Proof of Concept

Start with some toy soldiers, 3/4-inch (20mm) zinc-plated steel washers, and refrigerator magnets designed for mounting business cards.

Step 1: Glue toy soldiers to washers. Cut fridge magnets in half and roughen them (including edges) with pumice stone (steal one from your wife).

 Step 2. Paint the magnet pieces and seal them with a light coat of Dullcote.

Step 3. Slather the washers and infantry bases with slightly-thinned spackling compound. Paint, seal, flock. Here we see 3 German groups. Left top: 3-man 81mm mortar team, left center: 3-man HMG team with MG42; left front: 2-man AT team with panzerschreck; center: 10-man armored infantry squad; right: same using different figures (non-counting assistant gunner will be added to each squad that deploys an LMG, in honor of Phil Barker/WRG).

Step 4: Stick the toys on the magnets in whatever grouping is desired. Currently each HW team is on a 29x50mm magnet, and the half-squads are on a 44x50mm magnet.


You can turn them over and even give them a shake without them dropping off. Of course if you whip them hard enough they will come loose, but I see no reason for that to happen.

Lessons learned so far:
I enjoy painting vehicles and terrain pieces, but not infantry so much. I already knew this, but it was re-affirmed.

Put the rounded side of the stamped washer down, to minimize wear on the magnets. Some of the non-rounded edges are very tough, and I'm not filing all of them. Or any of them.

Cut a roundish piece of very sticky masking tape and put it over the hole in the washer before mounting the figure. It keeps the white glue from running down the center (but not over the edges, so leave them on wax paper to dry). Then fill the bottom with white glue or spackle when dry.

For prone figures and team weapons requiring lager bases: trace around the figure/weapon/combo on cardboard (like matte board, or cheap like me and use the back of an extinct steno pad), then trace a washer in the approximate center. Cut out the washer-hole and trim to a snug fit, then cut out the entire base. Use white glue to glue the washer into the base all the way around, then mount the figure/weapon/combo while it is still wet.

Don't try to put transparent tape on the bottom of the washer to protect the finish on the magnets. It will still stick to the magnets for playing, but trying to trim the excess tape from around a ready-to-be-flocked washer, either with scissors or with hobby knife, caused me to knock most of the spackle off, requiring re-painting. If you try this and succeed you must let me know your secret.

Don't bother with cutting magnets into thirds (29x50mm). Even for 2- or 3-man weapons teams it is frequently too cramped due to the weapon base and the frequency of prone positions. They work better on the 44x50mm half-magnets. I think I can get a 3-man Airfix Soviet HMG team on a small one comfortably, but that's probably about it.

Another wacked concept:
I came up with the conceit of using entirely unique figures from my collection to form the armies with no duplicated figures; but it requires over 100 unique figures to make the WWII east front army lists from Thomas' Wargaming: an Introduction. I could almost manage it for the Germans due to some metal figures received in trade 40+ years ago, and using several hard plastic figures I have accumulated from Hasegawa, Fujima, ESCII, etc. But not quite. And for the Soviets it's not even close. I could buy more figures, but I have so many more than I need now I just can't see it.

So for the Germans I am going to try to make each squad not have duplicate figures, and as much as possible not have any 2 figures from the same manufacturer (except weapons teams). If I get tired of the mixed sizes I can always switch around. For the Soviets I will try to make each squad from one manufacturer; at least the size shouldn't be an issue.
 Airfix, Atlantic, Caesar, Eidai(?), ESCII, Fujima, Hasegawa, Hat, Imex, Marx HK knockoffs, Pegasus, Revell and some unidentified metal figures. It's enough to screw around with.

Thanks for visiting.



Peter said...

Hi John,
A very nice way to giving flexibility to representing forces on bases and being able to change your mind! Looking forward to seeing the end result - good luck.
Regards, Peter

The Ferrymen said...

Thanks Peter.
It should give me the flexibility of playing either stand-based or individual-based rules at will. I could even play Memoir '44 or one of Ross MacFarlane's or Bob Cordery's or your grid-based rules sets with these, but my terrain isn't really suitable for grids, not being designed for them. It would take some major futzing.

Ross Mac rmacfa@gmail.com said...

Flexibility is good, esp as a way to avoid painting ever more of the same figures. I have occasionally put my single metal 40s on magnetic group bases and it helps them stay on when the tray is tilted but haven't yet got my hands on super magnets that will let me lift a tray by grabbing a figure.

The Ferrymen said...

Hi Ross,
Had to go try it after you said that -- mostly I can't pick them up by a figure unless there is one in the exact center -- and there usually isn't. It works with the 29x50mm size, but I don't expect to use them much. I didn't want to be handling them that much anyway, since bending the plastic barrels can cause paint flaking.

Plastic 20mm on steel washers means they are very stable though; when dropped they have frequently landed upright. :)