When you want to fluff up loved fur, remove stains, fix tears and replace missing parts.
I've wanted to make this for a very long time! I will link to the post later if I find it, but I haven't written about plush restoration in quite a while, since my most famous project, restoring Dr. Raikou. He is gigantic and took many, many repetitive sessions over the course of a year to fully restore. This guide will focus on normal-sized plush.
So I present my three subjects, from left to right: Potatochu, Specialchu and Yellowchu! I realized I should do this tutorial after I had already begun a bit, so the "before" pics are already a bit wet but... let's continue anyway.
This tutorial can help you fix up nappy and loved fur, dirty/smelly old plush, and torn and cut up plush. The following three EXTREMELY rare plush all exibit such traits. These are methods I have used before and am now using on very, very rare, almost one of a kind dolls.
First step is to gather towels, a new toothbrush, some bowls, and some wicked 80's and 90's soft rock. Dirty old Potatochu recommends a good solid RUSH playlist.
I like to use warm water and a mild laundry detergent. If your plush is very smelly, you can pick a fragrant one, but I warn you you'll get sick of the smell after all this. I chose an unscented detergent and made up a mixture half detergent and half water. No need to make it frothy or well-mixed. It'll do its job just slightly swirled.
Dip your toothbrush in and start scrubbing away. If your plush's fur has a definite direction to it (as minky does) I recommend brushing WITH the grain. If it's the kind of generic cheapy plush fabric on my guys, I go in a circly swirling motion. It actually helps get the nap out if you go back and forth, and sometimes if too nappy, impossible to tell which direction the grain is going anyway until later.
Don't forget behind the ears!
If you have a particularly stubborn stain or suspect something was spilled into the doll (Example: Doctor Raikou had had something spilled into him, something brown, and it had to be soaked and squeezed out bit by bit. His blue tail was almost totally brown), you can sit it in water and soap and let it soak for a bit. Specialchu wishes I'd chosen a bigger cup for this demonstration, even though he had no stubborn stains.
RINSE RINSE RINSE. Rinse until NO MORE SOAP remains in the doll. This can take a while with many repeated GENTLE squeezings. You wouldn't leave soap in your hair all day, and your doll doesn't want soap in his fur forever. It will also make it gross and scummy later. So rinse until totally clean!
Pat dry with a towel until merely damp. Then I like to take a fine-toothed plastic comb to begin currying the fur. This doesn't mean coating it in Indian spices. It means turning it sideways and going back and forth through the fur, detangling and denapping it. Sorry for the weird angle, Specialchu.
BE CAREFUL when doing this. Don't catch any seams in the comb, or you'll yank them out. Don't go over plastic eyes or you'll scratch off paint. Be firm but gentle. Don't just hack away. Remember, these plush may be very old and may have been swung around by their limbs, meaning their fabric is stretched to a breaking point. Too hard a poke can create holes. Use the side of the comb!
Also do the combing while your plush is still damp. This will help it stay untangled once fully dry, similar to your own hair. You know what happens if you sleep with wet hair that's not been combed! Same for your plush: so curry it fluffy while damp.
One leg curried, the other not yet worked. See the difference?
Here he is almost all done except for one ear and a bit.
It's easiest to do this all in your lap. But be warned if you don't use enough towels.
While Specialchu dries a bit (you can use a hairdyer to help them along, just be careful!), let's go to Yellowchu, who I only partially scrubbed down. He had lots of excess glue around his mouth and cheek areas, leading me to believe he had cheeks (he did come with a mouth, but it was frayed and falling apart, so I will replace it). His lightning bolt tail has also been chopped off and needs replacing.
Try to find a fabric of a consistency and matching color to your doll's other parts. For example, satin would not look right on this sort of fabric, but felt works just fine! I was happy with the tail and cheeks, but did try a few mouth shapes.
With Specialchu as they both dry some more and wait.
Let's look at Potatochu. He's dirty, his tail's black cord was cut through, and his fur is quite loved, and full of tiny holes, too, but it's not as naturally fluffy as the other two, so it will be a bit harder to fix up.
Scrub scrub scrub!
After rinsing and repeating the same steps above, he sits with his brothers. It is time to sew.
Specialchu's paw is almost halfway ripped off. He came to me this way and I delayed fixing it until I was ready to do a tutorial. Here is the rip:
I like to use a hidden stitch to fix areas like this. A hidden stitch will be HIDDEN! if done properly. This is a method taught to me by the guiding hands of renowned plush artist Baby London Star. It's the best stitch around!
First, make sure you use a thread that matches as best you can. It's just more professional! This won't make hidden stitch totally clear, but maybe googling a good tutorial would help if you can't catch it from my photos. Stitch like so, from side to side of the ripped pieces.
When you pull the thread tight....wao!
Check out these cute paws!
I sewed the tails up, the cheeks on, and picked a final mouth for Yellowchu. Specialchu's mouth was also mostly fallen off, so I replaced that too. I also used hidden stitch on all of Potatochu's tears as well. How do they look? This is after a full night of drying completely, BTW :) Always give them extra time in a warm or sunny place to get out any remaining moisture. We don't want mold growing :(
"Do you love me now? Keep reading for photos of us with our brothers who didn't get as screwed up as we did!"
As Specialchu promised, I redid my photos of these fellows. They are what the community voted to call "Mirage Plush", rare, usually-European novelty dolls from crane machines and festivals.
When I began my Germanchu collection (most of them have come from Germany), I suspected these dolls were made by Play-by-Play in 2000-ish. This original suspicion was left on my site to speculate, but after lack of evidence and all tush tags being chopped off, I gave up. German PKMNcollectors had told me they saw these Germanchus sold at festivals celebrating Pokemon Yellow's release. Good enough for me to have that much info.
Yellowchu arrived yesterday. I had him for 2 hours before I REALLY looked. And stared. And gaped. And then pumped my fist into the air with VICTORY.
HIS TUSH TAG HAS NOT BEEN CHOPPED OFF.
And he is an official Play by Play plush made in 2000.
Come see what this tag says (it's quite interesting), how I know it's not a cheapo tag tossed on by bootleggers, and for more pics of all the Raichus together.
As I said before, German PKMNcollectors had told me that they saw these Raichus at festivals. I shrugged with my lack of evidence otherwise and because of how random these guys are (different colors and fabrics and eye buttons and nose buttons on every single one, aah!) and assumed some independent company or the people running the festival themselves had made them.
I've never seen a Play by Play tag like this, but there it is. It just has too many details that match EXACTLY what those members said for it to be an added-on official tag to a bootlegged doll. I have seen bootleggers do this, but it was always photocopy looking, and had very minimal details, or was a very commonly seen tag.
Notice this is from the Valencia, Spain branch of PBP. And also "For amusement parks and traveling fairs only." Traveling fairs only? Wow!!
More shots of Yellowchu :) I photographed him separately from the other Germanchus, as he is so yellow, and I put my more orange one also in a separate category. For lack of a better idea, I have indeed categorized them by how orange they are.
The miracle tag butt, with the restored tail too :)
Hi yella fella!
How yellow is he compared to the other shades? Let's look.
Specialchu wants you to check out him and his middle-orange brothers.
Three sizes of Germanchu. Specialchu is the only one that tiny that I have ever seen.
What about Potatochu? He's a slightly varied shade of Raichu von Pokemon, my original potatochu. Potatochu is the slightly lighter orange one.
Notice his fur is less orange, but his yellow bits more yellow, except for his cheeks which are lighter, what the heck is going on with these guys?! It's too consistant to be related to sunfading, and it's like some parts just got switched around...what?!?!
Best friends anyway!
THANK YOU for checking out my tutorial and reading into the mysteries of these Raichus. Hope you enjoyed, my comrades! My Germanchus thank you as well! :D