Sunday, February 5, 2017

Dropfleet Commander, Scourge Cruiser Assembly and Magnetizing

In the previous post, I covered how I assembled and magnetized my Scourge Frigates.  As I began to write up the Cruiser assembly and magnetizing section, I realized the length dictated that I probably break the post up into two parts, so here is the second part.
KS Exclusive Scourge Battle-Cruiser

My first attempt to build and magnetize a cruiser was a complete failure, so it quickly got re-purposed to the Kickstarter exclusive battle-cruiser (which has special/different bits).  This hid all the mistakes I made and ultimately the battle-cruiser was not a suitable for magnetizing anyway (that "crown" is the deal breaker).  

While I do think the quality of the frigates and cruisers are excellent, these special add-on parts for the battle-cruiser (at least for Scourge) were a bit of a let down and required significant work.  All the pieces (crown and the forward "winglets") had large ports and vents, as well as pretty bad mold lines.  Additionally, the crown was badly curved.  It took some work, but all of that was addressable and I think it looks great now.  And overall, I've seen much much worse.  It was just a little disappointing after how great the frigates were.

Cruiser Assembly and Magnetizing
Anyway, back to magnetizing the cruisers.  As I tried to wrap my head around magnetizing the cruisers, I stumbled across a great blog post at NanoTanks that really helped break down the issues at hand (you can find the specific post here).  To cover all the bases you are looking at:  3 different wing options, 4 "mouth" options, crown and no crown, and belly or no belly.  Hmm, I think that is 48 permutations.  Not all permutations are valid configurations in the rules of course but wow.

I'll cover the crown first, since it requires placing a hidden magnet during the first steps of assembly.
Never mind those small holes in the mouth, we will come back
to that later.
In the picture above, you can see a large magnet recessed (left) before putting the upper fuselage piece on (right).  This upper fuselage piece is fairly thin and a larger magnet can provide enough attractive force to hold the small/light crown (the small piece on the cutting pad between them) to the upper hull.  
The "large" magnet.  Not really that large except when
compared to the "small" magnets.
Two small magnets placed below the crown.  Note
these were not recessed as they are fairly obscured.
A bad picture with the crown held on by the magic of
The wings and belly are easy enough:

Small magnets for the wings and in the socket, similar
to the frigates.

Wing Option 1

Wing Option 2

Wing Option 3

Again, small magnets for the belly option.
I used 2 here to minimize rotation.  Again, ignore those
holes in the "mouth."
Show me your belly!

So far not to bad.  Now all that is left is 4 mouth options but this is where things get tricky since the 4 options are actually:  1 no option (vanilla/plain) and 3 attachments.

My first approach failure was to place a hidden magnet (one of the large ones) in between the left and right halves of the fuselage, in the mouth area.  This was difficult to do without drilling through the side but it is doable.  The next part, was to attach ferro paper to the backsides of the 3 attachment options.  This failed because there was simply not enough attractive force.  Hell, even just the paper by itself didn't hold in place.

The second approach failure was to drill two holes, as seen in some of the pictures above, in the mouth section and attempt to place the small magnets on the backsides of the 3 attachment options.  This was a very bad idea due to the obvious alignment nightmare it creates.  This also completely eliminates the no attachment option.  I was going to live with this though because the 2 cruisers builds that have vanilla mouths are already visually distinctive by being the only configurations with launch pods or the belly or I would just keep 1 or 2 cruisers aside specifically for the vanilla mouth configurations.

Building on the second approach (and having no way to turn back from the mess I already caused) I decided to drill out just the forward drill hole for a large magnet and reamed it out to be even bigger than that.

These magnets are not recessed either but
hidden away in the large hole through the mouth.

So the magnets on each side do not actually make contact but the attractive force is more than enough to hold them securely in place.  And reaming out the hole to be a bit larger than the magnets addressed the alignment issues.

There you have it, Scourge Cruiser magnetizing with all the options.  Except the vanilla mouth option that I gave up on.  Or did I?

I just happened to have this, never have used it before.

I didn't create the mold using this cruiser which has
the two holes drilled in the mouth.

Lip balm is great when working with green stuff to
smooth it out and to minimize sticking.

Thinly rolled greenstuff pressed over my molds.  Yes
there is a "little" excess.

Its not necessarily the prettiest solution but from the angle and distance that you view the ships from, it works beautifully.  Sort of.  The greenstuff is a bit flimsy since it is so thin and I am worried about the long term wear and tear of removing these pieces (the large magnets have the stuff together pretty tightly).  I tried the same thing with 2 different kinds of milliput that I had but was not pleased with either result.  I will try again though, maybe my ratios were off.  I've also heard of mixing greenstuff and milliput.  And there is also Magic Sculpt (?).

There was yet another potential solution failure I attempted after this.  But I don't want to talk about it.  Let's just say it was a really bad idea.  Oh no, I just thought of another potential solution that I happen to have the materials for, hmmm.

Anyway, that was/is my solution (for now at least).  I just need to finish the rest of these off (2 more cruisers, 8 more frigates) and get them off my hobby desk.  Maybe then I can focus my attention back to some other things that have been ignored for the past month.  I'll also need to order some more magnets (this project tore through my supply) before trying PHR or UCM (both of which look a bit more challenging than Scourge).

Btw, I think this is something worth mentioning:  Despite having a supply of magnets on hand for this project, this is actually the first time I had ever magnetized any of my miniatures.  Maybe it is just the engineer in me but I really enjoyed it.  As you can perhaps see from above, there is a certain problem solving aspect to it that I really liked.  And I really did not find it all that difficult, so if you have ever wanted to do it but been afraid to - give it a try.  That being said, if you absolutely hate pinning miniatures I can't imagine you would like magnetizing them.  


  1. Thanks for the detailed write-up and sharing all your lessons-learned, Chris. Now I've learned that my solution will be to just throw money at the problem and buy multiple kits! ;-)

  2. One question. How do the magnets work after painting and varnishing. Is it easy to switch the parts over without damaging the paint work?

  3. Sadly, I can't answer in this particular instance as I haven't gotten around to painting them. =( That being said, it is pretty common to paint and varnish over the magnets so I don't expect it to be an issue. The one thing to always try to do is "slide" the magnets off and on when switching parts, not to let them "snap" to together.

  4. Great guide! Loving your blog. Have you had a chance to listen to our podcast Scanners Offline?

    1. Thanks for stopping by Jason. I'll be sure to check out your podcast.

    2. No worries! If you like it, it'd be great if you could drop a link somewhere on your blog in case your other reads are interested?