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I recently visited my childhood home and brought back some of my old favorite stuffed animals.

One of them, Snip the Beanie Baby, has noticeable scratches/dents/nicks/chips on her eyes.

Front view of Beanie Baby showing scratched eyes Side view of Beanie Baby showing scratched eye

What is the best way to repair scratches like these without resorting to a full replacement of the eye?

Do I need to know if it is resin vs plastic? If so how can I find this out?


EDIT: In my case specifically, this toy will remain in a child-free home so I do not have to worry about choking hazards/mouth hazards. I will care a bit about toxicity because she will continued to be snuggled (and thus have human skin contact).

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The eyes are almost certainly molded thermoplastic of some kind rather than a cast resin (casting resins are too expensive and time-consuming for a high-volume, mass market item like these eyes, and are generally risky for items that may end up in a toddler's mouth). The specific plastic probably depends on how old the stuffed animal is, and where the eyes were manufactured.

Without knowing the plastic, it will be hard to fill the deep pockmarks. The fill material may not bond to the eyes, and may have a different refractive index so repairs could end up as very noticeable dots.

However, there are a couple of things that might make the damage a little less apparent. You would probably want to remove the eyes for repair and then sew them back in to avoid damaging or staining the fabric (if it's synthetic fabric, the heat suggestion will likely melt it; if it's natural material, polishing the eyes will soil it).

  • Heat: Thermoplastic can be remelted. You don't want to apply so much heat that the eyes melt into a blob; be careful to use just enough heat to soften the surface. If the heat is too high, you can scorch the surface, so use a heat gun at the low setting. Hit the surface for a few seconds until you see signs of the plastic getting shiny. Then stop and let the eyes cool back to room temperature. You can repeat this a few times. This may make some of the damage less noticeable, but don't expect to be able to have deep scratches or pockmarks level out.

  • Polishing: Fine scratches and damage with a "frosted" look that makes the damage very visible can be improved to make it less noticeable by polishing. There are plastic polishes, but you can use ordinary toothpaste, which is mildly abrasive. Polish the surface with an old toothbrush and some toothpaste. Clean off the toothpaste residue, then buff the surface with a cloth (a soft, natural material like cotton; synthetic materials may scratch the plastic). It will help, but this won't work miracles.

Or, don't "fix" it at all. This is a sentimental item. The scars tell a story. Love it for what it is and its history. Don't try to turn it into something new.

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    I like your perspective of scars telling a story. I can also pretend that she has cataracts. – Wimateeka Aug 21 at 15:02
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    Please note that rather than toothpaste, it's better to use baking soda. The recommendation to use toothpaste as a mild abrasive actually is due to the inclusion of baking soda, and not all toothpaste includes baking soda, which can lead to a sticky mess with no results! Another mild abrasive you can try is sunscreen; the higher the SPF value, the higher resultant abrasion. – Arctiic Aug 21 at 19:36
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    @Arctiic, the common abrasive in toothpaste is extremely fine silica. But you've got a good point that it's important to verify that the toothpaste contains some kind of abrasive, like silica or baking soda, or make a baking soda paste. – fixer1234 Aug 22 at 0:35
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Additional to the polishing recommended by @fixer1234, you can try to apply a thin layer of transparent nail polish - preferably extra-diluted (with acetone) for a shinier / smoother final look.

Note: depending on the exact damage, the nail polish might work even without the polishing. In case you make errors, you can easily remove it with a bit of cotton dipped in acetone. And start all over.

Warning: this solution might be unsuitable, if children still chew those beautiful eyes.

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    Nail polish could work, depending on the plastic. It would fill better if undiluted. Put a drop into each pockmark with a toothpick; enough to be proud of the surface. When it dries, it will shrink and level out. Then coat the whole surface. If the eyes are polystyrene, the nail polish should bond, but trying to remove it with acetone would attack the eyes and make a mess of the surface. If the eyes are polypropylene, the nail polish might peel off if the eyes get handled a lot, but could be OK if just be on display. It would probably stick to vinyl. – fixer1234 Aug 21 at 7:47
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    Be careful of putting acetone near plastics - some are badly attacked by it and it could make things worse – Chris H Aug 21 at 18:53
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You can try to smoothen it out with a solvent. This will not remove the scars but will smoothen them out and reduce the "white" spots caused by fragmented plastic. This will require you to re-polish the eye, after applying the solvent it may become a bit dull.

You must remove the eye for this process if the bear is made of synthetic materials. It probably is, so you cannot do this with the eye in the socket.

Any solvent you try should first be applied somewhere not-visible on the eye to see if it doesn't change the colour of the plastic.

The hard problem is finding the solvent. You can start with acetone, try it out on the edge of the eye. Another good one is tetrahydrofuran, I use it to smoothen and glue 3D printed objects.

The process will require you to dip the eye in the solvent for about 2 seconds, then use brush natural material to "paint" the top layer of diluted plastic over the eye. Then dip it again, shake the solvent away and blow on it. Do not touch the affected surface, it will leave fingerprints.

When you are satisfied, leave it to dry for a day. Only after that you can start polishing the plastic.

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  • As this is undoubtedly a "safety eye," removal without damaging the plush in any way is not possible. – Allison C Aug 24 at 13:17

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