Have you ever wondered why some parts of your Gunpla decolor or crack as they age? One of the possible causes of this is that your models are exposed to sunlight. But why does sunlight affect Gundam models? Is it really bad for Gunpla kits? We will talk about this in this post.
Sunlight damages Gundam models because its UV rays can accelerate oxidation. Oxidation causes plastics to age, resulting in brittleness, cracks, and decolorization. Thus, we should know how to properly protect our plastic kits from sunlight to maximize their lifespan.
This blog post will discuss why sunlight is harmful to your plastic model kits. We will also discuss what you can do to prevent sunlight damage to your models.
Is Sunlight Bad for Gunpla?
Sunlight, particularly UV rays from the sun, causes damage and is bad for Gunpla models. The UV rays can accelerate oxidation which damages plastics on the molecular level. Over time, this makes plastics brittle and crack. Furthermore, oxidation changes the plastic’s color leading to decolorization.
But how? Does the type of UV rays matter?
Honestly, all types of UV rays can accelerate oxidation since they excite the photons in plastics.
This is also why UV is also known as UV radiation.
The bad news is that plastics absorb this UV radiation which causes some damage on the molecular level.
Generally speaking, this leads to accelerated oxidation which ages the plastic.
Oxidation is a big issue in plastics since it can lead to cracks and decolorization.
This is also why manufacturers tend to coat plastics with a plastic protectant called, which they call “mold release” upon manufacturing.
This plastic protectant protects the plastics from oxidation as exposure to oxygen in the air oxidizes plastics.
Typically, exposure to oxygen from the air does little to no damage to plastics. However, sunlight can dramatically accelerate oxidation which destroys plastics.
Aside from the UV rays, the extra heat from sunlight also accelerates oxidation as it gives enough energy to start a chemical reaction.
However, the heat from sunlight does more things harm than oxidizing the plastic.
In extreme temperatures, sunlight can also accelerate plastic aging due to heat. Sometimes, it can slightly melt the plastic, softening the model.
This can cause the model’s parts to distort.
However, this happens only in extreme conditions since the most likely cause of sun damage to your models is caused by UV rays.
While painted models are usually protected from the sun’s UV rays, the plastics are still subjected to changes in heat which is why even painted models can be damaged by sunlight.
Furthermore, the paint can also oxidize and decolorize due to the sun’s UV rays. This is why it is common for paints to go yellowish when exposed to sunlight for prolonged periods.
With all of these in mind, what can we do to prevent sun damage? Since we know all of this, we have to do something to protect our models.
That’s what we will discuss in the next section.
How to Protect your Gunpla from Sun Damage?
You can protect Gunpla from Sun damage by covering the plastics with a plastic protector or a clear coat. Furthermore, you may also tint the windows to block UV rays from entering your home. However, the best way to protect your models is to store them in a cool place away from sunlight.
These are ways you can protect your models. Let’s discuss each of these methods below.
1. Use a Plastic Protectant
A plastic protectant is one of the easiest ways to protect your Gunpla kits from oxidation.
Not only do these shine your models, but some can also restore and protect your models from oxidation.
The plastic protectant protects plastics from oxidation by serving as a barrier between the plastic and air.
Remember that the oxygen from the air causes oxidation. By serving as a barrier between plastic and air, oxidation wouldn’t occur.
This is why manufacturers tend to coat their plastics with a mold release. The mold release has two purposes. One is to prevent the plastic from sticking with the model.
The other is it acts as a plastic protectant that shields the plastics from the oxygen in the air.
The sad thing is that about 1/4 of Gunpla modelers wash their models before building their kit, which removes the mold release. Unfortunately, this can cause the plastics to age quicker.
So, knowing how to wash your models properly is crucial, as removing the mold release will cause the plastic to age fast. Always replace the mold release if you decide to clean your model.
But how? Well, check the recommended post below.
Recommended Read? Did you know that washing can cause damage to your Gundam models? How can we wash Gundam models without damaging the plastics? I talked about that topic in this post. Here is the link: Can You Wash and Clean Gunpla Models?
However, what if your model is painted? Plastic protectants aren’t recommended for painted models.
The good news is that you may use other things to protect your models from the sun’s harsh rays, which we’ll discuss in the next post.
2. Apply Top Coat
You should apply top coats to your Gunpla to protect them from external stressors such as oxidation. Furthermore, a clear or top coat shines your models without needing a polisher.
While buffing your models will make models shinier, a top coat is enough to put some shine on them.
Applying a top coat is recommended if you aren’t interested in constantly applying plastic protectants every few months.
A top coat will last permanently and protect your plastics by serving as a shield between air and plastics.
Of course, you can protect the models further by applying wax. So wax will further protect your models.
The problem is both plastic protectants and top coats won’t 100% protect your models from oxidation.
While these are effective ways to prolong your plastic models, they aren’t as effective as the next tip.
3. Store Gunpla in Places Away from Sunlight
The best way to protect your Gundam models from the sun is to keep them in a place sunlight wouldn’t reach.
Without sunlight, accelerated oxidation wouldn’t occur, which can prolong the life of your Gundam models without the need to apply any protectant.
By doing this, you will indeed preserve your models for years without any trouble.
The only problem here is when you store your models in a dim and humid environment since molds can start to form.
That’s why it is still crucial to apply a protectant even if you store the models away from sunlight.
4. Apply Tint on Windows/Display Case
Storing your models in a dark place is boring since we all want to show off the models we’ve worked hard upon.
If you want to store your models in a place where visitors can see them while reducing the damage from the sun, how about putting some tints on your windows?
A tint will dramatically reduce the UV rays coming from the sun. This will keep your models safe from oxidation.
If you aren’t planning to tint your window, you may also tint your display case.
These tips will keep your Gundam models or any plastic model kits away from harm caused by sunlight.
What’s next? We now know some great ways to maintain your models. But how about learning how hard or easy it is to build them? I discussed that topic in this post: Are Gundam Models Hard or Easy to Build?