I live in Arizona and I know a lot about the power of the sun and the damage it can do. I have had cassette tapes melt into the car stereo. My dashboard has a large crack caused by excessive heat. I have seen the sun reduce plastics to powder and burn oranges while they are still on the tree.
Knowing what I know about the sun this post may come as a bit of a surprise. How can someone who has lived in Arizona their whole life have something like this happen? It is a good question and one I am trying to find an answer to. You see, after many years of storing my models in my garage I have had some melt. It was quite the shock to me as well. I have literally stored my entire model collection in the garage for 10 or more years and I have never had any damage whatsoever. This includes fully assembled and painted models as well as unassembled kits.
The majority of my GW vehicle models for Warhammer 40K are stored in these under bed storage boxes. I keep these under the game table in the garage. These boxes hold 20 or more models each. The location in the garage, does on occasion, get some direct sunlight.
In the picture above you can see, where the blue tubs are now located, the area where the vehicles were located. You can see the amount of sun this area gets at about 10 am on a day in August. This area, obviously, only gets sun went the garage door is open.
When I was gathering models for today's 40K game I had to get into one of these boxes. That is when I noticed something strange. One of the models looked like it needed to be re-glued. I looked closer and it was melted! A wave of horror swept over me as I saw more models that had melted. In total I found 4 models that were all grouped together on one side of the box that had some degree of heat damage.
Of the 4 models the Razorback above had the least amount of damage. This is enough to make the model unusable in my book. To make things worse, this is part of my Dark Angels army which is my first 40K army going back more than 10 years. The model was located on the end of the line of damaged models.
On the other end was this Chimera. It had even more damage than the Razorback. The back half of the top, as well as the rear door and tracks all have some heat damage. This model was part of a collection, that was painted by my friend Luke, that I purchased a few years ago.
This Rhino was in the middle of the line of damaged models as has lots more damage than the previous two. This one is also part of my original DA army... this is starting to make me sick.
Finally we have the Whirlwind. This is the one that first caught my eye. The damage is really unbelievable. What makes all of this so strange is that these were the only 4 models damaged in the entire box. This is good because sitting right next to the Chimera was my Baneblade!
How did these models get hot enough to melt and nothing else? Not even the storage box was damaged. As you can see from the first picture it is opaque and does not transfer much light. This was not the work of simply opening the garage on a summer morning and having the direct sunlight heat things to melting point. If that were the case then many more models would have been destroyed. This looks like someone took a magnifying glass or a heat gun and focused the heat on the specific models.
Then it hit me. I know what happened. The house across the street faces due West and late in the afternoon the sun reflects off the second floor windows. I have walked through this reflection many times and it is MUCH hotter than the air temp. I must of had the garage door opened late one afternoon and had at least one of the cars out of the driveway and this reflected light must have been focused on this box. It would of had a fairly narrow field and it would have been very hot. Somehow, knowing this just makes my decision to store these items in that location even more stupid. I am shocked that it took so many years for me to have this problem.
Expensive lesson learned.