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HomeForumsThread #16797

Take care of your figures!Expected life span of figures and aging

What is the expected life span of a good quality figure?

  • 7%Less than 20 years
  • 52%20 to 50 years
  • 19%50 to 100 years
  • 22%100 or more years
  • 27 votesVotes are public

21 replies

  • 21 replies
  • dtindcareaRegular Boarder
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    I was thinking about this topic because I was thinking about purchasing some older figures. For example, some of the figures like the Saber Triumphant Excalibur has four different production dates so are you better buying a newer release of the same figure or is an older version that has aged more going to be just as good?

    I know that there can be variation across figures even within the same production run so maybe the variations in quality vastly exceed any differences that could exist due to aging.

    Also, for a used figure aging can depend a lot on how well the figure was taken care of, displayed, and whether it was subjected to any excessive heat, light, or humidity. In addition, even figures that remain sealed in the box for years can experience deterioration and aging. I read here that PVC plastic can break down over time if it doesn't have enough oxygen in a sealed box. In addition, the windows on the figure boxes can let in light which could lead to some aging.

    The effects of time will eventually wear on figures regardless of how well they are taken care of. Thus, my poll question regarding the expected life span of figures. In one sense, the question arises whether your figures will outlive you and, of course, could lead to other questions related to estate planning, etc.

    Also, here are a few questions that could be discussed in the thread below:

    1) What is the expected lifespan of a figure, i.e., when does it deteriorate enough to become obsolete? Does the expected lifespan depend on the quality of the product and, for example, what is a cheaper SEGA figure's lifespan versus an expensive Aniplex figure?

    2) When you buy, is the age of the figure important at all in your decision making process? Or is the age mostly unimportant relative other factors? I'm talking about figures having differences in age of say (5 years). But, feel free to discuss larger age differences and whether they matter.

    3) What are the major factors that result in deterioration of figures over time? Which factors are most important? I mentioned a few in my introduction above but are there other factors I missed?

    Thanks in advance for participating in the discussion and poll!

    EDIT: Based on the excellent comments that I've received so far, it has given me more optimism that figures are likely to last a long time with proper care. How long they are good enough quality to be displayable is based on individual tastes to some extent but even here there is optimism that figures can be fixed, if flaws appear, or collectors may accept some flaws to continue to display their most-loved figures.

    As far as the poll, even though 20 to 50 years is the leading category for expected lifespan, the 50 to 100 and 100 plus categories has a substantial amount of believers. Again, the optimism is clearly evident from the poll answers.
  • kyoshinheiRegular Boarder
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    Hello and welcome to MFC,
    A quick word before I begin answering your post: forums here are mostly dead aside from a few select topics so if you want to start a discussion on MFC, I would highly recommend writing a blog article instead ;-)

    On the subject of figure aging, the short answer is that nobody can really tell.

    While some very old figures would sometime deteriorate after just a few years, production processes from the lead manufacturers became really good somewhere around 2008. Every figure I own from this period and later has shown no sign of aging so far even with very little care (I just avoid sunlight and I dust them less than once a year). Basically not enough time has passed to be able to tell how long these figures last.
    That said I mostly collect high-end scales and Figma so I can really speak for trading figures (SEGA, Taito, etc.). I would expect them to be less durable as they're made on the cheap but I've got no example to support this theory.

    In general, plastic is pretty durable (hence the environmental problems with it) and most of the time, it's the paint that will deteriorate first. Either because it's a paint that doesn't age well (gold or metallic paint on older figures in particular) or because the plastic has too much chemicals in it and as they evaporate over time they can melt some of the paint. But then again this doesn't happen much with recent figures. For example you mentionned ITEM #13777 and its multiple releases. I bought mine secondhand something like 4 years ago so I don't know if it's from the 2010 or the 2012 batch but as of today it shows no sign of leaking chemicals and the metallic paint is still as good as ever. Same goes for ITEM #5769 which I got on it's first run.

    If I have to buy a figure with multiple production runs, I won't take its production year into account as long as it's from a reputable maker. The way I see it, they show no change after 10 years so there's no reason to believe that they can't hold for another 10, 20 or more years.
  • dtindcareaRegular Boarder
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    Thanks for the advice about blogs as there is definitely a learning process regarding MFC. Although I am new to MFC, I did notice how dead a lot of the forums and it was surprising to me. However, sometimes you have to take it upon yourself to be the one to start the revival and get people discussing again. I may fail but I don't fear failure or even looking bad.

    Anyway your thoughts regarding the topic are very insightful and I learned a lot so as far as I'm concerned, this forum is already worth my efforts. Thank you.
  • ReinierRegular Boarder
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    I already have some of my older figures experiencing color fading (mostly on the hair) even though I keep them away from sunlight, I dont smoke, and I try to keep the house as free of cooking smoke as possible (I even purchased an air purifier for the room where I have my figures displayed that turns on when it defects stuff in the air). I would say less than 20 years, if your really lucky maybe 20 to 50 years. Lets not forget that washing them with water (even cold water) when cleaning the dust off of them might also slowly causing the color to fade over time.

    We also have the occasional accidental/unexpected damage to worry about every now and then.
  • Free_PhiMeta-Sentient Cyber-ImpRegular Boarder
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    The categories should be more granular.
    I think the answer is more than 20 years--but a LOT closer to 20 years than to 50.
    I'd say probably 25 years.
    The big problem is the outwelling of greasy/oily/slimy plasticizers. That has been happening on a good number of my pre-2010 figures for a couple years now. The figure might not disintegrate into a cloud of dust, but it looks a lot less attractive, with relative suddenness.
    Mind you, this medium (PVC scale bishoujo figures) is only about 15 years old!
    But your question pertained to "high quality figures," and most of my post-2010 stuff seems to be going quite strong. However, leaning and sagging become the biggest issues when they don't get all sweaty first, and those are real issues. Even if the whole figure doesn't list to one side, the outstretched limbs and hair strands do sag, in less than 20 years.
    Overall, I figure about 25 years before any good figure starts to look warped or distractingly oily.
  • spinners_groveRegular Boarder
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    dtindcarea (1 month ago) #71926866Thanks for the advice about blogs as there is definitely a learning process regarding MFC. Although I am new to MFC, I did notice how dead a lot of the forums and it was surprising to me. However, sometimes you have to take it upon yourself to be the one to start the revival and get people discussing again. I may fail but I don't fear failure or even looking bad.
    The forums/article thing is actually kind of a divisive topic right now. A lot of people are actually a little peeved that people have been using articles to ask relatively simple questions (it bumps more labor-intensive articles like reviews off the front page way faster) and have been advocating for people to use the forums more. (After all, the best way to fix a dead forum is to, you know, use the forum?) On top of that, this thread will definitely have more longevity (fitting!) if you post it here--once an article gets pushed off the main page (usually between a day and two days) then nobody ever looks at it again. So I'd say keep using the forums! We need folks like you.

    As for the actual question, I think the short answer is that it's really hard to tell? Sure, older figures (15+ years) are generally starting to look a little rough, but figures are made differently now. And if you don't keep them in the plasticizer, and you keep them dusted and out of the sun, I don't really see them going anywhere? Especially super stable figures that aren't at risk of leaning. On the other hand, it'll be interesting to see in the next ten years or so if there are certain kinds of paints or decals that hold up better than others, not to mention the comparison between companies.
  • kcf1117Regular Boarder
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    I got a couple of figures from 1996 from my cousin. The materials used on the figure might be different from the materials used nowadays so my opinion might be irrelevant. The figures were located in Hong Kong, so they were in a very humid environment with no direct sunlight. The color is still very consistent, but there are some yellow spots on the white color.

    I don't like the paintwork on the faces of some older figures. Post-2010 figures are fine for me. By the time you own the figure for more than 10-15 years, it's already worth the money you spent in my opinion. You probably would not worry too much about the small imperfection as the newer figures would look better than the older figures and you focus will be on the newer figures.
  • dtindcareaRegular Boarder
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    Free_Phi (1 month ago) #71950416The categories should be more granular.
    I think the answer is more than 20 years--but a LOT closer to 20 years than to 50.
    I'd say probably 25 years.
    The big problem is the outwelling of greasy/oily/slimy plasticizers. That has been happening on a good number of my pre-2010 figures for a couple years now. The figure might not disintegrate into a cloud of dust, but it looks a lot less attractive, with relative suddenness.


    Thanks for contributing. And, I think that's the point regarding lifespan. If you don't care at all about their appearance, some form of a deteriorated figure will probably last for 100+ years with some care. But, I'm implying a lifespan where the figure is still worth displaying. I also considered more granularity for the answers but in the end I was sort of thinking along the first reply's answer - that it was going to be difficult to be precise. So, I went with less precise answers because of that.

    Free_Phi (1 month ago) #71950416Mind you, this medium (PVC scale bishoujo figures) is only about 15 years old! But your question pertained to "high quality figures," and most of my post-2010 stuff seems to be going quite strong. However, leaning and sagging become the biggest issues when they don't get all sweaty first, and those are real issues. Even if the whole figure doesn't list to one side, the outstretched limbs and hair strands do sag, in less than 20 years.
    Overall, I figure about 25 years before any good figure starts to look warped or distractingly oily.


    Yes, I didn't even consider the leaning/sagging issue when I posted the poll. Great point!
    I've got a few Hatsune Miku racing figures with long hair and gravity will probably take a toll on that hair eventually.[url=]PICTURE #2349309[/url]
  • dtindcareaRegular Boarder
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    Reinier (1 month ago) #71950137I already have some of my older figures experiencing color fading (mostly on the hair) even though I keep them away from sunlight, I dont smoke, and I try to keep the house as free of cooking smoke as possible (I even purchased an air purifier for the room where I have my figures displayed that turns on when it defects stuff in the air). I would say less than 20 years, if your really lucky maybe 20 to 50 years. Lets not forget that washing them with water (even cold water) when cleaning the dust off of them might also slowly causing the color to fade over time.
    We also have the occasional accidental/unexpected damage to worry about every now and then.


    Sorry to hear that. I don't smoke and have an air purifier as well. I have some older figures too that I only recently purchased. They were new and in the original box but 5 to 6 years old. Although these figures were in very good shape, I do wonder a little what these figures would have looked like in 2013/2014 when they were produced. Would the colors have been a bit more vibrant? I feel like the human eye is much better at judging subtle changes like this than a camera.

    Reinier (1 month ago) #71950137We also have the occasional accidental/unexpected damage to worry about every now and then.


    Nice point about accidental damage and such. I know that I'm not the greatest at putting figures together and when I got my Saber racing figure, putting that little hair strand on the figure was giving me lots of problems. I must have dropped it about 5 times will trying to get it on my figure because I would think that it was on and then it wasn't on securely so it would just drop off. Luckily I eventually got it on without breaking it but this piece is easily broken or lost. Certain pieces on figures may not last more than 20 years or so.
  • dtindcareaRegular Boarder
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    spinners_grove (1 month ago) #71950423On top of that, this thread will definitely have more longevity (fitting!) if you post it here--once an article gets pushed off the main page (usually between a day and two days) then nobody ever looks at it again. So I'd say keep using the forums! We need folks like you.

    Thanks. I'll have to figure out the article thing because I've never done one. I found it easy to use the forum so that's one reason for starting here.

    spinners_grove (1 month ago) #71950423
    As for the actual question, I think the short answer is that it's really hard to tell? Sure, older figures (15+ years) are generally starting to look a little rough, but figures are made differently now. And if you don't keep them in the plasticizer, and you keep them dusted and out of the sun, I don't really see them going anywhere? Especially super stable figures that aren't at risk of leaning. On the other hand, it'll be interesting to see in the next ten years or so if there are certain kinds of paints or decals that hold up better than others, not to mention the comparison between companies.


    That would be very interesting and important if it was found that different companies had very different longevity of their figures or even if you found that certain features on figures lead to differences in longevity. One simple thing to ponder is whether certain things like hair color, facial expressions, clothing colors, and body skin tone on figures will decay at different rates (I'm talking the paint job). I like what you are thinking!
  • dtindcareaRegular Boarder
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    kcf1117 (1 month ago) #71998417I got a couple of figures from 1996 from my cousin. The materials used on the figure might be different from the materials used nowadays so my opinion might be irrelevant. The figures were located in Hong Kong, so they were in a very humid environment with no direct sunlight. The color is still very consistent, but there are some yellow spots on the white color.

    Your comment is not irrelevant at all. I will comment that I live in the Washington, DC area and here we have high humidity since the town was built on a floodplain/swamps. Even though we have air-conditioning during the summer, the humidity is still high inside. I also wonder if shipping figures during the summer is a bad idea because you can't control what they would be exposed to while they are in-transit.

    kcf1117 (1 month ago) #71998417By the time you own the figure for more than 10-15 years, it's already worth the money you spent in my opinion. You probably would not worry too much about the small imperfection as the newer figures would look better than the older figures and you focus will be on the newer figures.

    I agree that having a figure displayed 10-15 years, you'll get your money's worth out of it. But, since I just don't know, I do wonder if any of these figures will be worth displaying or be valuable after X years (say 50 years) and whether you should treat figure collecting more like coin collecting where some coins actually get more valuable the older they get (if they are great condition).
  • kcf1117Regular Boarder
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    dtindcarea (1 month ago) #72013100Your comment is not irrelevant at all. I will comment that I live in the Washington, DC area and here we have high humidity since the town was built on a floodplain/swamps. Even though we have air-conditioning during the summer, the humidity is still high inside. I also wonder if shipping figures during the summer is a bad idea because you can't control what they would be exposed to while they are in-transit.
    I agree that having a figure displayed 10-15 years, you'll get your money's worth out of it. But, since I just don't know, I do wonder if any of these figures will be worth displaying or be valuable after X years (say 50 years) and whether you should treat figure collecting more like coin collecting where some coins actually get more valuable the older they get (if they are great condition).


    Unlike Star War and Marvel series, the popularity of the animation along with the figures dies down fairly quickly once the series are ended. I am sure some figures' value will appreciate, but you need to pick the right figures plus the upkeep is probably more than the upkeep for coins. I hope you enjoy your collections. Just give them an adequate care. Don't give yourself too much pressure.
  • dtindcareaRegular Boarder
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    kcf1117 (1 month ago) #72059023Unlike Star War and Marvel series, the popularity of the animation along with the figures dies down fairly quickly once the series are ended. I am sure some figures' value will appreciate, but you need to pick the right figures plus the upkeep is probably more than the upkeep for coins. I hope you enjoy your collections. Just give them an adequate care. Don't give yourself too much pressure.

    Yes, I do wonder what is going to happen to all the Rem's from Re: Zero once the series is over. There as SO many Rem's and many more coming out next year. It's OK if something fades into obscurity as long as you still enjoy the figures.
  • PhillingGoodRegular Boarder
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    Older Nendoroids tend to become more brittle and I suggest to be extremely careful with them
  • dtindcareaRegular Boarder
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    PhillingGood (1 month ago) #72071551Older Nendoroids tend to become more brittle and I suggest to be extremely careful with them

    Interesting. I don't collect Nendoroids as you may have noticed from my misspelling of it. I very much like some of them, however.
  • PhillingGoodRegular Boarder
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    dtindcarea (1 month ago) #72083547Interesting. I don't collect Nendoroids as you may have noticed from my misspelling of it. I very much like some of them, however.
    I enjoy the older ones but they have major problems such as the stands don't offer much support and only have a limited amount of accessories with each figures, and as I mentioned earlier they become brittle with age. My Reimu one is extremely brittle, with the neck joint being fragile and a piece of her hair bow breaking off.
  • BeatlesPkmnFanRegular Boarder
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    So I already made a comment in the article about the same topic yesterday, but I'd like to expand on my thoughts here.

    So as I said there, in addition to collecting figures, I collect toys, some of which are vintage. My primary collection is My Little Pony and my favorites to collect are G1, the original ones from the 80's. These are children's toys made for little girls to play with, that despite the flaws that have come with age (and many flaws brought upon them by children such as haircuts), still have a sizable collecting community who display these toys, and some even still go for higher amounts of money secondhand, even with notable flaws. Many of these ponies are faded or discolored, many have little brown or neon spots on them that appear during age. And like figures they also go through plasticizer leakage. But we still collect and display them.

    Going back to anime figures, in comparison, these are intended to be displayed collectibles, rather than playthings. They're therefore made better, and are also more recent than these vintage toys people collect. So I think they will likely take longer to display discoloring flaws on average compared to these toys. With that being said, I will now answer the individual questions asked in the OP.

    dtindcarea (1 month ago) #71904908
    1) What is the expected lifespan of a figure, i.e., when does it deteriorate enough to become obsolete? Does the expected lifespan depend on the quality of the product and, for example, what is a cheaper SEGA figure's lifespan versus an expensive Aniplex figure?


    I don't think this is really something we can put a number on. Plastic takes a long, long time to decompose (which is the reason why it's considered to be an issue for the environment). Of course with time anything will get flaws from age, much like how many vintage toys get discolored over time like I was talking about before, but as a result, people who collect toys just lower our standards for what's considered to be a display-worthy toy as flaws become more and more common. The figure collecting community will need to do the same thing some decades down the road whenever the figures out now become more common flawed than they are mint. It's just what you've gotta do. The definition of what a display worthy figure is will need to change with time and people will need to be okay with displaying some that might be discolored or have some plasticizer leakage. As for how long until like, they're outright obsolete, I guess that'd be whenever they're almost entirely decomposed. Which being plastic, would be after we're dead anyway.

    dtindcarea (1 month ago) #71904908
    2) When you buy, is the age of the figure important at all in your decision making process? Or is the age mostly unimportant relative other factors? I'm talking about figures having differences in age of say (5 years). But, feel free to discuss larger age differences and whether they matter.


    Since I collect vintage toys, figure age is irrelevant for me. They're just more older things that I own alongside my vintage ponies, dolls, and Care Bears. At the moment, my oldest scale is ITEM #7432, who is in alright shape for the most part. Her only flaw was a missing hand which was due to the glue getting loose and the hand getting lost (I bought her with it missing), so I then sculpted and painted her a new (not very good I admit) one. I have ITEM #7433 ordered too which is even older by a few months but I don't have it in my possession yet so I can't speak on her condition firsthand. But both of these girls are from the year 2000 and are thus more recent than all of my G1 MLPs.

    dtindcarea (1 month ago) #71904908
    3) What are the major factors that result in deterioration of figures over time? Which factors are most important? I mentioned a few in my introduction above but are there other factors I missed?
    Thanks in advance for participating in the discussion and poll!


    I think the worse flaws for figures that would happen would be those with leaning issues, where one side has significantly more weight than than another. Stickiness due to plasticizer leakage is a flaw that will eventually subside with time once all of the plasticizer has leaked out resulting in the figure becoming harder, while paint discoloring could potentially be fixed by painting over the discolored paint to the best of ones' ability (sort of like when people re-paint MLP symbols...). Leaning though, I think would be a tougher flaw to restore if it would be possible.
  • Bananapanda44Regular Boarder
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    The oldest figure I have is from 2007, ITEM #770 although I just bought her earlier this year. The box was unopened when I got it and the figure itself is perfectly fine, no plasticizer leakage or fading or anything.

    The age of a figure doesn't really matter to me but I do try to buy them sealed if I can. I think being kept in the box is the best protection against sunlight, dust, and wear that comes with handling. I don't know how long it takes for plasticizer to become a problem but that wipes off pretty easily. I don't think that affects the figure much, maybe it makes it just a little bit more fragile.

    But yeah PVC itself is pretty resilient and should last for a loooong time. The paint is probably what will go first. I think the greatest dangers to a figure are sunlight, extreme temperatures, and being dropped XD

    The general lifespan of a PVC pipe is 50-70 years and those are constantly exposed to water and other corrosive material. Figures are a little softer obviously but I can see them having similar longevity
  • dtindcareaRegular Boarder
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    BeatlesPkmnFan (1 month ago) #72135668
    Of course with time anything will get flaws from age, much like how many vintage toys get discolored over time like I was talking about before, but as a result, people who collect toys just lower our standards for what's considered to be a display-worthy toy as flaws become more and more common. The figure collecting community will need to do the same thing some decades down the road whenever the figures out now become more common flawed than they are mint. It's just what you've gotta do. The definition of what a display worthy figure is will need to change with time and people will need to be okay with displaying some that might be discolored or have some plasticizer leakage. As for how long until like, they're outright obsolete, I guess that'd be whenever they're almost entirely decomposed. Which being plastic, would be after we're dead anyway.


    I was wondering about this and you feel that people will still display older figures (if it is a loved type of figure) that may be flawed or visually less appealing. Interesting comment. And, thanks for the examples from your collection.

    BeatlesPkmnFan (1 month ago) #72135668
    I think the worse flaws for figures that would happen would be those with leaning issues, where one side has significantly more weight than than another. Stickiness due to plasticizer leakage is a flaw that will eventually subside with time once all of the plasticizer has leaked out resulting in the figure becoming harder, while paint discoloring could potentially be fixed by painting over the discolored paint to the best of ones' ability (sort of like when people re-paint MLP symbols...). Leaning though, I think would be a tougher flaw to restore if it would be possible.


    This leads me to a question about fixing figures. Probably another topic but while it would be nice if I could do some touch up on some painting flaws I have in some of my figures, since I have no experience at painting figures, it may do more harm than good. Plus, sometimes the flaws are there but they aren't obvious if you aren't looking for them so the visual appeal of the figure isn't affected much by the flaw.

    Great to get your thoughts since you obviously have lots of experience collecting toys!
  • dtindcareaRegular Boarder
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    Bananapanda44 (1 month ago) #72142264The oldest figure I have is from 2007, ITEM #770 although I just bought her earlier this year. The box was unopened when I got it and the figure itself is perfectly fine, no plasticizer leakage or fading or anything.
    The age of a figure doesn't really matter to me but I do try to buy them sealed if I can. I think being kept in the box is the best protection against sunlight, dust, and wear that comes with handling. I don't know how long it takes for plasticizer to become a problem but that wipes off pretty easily. I don't think that affects the figure much, maybe it makes it just a little bit more fragile.
    But yeah PVC itself is pretty resilient and should last for a loooong time. The paint is probably what will go first. I think the greatest dangers to a figure are sunlight, extreme temperatures, and being dropped XD
    The general lifespan of a PVC pipe is 50-70 years and those are constantly exposed to water and other corrosive material. Figures are a little softer obviously but I can see them having similar longevity


    Your comments give me more optimism about figures lasting a long time. Thanks.

    I can also relate to your dropping common, probably similar to most people here. I accidentally pushed a figure off my shelf once (a cheaper figure) and I've also dropped figures while trying to put together parts but luckily there was no damage from those incidents. I try to be very careful with my more expensive ones but accidents are inevitable. And, what happens if an earthquake hits? I guess you can't worry too much about stuff like that.

    EDIT: Congrats on getting that figure recently! It's always nice to get a figure you want. I know that every time I get a figure in the mail, it is like Christmas for me.
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