I love magnets. I love versatility. I love multiple points of articulation. I really do want to make toys out of miniatures. So as the years have gone by and more and more gamers’ miniatures feature magnetization, the possibilities have become increasingly exciting.
The plastic Killa Kanz kit has a wide selection of posing choices. At the very least, removing weapon arms is good in the event of weapon destroyed results on the Vehicle Damage Table. I also want to be able to swap out weapons so that my squadrons of 1-3 have the same loadout. I believe the arms can also be exchanged with the plastic Deff Dreadz’s. Part of my desire to magnetize them also was a mistaken belief that I could choose to have 2 Dreadnought Close Combat Weapons (CCW); having more CCWs is only an option for the Deff Dread, not the Killa Kanz.
The Evolution of my Attempts at Magnetizing the Kanz
1. Disc Magnet to Disc Magnet. I happened to have a disc magnet, a K&J Magnetics D41, that looked like a good fit for the socket. When I glued it in and one on a Dreadnought CCW arm, it worked, however the arm stuck out straight, but still rotated 360 along the horizontal X axis. At this point, I could have a variety of poses, switch out the arms for others, and remove them for Weapon Destroyed results. Pinning the arms would also offer the same three advantages. However when posing my Kanz I liked the variety of poses the ball-and-socket design seemed to offer, so I needed something better.
2. I knew that K&J Magnetics had ball-shaped magnets and ordered 18 of the 0.25 inch S4s, having measured the Dreadnought ball joints as having a diameter close to 0.25 inch. Once they arrived, I glued one in place of the plastic ball. And then I realized, after putting in on a Kan with a D41 in its shoulder socket, that the sphere magnets still have two poles. It is possible to get an odd side attraction, but there is repulsion from the other pole. Gravity also pulls down the arm because the attraction doesn’t overcome gravity and the joint has very little friction. Of course, I would never have the ball resting on the disc and not sitting in the socket, but I got the same results with a magnet disc inside the Killa Kanz torso.
3. I next thought that I might place a small magnet in a drilled-out hole at the bottom of the shoulder socket hole. Then I should be able to rotate the ball-magnetized arm around as needed. Fortunately by just putting one of the small magnets (a D21) near the arm ball magnet, I realized that this would not work either. The ball magnet was not going to rotate as desired. The issue became the sphere magnet having polar attraction. What if I used a steel ball instead?
4. After having no luck finding ball bearings at Lowe’s and AutoZone, I went online and quickly located VXB Bearings in Southern California. $3.33 later and I had ordered 100 chrome steel 0.25 inch ball bearings. After gluing a bearing to a Kan arm I was pleased that they were the right size, but dismayed because the magnetic attraction with a magnet glued to the other side of the socket, inside the Kan torso, resulted in a floppy arm. Even the simple disc on disc would be better.
5. My final solution was to keep the strong disc magnet pulling inside the torso, a D41 or D42, but to bore out the hole in the socket and implant a smaller disc, a D21, so it would be in contact with the steel bearing, but also have the larger attraction of the disc behind it. It worked! I now have Killa Kanz with fully rotating arms. The arms maintain whatever pose I leave them in.
Some Other Points About Magnets and CA Glues
I used HobbyTown USA Insta-Cure Cyanoacrylate to glue the discs into the arm sockets as well as to affix both varieties of balls to the weapon arms. I then had a very hard time trying to remove the discs which were a near perfect fit for the holes. While trying to make sure I knew how to pronounce cyanoacrylate, I had read the wikipedia article on the chemical. I recalled from it that acetone, found in nail polish remover, weakens the cyanoacrylate bond and kept applying some to the socket and eventually worked my magnets free.
The other point about using super glues/CAs is that the bond between the metal and plastic is incredibly weak. While I could augment it with some green stuff, the answer is simply to use care in handling the weapon arms with their steel shoulder bearings. When I bring them near a magnet, such as the ones in the socket, I need to apply counter-pressure to slowly bring them into contact. Similarly, turning the steel bearings in the socket is fine as long as it is done slowly and carefully. Jerky motions will just snap the CA bond off.