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As a preface to this question, I'm asking this under the assumption that Star Lord uses both of these items very regularly and as such they are subject to wear and tear.

We can see that the cassette player is in his pocket during that whole scene right at the start when he's fighting Korath The Pursuer and when he's bouncing around inside his ship shortly after.

Maybe if they were constructed from the hardest material in existence, I could believe they would survive, but they're made primarily from plastic and some small metal parts. It would be reasonable to assume that as a space pirate / superhero, he and his belongings might sustain physical injury / damage more often than perhaps you or I.

I don't know if Star Lord's mix tape and Walkman are in the comics at all, but in the movie they never really explain how these items survive so long, he has them for 15+ years I think.

I'm assuming / hoping alien tech is involved, because that would be pretty cool.

Is it ever addressed in or out of canon?

A couple answers have been posted explaining the best way to repair a damaged cassette tape or walkman. Which isn't really an answer to this question.

  • It's certainly not unreasonable, once you hand-wave away the battery part. I have a black Sony Walkman from back around 1988-1989 and it still plays tapes just fine once I put in some fresh batteries. Granted, I'm not wearing it all over the galaxy (it's in a soft nylon case) but still... – Omegacron May 31 '17 at 17:46
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According to this article, James Gunn updated his Facebook status shortly after the release of the film specifically to deal with fans nitpicking at the logic of the longevity of the Walkman and tapes in Guardians of the Galaxy.

He says;

MORE IMPORTANTLY, I'm getting a lot of questions about the AA batteries in Quill's Walkman, and how Quill's Walkman can survive for so long.

GUYS, THEY HAVE THE ALIEN TECHNOLOGY TO TRAVEL FASTER THAN LIGHT BETWEEN PLANETS, I think they can figure out an alternative power source for the Walkman, and they likely also have technology to slow the degradation to the tape and player. This seems obvious to me.

So although this particular question hasn't been answered in film, the writer and director of the film himself claims that alien technology has helped preserve both the Walkman and the tapes.

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    @Daft I don't get at all how alien technology can protect a tape inside a box wrapped in wrapping paper that even Peter Quill doesn't know contains a tape, but whatever. – Dr R Dizzle Jul 8 '15 at 13:08
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    If the tape was never used, it should be fine. See many examples of 30 year old cassettes still working in comments to the question. – Dave Johnson Jul 8 '15 at 14:19
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    I imagine that Quill made jury-rigged high-tech repairs over the years, and now the Walkman is a bit of a Theseus' ship (for reference), seemingly identical to its original but made primarily of new parts. – recognizer Jul 8 '15 at 16:14
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    Also, didn't he have a larger cassette player (a stereo in essence) in his spaceship at the end of the movie? They either went back to earth to pick that up or they just made one. He sure didn't have it on him when he was abducted from Earth. – James Jul 8 '15 at 17:51
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    @James Not only that, but Nova Corp had the ability to replace it when they rebuilt his ship. I think people may have been underestimating the abilities of a series of species and races that have mastered FTL travel. – Dr R Dizzle Jul 8 '15 at 19:55

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