How to Base Everything: Flying Stands

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If you’ve ever dabbled in a faction with skimmers, you’ve probably experienced one of the hobby rites of passage: bumping a tank and hearing the brittle transparent Games Workshop plastic flying stand snap, right at the top where the conical part ends and the little cylindrical nub starts. No amount of glue or battlefield surgery will ever reattach that nub. The stand is toast, and your graceful grav-tank will have to drag its chassis across the table for the rest of the tournament like a lowly Rhino. Ugh.

There are a few tried-and-tested band-aid solutions for this. You can drill out the hole on the bottom of your skimmer wider to allow the cone part to fit inside. You can glue a magnet on top the broken nub and to the bottom of your tank. I didn’t really like either of these solutions very much, so I came up with my own approach: threaded rod.

Each of my vehicles and jetbikes has a nut glued to the bottom where the hole for the flying stand is. When it’s time to game, I just spin them on to the threaded rod on the base, and they’re ready to roll. The result is quite sturdy, and if you do manage to break it, all you need to do is super glue the nut back to the bottom of the tank and you’re back in business. It’s also quite nice to be able to pick up your tank by the chassis to move it and not worry about leaving the base behind.

Klobasnek-Pattern Flying Stands

Tools of war. Credit: Greg Narro

Recipe Ingredients:

  • #8-32 UNC Threaded Rod*
  • #8-32 UNC Nuts, 1/8” thick, 1 per skimmer and 1-2 per base
  • Appropriately sized resin or plastic bases
  • Greenstuff or equivalent if the bottom of the model near the flying stand hole isn’t flat

If you live in a country that uses reasonable units of measurement, you’re probably going to want to go with M4 rod and nuts.

Tools:

  • Power Drill
  • Super (CA) Glue
  • Clamps*
  • Hacksaw*

*The threaded rod available at your local hardware store is going to come in 3’ long lengths, so it will need to be trimmed to size. If that doesn’t sound like something you want to mess with, McMaster Carr will happily sell you a bag of 50 1-1/2” long threaded rods that should work just fine as is. I wish I had known that a few years ago, to be honest with you, reader, but here I am. If you go this route, you can skip to step 2.

Step 1: Cut the Threaded Rod to Length

Clamp your threaded rod onto something sturdy, then thread on two nuts until they are at about the position you want to make your cut. I intentionally don’t measure this, as I prefer the aesthetic of a squad of skimmers floating at slightly different heights. Feel free to standardize your height if you prefer. About an inch and a half will give you a flying stand that’s comparable to the stock GW flying stands.

Move the nuts so that the hacksaw blade fits between them, and then do a few quick passes to start the cut. Back off the nuts further so that they are out of the way, and then cut through the rod. This is much easier if you use a sharp hacksaw blade and do long, smooth strokes that use the full length of the hacksaw.

A word of warning: I would strongly advise against using a Dremel or similar rotary tool to do this. I tried that initially and broke a pair of cut-off wheels, the second of which bounced off my safety glasses. I personally find the use of my eyeballs very helpful in this hobby, so I’ve stuck with a hacksaw ever since. It’s honestly faster anyway.

Once you’ve cut the rod to length, unthread the nuts past the area where you made the cut. This will force any bent or damaged threads back into position. If you have any sharp burrs at the cut, you can remove them with a metal file (ideally) or a sanding block in a pinch.

Step 2: Prepare the Base

If you’re using resin bases like I am, scrub them with water and dish detergent to remove any residual mold release agent. Then drill a small pilot hole in the center of each base, being careful to make sure that it is perpendicular to the base. Resin dust and shavings can make you sick, so keep the resin out of you and in the trash.

Step up the size of your drill bit and bore out the pilot hole bit by bit, until it’s just a little smaller in diameter than your threaded rod. In my case, I went with a 5/32” bit for my last pass, and that worked just fine. If you’re feeling especially fancy, especially metric, or just don’t already have a bit that’ll work, you can buy a tap and drill set that matches your threaded rod so it will fit like a glove.

If you’re using a regular GW plastic base, flip it over and check for little molded circles. Viola, instant pilot hole. Drill it out to 5/32” and you’re in business, easy peasy. If you don’t have a convenient molded circle there, go ahead and drill out the hole in the center, and then glue a nut to the underside of the base right where the drill hole is. #8-32 nuts are skinny enough to fit on the underside of the base without catching the table if you’re careful. Your mileage (kilometerage?) may vary if you’re using M4 metric nuts.

Step 3: Glue ‘em Up

Look at your length of threaded rod and determine which side is less chewed up from the hacksaw. That side is going to be the top side. Thread the bottom side of the rod into the base by turning it like a screw. Unscrew it from the base, put a dab of super glue (CA glue) on there, and thread it back on there permanently. Try to make sure that the rod doesn’t stick out of the resin base any. If it does, it’ll rub along neoprene game mats and be a minor annoyance.

Next, take a nut and thread it on to the top of the threaded rod, until it’s halfway on, halfway off. This is where we want the nut on the bottom of the skimmer to eventually sit. Put a dab of super glue (CA glue) on the rod just below where the nut is sitting, then turn it four full rotations (for a 1/8” thick #8-32 nut) so that there is now half a nut’s worth of threaded rod sticking out the top.

For your skimmer, take a hobby knife and rough up the surface right around the hole for the flying stand, then glue a nut on there. If you’re doing a jetbike or an Idoneth turtle or something like that where the bottom isn’t flat, use a little greenstuff to make it flat first.

Once the glue has cured, you can do a test fit. If everything is right, the nut on the bottom of the skimmer will contact the nut on the stand when its snug. This makes the connection sturdier than just the rod going straight into the nut on the bottom of the skimmer.

Step 4: The Rest of the Owl

Prime, paint, and flock your base to match the rest of your army. In my case, my steps are:

  • Prime Stynylrez Black
  • Zenithal airbrush of Dawnstone
  • Light zenithal of Administratum Grey
  • Light drybrush of Ulthuan Grey
  • Very thin recess wash with Baneblade Brown
  • A little bit of sand weathering pigment, and pigment fixative
  • Repaint the threaded rod black
  • Base rim in Steel Legion Drab
  • Gloss varnish with Pledge floor polish for durability and lemony freshness
  • Matte varnish with very thin Liquitex Ultra Matte Medium for, uh, matte-ness
  • A few spots of really old Gale Force 9 static grass
  • Valhallan Blizzard applied in areas that would be shaded from direct sunlight

Some of my older threaded flying bases predate my airbrush and aren’t varnished. The paint does wear off them slowly over time, but it’s not bad and it’s really easy to touch up since they’re just flat black.

 

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