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Thursday, 11 August 2016

Magnetising Spartan's minis

As well as getting a storage solution for my Planetfall minis involving magnetic sheets, I've been having more magnet fun with magnetising both my Reinforcement Box ships for Firestorm Armada, and my outstanding Planetfall resin too. This is due to a lot of the modularity and flexibility of the models, and also my liking for models that can be adjusted on the field (like not gluing turrets on tanks etc).

So I wanted to give a little bit of an insight into how I do this - it's standard stuff, but might help you if you've not done this before or worked with resin much. Now Spartan do help here by having some recesses and centre marks on several of the components, but others don't (like the drop-cast Shield generator and AA turrets for the Terran Alliance  Planetfall forces). Drop-casting, if you don't know, is where the mould has an open face which is the bottom of the piece - this makes the mould simpler and lower cost, but obviously you get no detail on it. The Infantry stands are good examples, and of course no-one cares if your infantry base doesn't have detail on the bottom!

So, the first thing is to buy some appropriate magnets. I bought a bunch of 2x1mm and 3x2mm magnets (diameter x depth), the former for the Reinforcement ships, the second for the Planetfall stuff. In retrospect, I think the 3x2 are better in general since they have a much stronger bond, even though the reinforcement ships have 2mm recesses. 1mm increase in diameter doesn't sound much, but it's more than double the surface area - and that's important;

I'm starting here with Planetfall minis, and the Terran Ground Attack Aerial Helix vehicle, because it's awesome and a great example. The first step here is to drill a hole for your chosen magnet (and for PF I use 3mms exclusively) into the hull of the aircraft in the centre of where the Huscarl will fit. You can then add superglue and push the magnet home. You can see this below - though I only do one to start with, then when I have one Huscarl complete I can use it to do all the others and get the same polarity on each. The picture depicts all in place after I've done this.

Now, when you've one magnet in place, the trick on the Huscarl is - because it's a drop-cast piece - how do you know where to drill? I've used the same technique multiple times, and it works well. You put a blob of paint on the magnet - I usually use red since it's obvious and high contrast on the plae resin.

Next you press down the piece you're joining in position - you want to do this as accurately as possible on the first try - if you adjust you'll smudge the paint and will need to re-start.

When you take it off, it'll have the paint transferred to it in the correct position

This allows you to then drill out this hole

Now before you put a magnet in, remember I talked about getting the correct polarity? This is obviously vital, and not that easy to do by itself. fortunately, you can make the magnets work for you. First, you put the second magnet (the one that will end up in your joined piece) onto the parent magnet in the body of whatever you're joining to, like so.

Then you put your freshly drilled item on top...

...and push down to squeeze the magnet into the hole. You don't need to do this fully, as you can pull it off and push it down firmly using a flat (and preferably non-magnetic) surface - I use the handle of my scalpel, since it's non-ferrous. This also stops any superglue transferring onto the other magnet (if you've been brave enough to superglue it!)

When you're confident there's no active superglue on any of the surfaces, you can try them out

You can then use a magnet on your Huscarl to insert your other magnets into the main body, ensuring they all have the same polarity, so you don't need specific Huscarls in any given position.

So now I have my support all ready to drop its Huscarls in the field, and then proceed on empty...

I did the same thing for my Command Helix

...and also my Relthoza

All using the same process and same 3mm magnets - as you can see they're pretty strong and it works well.

The Firestorm Armada reinforcement boxes are a little different, already having 2mm holes, so I went with the smaller magnets for ease here. This is fine for the smaller elements, and works OK for the Terran ships for example, where there are multiple contact points. In principle it's exactly as above, but made easier since there's no alignment, red paint and drilling!

This doesn't work so well for the Directorate Escort carrier. In hindsight I'd have preferred to use 3mm magnets for these. The holes are a bit too deep for the 1mm magnets, so I ended up gluing two in, which stand slightly proud to ensure contact with the one that's slightly recessed in the other side

This is still a bit unsatisfactory, as the top part tends to move a bit and isn't held on very strongly. Conversely the 2mm magnets are absolutely fine for the turrets, 3mm magnets would be overkill for them.

Going back to Planetfall minis, some of them have holes way too big for an appropriate magnet - good examples being the Sorylian Command bathtub and the Veydreth skimmer tank body weapon mounts. In both of these cases I used 3mm magnets , but prior to placement I put a sausage of Green Stuff around the magnet, or plugged the hole with Green Stuff (depending on the mini and how big the void was). I then superglued this in to ensure it wouldn't dislodge when the Green Stuff was fully set (Green Stuff is NOT an adhesive, despite many people trying to use it for this, it's not cut out for the job!). Unfortunately I lost the photos before painting, but I scraped the Sorylian one to show it more clearly - you can still tell on the Veydreth but its less obvious

All in all, Spartan's minis are generally pretty easy to magnetise (the Overseer Gate being a notable exception), but some of the holes are too big, some of them too small and others just aren't there at all. It would be nice if Spartan designed in the correct size of hole in advance and made recommendations, hell they could even sell kits to do this, which would make it really easy for fact that's a good idea, perhaps I'll start selling those myself!

Hope it's been helpful - as always, feedback, comments and requests are all very welcome!

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