I've had this since 1995 or so , always kept it cool and out of the light but last year he started coming apart as you can see, he has gotten pretty stiff all over ,
is there a way to repair it or should i just let him go quietly into the night...
There are ways to patch these things, but it will continue to degrade.
What we've done in the past:
- replacing or adding more fill material (usually poly fiber fill or soft foam bits)
- or sometimes removing some fill - sometimes it's packed tightly, under pressure, and causes the weakening latex to explode
- wrap or patch with muslin, cheesecloth, or non-stick bandaging
- seal and cover with liquid latex or silicone sealant
- repaint and tone to match as best as possible
Sometimes you can fill small holes or cracks with silicone sealant (think caulk gun stuff).
It's a PITA, and again the bits you don't cover will continue to break down. Some people here report success with coating the whole piece with a silicone seal, but I'm not sure what that's going to do A) on something already going and B) over the long term.
Have you tried a petroleum jelly? Not sure if that would affect the latex but we have used Vaseline on vinyl car dashes before to keep them from deteriorating and it works great. It does attract dirt however. As far as the damage done, maybe stitch them together with some jute cord to give it a Frankenstein look.
To help slow down damage, I recommend a UV protectant such as UV Tech. It's designed to protect, repair, rejuvenate, and "re-plasticize" a variety of materials including latex (fiberglass, rubber, nylon, plastics). You can use it for dive gear, camping gear, all sorts of stuff. I use it on my latex and plastic props before I put them out, and again before I store them away. I have some pretty old latex props that still look good, so I do think it helps. I use it both on the decorations that go outside in the sunshine, and the stuff that decorates the inside of the house.
Good luck with your repairs!
any thought to using flex seal? The clear stuff would give it a coat and may keep some of the other areas from deteriorating, and once the holes are patched, it will give it a uniform color that you can work off of to start your repainting process.