Saturday 21 January 2012

Modelling Guide: Magnetising BFG Chaos Cruisers

I picked up some Battlefleet Gothic Chaos ships from Ebay a few days ago; 2 chaos cruisers, 9 idolators and 9 infidels. I already have four chaos cruisers from the starter set at home (altho I think after 7 years they'll probably be in a bad way) so this should be a reasonable fleet once I add a battleship or grand cruiser. I'm planning to eventually get an Imperial and Chaos fleet so this is only the beginning really. 

A picture from GW, so you know what I'm on about. 
Anyhoo, I decided I wanted to magnetise them so that they could be used as any class from the fleet list (except for the Heavy Cruiser with all the lances) so that I could exercise some fleet flexibility without paying through the nose. After all, GW ships are beautiful, the best quality, but relatively pricy, even second hand. 

The magnets I used were from here and were 3mm (diameter) by 1mm (depth) with roughly 200grams of attractive force. They were £6.00 for 50 (12p each), so not too bad considering I planned to use 8 on each cruiser.

The Method

I cut small recesses into the hull of the cruiser where the 'weapons panels' slot on, gluing the magnets in place. This is a little fiddly as they are attracted to each other but a bit of patient holding does the trick while the glue goes off. I wasn't worried about their polarity at this stage. 

I then hollowed out small grooves in the backs of the weapons platforms, filling them with as much metal as I could, in this case pins and bits of wire. I found that the more metal I could get on these the better they stuck to the magnets (obviously I suppose). 

The Lance turrets received a little extra attention. I enlarged the receiving hole slightly with a drill bit, then drilled the turret and inserted a piece of wire the same width as the hole for a nice snug fit. These two pieces slot together and allow the turret to rotate, held firmly in place by the magnet which holds the weapons platform in place. Neat eh?

I then glued a piece of sprue inside the hull to create an even platform, then attached magnets which would line up with the dorsal turret mounts on top of the ship. The right-hand magnet was for the interchangeable bridge pieces and was omitted on the second cruiser I did as unnecessary. 

I then got the dorsal masts and lance turrets, drilled holes carefully and glued pieces of wire in place. These were then tested on the assembled model and cut to the correct length, ensuring that they sat flush with the top of the hull and contacted the magnets inside the hull. 

Similarly with the bridge pieces I replaced the small plastic protrusions with pieces of wire which would line up with the existent holes. 

The end result of this fiddly work is an entirely interchangeable cruiser. All of the components are removable and replaceable. The magnets are powerful enough to hold the pieces in place without movement, unless they are given a knock. I didn't take a picture but if you turn it upside down, nothing changes. Also, all the turrets rotate for dynamic posing!

One random configuration. (Note: the turrets look wonky but this is due to the lighting). 
And another completely different one!
All the various components broken down. 

Btw I realise that some of the ships, such as the heavy cruisers, have these mast-like protrusions from their flanks. However, I really couldn't be bothered with these - they'd have been a hassle to fix in place with magnets and would have broken off easily if glued in place. Also, they don't add that much to the look of the ships in my opinion. 


I also needed a solution for the bases. I wanted removable bases so that they could be stored or transported easily ( I already have enough broken ships...) and after eliminating CorSecEng's awesome omni-stands on cost (with shipping from the US they would have cost a bomb) and size (he has since realised smaller one, grrrrrr) I came up with my own idea. 

As you can see below they're mounted using the same magnets I used elsewhere. The wire peg on the flight stand goes into a corresponding hole on the hull. This ensures that even when knocked the ship stays facing in the same direction. They have a little bit of movement if you slap them around but its well within an acceptable limit. Also, if you hold them upside-down they stay in place no problem. However, I think I might need a better solution - or much bigger magnets - on the heavy, metal capital ships to come. 

I had to fill the existent flight-stand holes with Green Stuff to make flat surface for the magnet to adhere to. 

The same idea as with the cruiser but on a metal frigate. 
Looks a little uneven, might have to redo this one. 

The first of these ships are just getting their undercoat so I should have a test figure painted up soon enough. I'm thinking the classic black, red and gold chaos scheme, maybe with some brown added in or some rusty/dirty washes as well.


  1. Nice work. How long did the process take you?

  2. Once you knew what you were doing it would probably take about an hour, took me a little longer for the first one.

  3. This is really neat! I've been thinking about digging out my old BFG fleets and try the game again. I wonder if I could retrofit them...

    Also, nice blog. I'm following. :)


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