Magnetizing Inceptors

I’m not actually sure whether I really like the new Space Marine Primaris Inceptor jump pack models or if they leave me kind of “Meh.” Some details I love, some I don’t. But I do know that I don’t like the flight stands at all. Unlike some of GW’s peg-and-socket designs in the past, these have to be affixed to the model. They don’t just slot in firmly or anything like that. Affixing them though means they take up a lot of transport space. The connection between stand and model also seems very very prone to breaking in transport or play. As a final insult, it’s also kind of finicky to glue.

I dealt with all this by magnetizing mine. Many people have of course suggested this but I don’t see any detailed notes around so this is a quick tutorial.

Assembled models.

Ball & Socket

You could magnetize these guys in a couple ways. I’ve done it the way most people do X-Wing ships: A ball bearing on the end of the stand and a ring magnet somewhat hidden in the the underside of the jump pack.

Side view in which you can see the ball & ring magnet connection.

There are several reasons for this approach.

Perhaps most important, in general you don’t want to use two magnets if you can avoid it. A pair of magnets makes a stronger connection but incurs a bunch of extra work. Obviously in that case you need to orient each pair of magnets properly, which can be difficult to get right for small magnets while affixing them in place. But then ideally they should be aligned the same way across all of the models so that you don’t have to worry about which stand goes with which model. That’s a hassle, especially when you add more models later. In contrast, the ball bearing is just a metal surface. There’s no polarity to get right and any model can use any stand without worrying at all about orientation for either any single pair or the squad/army.

Somewhat similarly in reducing fiddliness, using a ball bearing rather than a steel disk means the magnet doesn’t have to be set perfectly on the model. Even if it’s placed a bit crooked you’ll be able to rotate the ball bearing connection to orient the model however you want. Taking that further, if the connection is strong enough, you can rotate the model around into funky angles either for fun or to move it out of the way in tight spaces (a big help in X-Wing, less of an issue here).

A ball bearing and a plain disk magnet would probably also work if the latter was strong enough. However, by using an appropriately sized ring magnet, the ball bearing fits inside and it works like a socket. This lets more of the magnetic field pull on the bearing while at the same time making a bit of a pressure fit. It’s much much stronger than a bearing just sitting against a flat surface and only minimally reduces the angles at which you can position the model.

Finally, ball bearings and ring magnets are cheap and easy to come by, in contrast to cylinders or something like that. I order from K&J Magnetics in sufficient quantities to make shipping worthwhile, but they can be found other places as well.

Model

The ring magnets I used are 1/16″ thick, with 1/4″ outer diameter and 1/8″ inner diameter, specifically the R421 from K&J. Inner diameter needs to match the ball bearing. Outer diameter needs to fit the model, and these just happen to fit nicely on the underside of the jump pack between the secondary thrusters. A nice bonus of the ring magnet is that from a distance it arguably looks vaguely like just another thruster.

Attaching the magnet is straightforward. You could use either CA (superglue) or green stuff, putting a small amount in the cavity on the model and dropping the magnet on. Since polarity doesn’t matter, you can actually literally just drop it on with the model facedown on the table and let it sit there to cure. I used gel CA so I could easily form a small blob to sink the magnet into and fill up the tiny gaps between it and the model. Whatever you use though, be sure to not fill up the hole on the magnet.

Note in these pictures how the glue vapors frosted up the surrounding area a bit, which is a good reminder to never use superglue on painted models if at all avoidable.

This size magnet fits perfectly in a slight cavity on the jump pack underside.

And it hardly stands out at all on the model amid the thrusters.

Attaching the ring magnet is a simple matter of putting the model face down and dropping it on.

Stand

Putting the ball bearing on the stand is just slightly more involved. The bearing I used is 1/8″, matching the inner diameter of the magnet, specifically the NSB2 from K&J but you can find similar tons of places.

The bearing fits well in the little hook on the flight stand. I attached it in three steps:

  1. Using gel CA so it doesn’t flow all over, put a dab in the hook and then drop in the ball bearing and let it cure.
  2. Pack a very small quantity of green stuff around the stand and bearing, being sure to leave most of the magnet exposed, essentially creating a tube around both to be a very strong connection.
  3. Once cured, file down any excess green stuff.

More talented greenstuffers could no doubt just pack it on in one step, but I found it helpful to glue on the bearing first to help keep it in place and wound up with just enough bulge to be worth filing down.

Some people have reported trouble gluing the stand to the base. I didn’t have any such problem using my usual plastic cement but it’s probably avoidable or fixable by roughing up the bottom surface of the stand and then rinsing both, creating more surface area and removing any release agent on the pieces.

However, the foundation of my bases is vaguely swampy greenstuffing. So with the stand glued on I also built up some greenstuff over the edges of it. This both obscures the bottom flare out of the stand and makes its connection to the base stronger.

Stand with ball bearing affixed to the top.

Fly!

This process took literally a couple minutes, and now the transport and fragility hassles of these flight stands are almost entirely mitigated. With the bearing in the ring the connection is very strong, the models can be picked up and moved around with no fear at all of the base falling off. As a bonus, the Inceptors can fly around at kooky angles!

All that said, if I pick up another squad of these there’s a good chance I’ll simply mount them on the base. Done well I think they might actually look even better on the ground, it gives them extra visual bulk and intimidation.

But, if you want the flying look, a ball bearing & ring magnet is a good way to do it.

Inceptors flying around.

Derelict Depot

Battle breaks out amid the newly completed Derelict Depot!

Advancing through the wreckage.

Looking out from the abandoned garage.

Lurking in the shadows.

Moving through the scrapyard.

Garrisoning the mechanical building.

Scouting for trouble.

Overlooking the battle.

Showdown at the depot nexus!

Derelict Depot

The Derelict Depot is a board I put together for RECON+, essentially half-size games of Infinity, but it should work for a variety of skirmish games. It’s a mix of scratchbuilding, scale models, and 3D printing. More details on its creation are here:

I designed all of the 3D printed parts. Many of them are already available as free downloads in my Thingiverse collection.

The armies fighting it out here are my Military Orders and Aleph painted by Tim D.

The first step: Putting down some initial ideas.

3D printed and scratchbuilt elements.

Construction complete!

Base coating.

Painting details.

The final board!

Narrative

The story of this terrain is something like:

Early in the colonization of Ariadna, Depot E-7 was a supply outpost used by militias fighting the antipodes on the fringe of the settled area. As the border expanded outward and it was no longer militarily useful, a bold, risk-taking entrepreneur began using it as a base for an air courier service. Given the harsh conditions, limited technology, and few resources available to the colonists, its equipment was all based on very old and simple technology easy to construct and maintain. The service provided an important link ferrying supplies, messages, and people over the dangerous ground between the new, far flung settlements popping up as the colony grew rapidly. Later though the depot was overrun as its region collapsed in one of the periodic waves of antipode fighting. Although abandoned since then, it has recently come to be occasionally used as a waypoint or temporary base by various special forces teams operating on Ariadna.

The board is of course designed overall to feel abandoned and disused, but particulars of that story are captured in details here and there: Signage declares the garage to be the home of the “Air Bonsky” courier service (Bonsky being our local lead Infinity TO); militia recruitment and “EVACUATION NOTICE” posters are scattered about on some of the walls and littered on the floor; blood spatters mark where the last defender was caught when the base was overrun; a walkway has been twisted and burnt by high explosives in more recent fighting. It’s not much of a story, but it was just enough to generate some unique, cohesive imagined micro-vignettes and details to add flavor.

Air Bonsky: Why fight the antipodes when you can fly over them?

Evacuation notice poster on a wall.

Littered recruitment poster and evac notice handbill blown into a corner.

A warning not finished in time.

Play

This board is definitely designed with just a bit of priority toward aesthetics and narrative versus gameplay. In a few places it can be a touch awkward to place figures because of details, many of the shapes are slightly odd so models often don’t perfectly snug up into cover, and so on. But it’s very playable, and has interesting features.

As one example, none of the buildings have the ubiquitous low walls found on almost all Infinity MDF terrain. In places where railings make real-world sense and cover would be useful for gameplay, the metalwork is more realistically thin and open, but overgrown in thick vegetation to physically obscure models and leave no doubt they’re intended to be cover. In other places, a variety of mechanical boxes, large vent outlets, and other details scattered about provide partial cover instead of walls and screens. This approach creates some interesting dynamics. For example, the top of the garage can be a great vantage point for controlling ground below. But it’s essentially not possible to move around on it without either breaking cover between features or going prone out of sight and foregoing your own shooting, quite different from moving along a rooftop railing or edge. At the same time, it’s not possible to get cover from all angles, so no sniper can rest easy if there’s a chance the enemy can flank them—which they might very well do by running through the garage directly underneath them!

Similarly, the tallest point, the silo, has a piece on top such that models can generally only be placed solidly at the very center. A small lip prevents models from fitting at the edge. So a sniper can be placed there for a commanding view, but if they go prone they won’t be able to shoot anything, and if they stand up they won’t get cover.

The board as shown here is very dense, which impacts some armies negatively, but that just means there’s plenty of pieces to be used or not used in different games, generating a lot of variety in potential setups.

Face-on view.

Mechanical building side.

Fuel reservoirs side.

Top view.

Sniper hiding behind a rooftop mechanical box.

Roof of the garage.

Poster inside the garage.

One of Bonsky’s relic aircraft.

The mechanical building.

Gas mask warning and ladder on a fuel reservoir.

Burnt out low-tech car.

Fuel distribution tank.

Creeping behind the distribution tank.

Truck dumped out front the distribution tank.

A silo, the tallest point on the board.

Door on the silo and truck left outside.

Next!

I’m very happy with how the Derelict Depot came together. It was a nice, tractable effort that didn’t drag on forever, and got done on schedule—just barely!—for an event I wanted to use it in. My small library of 3D printable parts made expressly to quickly add details to scratchbuilt terrain like this provided plenty of variety and interesting features, and I enjoyed making good use of a number of found objects. People seem to enjoy playing on the board, the pieces have some neat game dynamics, and the terrain has a lot of character and cool visuals. Mission accomplished!

For another example of this kind of scratchbuilding + scale models + 3D printing, check out my Medea Refinery build. Partly by chance and partly by design, pieces from the two sets go together well to create a really cool, large, detailed board. I also have a few tutorials up on 3D printing and modeling.

I’m not sure quite when I’ll get to them with NOVA and other events coming up, but I’m kicking around a couple neat ideas for new boards and in some cases have even started some work. Stay tuned!

As a bonus, the Derelict Depot packs up perfectly into a box I had on hand!

Painting 3D Printed Parts: Tech-Coffin

My Data Targets Kickstarter campaign to produce 3D printed objective markers for Infinity and other games is underway and going strong. The STL files for the whole collection are also available via DriveThruRPG. People of course have been asking about how well these 3D printed pieces take paint, so this is a copy of the campaign update posted with an example. More generally this post shows that painting pieces printed with HIPS filament is the same as painting any hard plastic miniature, and I understand that to be true of other common filaments as well. It’s also a good look at what kind of resolution is easily achievable on mid-level home printers.

Note: Many different materials and several kinds of processes are used in 3D printing. The most common filaments (ABS, PLA, HIPS) produced by the most common type of printer (fused deposition modelers, FDM), as well as many others, are amenable to the basic process outlined here. However, some have different properties. For example, the “White, Strong, and Flexible” material offered by Shapeways should be washed first and note taken that paint can go through thin sections of the model (though this is often not an issue if primed appropriately). Some filaments may also react with acetone, alcohol, or other solvents used in some less common painting and inking techniques. If you’re just starting out, most likely this approach is fine, but read around about your specific filaments and paints!

Tech-Coffin

Personally I really like the look and game table visibility of the objectives as-printed in a bright color. But it’s also totally reasonable to paint them up to match terrain & so on. So I quickly painted up a tech-coffin and datacube as a demo. I’m confident many of my backers can do a better job than I, but at minimum this shows that these pieces paint up easily and no differently from other minis. The washes used also highlight the minimal level of striation so everyone can plainly see and gauge how they feel about it.

Tech-coffin and datacube painted up.

The print shown here is exactly the same as the production sets backers will receive. It’s from the same type of printer with the same settings and so on. These pieces also haven’t been sanded, smoothed, or otherwise cleaned up. The only prep work done is that a magnet and ball bearing, as included in all the sets, have been inserted. This is a trivial task as there’s no need to worry about matching polarity.

Raw printed piece with magnet and ball bearing attached.

The plastic we’re using is the same type as used in many well respected commercial miniatures. It’s hard, can be cut or sanded, and takes superglue and paint readily. There’s no mold release or similar that needs to be washed off as with resin or metal models. We recommend priming with spray primer, and any common or miniatures-specific primer will do. Here we’ve used a Rustoleum Ultra-Cover 2x Flat Gray primer that can be found in any hardware store for a few dollars. One observation is that with proper priming the bright neon color of the plastic doesn’t affect the final outcome.

Spray primed with hardware store primer.

For this demo we’re going to go with the flat gray color as the base color so priming and blocking is already done in one step. It’s not visible in the picture, but a matching gray brush paint has been used to patch up a few places where we didn’t get great coverage with the spray (under some of the overhang on the backside). We’ve decided to interpret the top panel as some kind of status display screen, so it’s base coated blue. The datacube compartment and details have then been picked out in brass. The only minor care to take on this specific model is to not paint the datacube or the interior of its compartment excessively thick, lest the fit become too snug. However, there’s enough tolerance to not worry about a couple standard coats.

Details picked out.

All of the gray and brass has then been washed in a light brown. Compared to a black wash this tends to give these colors more of a used, dirty, earthy look appropriate for terrain pieces. The screen has been washed in a blue with the piece held horizontally to deepen the color and have the panel darken toward the edges.

Washed in a light brown, and blue on the screen.

For the final step, some vague display information has been stroked onto the panel in white. The main datacube compartment has also been washed in soft black to further darken it. From here we will dull coat both pieces and then gloss coat the panel, but this is optional. Paint adheres well enough to the plastic that chipping isn’t as much of a concern as it is for metal models.

Finished up with some vague display lines and second wash on the main compartment.

With the washes and viewing up close under painting table lighting like this, the striations are definitely visible. However, we think they’re more than acceptable for this kind of terrain/objective piece and in practice we don’t find them noticeable at all on the tabletop in play. Potential backers should make your own judgement though!

In the end, as you can see from this demo, these pieces paint up very easily. All of the paints and washes used here are just standard Games Workshop and Secret Weapon supplies, and no special preparation or handling is needed.

Thanks for reading, and please post any questions in the comments!

Paints and washes used in this demo.