It first started when I bought the Millennium Falcon from Amazon to add to my collection. I collect Falcons and thought it was a terrific model. It didn’t take long for Amazon to deliver my order and soon I had it pulled out of the box and displayed on my shelf along with my other Falcon models.
Fast forward several months and I began curious about the other items that were packed in with my Falcon. After reading the documentation that came with the ship I found myself downloading the Rules Reference from the Fantasy Flight Games website. Without any further reference other than the materials that came with the Falcon I was a little confused. I decided to order the Core Game set, again from Amazon.
With the Core game in hand the rules made more sense. It was like chess but with tiny, little ships. It wasn’t long and I had a lot of tiny, little ships. I started watching YouTube videos about how to play as well as championship matches going back several years. One of the videos that caught my eye was from K&J Magnets, Limited where they showed a method of using magnets to join the ship to the pegs. I needed to do this!
Better Flying Ships
Magnets allow for the ships to take on a more dynamic pose while on the gaming surface, but for me it is easier to separate the peg from the magnet then pulling apart two pegs. While the video showed balls, I wanted something less visible but with a rounded head. I started by ordering the ring magnets from the K&J video. I had ordered 50 magnets at just 0.22 cents each (American Dollars). While I waited for the magnets to arrived I needed to find something, small, round and made of metal.
A trip to Michaels and I found this very small embellishment brads. It is a roundish top with two metal arms hanging down. If these were made of metal they would be perfect. I had brought a magnet from the bulletin board with me and was happy to see the small brads snap to the magnet inside the package.
When the magnets arrived I tested the two and found they were a near perfect match. I also discovered the size of the brad was nearly the same as the top of the game pegs. This might just work, I thought. I was going to need to make a prototype so I got to work converting the X-Wing T-65 that came with my Core Rules set. When I was done I had a proof of concept.
The first step was the alter the brads by snipping off the little arms and discarding them. I used a Xuron flush cutter that I have had since my model railroading days. After the arms had been cut off I used one of the pegs to press down on the remains of the arms so they were flattened within the head of the brad. In the picture to the left you can see the original brad with it’s arms as well as a modified brad with the remains of the arms safely tucked in.
The pegs have a small ‘joiner’ piece at one end of them. Using the flush cutter snip this joiner piece off leaving one end of the peg flush and the other end with a hole (NOTE: Of the two peg set, only do ONE peg). I then used a hot glue gun and applied some glue to the flush end of the peg then quickly set it inside the brad’s cap. If the glue dries too quickly hold the brad against the tip of the glue gun and allow the cap to heat up. This will melt the glue and allow you to set the cape snuggly. Then set it aside and allow it to dry completely.
Remember: It is a HOT glue gun. Please do not touch the hot end of the glue gun nor the cap if you heat it to melt the the glue underneath.
While the pegs are drying I turned my attention to the ships themselves. I selected the TIE Advanced, Vader’s ship to begin this project with. Each ship has a small peg attached to the underside of the ship. Snip it off with the flush cutters. Making sure you hold the cutters level and snip it off at the base. If you need to use a small file to clean up the cut, again, making sure it remains as level as possible.
I then applied the hot glue to the ship in the exact spot the peg was attached to. Hot glue can be a pain to work with. It often leaves long threads of glue between the item and the glue gun, almost like spider webs. The best way I discovered how to control them is when you pull the model away give it a swirl, like Dairy Queen does with it’s soft serve ice cream. It’s not perfect but it helps a lot. You can clean up the glue webs after they have completely dried.
While the glue is still hot, attach the magnet. Press it down and hold it for a moment until the glue dries. If the glue doesn’t work give it a few moments to cool and solidify and then use your fingernail to pick it off. If you need to adjust the placement of the magnet you can hold it against the tip of the glue gun, but not for long, to ensure you don’t damage the magnet. If for any reason you need to remove the magnet from the ship, hold it against the hot tip of the glue gun and then use something metal for the magnet to grip (such as your flush cutters) and pull the magnet off the ship’s underside.
I continued with the remainder of my ships with the exception of the Millennium Falcon as it is a large ship and the cap and magnet simply do not fit. If found the easiest conversion was the A-Wing because of how flat the underside of the ship was. The TIE Fighter was the most difficult because of the solar panels as they are so fragile.
The most interesting was the B-Wing. Hot glue didn’t seem to work because as you can see in the photo the magnet needs to be attached to peg because there is a 90 degree bend in it. So I used Krazy Glue with a fine tip pen-like applicator. In this case I gave it a couple of hours to dry completely. Side note: I carry the Krazy Glue with me to games incase I have to make some repairs.
So here is my completed X-Wing that was my original proof of concept. Unlike a small ball located under the ship I believe this looks much cleaner looking. It works great. Now I just need to get them into a game somewhere and test them out.
I will post additional X-Wing Miniatures Game blog posts in the near future but if you enjoy gaming and Star Wars then I recommend you take a look at this game. It’s rather addictive.
Update: June 9, 2017
While I took part in Store Championship I quickly learned that while the magnets work incredibly well, the small ‘buttons’ worked incredibly poorly. The ships fell off the pegs often and when they were on the pegs they hung in odd angles. I also discovered that the hot glue that I used didn’t hold too well. I returned home thinking that I need to replace the buttons with something stronger. I decided to use a second magnet. With a second magnet I have the option to either snap the ship and peg together or slip a small metal ball between the two magnets to allow for more visually appealing flight positions. I updated several of the ships over the last few days. Here are some photos of the B-Wing’s conversion because I decided to do something very different with this ship.
I snipped off the small elbow joiner off the back of the ship and attached the magnet to the end of that as well as the rear of the cockpit of the ship. The important thing to remember when using two magnets is that you need to make sure they attract each other after they have been glued in place. When the ship (any ship) and the converted pegs snap together the hold in fantastic. To get them off you ‘peel’ them apart rather than pull them apart. I also used just Krazy Glue to attach the magnets. After gluing I allowed at least an hour for the pieces to dry completely before testing them. I had one were I accidentally attached the ship magnet the wrong way and the to magnets repelled each other. This was fixed by get a new peg and gluing another magnet (correctly) to the peg. I used the other peg to convert my new E-Wing (again triple checking the magnet’s orientation.
Image 3 shows the two pieces glued to ship and peg. The key is to wait at least an hour before snapping the two pieces together. The advantage of this B-Wing setup it allows me to angle the ship in any direction to get a more realistic appearance without the use of the small metal ball.