If you’ve been collecting Hot Toys figures for the past 10 years, then you’ve likely encountered the dreaded Iron Man pink panty issue. Almost the majority of their original non-diecast Iron Man figures particularly Mk III, IV, V, and VI have encountered this paint fading problem. The fading only happens to the rubber parts of the figure. This issue sucks because these figures aren’t cheap. It was also a pain to look at because the faded parts were very noticeable. In this post, I’ll show you step by step how to restore the faded parts to its original paint job.

Disassembly

Removing both legs is pretty straightforward. Just twist it back and forth until it comes off. Don’t be scared to do this since the “peg” that connects both legs to the torso uses a thicker plastic so it won’t break that easily. You’ll notice on the image how faded the paint is. Take note that this particular figure was displayed away from direct sunlight and inside a glass cabinet in an air-conditioned room.

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Notice how the faded part’s color ruins the entire figure.

Once the legs are removed, the faded part won’t come off automatically since it’s glued to the torso. Just remove it carefully until it’s completely separated from the body.

Stripping the Paint

The next step is removing the paint. I used my wife’s cuticle remover for this. I think alcohol would work fine as well. Just rub it with cotton or rag until the paint starts to come off. While doing this, you’ll notice that there’s a silver layer of paint which is important to get the metallic red look once we start painting. It’s also one of the reasons why the part looks pink when faded. Once you stripped out all the paint, you’d be surprised that the color of the material used is very much close to the red color of the entire figure. It’s up to you if you want to stop in this step, but what we want here is to replicate the original paint job like it was brand new.

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The cuticle remover works perfectly when stripping down paint. You can also use
Tamiya’s X-20A Thinner.
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The faded part looks pink because it’s already showing the silver layer of paint underneath the original paint job.
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Prepare lots of cotton balls for this step ^^;
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If rubbing doesn’t remove the paint, try using your fingernails (with the cotton or rag) to scrub the part’s surface.
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This is how it looks like once all of the paint is removed, pretty close to the red color of the entire figure. But it looks plastic and we don’t want that.

Clean the entire part thoroughly before we proceed to the next step – painting!

Prep for Painting

In order for us to do the restoration, we need the following tools and materials.

I’ll be using my Sparmax Arism Viz for painting but any airbrush-compressor combo will also work.

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This is a highly recommended product especially if you’re into model kits. I will create a separate review of this in another post.
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Its portability and performance are some of the reasons I opted for this particular model.

Doing Paint Trials

It’s not advisable to directly paint on the actual part that needs restoration without doing paint trials first. Doing trials will help us identify the correct mixture and amount of paint needed in order for us to match the color of the entire figure. There’s no correct way of doing this since there are a lot of factors involved like the airbrush and the paint you’re using. It all comes down to multiple trial and error and comparing it to the paint job of the figure until you get it right. This is where plastic spoons come in!

Here’s the main gist of the entire process.

  • Mist coat using Silver as your first layer.
  • Let it dry.
  • Mist coat using Clear Red as your second layer.
  • Let it dry.
  • Do multiple rounds of wet coat using Clear Red until it matches the figure’s paint job.

* Mist coat – Apply a thin layer of paint. (Airbrush is a bit far from your subject)
* Wet coat – Apply a thick layer of paint. (Airbrush is close to your subject)

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Here’s my first attempt. It looks good but the red is more on the lighter side. This is using one layer of wet coat using Clear Red.
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My second attempt. Pretty close but still on the lighter side of red. I’ve used three layers of wet coat for this attempt. The main technique here is to apply multiple wet coats to darken the shade of the color you’re using. In our case, it’s the Clear Red paint.
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My third attempt (Spoon on the right). I think I nailed it this time. It’s very close to the paint job of the figure. It uses five layers of wet coat using Clear Red with 25 mins drying period in between coats.

Actual Painting Process

Now that we have identified the amount and mixture of paint that we’re gonna use, it’s time to apply the same process to the part we are restoring. Like what I’ve mentioned earlier, there’s no correct way of doing this. The number of coats I did here might not give you the same result. Just do multiple trials first on plastic spoons until you’re happy with the result.

Silver Mist Coat

Similar to what we did to the spoons, we first need to apply a decent amount of Silver as the first layer of paint. The silver layer is the one that’s going to give us the metallic red look since it’s going to shine through the Clear Red paint we’re going to apply after. Think of Clear Red as a transparent red paint.

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This is where the BBQ sticks with alligator clips are handy.
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You can also use Blu Tacks as an alternative.

Let it dry.

Clear Red Mist Coat

Once the Silver layer is dry to the touch, apply a Clear Red mist coat. Remember to constantly move your airbrush while painting and never focus it on one spot to avoid uneven coats of paint.

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Make sure to cover the entire surface evenly with Clear Red and there should be no trace of Silver.

I think a single layer of Clear Red mist coat is enough, but in my case, I did a second pass (shown below). It’s up to you if you want to do this.

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Again, let it dry before proceeding to the next step which is the fun part of the entire painting process – applying the wet coat.

Clear Red Wet Coat (Multiple Passes)

This is the part where we will apply the full volume of paint to get that shiny and metallic red look. This is also the part that’s a bit tricky since you’ll have to use your own judgment when to stop applying paint since your airbrush is now very close to the subject. What we’re trying to avoid here is overdoing the wet coat to the point that the paint drips on the part’s surface. We need to make sure that we are applying the paint as evenly as possible.

It took me five passes of wet coat to get the result I want for the Mark VI since its paint job is on a lighter side of red. For the Mark IV, it took me seven passes since the paint job is a tad darker. It’s required to have a drying period of around 25 to 30 mins in between coats so plan your schedule ahead of time. I suggest doing it on a sunny afternoon.

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Clear Red wet coat third pass for Mark VI.
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Clear Red wet coat fourth pass for Mark VI.
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Clear Red wet coat fifth and final pass for Mark VI.
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Since doing wet coat uses more paint, it means it takes a longer time to dry. I suggest doing it on a sunny afternoon (like what I did here) for a faster drying period.
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I used a sponge to hold my alligator sticks into place.
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Final coat for Mark IV. Took me seven passes of wet coat to match the darker red paint job of the figure.

Results

The whole process took me a couple of hours to complete and I also left the parts to dry outside for another 24-48 hours. I had to make sure that the paint is totally dry before assembling it back together. The only thing you need to avoid is to stretch the painted part because there’s a tendency for the paint to crack – so no more dynamic poses after this. It’s an OK trade-off in my opinion vs having to look at your $250+ figure with pink underwear.

Here’s the restored Iron Man Mark VI. I think I still need another pass of wet coat to darken it a bit but It’s a LOT better compared before!

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And here’s the restored Iron Man Mark IV. I think I nailed this one perfectly in terms of color.

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And lastly, a quick before and after images. I’m very happy with the results and I also saved a lot of $$$ because I don’t have to buy the diecast version of these figures anymore haha! XD

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I hope this post helped some of you collectors out there. For any additional questions, let’s discuss it in the comments section down below.