Saturday, September 8, 2018

My Arranbee Nanette and A Little Bit About Hard Plastic Disease

  The other day I posted about my flea market haul. One of the dolls I mentioned was a hard plastic Nanette doll by Arranbee.


I said there was a problem with her. Well,today we're going to talk about the problem,as I promised you at the end of that post. To start with, she does have two problems. The first one I think I could deal with.She is a walker doll, and her mechanism seems to work. In other words, her head turns when her leg mechanism is moved. Normally though,you would move that mechanism by moving her legs. Well,her legs have moved themselves...right off her body. 

There is a piece broken off the one,but it's here and I'm sure that could be repaired.

However,I think the walking mechanism should be attached to her legs by the metal rods being inserted into holes in the plastic piece at the top of her legs. Those bits seem to broken and won't hold the rods in anymore. 

If anybody knows anything about this,please let me know.

She has a worse  problem though,one that may not  be fixable. ***NOTE: Please read the comment by Dorothy in PA below,explaining advice from a talk given by doll doctor concerning three types of doll 'diseases',including Hard Plastic Disease, and use your good judgement on dealing with your dolls with the problems mentioned. ***When I found her she was so pretty that I snatched her up right away. When I found out her price I was so excited,(and her detached legs weren't noticeable because of her long dress and because they were rubber banded to her body. 

But even with these problems I wouldn't have worried about it because of the price.),that I stuck her in my cart so quickly that I didn't notice her other problem until later.

Her other problem was a weird odor. Ok. She stinks. She smells funky. I'm hoping it's her wig,because I've heard of that.

 I only hope her particular doll B.O. isn't a thing called Hard Plastic Disease. Hard Plastic Disease was originally called Pedigree Plastic Disease,after the Pedigree dolls it was originally discovered in. The cause is debated. It could be because of the unstable plastics of the time. It could be caused by a reaction between plastic and metal joints or eyes. Some think it's from storing the dolls in damp places,places with high humidity,or warm,moist places. In any case,as the plastic breaks down it attracts and feeds a bacteria,which causes the problems. That seems to be a later theory than this 1996 article from NewScientist:
  The first symptom of Hard Plastic Disease is the smell,usually described as a vinegar or acetone smell,or lingering stink. I've also seen it described as a cheese smell,and a vomit smell. I wouldn't say my Nanette smells like vinegar or acetone,or even vomit. It's more just a funky stink.
  Other symptoms include fading limbs,cracks around the nose,roughening around the wrists,pinkish blotches, or a pink or red dent on the doll's nose. Extreme symptoms include white crusty patches on the surface of the doll, and a brown liquid oozing from the dolls eye sockets and joints as it actually starts to dissolve. Sometimes the doll warps and becomes totally misshapen.
  The worst part about HPD? It's contagious! Storing a doll with HPD with other hard plastic dolls can cause the other dolls to catch HPD. Ack!  Is there any good news? Yes,some. HPD only affects hard plastic dolls,so you don't have to worry about your vinyl dolls catching it. They have enough problems of their own,so that's good. Not all hard plastic dolls will necessarily develop HPD. In fact, the more you get them out and play with them the better,rather than containing them to a sealed display case where they won't get any air. But if you do have a doll with HPD,always wash your hands after handling it,as you can spread it to other hard plastic dolls by handling them after handling a doll with HPD.
  More good news: There are some treatments to keep HPD at bay and remove the smell. Some collectors suggest cleaning the inside and outside of the doll,using disinfectant or antibacterial cleaner. (But not bleach,as bleach will remove the dolls colour.) You can also use an alkaline substance to clean the doll,like baking soda and water. (Be careful not to scrub the outside of your doll with this mixture as the baking soda is a mild abrasive.) Be careful not to use an acidic product like vinegar which can make things worse. Thoroughly clean the inside  of the doll,where the disease starts, and allow to dry completely. Repeat as many times as needed. There is a product called D-Stink which is also suggested. It can be bought at
      After cleaning the doll until you have lessened the smell as much as possible,make sure the doll is completely dry, and use a clear acrylic sealant or a matte finish lacquer on the inside of the doll, making sure to cover all of the area. Hopefully this will keep the oxygen, that the bacteria feeding on the decomposing plastic live on, from reaching them. If the doll continues to break down to the point of the smell returning or the brown ooze phase appears,you will probably have to throw the doll away. It's been suggested that breathing the odor can be bad for your health. 
  If anybody has any more current knowledge about HPD,please leave a comment.


  1. Sorry I can't help, but I hope this poor girl can be saved.

  2. Dear Tam, wow, I didn't know anything about this. Thanks for this information. I do have some old dolls in boxes. I don't know in what condition they are. I guess I better check.

    I am going to a doll convention in MD later this month. I will see if anyone has heard of this. If I learn anything, I will share it with you.

    1. Yes.Please do. Maybe they have made some advancements on saving these dolls by now. It's a shame to think that all those beautiful dolls will just stinkily fade away.

  3. As promised, I am posting information about doll “diseases.”

    I recently attended a UFDC Region 11 convention in Maryland. I went to the seminar given by Brian Taggerty, President of the Doll Doctors’ Association.

    I specifically asked him about three doll “diseases:” 1) Sweaty/Sticky Doll Syndrome, 2) Smelly Doll Syndrome, and 3) Hard Plastic Disease. Here are his comments.

    1) Sweaty Doll Syndrome - It is the vinyl in the doll that is making her sticky. Vinyl is not water soluble. Use 409 to clean the doll. (Other doll doctors suggest using less harsh products. You decide.) You may have to repeat the process every few months.

    2) Smelly Doll Syndrome - Bacteria develops in the doll that eats the plasticizer. It produces a smell akin to vomit. Once infected, the doll is contagious to other dolls of the same material. The doll should be discarded.

    3) Hard Plastic Disease - Dolls with this disease often turn gray. They are not contagious. There are no known products that permanently reverse this disease. The doll should be discarded.

    You can do a Google search for contact information on Brian and/or the Association. Brian appeared on CBS’s Sunday Morning a few years back. There is a Youtube video of the interview that you can watch.

    I hope this helps.

    1. Hmm. Where does that leave my girl I wonder? She doesn't smell like vomit, just a kind of funky smell. Maybe,(hopefully!),it's just her wig. I'll have to look into that. Thanks for the information. I'm directing reader of this post to check out your comment for more information. They'll have to use their own judgement,especially where dolls with sentimental value are concerned.


Thanks in advance for your comments.