Repair Cracked Plastic Dolls

Is there a cure for broken plastic dolls? Maybe... it depends on the doll of course, but we have successfully repaired some vintage/antique dolls.

This page shows how we used Liquid Nails from the hardware store to repair broken plastic. We repaired an old Eegee baby and a Vogue Brikette. I also repaired the plastic shoulder of a Playpal doll using this method.

The blow-molded plastic material was introduced early in the 1960's. This new-fangled material made it possible for doll companies to churn out more dolls than ever before, at lower cost. Because doll manufacturers and toymakers were doing everything possible to keep up with the Baby Boomer population explosion, the advances in dollmaking methods and materials were very welcome.

However, the plastic material ages more quickly than vinyl. It can become brittle over the years. I've had some plastic dolls crumble in my hands. It's not uncommon for the material to crack (especially if squeezed into a doll stand.)

We have fixed some of our dolls by applying a cloth patch that was generously smeared with Liquid Nails adhesive. (It must be applied generously and it MUST be the putty style Liquid Nails. The clear formula does not work the same way.) Liquid Nails is more than just glue. It bonds with vinyl and plastic.

I like to use the putty style Liquid Nails when I replace eyes in old dolls. One time I decided to remove the eyes a year later and could not do it because the Liquid Nails was totally fused with the inside of the doll's vinyl face. I had to cut up the doll's head to get the eyes out (fortunately it was not a rare and valuable doll.) The Liquid Nails had bonded so completely with the vinyl that it was welded fused with it.

I don't think Liquid Nails is as strong as that when applied to plastic, but it DOES stick very good. Any other adhesive will eventually flake off the plastic. Liquid Nails is the ONLY adhesive I would recommend for this job and even then I don't know the long term.

It must be the PUTTY style ORIGINAL Liquid Nails formula. The clear formula will not work. The clear formula is similar to E6000 which also does not work on vinyl. Eventually the clear craft adhesives will all fall off.

So... clean the doll first. Remove any oils. Cut a piece of fabric to fit over the area plus allow for a generous amount of fabric around the crack: for extra reinforcment. Smear the Liquid Nails all over the fabric on one side (it's ok if it's somewhat thick) and apply very soon and very quickly. If you need to wrap fabric or plastic or something around the doll to hold your patch down and keep everything together, that's probably a good idea.

Then allow several days to dry and cure. Later you can paint your patch if you want to, or cover it up with panties or clothing. I painted the brown patch, above, with spray paint to cover up the glue smears.

CASE HISTORY #2 ~ Here is the bottom portion of a nice Brikette doll with a serious break in the hip.

First I reinforced the INSIDE of the hip with my Liquid Nails bandage.

Then I reinforced the outside of the hip with a Liquid Nails bandage. First I had to restring her while I could still get inside the parts. And, I carefully inserted the leg before applying the outside patch.

You can see that I smeared some additional Liquid Nails on top of the bandage to stiffen it some more, so it's like wearing a plaster cast almost.

I waited a week to make sure the adhesive was fully dry and cured before I did anything else with her.

I made floral panties that match her bandage. Now you can't see her "operation."

Here she is, the large size Brikette is looking very pretty. We sold her, showing photos of the repair, so the customer knew what we had done. Some dolls are rare enough that they are worth going to extra measures to fix them.

This is a Playpal type doll that had a cracked shoulder. She was my first experiment using fabric and Liquid Nails as repair bandage. I did this a few years ago. The bandage has stayed on and it keeps the arm in place very well.

Should children play with dolls that have repairs like this?
I don't recommend it. I don't know how these repairs would hold up with rough child play. And, I don't know if it would pass health safety requirements. This tutorial is provided for adult collectors who want to repair their special display dolls.

Copyright (c) 2002, 2012 Cynthia Stevens All Rights Reserved