August Tip of the Month: Caring for Batteries in Dolls and Toys

A great many of our valuable collectables are battery operated. Vanda has a few dolls that are and I have several vintage and newer toys such as robots and walking, jumping animals etc that are powered by batteries. They are not things that we use every day so they are often left sitting on a shelf on display or they are packed away. Therefore it is all too easy to forget to remove the batteries. It can be devastating to discover leaking batteries and a destroyed battery terminal in any expensive toy let alone a valuable collectable so today we are going to explore what can be done to help this situation.

If any of you are Toy Story fans you might remember the first movie where Woody held a meeting before Andy’s family moved house. One of the points raised was the removal of all batteries or it could have been to check them. Well, this is very valuable advice from our friend Woody. Before I moved here to Oatlands from Adelaide I went through just about everything I owned that was battery operated and took out all the batteries. I can’t stress how important that is if your collectables will be in storage. My belongings were packed for months. I thought I had been very careful but I did find one poor robot that I had somehow missed and his battery terminals were ruined. I was able to salvage him so more on that one later. Prevention is better than cure so always do this.

  • Remove all batteries before packing anything. It might be a long while before you get around to unpacking. Remember this is a big job.
  • Get into the habit of checking all batteries in your collectables on a regular basis.
  • Remove flat batteries immediately
  • Don’t leave the batteries in anything you don’t intend to use for a while

    Don’t let this happen to you! Photo by Vanda


Well as I said this did happen to me one time and the battery compartment of a walking robot was ruined. There are a few things that can be done. If the damage is not too bad it might be possible to clean the battery compartment. There are various things that can be used for cleaning. Of course, if the corrosion has eaten away the metal you will need to replace the terminals. For cleaning a battery compartment you can try the following from these sites. They offer very good information and explain the process very well. If your batteries are stuck inside the toy they also tell you how you might get them out using Coke!

I hope you will find the above websites helpful. You can also find some demonstrations on how to clean corroded battery terminals on YouTube. Here is one that I found.

In some cases, you might have to replace the battery terminals altogether. A friend of mine did this with the robot I mentioned earlier. I had hoped to get his step by step plan of how to do this but he has not yet given it to me for this article so I have done a bit of research online instead. This guide may be of some use to those willing to give it a go themselves.

It might also be possible to take battery-operated toys or mechanical toys that no longer work to a clock repairer. There is one in Launceston that repairs and restores old clocks, music boxes and toys. Many clocks use batteries these days so it might be worthwhile giving them a call and having a chat. If they can’t help they might be able to put you on the track of somebody who does. You can also contact other collectors, clubs and societies who deal with anything that is battery powered. You never know who you might be put in touch with. You might even make a new friend through your shared interests. Good luck with your battery-powered items.

I should like to thank all of the people who have gone to the trouble of writing and sharing their knowledge on this topic. It will be of great help to many I am sure.




  1. Thanks for this! I know it’s weird to some but I start going through x-mas stuff in July, and as I was delayed by more estate issues I forgot to check my battery operated Santa to be sure I’d removed them before storing him. You have reminded me! So he can snore to his hearts content as he is meant to do.

    Liked by 2 people

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