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: Painting

A few weekends ago I got to painting my Derelict Depot, a mix of scratchbuilding, model kits, and 3D printing as described in the construction walkthrough:

The assembled Derelict Depot.

Colors

In choosing colors for the set I started with dark red and grey, mostly because I had spray cans of those laying around. But using those also meant these pieces would fit right in with my Medea Refinery board, adding a bunch of LOS blockers and scatter terrain to that collection. To add variety though I opted to do the big buildings here in olive green and some of the containers in red and yellow.

I used a lot of leftover white foam packaging in constructing this set, which some spray paints will melt. Generally I haven’t had a problem with that, but have had a couple cans that did eat such foam, so always test on a scrap piece first. To reduce the amount of spray painting on the white foam though, I brush primed those areas with two coats of black. All the other pieces got a good coat of spray black to start. Often you can just go straight to the base colors if you’re spraying, but the black coats better, adds another layer to help mitigate chipping, and if you spray the colors lighter and from a slight angle it creates some natural shading in the corners and recesses.

Unfortunately I had not previously used the olive green I picked up and it reacted badly with either the temperature on the day I was doing this, or the materials. On the trucks it cracked and broke, which would have been devastating on a normal model but worked great with the derelict theme. On the buildings though it fuzzed up a bit and became crumbly. Still not really a problem with the theme, but it made them feel funny and the paint a bit fragile to the touch.

Priming everything black.

Colored base coats.

Cracking on one of the trucks.

More Color

Following the base coating I wasn’t sure how much more time I’d get to work on these again before I wanted to use them. So I went with a technique I picked up watching my friend Sascha help paint the Medea Refinery, basically spray painting a bunch of details rather than brushing them. So mechanical boxes, doors, ladders, etc., all got sprayed in various colors without worrying too much about overspray—quite an affront to my OCD tendencies! Definitely wouldn’t work for all styles of terrain and isn’t to everyone’s taste, but it’s fast and I like the look of it for these kind of pieces. All the overspray just looks like rust, wear, etc., and ties everything together.

From there, still concerned about getting more time for this and feeling overeager with the spray paints, I went on and lightly oversprayed various colors across all the pieces. Having hints of the whole palette on each piece helps tie it all together visually, and lightly spraying this particular selection of colors also makes it all look weathered. Although I’d started off with a board previously painted, I felt it didn’t match this color scheme well so it got spray painted similarly. At this point I felt the pieces were all interesting and playable as-is even if I didn’t get back to them.

Multi-colored and somewhat weathered pieces.

Top of the garage.

Weathered truck.

Weathered plane.

Weathered console.

Site Designations

Fortunately I did wind up with more time to work on the set. So I sat down for a marathon overnight session of detailing and finishing. A key theme throughout this though was still facing a time crunch, trying to add a bunch of visual appeal under tight time constraints before hopefully using it in an event the next day.

So, thinking about quickly adding color and detail, first I added some site designations. Using some cardboard alphanumeric stencils, I spray painted “E 7” on a bunch of the buildings. A medium tip ink pen then let me quickly outline the lettering with thin, clean black lines. Of course the new lettering stood out against the weathering sprays, so it then got drybrushed appropriately to wear it back into the pieces.

Stencil masking the site designation on the silo.

Site designation after removing the stencil.

Outlining the lettering with an ink pen.

Drybrushing over the site designation to blend it into the weathered paint.

Hazard Stripes

Another quick way to add color and life to the scene was to throw a bunch of hazard stripes on various pieces. These were done real quickly by brushing on several coats of dark yellow, taping off the yellow stripes, brushing on black, and then drybrushing the whole stripe appropriately to weather and blend it into the piece.

Hazard stripes inverse masked on a solid yellow base.

Black part of hazard stripes painted on.

Finished hazard stripe.

Details

Still good to go on time, I set about with a brush picking out details. Some things were painted as normal and then drybrushed to blend and weather them into the existing paint job. For example, the tires and rims on the vehicles were painted black and silver and then drybrushed rust brown. The few organic elements around, like the duffel bags on the trucks, got painted a leather brown and then washed a dirt brown. Various dead light fixtures and computer consoles were painted black or dark purple and washed with the same. Other features were done solely with heavy drybrushing to add color and distinguish the feature but not break it out too much from the background, e.g., drybrushing a dark brown on the cabling or steel on the various scrap laying around. All the gravel and texture on the bases and the board itself also got drybrushed appropriately. Some metal edges and so on then got a hint of silver drybrushing to seem worn or jagged, like on the ends of the roughly cut scrap pipes.

Painting details on the garage. A layer of Modge Podge cures on the mechanical building in the background.

Painting details on the vehicles with my helper as dawn approaches.

Posters

I still had some minutes for detail work, so the finishing touch was to print up some signage and posters on cardstock. These were cut up, in some cases further filled out with ink pen scribblings, glued to various pieces either on the walls or crumpled up as litter on the ground, and then washed brown to age and grime them heavily.

Printed signage, posters, and litter.

Sealing

All these pieces are intended for public use in my local shop’s tournaments and such, so even if they’re not out all the time they still need to stand up to some abuse. The board and all the foam and cardstock surfaces therefore got coated in Modge Podge to seal them with a protective layer. This also resolved the problem mentioned above with the olive green paint having fuzzed up in the heat and feeling crumbly. Modge Podge can add a bit of a gloss sheen, but I knew the final steps would take care of that…

Covering the board in Modge Podge.

Carbon

Last up, I wanted to knock down the brighter colors and better blend the brushed details in with the sprayed “weathering.” So everything got quickly “washed” in carbon black pigment. Out of time, I didn’t try to do any real weathering here, caveat being sure to generally throw on the pigment low and then brush it upward so that it tended to collect and be heaviest toward the bottom of pieces. In some cases this “wash” dimmed the colors a bit more than I would have wanted, but overall I thought it really made the pieces feel more lifelike without hardly any effort. It also definitely made the sprayed and brushed details feel uniformly worn.

Once the pigment was on I just sealed it in place with dull coat spray. That’s not really sufficient to secure thick applications of pigment, but for a wash like this and even with some thin accumulation on the tops of a few pieces it was fine.

Fully painted tank.

Tank “washed” in pigment.

Play!

In the end, after working all through the night, at just about exactly noon I did the last batch of dull coat spraying, took a shower, and jumped in the car to head to the shop and get the board set up just in time for a 1pm Infinity tournament—success!

Critical to this was carefully staging all the various tasks so that I didn’t have any downtime. The ordering above is just notional, in reality the various steps were mixed up and interleaved across all the pieces so I was never just sitting around waiting. A prime example was doing the buildings first so I could Modge Podge the fragile parts and then work on painting the vehicles while that dried. All told this whole board got painted in about 16 hours of work: 2+ hours spraying one day and the rest leading directly up to the debut event. In hindsight I wished I had done the detail brush work and then gone back to do the weathering sprays, but it worked out fine in the end between drybrushing and pigment washing so this was an acceptable strategy to ensure I had pieces ready even if I didn’t get to work on them more.

A few of us played games in the newly built Derelict Depot in that tournament and it worked well. One modification needed was that it was immediately clear I needed to add some vegetation and such to make the railings and such provide overt partial cover, as planned in the construction writeup but not completed beforehand, so I did that afterward. The board definitely isn’t going to be loved by everybody, it’s more oriented toward narrative and aethestics than pure gameplay. Some of the details and unique shapes make placing figures, especially in cover, a bit more fiddly in a few places than standard MDF terrain. It’s also super dense if you put on all the pieces—very challenging for my own airborne-oriented squads! Realistically you could probably make two boards out of the collection with a more typical level of density.

But, it looked great, has a lot of unique details both mechanically and visually, and turned out very well. Gallery photos of the final product to come!

Don and Lovell fighting it out on the brand new board.

A Morat commands their troops from the mechanical building.

Hobby Tools & Glues Organizers

For a long time I kept all my hobby tools and supplies in a rollable stack of drawers next to my desk, in the corner between the desk and the wall. That was super convenient, I could always just reach over and grab whatever I needed. Then we moved, and my in-laws gave us a bigger table they didn’t need anymore, which I quickly appropriated. The result was that my hobby table is freestanding in the middle of my “office” now. It no longer makes sense to have the drawers next to it as they cut off the ability to walk around the table. So I didn’t have a great solution for how to keep my tools organized but still directly at hand.

Then recently I grabbed two basket hangers for our bathrooms, but they didn’t fit the available wall space where they’d be useful. I said “A-ha!”, again appropriated the goods, screwed them to my desk, and they’ve worked out super well:

So organized!

So organized!

Just enough space for a bunch of tools and supplies, and keeps everything I use frequently immediately at hand but off the work space itself.