Sunday, January 3, 2010

Project "Thunder-horse": a tutorial

A fellow brother in arms by the name of Vern asked Lantz the other day:

What size magnet do you suggest I use for the sponsons and turret options on a demolisher? I don't want to buy something too big where I cant use them.

While Lantz is the magnet king around our gaming group he doesn't have all that much experience with IG stuff so he turned it over to me. I have recently knocked together the new IG "Heavy Russ" with the Punisher, Demolisher and Exterminator cannons and have come up with something I like to call Project "Thunder-horse"

Here she is now:

While still a work in progress all of the magnetizing has been completed. I can add/remove sponsons at will, change out each gun in each slot, change out the main gun and add/remove the track guards

What you will need:
3/16" x 1/32" thick cylinder rare earth magnets
1/16" x 1/32" thick cylinder rare earth magnets
A flat bladed file
A 1/16" drill bit
A Dremmel and/or drill
The sprue for the tank and a blade/knife/Dremmel attachment to cut it with
Super glue
A sharpie or magic marker

All of the steps that I will show you were done during the construction of the tank. While the examples are of the finished project I did not have a camera at the time to record my steps.

I cut a small section of sprue and glued a 3/16" x 1/32" thick cylinder rare earth magnet to the flat edge, I then stood the cut sprue inside the sponson and glued like so:

Let me save you some heartache and show you the trick to it now. Take the flat bladed file and use that to hold the magnet in place. This is a two fold step as it will make sure that your magnet/sprue combo wont move while the glue dries AND it will ensure that your magnet is flush with the side of the tank (see below)

*PLEASE NOTE* If I had this to do all over again I would have used a much shorter bit of sprue. While the longer sprue does center the magnet more in the middle of the tank there is no real advantage. I suggest making a cut that just barely extends beyond your magnet for added stability.

After the glue dries simply take the outer wall of your track housing ( see figure 1 of your manual) and fit the sponson on the raised grooves. Once in position take the magnet that will be this sponson's mate and place it on the inside of the outer wall of the tank. The magnets will attract and will tell you where you need to put the glue. Simply apply the glue to the general area and repeat this step. Now you have a magnet on the inside of the tank and the one glued into the sponson itself. Repeat for the other sponson and you are now ready to assemble the track housing.

--Tread Guard--
After you built the track housing but before you add the actual tank treads you can set up your track guards. For the top guard simply count the treads out to find the center and place your 3/16" x 1/32" magnet on the inside of the track like so:

Then take your track guard and glue it in the middle on the underside (please excuse the primer):

The front and back track guards are a little more tricky as you will not want the interior magnet to be in the exact middle of the tread. I suggest gluing your magnet to the tread guard first then using that to get the exact position of the magnet that you will use on the inside. When complete you will have something akin to this:

*PLEASE NOTE* The next two steps I would almost consider optional. After you prime and then paint the guns that fit in the optional slots you may have enough friction there to hold the guns in place without magnets. However, if you are an OCD nut such as myself, read on. Also, this is where things start to get a little tricky/dangerous as they involve power tools. If I have any young readers viewing this please make sure that you have adult supervision and take the necessary safety precautions.

--The Turret--
First take your drill/Dremmel and attach your 1/16" drill bit. Bore out a small hole in the indention of your barrel hinge ( Fig. 12 in the instruction manual ) like so:

You can then glue the much smaller 1/16" x 1/32" magnet into place.

Next we will want to attach the magnet to the individual gun barrels. Each barrel has a different mold cast to it but the basic premise is the same :

As you can see the Punisher cannon (1) already has an indention large enough to place the 3/16" x 1/32" magnet with room to spare while the Executioner (2) and Demolisher (3) will require you to drill small holes as shown. Simply glue the magnets in place and allow to dry.

*PLEASE NOTE* While the instructions state that you shouldn't glue the barrel hinge to the turret to allow you to aim I did glue mine in place. I have never needed to move my gun barrel up or down to make sure I could hit something. I also find that gluing your barrel hinge in a middle "neutral" position will add stability to the cannon that you have inserted (and thus making the magnetizing of the turret optional )

Now, if you are feeling exceptionally crafty, you can magnetize the ammo hopper/plasma vent on the back of your turret. If you flip over the upper half of your turret ( see figure 13 of your "closed hatch assembly" of your instruction manual) you will have just enough room for two 3/16" x 1/32" magnets to fit inside. You can then glue magnets on the underside of the hopper/plasma vent like so:

--The Sponson gun slot/hull mount--
Ok, we are almost done. This was the most difficult part of the build for me but I have a trick that should save you some of the heartache that I experienced.

Going back to our example on the sponson you will notice that there is a 1/16" x 1/32" magnet in the gun housing :

You will want to take your drill/Dremmel and drill all the way through the barrel that your gun slots into trying to keep as close to the center as possible. Then glue your 1/16" x 1/32" magnet into the hole you have just created, you should find that it is a perfect fit.

Now drill a small hole in the "tab" that slots into the barrel of your sponson/hull mount like so:

BE VERY CAREFUL ON THIS STEP as you could possibly damage the tab that slots into the barrel.

Simply glue your 1/16" x 1/32" magnet in place and allow to dry

-- The tiny magnet sponson trick --
While this will probably come off to you as a no-brainer but it was something that I found myself doing because I was too "in the zone" to realize that I was doing it:


All you have to do is:
1)Flip your sponson over
2)Place your magnet on the "shallow" side of the sponson
3)Mark the exposed side of your magnet with your sharpie/magic marker
4)Glue your magnet into the gun tab so that the sharpie is the side that is going to go into the sponson

I was dropping my tiny magnets into the barrel of the sponson, using a slightly larger magnet to fish out the magnet I had just thrown in there and then marking what side needed to be facing out. It was a totally bone head move on my part and I was really lucky that I didn't get my polarity reversed.

--Final Thoughts--
BEWARE THE POLARITY - please make sure that your magnets are facing the right direction before you glue them in place. Take it from me that digging magnets out of your toy soldiers is a pain in the rump.

BEWARE THE POWER TOOLS - just do it, don't ask questions on this one.

TAKE YOUR TIME - a lot of this is pretty delicate work but if I can do it so can you. Just take your time and make sure that you measure twice and cut once.

There you have it. My complete guide to magnetizing your "Heavy Russ". Its a really fun project and gives you quite the sense of accomplishment after its done. On top of that you have a tank that you can custom build for any situation. Please let me know what you think and if I can improve this tutorial in any way. Questions and comments are always appreciated.


  1. You sure love your magnets Lantz. . . I mean Vaughn.

  2. Its like they say "Birds of a feather stick together .... WITH MAGNETS!"