Monday, 2 January 2017

Conclave of Har Hobby Archive - Fun With Magnets

There can be few areas of the hobby that have seen so much use or necessity arise as magnetizing, in these days of multi-option models and dual build kits we are all out to get the absolute maximum return out of our ever increasing purchase costs. Now it has always been common to see magnetized beasties of various types but the use of the humble magnet has now proliferated even further and now its use is incorporated on all size models so that you can switch out weapons options as you desire for even troop choices.

And so it was with me, I have recently undertaken two separate magnetizing projects one far more ambitious than the other but equally problematic in their own way. Ill detail them both here and offer some tips and hints that should help you should you wish to attempt something similar.

Project 1: Hordes Legion of Everblight Warbeast.

I had a lot of success magnetizing my Cryx Warmachine army a few years back, the ability to swap out components to represent any of the different builds is a real boon. Now I wanted to do the same with my Legion of Everblight Warbeasts. The magnets would go in more or less the same places; Head, and the two upper arms. I drilled out the holes in the nubs that the arms glue onto and put the magnets in and though it was a job well done.

The problem is that Warbeast arms are considerably larger and therefore heavier than their Warjack equivalents and the magnets that had held the Cryx model together just weren't up to the job. The model suffered a severe case of drooping arms and the magnet link was tenuous at best. The arms were wobbly and there was no way they would stay on throughout the course of a game. Well, there was no way I was going to subject my Warbeasts to the ignomy of having their arms drop off midfight so a thorough reworking was required. It was obvious that larger magnets would be needed but the little nubs that the arms attached to were too small to accommodate them, therefore they had to go, much clipping later I had a nice smooth surface to drill into and place some chunky magnets in (paying close attention to the Polarity) Now of course the insides of the shoulders were recessed to make room for the recently departed nubs so they would require filling to ensure a flush fit, Greenstuff to the rescue! The bonus of using greenstuff is that you can imbed the magnet in it which saves on drilling and speeds things up considerably, just make sure it has fully cured before you attach the pieces or you will rip the magnet out of the putty. You may still need to use a little superglue to make sure the magnets stay put.

Thankfully the second time round the job really WAS a goodun, the increased sized magnets meant the connection was solid and I can now choose my variant of Legion Of Everblight Warbeast at will (though the very largest arms still droop slightly – I could rectifiy this with a pin if I wanted to)

Project 2: Eldar

Project 2 was MUCH more problematic and in depth so hold on to your hats. Project 2 was magnetizing an entire Ghost Warriors Box set. This is the army deal that GW released last year and as it actually offered a substantial saving I felt I had to get one. Its sat languishing in the cupboard (along with hordes of other minis) for a while and I decided to finally do something with it, inspired in no small part by the paint scheme for my Legion, (I do like painting purple) I decided early on that I would be magnetizing EVERY model in the force (for the record that’s a Wraithknight, 2 Wraithlords and 15 Wraithguard/blades) now this involved some degree of planning and there were a few stumbles along the way along with a few abandoned plans. It certainly didn’t all go smoothly and I'll list my mistakes as they were made so that you can learn from them. So here we go with how I magnetized the Wraithknight and Wraithblades

Now just before I get started, a quick word on the magnets. You want Neodymium or ‘rare earth’ magnets, these are inexpensive and readily available from a variety of sources, but probably the easiest source is Ebay where there are a variety of different sellers. I bought a number of different sizes as I doubt this is the last time ill ever need to magnetize anything.. This said many independent hobby stockists such as Wayland games are also starting to stock hobby magnets should you wish to see the size of what you are buying. Now another thing to consider is that the smallest size you will be able to find is 2mm wide by 1mm deep. I was able to source some 1x1mm magnets but they were over four times as expensive as their larger counterpart and the only place I could find that sold them was in Germany.

Another thing to consider is just how many magnets you will need. You need to bear in mind that each joint will require 2 magnets and each weapons option that you use will take up another. For example my Wraithblades fully magnetized with all options took 120 magnets. And that’s just 15 models (albeit with a lot of weapons options – more on this later) just make sure you have plenty of magnets. You will also require superglue, a decent hobby knife, some greenstuff and a screwdriver – why a screwdriver? Fear not all will be revealed.

Be VERY careful when using power tools on your models, particularly on the ever so slender Eldar, if you are not careful there is a real danger you could drill through the model leaving yourself an intensive repair job. Go slowly, drilling out a little at a time. You can always take out a little more if needs be, test the magnet fit frequently, you want it flush to the plastic, not too recessed if you can get away with it.


First I drilled out the shoulder joint on the body, now on the Wraithknight this was actually quite difficult as the mounts for the arms are separate and hollow, so drilling a hole to mount the magnet in means you will HAVE to drill through the shoulder joint. All I can suggest here is to choose your drillbit size very carefully and have the Greenstuff on hand, you might do better to choose a slightly smaller bit than the magnet then widen the hole will a knife or file to ensure a good fit. Now, when drilling the hole for the magnet in the actual limb be careful with positioning, where you place the magnet in the joint will dictate the final pose of the arm as you will see from the pictures.

One area that I completely and utterly failed with was magnetizing the waist, there really was just not enough plastic to work with and I just ended up drilling great big holes in the model. I abandoned this idea and just glued it, which is a shame as it would have made transport a lot easier but in all honesty it was perhaps a little ambitious. As it is I have covered all weapons options and can field any configuration i want. The magnets are strong and I have to say the poses I have ended up with look pretty good.


These guys were quite the challenge, mainly due to the weapons options, with GWs rapidly changing rulesets you never know if you'll want to field assault or shooty loadouts. There are 4 weapon options all of which i intended to fully utilise. Unfortunately both the axe and the sword shared an arm, for a while i considered magnetizing at the wrist but decided this would be far too fiddly, (the 2mm magnets were hard enough to manipulate i can only imagine what the 1mm woudl be like!)

Whilst we are talking about fiddly magnets i will say it is INEVITABLE that you will drop some of these magnets, and being so small once they hit that carpet they can be a bugger to find. this is where the screwdriver comes in, simply pass it over the rough area where the magnet fell and it should jump onto the metal part of the tool. I dropped at least half dozen magnets trying to do the Wraithblades and after a few quick passes with the screwdriver recovered them all.

So, wrists were out, shoulder joints it was again. now this time I had 15 models to do not just one large walker. it would be nigh on impossible to ensure that the polarity was the same for every single one, BUT I had to ensure that the arms fit each model or else you might end up with too many negatives, not enough positives and be unable to assemble the squad. The Axe/sword option i got round simply by not using the sword on that arm, an axe and sword would do to represent 2 swords, at least till I get extra arms.

Thus the best way was to assemble each model with the magnets one at a time, going through each weapon load out one by one. So once again the first step was to drill out the shoulders. Back to the pin vice drill here, using the power drill would have been disastrous. Again, a little at a time drill out the shoudler joint you may need to make a guide hole with a pin or the hobby knife to prevent the drill bit from slipping.

Once the holes are drilled put the magnets in the shoulders. do not worry too much about polarity at this stage I have a trick for ensuring that everything will match up. Glue the magnets in and allow to dry. Once dry attach another magnet to them, then paint the showing side of the magnet as shown in the picture. This solves the issue of knowing which polarity is which. Now here you have options, you can either take the magnet off and then glue it into the hole you drill in the arm (which is fiddly and will result in you dropping at least one magnet) a method I tried more than once. Another way which I discovered after a while is to add glue to the recess and then hold it over the magnet. making sure that you have it fully in the hole, then after a few seconds drag the arm away LATERALLY, it should retain the magnet, just check that the polarity is correct (unpainted side showing) then put the part to one side.

Now as you get a pile of magnetized components building up, be sure that either the glue has dried before you let them get too close together or you may find that the magnets rip each other out of their sockets. Just something to bear in mind. As long as you continue to match each arm one at a time you cannot go too far wrong. Now thankfully the melee options are a doddle to magnetize, you should encounter no real problems. The gun options are a little more problematic as again they share an arm, you'll need to pay close attention to the polarities. This said it shouldn't be too difficult to get them to line up, if you have any issues maybe use a pin.

So that's about it really. Hopefully my tips have proved useful should you wish to try magnetizing your own figures, a little forethought and planning and you'll not go too far wrong, one of the main things is looking at the model and working out exactly what you are going to magnetize. Good luck, and may your polarities always align....

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