Whitening A Dreamcast Without Retr0brite

A yellowing Dreamcast is a sad sight indeed. Its once gleaming white shell turned a grimy shade of mustard, a reminder of the fun that it has given to countless gamers over the years. Tired, worn out, the end of the road. It doesn't have to be like this though, oh no. As many, many a collector will attest, there is a magical formula known as Retr0brite that involves almost Merlin-esque alchemy knowledge to mix it's caustic formula. Eye of newt, half a quart of hydrochloric acid, the soul of a defeated shaman and some peroxide mixed in scientifically accurate measures, and then spread evenly over the shell of even the most yellowed system (it doesn't have to be a Dreamcast, by the way) will magically turn it back to its original colour in a few hours.

As documented here at the 'Yard on many occasions though, this gamer is a bit thick and has quite a short attention span. That, and the whole Retr0brite thing just seems a bit like too much trouble as the ingredients (the actual ones) are a little difficult to get hold of here in the good old UK. Imagine my interest then, when I discovered that there is a product available to buy for little more than a few pounds here in my homeland, that promised to yield the same results as those bizarre US-only hair serums and the fabled Retr0brite. Yes, it costs just £1.69 a bottle and is available from both Superdrug and Boots. Before I go on, I'm aware that these two stores may not operate in your country, but the product I'm about to share with you is available through Amazon too, so fear not. It's this:
Jerome Russell Bblonde Maximum Lift Cream Peroxide. I must admit that I first stumbled across this after watching (recent DreamPod guest) Adam Koralik's video on the subject of console whitening, but being annoyed that the product he tested out wasn't readily available in the UK. After noting down the particulars of the product (40 Vol 12% peroxide...whatever that means), I quickly discovered that an alternative  - the thing listed up there - was easily obtainable from most UK pharmacies for less than the price of a lottery ticket...and if you'll excuse the piss-poor segue, once you see the results garnered from using this stuff on one of my Dreamcast shells, you'll think you've hit the jackpot. See, I told you it was poor.

So, with much trepidation I stripped down my most yellowed PAL system and gave the shell a good old scrub with a sponge and some warm soapy water so get rid of all the accumulated gunk and dust collected in the assorted grooves and divets. I left it to air dry for a few hours and then once all the water was gone, I set to work liberally dousing the thing in the Jerome Russell stuff. Weirdly, it doesn't actually smell of anything - I was expecting the pungent aroma of regular hair dying kits...but no. Using a thin paintbrush I smothered the Dreamcast shell in a moderate coating and then wrapped it in cling film to stop it from drying out before the peroxide could do it's thing.
Merry Christmas!
The process of whitening actually requires the very thing held responsible for the yellowing in the first place - sunlight; so I placed the two parts (and the controller port section) on a sunny windowsill. The UK is notorious for how shit the weather is, and today wasn't really any different - the day was overcast mainly but there were odd breaks where the sun came through so I just left the case in various places where I thought the sun would best catch them in a bizarre reverse-tanning situation. I left the bits of plastic for around six hours and I have to admit that I was dubious...but I needn't have been. The results are incredible considering the initial outlay of the product used.
Bet you've never seen a Dreamcast sun bathing before!
Before (the left is the one I whitened)
After (the left is the whitened one, with the sticker replaced)
You can't really tell from these shots, but this system was really yellowing - especially on the rear left, and it was steadily moving across the GD lid too. After the application of the Jerome Russell (and several hours in moderate sunshine, and then washing it off), it looks like it just came out of the freaking box in October 1999!
So there you have it. If you want to whiten your Dreamcast for less than £2 and don't have the knowhow required to knock up a batch of Retr0brite...get yourself down to Boots or Superdrug (or Amazon UK) and treat yourself to a bottle of Jerome Russell Bblonde Maximum Lift Cream Peroxide for £1.69. Alternatively, you could buy all the ingredients for a Retr0brite mix for more than the price of a used, yellow Dreamcast.

12 comments:

Decider-VT said...

Interesting results- did the treatment change the texture of the plastic at all? And did you use a replacement sticker on the treated console?

Tom Charnock said...

Thanks for reading! No, there is absolutely no effect on the plastic other than it is now white. My other Dreamcasts are pretty much in showroom condition and comparing the whitened one is like looking at an identical system. The logo on the treated system is the one I took off before applying the stuff.

Sean said...

Nice one Tom, will be doing that this weekend! ��

Cobra! said...

I would LOVE to do something like this, but sadly, in Scotland, we get like 1 sunny day every year, so I won't be able to...

Anthony Jennings said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anthony Jennings said...

Thanks so much for this, i have lost all my white dreamcasts to disrepair or theft and only have the black one I bought recently but this is awesome knowledge to have for the future!

Cobra, you probably just need uv light to activate it, you can get a uv lamp off of ebay for fairly cheap I am sure :) They use them for nails in salons and for glueing digitizers (the front glass that everyone break, not the screen) on smart phones. They are used for tons of stuff so i am confident you can find one.

Alternatively if you have a friend that works at a salon, you could likely just go there with a paint brush after hours. You buy them a few drinks, and sit in a massage chair, while getting a foot bath, and shooting the shit with a friend while you get your Dreamcast bleached :)

Anthony Jennings said...

Comment section has a delay, sorry for so many posts.

How did you get the logo sticker off without marring it, if I may ask?

Tom Charnock said...

Hi Anthony - if you aren't logged in to Google, an admin has to approve the comments - hence the delay! I got the logo stickers off just using a sharp knife on a corner and carefully prising off. The glue on the back retains it's adhesive so you can just place them back on after you've whitened them, and they stick back down easily enough. As a side note, all of the consoles I whitened are still perfectly white and haven't gone back yellow as some people have suggested they would.

Rich Lloyd said...

This is awesome!! Have you tried on other coloured plastics for retro systems? I need to sort a SNES and several Amigas. How would it effect key stickers on keyboards?

Matt Roe said...

Thanks for this, I did this last week and also living near Manchester it was a bit of a lottery with the sun but I got fantastic results! Highly recommend it to anyone with a yellow Dreamcast (or any other yellowing console plastic, as it also worked on my gamecube controller port) Thanks!

Tom Charnock said...

Good to hear a lot of people are finding this article and that it's useful! Thanks for your comment :)

Ash said...

Does the yellowint return after doing this treatment? have heard it can come back in a few months after using retrobite even if kept in the box