I’d like to welcome Jacob to the blog as we get back on track and the posts rolling in. Jacob is going to be focusing (at least for now) on the hobby side of what it is to build your Ret army. So keep your eyes peeled for more of this series – Dan
A standard House Shyeel heavy can be built as a Manticore, a Hydra or a Phoenix, with an optional upgrade kit to make it in to Discordia. I’m going to walk you through how to magnetise it so you can play it as any of those 4 options without having to commit yourself to a specific one of those.
Before you start
Get all your bits out and clean them: use a craft knife or file to remove mould lines and any flash from the pieces. Then get familiar with how they all fit together by dry-fitting them – just push them together and hold them so you get a sense of how it all goes together.
Don’t glue anything until you have finished magnetising everything you want to. Drilling and glueing will be much easier if it’s still in bits.
The magnets to use are “super strong” neodynium magnets. I bought mine from an eBay seller and it cost about 5p (~$0.03 / €0.04) a magnet. For small joints use 2mm (diameter) x 1mm round magnets. For the larger joints 4mm (diameter) x 1mm. Most places list the diameter measurement first, then the height. To fully magnetise the kit I used 28 2mm x 1mm magnets and 6 4mm x 1mm magnets – a total cost of less than £2.
In addition to the model and the magnets, you will need:
- ~1mm drill bit – the sort normally used for drilling holes for pins (optional, but recommended)
- 2mm drill bit – to drill holes for the small magnets
- 4mm drill bit – to drill holes for the bigger magnets
- A flat file
- A (really) small amount of Green Stuff and a sculpting tool
The drill bits are easy to pick up online or from a local hardware store, and don’t cost very much at all. If you decide to use different diameter magnets, make sure you have drill bits to match.
The Basics of Magnetising
Magnets have a North Pole and a South Pole. Like poles repel, opposite poles attract. We want to make sure that all the bits we want to magnetise have opposite poles so they attract each other and stick together. The term “polarity” is used when we are talking about our the magnets with the poles the right way round.
Step 1 – drill a hole
Decide where your first magnet is going to go. I started with the arm blades for Discordia. Use the 1mm drill bit to drill a small pilot hole. The advantage of doing this is twofold:
First, you can check the hole is where you want it. If you’ve got it wrong, the hole is small enough that you can re-drill and it is likely that the wrong hole will still be inside the final hole you drill with the larger drill bit.
Secondly, it acts as a guide to the larger drill bit. The drill bits are pointed, and having a small pilot hole makes sure you get the drill exactly where you want it by putting the point of the larger drill bit in the pilot hole.
Now use the 2mm drill bit to start drilling. Go slowly and stop often to check for depth.
Step 2 – Making sure magnets are flush
While you are drilling, check regularly to see how deep you have gone. Use a stack of magnets to see how deep the hole is. If you see the end magnet still sticks out of the hole, keep drilling. If it disappears completely, the hole is big enough.
Step 3 – Glue the magnet in place
The hole for the magnet is very tight to the shape of the magnet. That’s mostly a good thing, but when it comes to glueing it means you only need very little glue. If you use too much, the magnet won’t be flush to the surface. Liquids can’t be compressed, so no amount of pushing down will make the magnet sit flush if there is too much glue.
To avoid this problem, don’t put glue in the hole, put it on the magnet. Squeeze your glue gently until a small hemisphere of glue appear at the nozzle, then lightly dip your magnet in to the glue. A small amount of glue will go on to the end of the magnet – just enough.
I normally use a stack of magnets to hold it. This can cause the end magnet to stick to the next one, but gentle pressure with a craft knife is normally enough to get them apart again.
Step 4 – Aligning the second magnet
It’s really important to make sure the second magnet lines up with the first magnet when the two pieces come together. The best way to do that is to put a dot of paint on the first magnet then dry fit the parts together whilst the paint is still wet. This should leave a paint mark on the second piece. That shows you where to drill.
Step 5 – Drill the second hole
Same as before: pilot hole first, then make it bigger. Check for depth using your stack of magnets.
Step 6 – Get the polarity right
This is the most important step. The simplest way to make sure you have the magnets the right way round is to use other magnets as a bridge between the magnet you already have and the one you are about to put in. While it is still attached to your first magnet, dip the end magnet in your glue and gently but firmly insert in to your new hole.
Now you should have your first pair of magnets in place.
Use the same aligning, drilling, checking polarity techniques to fix any other magnets that attach to that area; in this case the Manticore arm blades.
It’s not uncommon for pieces not to sit flush after magnetising.
This is easy to solve with a bit of green stuff. If you add too much, file it back. If you need a bit more, just roll some up.
Even taking all the care in the world, magnets can end up the wrong way round. Sometimes this happens because you didn’t check, double check and triple check the polarities when glueing, and sometimes it can be due to the magnet spinning when you pull the magnet stack away. Whatever the reason, it’s really annoying, but here’s what to do.
1. Can you get it out before the glue dries?
This is the easiest and best solution. Try a stack of magnets, or pushing down on one side of the magnet with the point of a sculpting tool. You can often pry them out if you act quickly. If not:
2. Drill a small hole next to the magnet.
Using the point of a sculpting tool, break through the thin wall between your hole and the magnet, so you can get underneath the magnet. Pry it out, clean the magnet by scraping with a craft knife and try again.
If it’s an external part, tidy up with green stuff afterwards.
Ball and socket joints
There are lots of ball and socket joints: the head, elbows and wrists are all ball and socket. Typically, aligning the magnets on these isn’t a problem, but there are some tips to use to make things easier for you.
Sockets are the easy bit. Pilot hole, drill, glue. Job done. The elbow joints were where I used the 4mm magnets.
Ball joints can be tricky, as positioning your pilot hole on a curved surface is hard. To fix that, use your flat file to level off the surface of the ball joint.
The top hand is un-filed, the bottom hand has been flattened off. Be aware that the angle you file at will determine the end positioning of the joint. If you want a straight joint, file perpendicular to the joint (like in the picture). If you want an angled joint, you will have to adjust the angle you file at.
Once you have a flat surface, you can drill a pilot hole much more easily.
Now make the hole bigger, check polarities and glue.
Heads and back vents
The heads are simple ball and socket joints so file the head ball before drilling.
The back vents are quite straightforward, but do the Phoenix arc node “wings” first – they are heavier and longer so have a bigger effect on the force trying to separate the magnets.
The gap in the back is deeper than the plug on the wings, so you don’t need to drill holes, and may need more than one magnet to get a strong attraction between the magnets.
Discordia’s face mask
Probably the hardest part of the whole magnetisation is Discordia’s face mask. It has to attach when you want to use Discordia, but not look awful when it’s a regular jack.
I used two magnets in “eye” positions. Using green stuff I covered them up, but if yours goes wrong you could make the “eyes” a painted feature of your model.
First drill very small divots using the 1mm drill. Not holes, just little indentations to check how it looks.
If you are happy, drill pilot holes and then 2mm holes. When you are checking for depth, go a little bit beyond flush – a bit of the second magnet should be hidden by the hole.
Now glue the magnets in.
You can see from the frontal view they are inset slightly – that’s exactly what you want. Now you can fill them flush with green stuff. Add loads and take nearly all of it off. Smooth, and then file when hardened.
When painted, this will be nearly unnoticeable.
Next put two magnets on those “eyes”, and apply paint.
Dry fit the face mask and it will leave marks where the magnets need to go.
Drill guide holes – these aren’t to set the magnet in, just to show you where to glue them. There is a bit of a gap between the face of the jack and the face mask – almost exactly the width of the magnet. Then glue the magnets.
Check you are happy with the fit. It is easy to pry off the magnets with a craft knife if they need to be moved. The ones I this picture were a little low, so I moved them up.
Now you’ve done all the magnets you can glue it. When you plan the pose make sure you consider all the load outs. You could go for a largely neutral “arms by their sides” poses, but I wanted something more dynamic. It was mainly about the Hydra loadout: I wanted one gun arm raised ready to unload. That meant checking it looked good with the other setups. I’m pretty pleased with the results.
This process is fiddley, time consuming (it took maybe 4 hours all told), but ultimately hugely rewarding and saves a lot of money. I love doing it, and am already planning on doing another one, but without the Discordia bits.