This is my very first posting here, so I am trying to give a good impression by telling of my experiences with my first attempt at modding my first big model - by probably writing a very, very long posting. I will try to write in an entertaining way to prevent fellow Shas'la from falling asleep while reading -
I've also added some picture (click on them for larger size) and explained what I did with what, just in case anyone would be inclined to follow my first steps into building W40k models. So either learn from the mistakes I made or do your own ;)
I've recently begun to play (or rather: preparing the models for) W40k with Tau. I have bought two army boxes and, by my friends advice, a Skyray instead of a Hammerhead. He then adviced me to use magnets where possible to be able to switch between different setups.
After a bit of research I found out that almost every conversion for this featured a slightly different way to glue something into the front weapon mount cupola, cut a burst cannon in halfs, and use magnets to join them up again - just in case the tank chasis was to be used as a Devilfish. So far, so good.
But I thought that was not necessarily the best solution to the numbers of pieces I own:
From the army boxes I got one Devilfish each, giving me one tank chassis and one burst cannon. The skyray box contained another chassis, two burst cannons and one complete set to build Hammerhead and Skyray main weapon cupola with all bits attached. I could build two 'fishs and one tank as intended. But what if I wanted to field two tanks and no 'fish? Especially two tanks, each equipped with dual, not twin-linked burst cannons? I just couldn't afford to cut a tank sized burst cannon in half.
Please let me explain the solution I have used to cover that problem.Step 1 - magnetising the missiles
All search results for seeker missiles seemed to assume you to mount them on the body of a 'fish, Hammerhead or Piranha... but I wanted to use magnets on the Skyray missile mount wings.
With the available space on the missile mounts and, compared to that, the rather big missiles I concluded it was best to mount the magnet to the missile and the metal to the mount. I took some 1mm diameter nails and cut both head and pointy end off. Then I glued them into each guide rail for the missiles, using super glue.
I chose a 5mm x 2mm x 1mm (20 cent a piece) neodymium magnet as counterpart. Then, with a 1mm miling cutter and my portable drilling machine I began to make a hole big enough to mount the magnet edgewise into the guidance bar of the missile. This took me more time to accomplish than I thought. My drill was designed to be used for drilling holes into electronic boards made out of glass fiber - thus the slowest setting is around a thousand revs a minute. That was enough to heat the plastic of the missile up to melting point by friction only, clogging my miling cutter up.
After I had the hole (and lots and lots of breaks to clean the tool from molten plastic) I mixed some green stuff, stuffed it into the hole and added the magnet, alinging it to the guidance bar. Next day I cut the surplus green stuff off and ended with a nice seeker missile with alluring power. ;)
After fitting the missile where it belonged I was happy with the result - and felt a pang of dread thinking about another five missiles to be build this way.
Tools and materials used:
- Pair of wire cutter
- couple of 1mm nails
- super glue
- green stuff
- 1 Skyray seeker missile
- Skyray weapon mount cupola
- 1mm miling cutter with portable drilling machine
Learned lesseon 1:
While it is basically a very good idea to mill holes instead of employing awkward cutter knife skills, problems can arise from the very fact that thermoplastic material tends to melt when heat is added. *sigh*
Learned lesson 2:
If you want to cut nails, especially nails made from hardened
steel, don't use your side cutting pliers normally used to cut copper wires for electronic handicraft work... they tend to get ruined that way.Step 2 - magnetising the railgun
Railgun or ion cannon, both can be mounted to the Hammerhead and I wanted to be able to switch them on the fly. First, I assembled the weapon cupola with the mount. I drilled two holes at the very top of the mount, side by side. Then I cut some nails in half and used super glue to put them into place with the nails head a couple of milimeters above the weapon mount. I added another bit of glue around the exposed nail body for added strength.
Then I thought about how to mount the magnets to the inside of the railgun. Beeing the genius I am I was thinking about that after I had already glued to two railgun pieces together - leaving me with the small opening of the railgun as the only access. Since the inside was rather large I did not wanted to use greenstuff for mounting - I would have had to use to much.
So I used the tube of Plasto (sort of one component filler by Revell which hardens to a plaster like substance) and put a lot of it into the hole, then put two cylindric neodymium magnets, sticked together head to head, into the mass. (Dunno about sizes, I had only four of them and they sticking in dried Plasto now ;) - something around 4mm diameter and 8mm length). After aligning them I left the railgun to dry out over night.
Next day I found out that I couldn't mount the railgun to the weapon mount because there was lots and lots of dried Plasto where it should not be - like on top of the magnets. While I think Plasto is a nice alternative to green stuff for filling holes (already mixed and you take only what you need out of the tube), it also tends to stick very nasty to the metal sculpting tools I used to arrange it in the hole. So every time I extracted a shaping tool a bit of Plasto stuck like chewing gum until I had covered all the walls of the hole and the magnet itself. It took me almost twenty minutes to clean that hard stuff out until it would fit onto the weapon mount.
But then, again, I rejoiced at the result. The railgun was easy enough to mount and remove and while mounted it pointed almost straight ahead. I could even tilt it a bit and the magnets would draw it back into position. I build the ion cannon the same way afterwards (no picture provied).
Tools and material used:
- Hammerhead weapon cupola
- some 1mm diameter nails with flat heads
- super glue
- 1mm diameter drill to drill the holes for the nails
- 2 cynlindric neodymium magnets
- Plasto (lots and lots of it)
- Shaping tools
Learned Lesson 3:
- Plasto is a nice substitute for green stuff, but very sticky - and not easily applied through a small gap. One might end up with lots of it where it should not go.
- Plasto is a nice substitue for green stuff, but very hard when dried - and not easily removed from places where it should not have gone, almost up to the way of getting muscle ache by removing it.Step 3 - the master piece of magnetising the front weapon mount
Since I did not want to cut a burst cannon in half, but still be able to switch from burst cannon to the sensor bit for the tank I thought I had only one option. If the clip bit on the underside of the weapon mount is designed to hold the whole stuff together - then why not magnetize it?
One rectangular neodymium magnet and a bit of super glue later and the first bit was done - hey, this is easy - I thought then.
Now I needed something the magnet could attach to - and ran into my biggest problem and mistake in this whole undertaking. In my enthusiaticly mood to get modelling I had already glued top, bottom and the dividing bulkhead of all three chassis together. Great. But that did not lower my mood then. I took my miling cutter again and began to cut a hole where the magnet on the clip bit would be after assembly. Unfortunately I had misguessed the width of the plastik. Instead of ending up with a cavity to place another magnet in, I ended up with a hole - which made me think in four letter words for a minute.
After cooling my mood I took a bit of flat, slender metal band and bend it into an improvised spatula, mixed up some green stuff and tried to apply it through the weapon mount hole, around the corner inside the tank. I was lucky and I got it where I wanted the stuff: inside around the hole I made. I placed a magnet into the greenstuff and aligned it (took me only ten minutes to align it, align it again and again..). I did not want to use some metal as counterpart to the magnet because I thought the weapon cupola with burst cannon might be a bit on the heavy side. Since I do not know how good green stuff sticks to coated magnets I also covered the magnet with about half a milimeter of green stuff to prevent both magnets of touch each other and then one rip the other from out of his place when disassembling the mount. I left it overnight and next day I was happy to find out that the clip would perfectly stick to the tank with what I guessed was enough force to hold the burst cannon and cupola.
I assembled the weapon cupola with the burst cannon next. Since the cannon tended to tilt a bit to much downwards I added a plastic crossbar onto the upper ring of the cupola (the bit that holds the gun in place). I just cut a piece from a sprue, tapered the edged and glued it into place. Then I used a cutter to make a round dent into the crossbar where the end of the burst cannon would rest. On the underside I glued two magnets so it would better stick with the cupola itself.
I glued two plastic cylinders from a sprue into the inside of the weapon cupola, drilled two holes and added nails (also glued). It just fitted perfectly on the first try so I did not need to adjust anything. The burst cannon went where it belonged and you could not see anything from the outside.
Combining tank, plastic clip and assembled weapon cupola I, again, rejoiced - I got exactly what I wanted, first try. I can switch from both Skyray and Hammerhead to a 'fish and back without having had to sacrifice one of my burst cannons! I just glued the sensor bit the tanks would need to one spare cupola and that was done.
Tools and material used:
- one empty sprue for spare plastic
- 1mm drill for the nails
- two 1mm nails with flat head
- four rectangular neodymium magnets, 5mm x 2mm x 1mm
- super glue and plastic glue
- miling cutter and cutter knife
- one assembled tank chassis and the parts for the front weapon cupola
- lots of patience
Learned lesson 4:
- If you want to mod a tank or any other model, never ever assemble and glue it together before
modding. While it does not seem to make the mod impossible it does cost lots and lots of gray hairs!Things to do from this point onward:
- Finish another five seeker missiles *sigh*
- Lower the center of gravity of both tank weapon cupolas by adding some metal at the underside - I don't want them to fall off just the moment I am aiming for some Imperial tanks but since I have already assembled the chassis I will not be using magnets here *sigh*
- improvise another sensor bit for 2nd tank, capable to be mounted into my magnetized cupola
- improvise two side weapon holders, probably from two spare gun drones - should be an interesting task to undertake
- add paint
I guess with this I got enough experience to level up from level 1 W40k beginner to level 3 modelling amateur in one go. I also hope no one actually fall into sleep because of this post. If you have any advice on a) the modelling b) the photo quality and size or c) length of post and my way to write things, please feel free to place constructive criticism.
Sincererly and exhausted from writing the probably longest English text in his life outside school,
2nd Law of Thermodynamics: Chaos will Reign.