean, but you should be able to get all the stickiness off. That goes for the Trek slime and powder, too.

    One exception is POTF2 Vader, which has a finish on the shin guards that just doesn’t want to give up its stickiness. The same with Toyfare Tarchannen III Geordi, who still seems slimy even after multiple washings.

    The yellowing phenomenon that you see on Stormtroopers and Clonetroopers might not be related. Recent Clonetroopers seem to yellow no matter what precautions you take.

    I now keep my vintage Star Wars and GI Joe figures in tackle boxes, which seems to be a nice solution. Once I took them out of the baggies, I didn’t have any problems with stickiness.

  • All plastics contain a plasticizer that will leech out over time leaving the plasic brittle – the stickiness could be due to some of that sweating out.

    • That seems like what’s happening with the Trek slime. My Tarchannen III Geordi actually had moisture on him when I opened him up for the first time. Also, the plastic for Trek figures tends to stick at the joints, which makes me think it’s getting more brittle. Whether or not the Star Wars stickiness is the same thing, I’m not sure.

      You know, if this junk causes cancer, I’m screwed.

  • I bought a big roll of acid free newsprint paper and I wrap each figure in that, and then put them all into a tupperware bin. Yeah, so of the accessories fall out from time to time, but they won't go anywhere, and I feel a lot better about how the figures are stored. I've got a bunch of old Marvel Legends stored like that, and they are all still in great shape, even though a lot of them started out really sticky.

  • Why not use standard acid-free comic book bags? They aren't terribly suitable if you plan to take them out frequently, but long-term storage should be fine.

  • I’ve been using the GTZip line for at least 2+yrs now (my father collects fishing lures and he turned me on to them for my collection.)

    Honestly I see zero difference. My ML dr strange cape still got tacky; my SW figures still got paint rubs; and my Mattel stuff still got chalky and/or greasy.

    IMO it has much more to do with the plastic the toys are made of and the conditions you store them in than how you store them.

    small price to pay to give them a try yourself though. $35 is small price to pay to try to keep your stuff safe. I have noticed a difference when I had the bags open to the air, and the figures wrapped in either wax paper or white non colored tissue paper. I now rock tissue paper in plastic fishing lure containers- much much better for the stuff not in the shelf.

  • Count me as a skeptic. I've used Ziploc baggies forever, and I've never had any problem with them for any toy line. I think it's mostly an old wives' tale and these problems would happen with the figures no matter how they were stored.

  • ziplocs themselves do get tacky; go to a garage sale sometime and check out some from the 80s… its not an old wives tale. Paint and ziplocs are just not a good idea for storage over 2-3 years+… i just think plastic on plastic is a bad storage idea regardless. ;)

  • I use sheets of hemp fabric with pockets stored in shoe boxes. No seriously, it could be a problem. Fishing lures are a perfect example, especially soft plastic lures. You don’t want to mix brands openly in tackle boxes or bags, they tend to melt if you do. I have some bags of plastic worms and lizards that are 10 years old and no melting. Plastics will eventually begin to break down regardless of measures, but some may prolong decay while others will quicken. I don’t intend on my collection being a financial investment anyway; open them enjoy them with my friends and children and then sell them off is my philosophy. Only a few boxes ever make it to my permanent storage.

  • I have never had a problem with ziplocs, including with stuff that has been stored for years. And I've seen some plastics that dmage others – the original Japanese kinkeshi that MUSCLE were based on tend to dissolve anything they touch, for example.

  • … but aren't the toys themselves acidic? I can't imagine Mattel or Hasbro casting their toys in archival-quality plastics. With that in mind, would the type of zipper bag even make a difference?

  • most of my old figures (90s) are just in totes stacked on top of each other and every time i've moved and sorted them out they have been fine. any that were broken i think i broke as a kid… i know its not a good way to store toys, but these are mostly not worth anything. still, all mixed up just piled on top of each other and they have been fine.
    the only thing i did put in baggies were my old WWF figures and heman figures… those i have not check in quite a few years. def more than 3. and honestly i dont know what box or tote they are in to check and confirm or disprove this theory!

  • Yikes! This makes me nervous as I've definitely spent the past few weeks packing my G.I. Joe and DCUC collections into Kroger brand bags before storing them in colored Rubbermaid containers. The Joes by themselves are way out of control, along with their cousins the Star Wars figures, so those other bags are something I'll probably be looking into.

    As boring as it may sound, I'm kind of surprised there aren't more articles out there about how to store stuff, whether it's action figures, ink pens, or even paperback books. I guess collection overload is just starting to become a real problem as a lot of lines out there are reaching the decade + point. I definitely hit the critical juncture with Minimates awhile ago and they now basically go straight into storage after a few weeks. Of course, I keep all of them in those little bead sorting boxes they sell for $1.99 at Michael's and I doubt those are acid free either…

  • i nominate the wizened poe to research and write a book on the topic, surely we at least each will buy a copy and i imagine many many others