Monday, March 2, 2015

Tomb Blade Conversion and Magnetization

Tomb Blades!

These guys really came into the spotlight in the 7th edition codex. Games Workshop has been out of stock of them for weeks now. Not only do they provide amazing value for points, but they have also become a must-include in the Decurion Detachment. I grabbed a box of 3 on ebay and have finally started working on them.

First things first, I don't like the models. Pilot's arms, legs, those plates on the side as well as the front column, all look about 45 degrees tilted downwards. Second, they are very tall, the very opposite of sleek, and if you mount the weapons forward (which you have to do with the Particle Beamer weapon option) it looks strangely out of balance. As if the weapon is so heavy that the vehicle tilts forwards to hold it.

I am not the only one that dislikes the way they are tilted forward and I've found many people who rotated the model backwards a bit, to good effect in my opinion. But this still keeps the model not looking sleek.

For example, here are some Tomb Blades as converted by Todda on the MiniWarGaming forums. Please take a look!

Anyway, my goals were the following:
  • Convert the model somehow in order to make them look fast. Elongation naturally comes to mind, but whatever it takes.
  • Rotate the model in order to make it look like it is facing forward, not into the ground.
  • Convert the pilot to not have arms or legs, as is the general theme of my vehicles.
  • Magnetize all options. This includes the three weapon options, shield vanes, and sensors/shadowloom/nebuloscope.
Note that I took most of the following pictures after having finished all the work. I get carried away. The pics will show things that I didn't have done at the time.


First I set out to magnetize the weapons. This was something I had to do anyway, and it would give me time to think about how to magnetize and convert other parts.

All weapons would be mounted forward, simply because the Particle Beamer had to be. I think mounting other weapons further back and up would look better, but the PB is a very popular weapon choice and I wanted to have it available.

Once I assembled the weapons and looked for magnetization options I discovered that it wasn't as easy as it first seemed. Let's take a look at the direct approach, and I'll use pictures by blogger anythingbutones for this purpose:

The first problem is that I wanted to keep Gauss/Tesla weapons facing forward, standing in parallel. In the picture above you can see how these weapons are able to rotate freely. To solve this problem, I connected the left and the right weapon together using a nickel bass guitar string, which is very rigid and could eventually be painted like a hose:

The second problem is that I didn't want magnets to be visible. They never are in the rest of my army. However, if I were to magnetize the two balls that weapons mount on, I'd have a problem with the Particle Beamer. PB arms are very thin and I cannot fit a magnet in, even with a 1mm thick magnet. Other weapons are not a problem.

To solve this problem, I magnetized the PB separately by putting two magnets on top of the particle beamer itself, where it would touch the middle ball on the mount, with an additional magnet in that middle ball:

A total of 10 2x1mm magnets went into that. But this system holds all weapons very stable, facing forward and without visible magnets.

Sensor Magnetization which I mean the options of a Shadowloom, Nebuloscope, or Neither (which I'm capitalizing because neither comes with actual bits on the sprue). By the way, the three options are not clearly named in the codex, but they are in the Tomb Blade assembly instructions you get in their box.

The problem is that Shadowloom and Nebuloscope use a common bit. Ouch. I solved that problem by attaching this common bit to the model, and magnetizing other parts that attach to this common bit. This means that the Neither bit (the large crescent) would look a bit different, attached to this bit, but that is fine by me.

Note that the Neither crescent bit is much larger than the other bits and needs to be facing parallel to the ship. To accomplish this I put another magnet in the Neither bit and put a magnet inside the common bit, drilling from behind in order to not damage the detail.

Here's the solution:

Conversion and Shieldvanes

After the rotating the model a bit backwards (as far as I can while mounting the weapons properly) I converted the pilot by adding a string spine that attaches to the hull. I didn't bother adding arm pipes at this point, and it stayed that way. The model might have been to bulky with them.

Instead of adding those fins below the model (as instructed), I attached the fin arms on top of the engine exhausts facing backwards. Then the fins would add something sticking out back to counter the weapons that are sticking up front.

The only thing that remained was to magnetize the shieldvanes. They are those bent plates that you see attached to the sides of the central column in the pics above. They are normally an optional upgrade to the unit, giving it +1 armor.

I tried to magnetize them well but I simply could not. The attachment points are too tiny and fragile to drill. And they look so good on the model, adding much required mass to the center, I really wanted to keep them on always.

Then I realized I could magnetize the other, larger bit that is normally part of the model. The 'chair' of the pilot that also contains some armor on the sides. Since my pilot didn't have a butt, this part could be made removable very easily. Here's how I accomplished that:

The model looked ok without it, but far from the best. A bit empty in the middle column but I really have no better solution. Besides, I only need to remove it in a game when some of my Tomb Blades have Shieldvanes and some don't. Otherwise it's hardly a problem to just keep them on anyway.

I also didn't like how this chair bit overlaps with shieldvanes a bit. So I attached the Shieldvanes differently, much further up the central column. This was ok since I rotated the model backwards compared to the normal one, it wouldn't look out of place.


So here are some pictures of the finished model!

The bits are, left to right: Particle Beamer, twin linked Tesla Carbines, twin linked Gauss Blasters. The chair bit that I'll call Shieldvanes. Neither sensor option, Nebuloscope, and Shadowloom.

Shieldvanes and Tesla Carbines

Shieldvanes, Shadowloom and Gauss Blasters

Nebuloscope and Particle Beamer

Shieldvanes and Gauss Blasters

Now just to do all this for two more... :/

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