Over the last several weeks in between a nice vacation to see my family after almost a year, my 30th birthday, and preparing for our new arrival to the family (about a month to go!), hobbying has been slow but steady. Overall I’ve been working on tieing up loose ends in my attempt to 3D print all the miniatures from the Lost Adventures Vol 1 Kickstarter. I have been printing a significantly large amount of miniatures and keeping track of them has been complicated along with keeping the models safe from my one year old. However I’ll get into that storage and project management at a later date.
I recently did a project that i’m immensely proud of and thought i’d share my experiences…. I magnetized my first ever miniature successfully!
For some this sound silly but for others this is an incredible feat that opens up the realm of endless possibility. If you do not understand what I mean by magnetizing miniatures let me explain. Magnetizing miniatures commonly occurs on models where the player or hobbyist desires to be able to swap out arms, heads, weapons or more on the model. This could be done for aesthetic reasons or be a functional part of gameplay. Players could “purchase” weapon upgrades or armored machines could be “destroyed” and fall apart while actively playing a game.
In the case of this project I magnetized, a Hydra. This Hydra model I got my the Lost Adventures Vol 1 Kickstarter and it has been on the list of things to print. Finally getting it printed and coming out terrifically I decided to add some extra TLC to this figure. For information regarding my print history check out the print log, Hydra Horror.
For the extra work for this model I desired to simulate a core behavior of this ancient Greek and Roman mythological monster. If you are not familiar with a Hydra, it is most famous for its mythological fight with Hercules son of Zeus. I was first introduced to this ferocious monster in the 1997 animated film “Hercules” by Walt Disney Pictures.
In the movie Hercules is seeking to become a hero and is baited by the minions of Hades to fight a Hydra. This young and arrogant man takes his sword and repeatedly cuts off the head of the Hydra. Little does he know is that a Hydra is capable of regrow its head and replacing it not with one but two new Heads. This was the behavior I wanted to simulate.
While working on my project of printing the miniatures from the Lost Adventures 1 Kickstarter I encountered the perfect model.
Their Hydra Horror named “Malgáthez the Devourer” sculpted by two freelance sculptors, Artem Bespalov & Deryck Pelligrini, is a Hydra that comes with a main body, 5 neck slots and the choice of either 1 neck or 2 necks for each slot. This allows for the flexibility of this model to be created with 5 to 10 heads in 120 possible combinations. Now I will admit that I did not actually realize that there were 10 printable necks for only 5 printable slots until I accidently printed them all up regardless. I mindlessly just filled my Phrozen Sonic mini 4K build plate with models and hit go. Not wanting to waste any resin and seeing the opportunity for something really and truly epic I decided to attempt magnetizing the model. Yay for happy accidents.
I then again was faced with questions in the hobby space. How in the world do I magnetize a model? Where do I begin? What tools do I need? Is this worth investing into?
Normally I would be hyper critical and ultra analyze others and their projects for magnetizing models reading blog posts, searching forums, watching youtube videos. But for some reason I decided to blaze into the challenge blind. Which I should say was a ton of fun. I was not completely oblivious to the process of magnetizing models as a viewer of hobby youtube channels have shown this being done several times throughout the years of watching. However those are typically 30 second clips in 15 minute videos with no obvious guide.
In this case I knew a few things that I needed.
- A way to create recesses in the model for the magnets
- Magnetized each neck to be replaceable on the model
- The magnet should be strong enough to hold the neck in place
- The magnet cannot impede the fit of the neck on the model and sit as seamlessly as possible.
Now I had an idea of what I needed I decided to tackle the first problem: what size magnets? Knowing that I desired the strongest possible for the size chosen regardless I restricted my search to rare earth, neodymium magnets. I have previously used magnets in terrain such as my magnetized dungeon tiles using 5mm sphere magnets. I have also gotten magnets for other projects and had 3x1mm cylinder magnets for a previous attempt at magnetizing miniatures. These were not strong enough for the weight in last attempts for magnetized storage. I also had some 6×2 mm cylinders from a project I was supposed to do years ago…
Knowing this I decided I needed a bigger magnet than 3×1 cylinders but smaller than the 6x2mm. The end goal was to hide it in the model itself and not have it show through. Therefore I needed to purchase something in between. Normally this is the time where i’d go online and try to hunt for the very best deals and in some cases wait months for my magnets to arrive. Since in this case I wasn’t sure what I truly needed and wanted to get stuff moving off the tabletop. So I decided to go through Etsy to buy magnets. Etsy is not only a site where people can buy most commonly crafted goods & even 3d printed miniatures but also materials. Finding a vendor I ordered some 4x2mm cylinder magnets. My order was quick and much faster than if I ordered from a large magnet site that could take months.
With part 1 of the things I needed down I had to figure out a way to make holes in the solid resin model pieces to place the magnets. I already owned an affordable pin vise as I tried to learn its variable uses. Pin Vise link shown on the right.
However I did not have any drill bits that were big enough to make one hole for the magnets I ordered. Knowing I wanted to make only 1 hole to cut out as clean of an area as possible I ordered a set of big bits for these types of projects.
Being so excited to have my pin vise, magnets and models I set out on my mission. Only to discover that the pin vise would only hold up to 3.5 mm bits…. well I guess I need to find another tool for the job. After doing some research and even considered 3d printing a vice from thinigiverse I merely purchased a beefier vise on amazon that can hold all my new drill bits.
Magnetizing in Summary:
After buying all of my fun toys. I was off to the races! Overall this was surprisingly easy to accomplish. Each neck had a great fit into the main body and overall lead to making sure the alignment of the magnets went by super smoothly. I did not have to worry about the neck being too off center from the body due to the pretty impressive male/female pegs cut in the STL. Shout out to Lost Adventures Co and their sculptors for that hard work. In almost all cases the fit and form of the neck to the body was pretty close to seamless, well for a body that has swappable heads.
As for the strength of the magnets I only encountered trouble on neck #2 (moving left to right). Due to the fact that this neck is pointing down with gravity this neck needed a stronger magnet in order to stay in place. I ended up not realizing that this was such an issue until after the magnet was glued into the body. However I was able to cut out the magnet from the double necked head and replace it with one of my 6×2 mm magnets. This provided extra strength and helps attach the neck. Unfortunately the neck is very sensitive to movement and is more likely to fall off. All in All i’d recommend potentially gluing this head and magnetizing the rest to make it more sturdy.
- Find the two pieces that fit together and check their fit.
This was the time to check to make sure that no support marks were left on the model and I indeed have the correct pieces to go together.
- I used my small pin vise and drilled a pilot hole
I did this to help with the use of the big drill bit and assist in not shattering the resin model with force. Overall this helped to center the larger bit as well.
- Use the larger bit (4mm) to drill out a hole.
I always ended up having to go a deeper than I thought I needed to. This accounts for potential space with the glue & fragments. I’d rather have the magnet slightly inside the model as opposed to sticking out.
- Check the fit of the magnet.
If magnet did not fit correctly then I extracted the magnet from the hole, commonly using a pair of metal tweezers and repeated step 3 as needed.
- Check the polarity of the magnet.
Overall I wanted the necks to always be attracted to the body. This was overall accomplished really well with the exception neck 2 of which I got the polarity flipped. Most commonly I would mark the side of the magnet that would have glue on it and go into the hole drilled with a black sharpie pen so I could remember which side was which.
- Apply glue.
For my 3d printed resin models I used super glue.
- Using a tooth pick help navigate the magnet into the hole.
I made sure not to use a metal tool placing the magnet so that way the magnet would actually go into the hole and stay centered in the hole. If using a metal tool the magnet was “accidently” pulled away and glued to the tool. No of course this would never happen to me…..
- Once safely dried enough check model again for fit and polarity.
If polarity was accidently reversed then models would not connect and magnet would have to be removed and flipped. This only happened to me once or twice and was relatively easy to fix. I know this will not always be the case.
An example of a neck swap of one and two necks on the model.
This project has been a ton of fun and is one that I will take pride in. I am definitely intimidated with the concept of having 15 total heads to paint and what color scheme to paint the whole body. Should each neck slot be a different color like the famous Dungeon and Dragons Tiamat dragon? Should it all be the same? My husband thinks I should make the 2 neck variant a lighter color than the one neck to represent new growth. What do you think? Have you magnetized anything cool?
4 thoughts on “How Do You Magnetize Models Anyway?”
Well done. It sounds like this was a long and tedious process. How many hours did it take you to magnetize after having all the right tools? I look forward to seeing it painted. I like the idea of the lighter color for new growth.