Archive for the ‘Dark Eldar’ Category

We can conquer worlds . . . quench suns . . . and use teeny tiny magnets.

Update: I am now trying to use 2mm magnets wherever possible as they do hold much better

In this article I will document my effort to magnetise my Dark Eldar infantry. This all came about when I opened my first box of Kabalite warriors. I was very impressed by the number of different options you get in the box, more weapons than bodies allowing you to create the unit that you want. It is a shame for all of these excellent sculpts to go to waste I thought and decided to use magnets to make things interchangeable. I was going to magnetise the feet anyway as I wanted to be able to swap to different types of base (desert, grass, arctic etc). I then decided to do the weapons, heads and backpacks as well.  In the box you get:

  • 10 fronts with 5 variants
  • 10 backs with 5 variants
  • 10 legs with 5 variants
  • 15 Head variants (10 helmet, 5 face)
  • 10 Splinter rifles
  • 1 Dark Lance
  • 1 Splinter Cannon
  • 1 Blaster
  • 1 Shredder
  • 2 Splinter Pistols
  • 1 Blast Pistol
  • 1 Agoniser
  • 1 Sword
  • 1 Phantasm Grenade Launcher (backpack)
  • 1 Back mounted banner
  • 1 Back mounted trophy rack
  • 2 Backpacks (for the heavy weapons)
  • Lots of spiky bitz

Before you start (no really)

Now before you start cutting things out of the sprues take a look at the instructions that came in the box. There are different left arms to go with different right arm weapons. Personally I think the Dark Eldar would have been more sinister left handed but they missed that trick. Like parts are numbered on the sprues with the weapon being numbered say 45 and the opposite arm 45A. It is also worth noting that whilst you can mix and match the front and back torso parts, the leg parts come in matching front and back pairs. Anything back mounted like the grenade launcher, power packs and banner only fit in certain torso sections which have a groove to take the pack. If you do not want packs on any of the squad then it looks perfectly fine as it has been modelled as part of the armour, not like some models with blatantly obvious holes or smoothed sections.  Or if you prefer there is an ornamental banner and trophy rack.


These are commonly available and quite cheap (a few pounds for 100 on ebay).  They are very strong for their size and larger ones may break your fingers or cause metal objects to jump at them (like knife blades).  The magnets can also be quite brittle, again not so much a problem with the really little ones but my friend Frobes broke one by sticking it on the inside and one on the outside of a coffee cup.  It broke itself because of the curvature of the mug.  You also really do not want to eat them (some people are thick as mince) because they can attract eachother in your intestines and cause potentially fatal ruptures.  More on magnet safety here: Magnet Safety. I take no responsibility for any injury or other problems caused by your use of magnets or any other tools mentioned in this article.

Example Assembly

For this example I have chosen one of the torso sections which will take backpacks. I have also taken two heads, a splinter pistol and sword, a splinter rifle and supporting arm, the phantasm grenade launcher and the dark lance. These models are very delicate so I suggest using a pair of clippers to take them off the sprues, a sharp knife may work but it can be hard to get the part flat on the table and just twisting them out is bound to break something. I then shaved off any mould lines or bulges where the item was cut from the sprue with a sharp craft knife.

Assembling the fixed parts

I will not go into detail for this as I assume that if you are trying to magnetise the army then you have some practice in model assembly already, if not I suggest you do not go any further and go find a model assembly article before you ruin your Dark Eldar. What I did find though was that to get the front and back sections of the shoulder pads to line up correctly you need to really push the front section of the torso in and up to the back. I shaved a little plastic from the joining faces on the inside to help with this and also used Humbrol model filler to fill the gaps. This adds a bit of drying time as you need to let the filler dry before you can shave or file it.  I then glued the torso to the legs.  I did not base the model at this time as I plan on magnetising the feet as well once my 2mm magnets arrive.


At this point it is worth thinking about polarity.  Magnets will attract each other in one direction only, they will force each other appart in the other.  The latter is somewhat counter productive to what we are trying to accomplish.  I suggest you come up with a polarity scheme and stick to it for every model.  Most parts do not matter provided you do the same for all heads for example but if two magnets are very close together you may want to think of the force the second one will exert on any match you have for the first one.  Putting the original two in the same direction will resolve this although I did not have any such problems on the dark eldar as the arms, head and back are suitably far apart.  That is not to say there will not be some repelling force but the attractive force was enough to overcome it and still support the weight.

I also decided to make my left arms and right arms attract each other.  This way you can keep matching pairs together in your box or foam case.  This means that left arms will repel right sockets which is fine but just remember to get them the right way round.

The Head

The first part I magnetically attached was the head.  I filed down the ball joint under the head ever so slightly although you can judge on your own models if it is a good fit or not.  I then found the most prominent part of the ball joint and dabbed a little paint on it with my fine detail brush.  I then placed the head in the torso and took it out again, leaving a mark on the torso where the point you have chosen on the head touches the torso.

I then slowly drilled up into the head making sure the drill was at right angles to the head, watch here because the head and the ball joint are not always completely in line.  To measure the depth of holes I cut a tooth pick shaped sliver of plastic card and painted 1mm of the end with dark blue and another 1mm with light blue.  You can use this to measure 1mm and 2mm deep holes.  Always however test the fit of the actual magnet you will put in the whole.  Ideally the magnet will fit in exactly but if not I prefer a slight recess than having the magnet stick slightly out.  We are talking fractions of a millimetre here but if the magnet is raised the attached part may wobble a bit whereas if it is recessed you may lose a fraction of the magnetic force but the surface around the magnet is all flat making a good join.

Using a 0.5mm cutting or wire as a “brush” I coated the inside of the hole with glue and put a little on the end of the magnet which I had stuck to my craft knife.  I then placed the magnet in the hole and gently slid the knife off to the side.  Using the other end of my dipper stick I pushed the magnet in fully.  On some of the parts I put a little bit of glue on top of the magnet once it was on to make sure it stayed there.  Make sure and wipe over the surface with a cotton bud or something though so you just get a little glue in any cracks and no more.  You also do not want to put a thick layer of anything on the magnet as it will reduce the force it exerts in its match.

I then drilled the matching hole in the torso.  You need to be careful as parts of the torso are hollow so your 1mm hole can suddenly become much deeper.  You could fill the torso halves before you assemble them or you could stick more magnets or some kind of rod down the hole.  I found though that as long as I was careful and did not push down two hard that the superglue held the magnet in by the sides.  To place the magnet in the torso I first stuck the magnet to the head (with the magnetic force not superglue).  Once on I could then glue the sides of the hole as before and place a little dab on the end of the magnet.  I then put the head on the torso with the magnet going down the hole.  I waited for the glue to take hold then pulled the head off.  It helps if you wipe any superglue clean from the surface before you do this so that most of the glue is in the hole and the tiny bit on the surface is easily pulled free.

And there you have it, one magnetised head.  It can be posted from side to side although do not lift the model by the head.  Some of them hold but not all of them and I find it best to lift delicate and painted models by the base anyway or at least the legs.

Image of the magnetised parts


Note that for the arms I have since started pinning alongside of the magnet to hold better and stop rotation. Also note that the special weapons do not fit so well on the female bodies because their breasts are too big, good ole Jes. Doing the arms is pretty much the same as doing the head.  Mark the holes with paint, drill them out then glue in the magnets.  Make sure you do all your same sided arms with the same polarity.  I also made the left and right arms stick to each other for storage.  Most of the guns do not turn round the join because they are very light and also the torso stops them.  The exceptions to this are some of the left arms, particularly the one with the dark lance.  If you pick this model up and shake it a little the dark lance will wobble a bit before resetting to fixed position when you stop shaking it.  This can move the left arm down and because they are wide of the torso it does not stop them.  You can to counter this glue the hand to where it holds the weapon under the barrel.  Do this when the arms are on the torso to ensure you get it in the correct place.

I did this example with 1mm magnets but I may start putting 2mm ones on the torso side of the join since there is room.  I would still be worried about the drill coming out the side of the hole if I put 2mm on the arm side though and the head and backpack do need the 1mm magnets because of the curvature and small size.

Back mounted items

These are quite straightforward.  Just make sure your polarities are correct.  You may want to take extra care placing the magnet in the torso because it is hollow in places and also because if you choose to not have a backpack on the model it will be well hidden.  The slot where the backpack would go does not look like such an obvious hole as on some ranges and if you want to fill it with something there is a banner and a trophy rack in each set which can fill both of the holed torsos.

Fixing an incorrect hole

With 1mm magnets on models as fine as these the chances are you will get a hole at some point that is not quite where you would want it.  This is however easy to fix.  First using your craft knife scrape away on the inside of the hole in the direction you want it to move.  You do not have to scrape all the way into the hole just enough on the surface that you could guide the drill into the new hole.  Then take a sliver of plastic card probably smaller than 1mm and glue it in the hole at the oposite side from the direction you scraped.  Use a long piece to do this then trim any excess off, much easier than trying to get a short piece in.  Now drill out the new hole using what is there from your knife cuts as a guide, just do this the same way as you drilled holes above.  You can see in the picture below the white next to the hole, that is the filler plastic.

A picture of a hole which has been fixed.

Getting a magnet out

Not easy.  I do not have a way to do this but I can say that I had a magnet that went too deep into one of the arms.  I managed to push it further into the hollow part of the chest then put another magnet in its place.  Best just to be careful and get it right though.  I would probably just glue arms onto one that was broken in some way and have it as a fixed one.  This is not so good if it is one of the ones with a backpack mount as those are the ones you tend to want to swap arms on.

Other things to hink about

So that you do not mix up which left and right arms go together you could paint matching coloured dots over the magnets so you do not have to try and work it out each time.  You could also use 2mm magnets for some of the joins although you would struggle for the backpack and the head.  Even the arms would need to be done very carefully so that you do not break out the side wall with the drill.  For me the force of 1mm magnets is enough for these models.  When reading another article on magnetising models I read someone suggesting you do not place the models closer than 2 inches apart or they can fly together.  These magnets are not powerful enough to do that and if the ones you are using do that then you probably put in magnets that were too large and powerful.  Another thought I had is that I may not magnetise all the heads, just five out of ten including the two with back mounts.  That way you can swap helmets for faces but leave five helmets glued as there is not much point swapping helmet for helmet.  I would quite like to use all faces for a unit of trueborn for example.

I have decided now to add 0.5mm pins as well as the magnets to stop them rotating.

The finished article

Once you have done one it is quite easy to do the others.  Just repeat the same steps and you will end up with multiple options for your Kabalite warriors with which to enslave the lesser races.  If you got all the magnets in flush then you should not be able to see them either and once painted you will not know to look at them that the parts are attached this way.

multiple component options