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Bricks fading / yellowing in the sun

haydukehayduke PhiladelphiaMember Posts: 55
I'm starting to put some thought into what I want to do with my winter village this year. The place I had it last (first) year was perfect, and I'd really like to do it in the same place. Thanks to all the knowledge I've gained since joining this forum, however, I'm not sure if in hindsight it is a good idea.

The spot is on a nice and deep window ledge in front of a big 6' window. The window gets full sun, but only in the late afternoon. I only intend to have the village up from Thanks Giving (late November) through New Years, so just a bit over a month. Is that just a bad idea or is a month of a couple hours of December sunshine (I should also say I'm northeast America, so sun doesn't get too high in December) for a month a year not a big deal?



  • FowlerBricksFowlerBricks USAMember Posts: 1,702
    My Lego room (and bedroom) gets considerable sunlight throughout the entire day, though not directly, as from a skylight, and I have never had any problems with bricks fading or yellowing. 
  • GallardoLUGallardoLU USAMember Posts: 644
    My village spent around 4 months in similar light. For a couple years. I didn't notice much at first but this past winter some of the white bricks used for snowscape had a noticeable tint and had to be turned around to hide it. 

    The most technical answer is that any direct sun can damage the bricks. As the amount goes up the visible damage will too. If it's 1 month a year at shortest light, you'll probably last 3 or 4 years before the damage can really be seen. 
  • haydukehayduke PhiladelphiaMember Posts: 55
    Thanks for the info! Any idea if this is the type of discoloring that can be corrected with peroxide?
  • CyberdragonCyberdragon Maryland, U.S.AMember Posts: 527
    There are chemicals that can repair yellowed ABS. Retr0Brite is the most popular.
  • BumblepantsBumblepants DFWMember Posts: 6,983
    I corrected used bricks with the peroxide method and it worked great. Pulled them out of storage (where it got no light at all) and they had all reverted to their original discoloration.
  • akunthitaakunthita USAMember Posts: 1,038

    In my experience, even a few hours of direct sun can damage LEGO. You may not see it instantly, but you put it in  a sunny, place then put it away in storage, and later when you pull it back out, it's all yellowed. Not fun...

    I also remember reading that the Retrobrite method can be done once and it works, but it is a chemical process that weakens the bricks, so it's not recommended to do it repeatedly.

    Why don't you put a nice backdrop behind the village? Like a poster board with mountains, and a skyline, or something like that. It would serve the purpose of blocking the sun, while also providing a nice frame. Or something like a shadowbox would also work.

  • LuLegoLuLego UKMember Posts: 1,010
    @hayduke I am in a similar position with the area I want to set up as it does get some afternoon sun. But I’ve already decided what I’m doing...
    i bought the WV sets to display and I take great pleasure in displaying these. I still get excited every time I open the ‘christmas box’ and get the sets out.
    Id much rather display them and enjoy them than keep them mint in their boxes - they spend enough of the year stored away.

    Think of the bricks... it’s is their Christmas destiny and they’d be sad if they didn’t fulfil their seasonal duty!

  • haydukehayduke PhiladelphiaMember Posts: 55
    @akunthita Ugh... well, good to know if true. A backdrop has some potential but I doubt my own artistic skills to make something that is appealing enough yet also fits with legos. I'll have to do some digging to see if I can find some examples of what others might have done.

    @LuLego I agree, they will be displayed no matter what. They are really the thing that got me (back) into Lego to begin with. It's just a matter of "where" and unfortunately the second option is the dining table in the same room as said window, so still some sunlight. But on the dining table I'd be able to pull the shades closed. Perhaps I'll shoot for dining table and plan to move it to the window when we need to--hopefully on overcast days.
  • datsunrobbiedatsunrobbie West Haven , CTMember Posts: 1,698
    Adam Savage of Mythbusters fame posted an article about ABS plastic that mentions bromine being used as a flame retardant, and that depending on the mix and exposure to UV, heat, and time the bromine will oxidize and cause discoloration.

    Oxidation would explain why even pieces that have not been exposed to UV may be discolored, and why some parts even in the same set show different degrees of discoloration, since different batches of parts may have different chemical composition. 
  • flakmaniakflakmaniak Member Posts: 50
    So is it actually the UV that discolors the plastic? If so... Great, because here we've got UV-blocking windows, so... I should be set.
  • CyberdragonCyberdragon Maryland, U.S.AMember Posts: 527
    Yes, but apparently not always. Although UV is the most prevalent cause.

    Oxidation would explain why even pieces that have not been exposed to UV may be discolored, and why some parts even in the same set show different degrees of discoloration, since different batches of parts may have different chemical composition. 

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