Help Heal This Toy Crocodile
November 7, 2010 2:51 PM   Subscribe

Toy crocodile is injured. Child is hysterical. Please help me repair.

Note: all links lead to photos.

This super affable toy crocodile, who's served so well for so long, is having health problems. First of all, his jaws (hard white plastic) are no longer firmly seated in his outer skin (green half-soft vinyl-ish material).

His jaws are loosely held in because they're folded in and under a skin flap, but the glue holding them in place has faded. This is hardly critical, but it's certainly not a situation befitting a noble crocodile like this. So: what glue is best to hold the jaws in tightly?

There's also a separate and much more critical issue. He's had a severe dental incident, as you can see here.

This break had been previously repaired with crazy glue gel, but it rebroke. Attempts were made to reglue, after patiently removing leftover superglue via nail polish remover. But it's no longer a clean break and it's not gluing well.

So the plan (presented for your consideration and feedback) is to once again remove the superglue and then very lightly sandpaper each side of the break so that there's a better gluing surface. Then repeat gluing with superglue gel, and, finally, insert jaws back into head with whichever glue is recommended per above........though, come to think of it, I'm not 100% sure I'll glue the jaws into the head after all, since in so doing I'll make it impossible to perform future surgeries (any thoughts re: non-glue options to keep the jaws better seated in the skin?).
posted by Quisp Lover to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (26 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Supeglue is best for repair of non-flexible materials. I can't quite tell what you are dealing with from your pictures, but it looks like it has some flex. Superglue will crack with flexation. Your local big box hardware store should have something better suited for the material -- maybe liquid-steel or something similar.
posted by rtimmel at 3:07 PM on November 7, 2010

I've had good luck with Gorilla Glue on all kinds of things.

It's hard to judge your plan without actually seeing the thing, really. The pictures show just part of the problem. Frankly, I have two concerns: one is whether Child chews on alligator in any way, leading to ingestion of bits of hardened or softened synthetic glue. The other is that sometimes, Child needs to learn that things break and can't be fixed, so Child has the option to keep the broken bits or move on to other objects of affection.
posted by beagle at 3:07 PM on November 7, 2010

You could try some kind of rubbery glue like silicone sealant or Shoe Goo to glue the jaws back to the skin.

I would try using some kind of welding glue like testors to put the jaws back together.

I don't know how young your child is, but if they might put the toy in their mouth you might want to check the MSDS for the glues you're using.
posted by gregr at 3:08 PM on November 7, 2010

Use a two-part filler epoxy instead of superglue gel. You might also want to glue a small, flat piece of plastic under the fracture point in the jaw; this will strengthen it significantly. Lastly, small velcro strips glued onto the jaw and body might hold the jaw in place while making it removable for repairs.
posted by Behemoth at 3:08 PM on November 7, 2010

Could you try some orthodontics? Use crazy glue again, but also use some kind of wire (not sure what kind) to loop it over the four individual back teeth and into/through the vinyl material. Since he's an adult crocodile, you could even choose invisalign (some kind of transparent plastic wire? More clever brains than mine can probably tell you about the specific material). Not safe if Child has a tendency to chew on croc,
posted by prenominal at 3:10 PM on November 7, 2010

I'd use epoxy, because it can bridge small gaps. It has two parts, in tubes or in a double-syringe that squeezes out both parts simultaneously. You need to be careful with it, because it can be stretchy and the threads get all over your work. In the first few minutes, you can remove residue from your skin with a damp rag.

There's another type of epoxy that comes in a plastic-wrapped roll. You break off a piece of the putty and knead it to combine the two parts. If you see that type, read the label and see if it's good as an adhesive. If yes, then this would be the easiest to work with.
posted by wryly at 3:11 PM on November 7, 2010

To note: Child is well above the in-mouth age. So safety is not a factor.

Thanks, everybody, I'm absorbing....
posted by Quisp Lover at 3:12 PM on November 7, 2010

"Superglue will crack with flexation"

The two pieces of jaw shouldn't flex much once bonded.
posted by Quisp Lover at 3:13 PM on November 7, 2010

I have no idea how to fix him.


My daughter has an exact replica, which has not been played with much at all. If your poor croc can't get fixed, send me a metafilter mail, and I'll mail you the one we have. I can only imagine the horror of the favorite toy sustaining injury!
posted by Nickel Pickle at 3:29 PM on November 7, 2010 [12 favorites]

Nickel Pickle, thanks, that's extremely generous, but I already know the answer: "It wouldn't be MY crocodile!!!" Where'd you get yours, btw?

Behemoth, good advice, but what do I use to 1. glue the velcro to the plastic jaw, and 2. glue the velcro to the vinyl-ish skin?
posted by Quisp Lover at 3:31 PM on November 7, 2010

FWIW I would suggest you take Nickle Pickle up on her fantasic offer. While a replacement crocodile will never be the crocodile, a replacement crocodile will be a suitable substitute and a treasured totem of nostalgia in case there is an unfortunate Crocodile Tragedy later down the line.

Trust me on this. Original Sock Monkey was my constant companion through childhood, my teen years, college, expatriation, and marriage and finally fell to the jaws of my dog after more than 35 years. Inferior Sock Monkey was given to me when I was about 8 in the hopes he would replace Original Sock Monkey, who even at that early stage was worn, dirty, patched and bedraggled, but I was having nothing of it. Now, however, I am glad Inferior Sock Monkey was around - unloved, in a drawer - when I was a child because he at least comes with some history. He's not just a replacement; he knew Original Sock Monkey!
posted by DarlingBri at 3:45 PM on November 7, 2010 [11 favorites]

Where'd you get yours, btw?

He was a gift from a friend in NYC. I sent him an email to ask where the croc was purchased, will report back with any findings.

As far as the gluing the velcro to the plastic jaw, at the hobby store you should be able to find some velcro with an adhesive backing. That or maybe several pieces of two sided tape since it is temporary while the glue dries.
posted by Nickel Pickle at 4:28 PM on November 7, 2010

After the jaw gets mended (a small piece of stiff wire could act as a brace) I'd think about stitching the jaw to the flap with a piece of fishing line, or similar clear thread. Just a few stitches on either side. I'm thinking stitch from inside the jaw, up through the outside green vinyl, around the teeth, and back inside the jaw. Rotate the knots to face inside, and I think it would work fairly well. They could be snipped to allow more dental work in the future.
posted by fontophilic at 4:29 PM on November 7, 2010

I am in full agreement on taking Nickel Pickle up on the offer. Just today at lunch my 24 year old daughter got choked up remembering the loss of Jennifer, her beloved babydoll, who was cruelly (although inadvertently) abandoned on an airplane ... 20 years ago.
posted by thinkpiece at 5:07 PM on November 7, 2010

Maybe sugru?
posted by you're a kitty! at 5:15 PM on November 7, 2010

Re the "not MY crocodile" problem... When my cousin's Raggedy Ann doll became disgusting, my Aunt announced that she needed a bath. The two of them would carefully bathe the doll using lots and lots of bubbly soap. When she was all clean, my Aunt would dry her in a huge towel--in which she had previously secreted a new Raggedy Ann doll--and then: Voila! The bath did its job! My cousin never caught on and this worked several times.
posted by carmicha at 5:52 PM on November 7, 2010 [11 favorites]

Nickel Pickle's crocodile might make a good tooth donor after a few more dental incidents, too.
posted by mendel at 6:24 PM on November 7, 2010

Sheesh, mendel, that's dark! Cloning crocs for parts!!

Sugru looks cool! But it cures as hard as glue, so it's out for this purpose, I think (if I'm trying to preserve the possibility of future dental procedures).

Nickel, I'm not sure mere sticky-backing on velcro would be long term viable (I'll ask at the hobby store for alternatives). Also, the notion of sewing holes in Crocodile would be a non-starter with The Owner.

Also, Nickel, can I defer your kind offer until after the surgery? All focus must be on that during this difficult time (hey, you don't start scouting around at orphanages just because your kid's running a high fever!).
posted by Quisp Lover at 6:49 PM on November 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

You could mail it to the crocodile hospital and he could come back in the mail (from Nickel Pickle) all fixed. Kids can rationalize a lot if they want to... My son's favorite teddy bear got destroyed in a house fire. We got one on ebay that was almost the same but taller and thinner. My son said, "well, he would have grown a bit since I last saw him..." Whatever works for you, kid.

They do make "industrial-strength" velcro. It's black and stiffer and harder to pull apart than regular velcro.
posted by artychoke at 8:20 PM on November 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

To add to my above comment, the industrial velcro is strong enough to securely attach my cordless phone base to my side table. It's been there for years and I bang into it all the time. The trick would be having enough surface area of both crocodile and teeth to make it work.

Also, I did not mean actually mail the old crocodile away, of course. That would be lunacy. You could make a crocodile hospital gown and mail THAT to Nickel Pickle to dress the replacement in. (The American Girl Doll Hospital mails repaired dolls back in a hospital gown.) Given enough measurements, I could make a crocodile hospital gown and mail it to Nickel Pickle. I even have blue and white striped pajama fabric. And then we could make some joke about how many mefites it takes to repair a crocodile.
posted by artychoke at 8:54 PM on November 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

You could check if there's a toy or collectibles repair shop in your area, for suggestions on glue at least. (Remember to clean the croc well before any gluing.) And I would totally take Nickel Pickle up on his offer, as you can never have too many crocodiles to play with.
posted by nicebookrack at 9:53 PM on November 7, 2010

"Superglue will crack with flexation"

The two pieces of jaw shouldn't flex much once bonded.

Sorry, Quisp Lover, you're underestimating the point: if it flexes AT ALL, superglue is not appropriate. Thus, it's NEVER the ideal choice for plastic repairs.

Glues intended to fix plastics are your best bet. Model airplane glue, for instance. However, there are some plastics that are so freaking ... (word, word, what is word...) slippery (eh, will do) that nothing seems to stick.

Best of luck.

And, for future reference: new orthodontics are possible, but don't attempt a trachiotomy.

Poor Opie, my giraffe, was never the same.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:26 PM on November 7, 2010

If it's hard plastic, you might try model glue. My ex told me it sort of melts the pieces of plastic together somehow so it's very strong.
posted by stray thoughts at 12:16 AM on November 8, 2010

Suguru does not cure as hard as glue, it's a rubbery, silicony type feel to it. You can actually peel it and rip it if you use enough force.
Back on subject, you need to use a thin piece of plastic (something like the little red stick from the plastic cheese cracker packs?) and epoxy that with a 2-part epoxy for plastic from the hardware store.

To re-attach the jaws...the mouldable epoxy suggested above may do it, it cures hard though, IIRC. Gorilla glue will hold plastics together quite well (don't use too much, clamp it) you will never get it apart again.
posted by defcom1 at 4:02 AM on November 8, 2010

Chiming in to recommend E-6000, which is a vaguley silcone-y glue I use in making jewelry. This stuff HOLDS. You can get it at a craft store. It is a little stinky when you are using it, but that clears up when it dries.
posted by sarajane at 9:54 AM on November 8, 2010

Ok, much more knowledgeable, thanks to this discussion, I went to a small local craft store, and the owner, who was really geeky and bright-seeming and enthusiastic about it all, said that NOTHING could do a good job of bonding the broken jaw together if there might be any stress at all on it. He gave me some mumbo jumbo about the sort of material this is, and how nothing works on it.

But when I suggested the idea of gluing on a splint (thanks, you guys!), he thought that would be fine, and sold me a thin slab of plastic to serve as the splint. He told me to clean all pieces thoroughly, rough them with steel wool, and just use crazy glue gel on everything.

As for planting the jaws more firmly in the skin, he recommended rubber cement, because it will give a firm hold but will also be peel-off-able in the event further surgery is necessary down the line.
posted by Quisp Lover at 4:57 PM on November 8, 2010

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