How To Magnetize Your Warhammer 40k Miniatures

A tutorial on how to create swappable weapons for your Warhammer 40k troops

Swappable Weapons - Part 1

As I started planning out my Warhammer 40k Chaos Space Marine army I ran into a dilemma. Each unit has several different options for special weapons (flamers, rocket launchers, plasma guns, etc.) but if you glue one onto a miniature and don't choose that weapon for one particular game you 'waste' that model. To not 'waste' any models you would have to know which special weapons you want to use with a unit from the start. Since I haven't actually played any games yet this really isn't an option.

In order to maximize the number of troops I have available for battle I have decided to make my special weapons troops have interchangeable weapons. How will I do this you ask? Magnets. Rare earth magnets to be more precise.

Next time I will show you where to get these magnets and give you an overview of how to magnetize your special weapon troops.

Swappable Weapons - Part 2

In the last post I talked about why I was going to be doing this and with what - magnets. In this post I will show you the magnets and what you need to put them in the models.

Here is a picture of one of the magnets. I ordered these off of eBay. Just search for rare earth magnet and you will get a whole list. I bought 500 of these magnets for about $30 shipped. Why so many? It was $20 for 200 so I figured I would more than double my order for not a whole lot more money. I also have several friends that thought this was a good idea and I decided to share the love.

As you can see from the pictures, the magnets are quite small. 1/16" to be exact. This number is important because that is the size of drill bit you will need for your pin vise. One thing to remember when working with these magnets is that they are very strong. They can snap together and pinch you. They are also very fragile and it could be possible for them to chip or break - so be careful.

Next post I will show you how I put the magnets into a couple of arms and bodies.

Swappable Weapons - part 3

Last time I showed you the magnets you would need to make swappable weapon arms for your Warhammer 40k troops. Today I will show you the process of putting them into the actual miniatures.

The process is quite simple but there is one important thing to remember - magnet polarity.

The first thing you will need to do is drill a hole in the miniature body. I will be showing you the process on a finished model but you can do this at any point during the assembly of the model.

Get as close to the center of where the arm will go on as you can. Drill a shallow hole. Try not to go all the way into the chest cavity or the magnet might fall in.
Once you have the hole drilled - make sure it is deeper than the magnet - put a dab of glue on the hole and push the magnet into the hole. The whole process is quite simple but here is where the tricky part comes in - the polarity. Since the magnets will either attract or repulse each other depending on which way they are facing you will have to be careful to make sure you put the magnets in the same way on all the bodies and then the opposite way on all the arms.

To keep this simple I put a dark mark with a sharpie on one side of all of my models. As I work through a stack of magnets I pull one off the top and mark the one beneath it. This way I do not get confused.

Once you have put the magnet into the body repeat the process on the arm. Take care to make sure you get the magnet in the right way.

Next post I will show you the model with the magnetic arm attached.

Swappable Weapons - part 4

In the previous posts I showed you how to magnetize your troop arms so you could swap out special weapons. Today I will show you the finished product.

As you can see in the images below the arm is quite poseable. I was a bit worried about arm droopage but that is not a problem. I can even pick up the model and shake it pretty viscously and it will not budge or fall off.

Swappable Weapons - Part 5

In the last post I showed you the finished product for a whole arm swap. As I started moving forward with this idea I ran into a logistical problem - the number of arms and shoulder pads it would take to make as many swappable weapons as I wanted.

There were a few ways to solve this problem and I think I came up with the best one - magnetize the individual weapon instead of the whole arm. Over the next few posts I will show you how I did this and then follow up with a link to a complete guide that you can download for easy reference.

Swappable Weapons - Part 6

In this post I will show you the first steps in magnetizing an individual weapon.

The first thing you need to do is find your base arm. This is the arm you will glue to your miniature and will act as a base for all your weapon choices. I have selected a Chaos Space Marine Bolt Pistol arm. I like this arm because it is pointing forward instead of across the models chest. This will make it work with a wider variety of weapons and will be easier to magnetize because you won't be so worried about angles.

The next step is to carefully lop of the pistol and clean up the hand.

Once you have done that insert a magnet into the hand. Note the color coding on the magnet. This makes it easy to keep track of which polarity is showing.

Next time I will show you the steps for the weapon itself.

Swappable Weapons - Part 7

Last time I showed you how to prepare the arm. In this post I will show you the steps to get the weapon ready.

The first step is to cut off the pistol grip and finger guard from the gun. Once you have done this clean up the area and make sure you have a nice level place to work with.
Next measure where you want the hole to go. I did this by holding the weapon up to the arm with the magnet in it and eyeballing it. It wasn't too difficult.

Next drill your hole and insert the magnet. Note this magnet has the shiny side out instead of the colored. This means the magnets will stick together. I find that color coding one side of the magnet makes this process super easy.

Next time I will show you the completed product and give you a link to where you can download the entire tutorial on making swappable magnets.

Swappable Weapons - Part 8

Below are pictures of a finished model with swappable weapons. Since this model is a unit champion for my Chaos Space Marines both of his weapons have been magnetized.

His entire close combat arm was magnetized to enable me to swap between power fist, power sword, or chain sword if I don't want a special close combat weapon.

His gun arm just had the hand magnetized. This allows me to swap out guns without having to paint entire arms and shoulder pads.

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