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Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Stabilising the Return of the Overseers Gate Piece

Now I don't know about you, but I loved the RotO boxed set - the set had great models, including a lovely extra scenario piece, actually composed of 6 individual parts (5 resin, one acrylic) that build up into an impressive scenery piece for any space (or other sci-fi) game. There is a catch, however...the pieces have no positive alignment with each other, meaning that a knock of the table of a brush with models moving will cause it to fall out of alignment, or for the acrylic piece to fall off. This is annoying, especially when you're trying to enjoy your game and not do corrective assembly on scenery pieces.

One solution, of course, is to glue it all together, but that makes it cumbersome to cart about (it's a pretty substantial piece, even without the acrylic insert, plus I like the modular nature of the piece. The obvious solution was to magnetise. Now as there are no positive locators (the "tabs" that key into each other aren't directly aligned in the z plane), this makes it tricky to do. I started off using 2mm Neo magnets glued onto the arms to give them enough reach to get to the centre piece;

I put additional 2mm magnets on these and dabbed the ends in red paint to mark their position on the centre piece.

Unfortunately when trying to glue the magnets onto the centre piece this proved impractical - there's just not enough surface area to resist the magnets pul to each other, so I quickly scrapped this idea. I then toyed with adding Green Stuff inserts to the arms so the centre piece tabs would have a positive location, but then the idea came to me that really, all I needed was a base.This was a much better idea - it meant everything could be magnetised well and remain modular.

To make it, I found the thickest plasticard I had (just under 2mm thick), and arranged the gate on it, marking position roughly with a Sharpie (roughly as I didn't want permanent blue marker on my gate!)

I then cut the plasticard into a rough rectangle using the outer points as guides, then marked out and connected the guide points with the Sharpie more carefully based on regular distances

For those of you not familiar with cutting plasticard, especially thick plasticard, this is achieved by simply scoring with a sharp blade (NOT trying to cut through it, which is likely to end up with you spilling your own blood), and then bending the parts so the material splits.

You need to be careful when doing this with cut-ins like here, otherwise you can have a tendancy to run on the split into the piece you want to preserve, especially which the piece you're trying to remove is larger that that remaining, as here. Care and patience will serve you well here! Reversing the direction of the ben often helps to get things started at the edge too. If all goes well, you should end up with a cross piece and four rectangles (which I'll probably use for bases at some point in the future).

The next step was to drill a 3mm hole in the central piece and glue a 3mm diameter by 2mm thick Neo magnet in there - I wanted this to be solid!

Once glued in, I used red paint on the magnet before positioning on the cross support to mark its position.

Once marked, the corresponding hole was drilled in the plasticard and magnet inserted by placing on the existing magnet on the gate piece and pushing hole - this ensures the correct polarity. The magnets in the plasticard were all snug enough to fit without needing glue at this stage. This process was repeated with the arms...

...and the piece built up this way, one piece at a time.

Here is one of the long pieces with magnets placed on the already magnetised resin piece, ready to push home into the hole in the awaiting plasticard - in fact this is the last one!

And here it is all assembled, without and with the acrylic;

I also took one "in space"

So this works really nicely, and isn't too obtrusive, but I wanted to finish this off, so I trimmed the corners, filed down the hard 90 degree edges on the top of the plastic and smeared superglue over both sides of the magnet areas. This meant nothing would come out, and its a bit more aesthetically pleasing.

The very last step was to take it outside and give it a good coat of black primer. Once dry, I assembled it all again and took a final picture to show the effect - which I think is pretty good - it doesn't detract from the piece at all, and holds it really firmly...success!!!

If you want to make one of these, you'll need 18 3mm x 2mm neodymium magnets, which should cost no more than £3 or so (I buy them in 100s, they're much cheaper that way - around £8 for 100), and some thick plasticard - 2mm or 80 thou, which should be around £1.50-£2 for an A4 sheet. As you don't use it all, the total project cost for this for me was probably around £2, but if you're buying specifically for this it could cost around £5. I consider that a small price for the time it'll save, and actually the gate looks better because it's pre-aligned, you don't have to worry about lining things up carefully.

Anyway, I hope it's been helpful, please don't hesitate to ask questions or post comments. until next time, cheers!