Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Infinity: Simple Conversions

Converting Infinity Miniatures 

Arm swaps are useful for those who wish to play WYSIWYG (What You See is What You Get). Simple arm swaps are easier than other conversions, anyway most figures have separate heads;  torso and leg conversions may affect the balance of small, dynamically-posed figures. 

You will need the following Tools and Supplies: 

-Craft knife 
-Half round file 
-Hobby saw 
-Pin vise with 2 bits* 
-Brass Wire 
-Wood Filler 
*The first bit should be as small as possible, to facilitate creating a guide hole for the larger bit. The second bit should be the same size or a little larger than the diameter of the brass wire. 

I'm assuming that anyone attempting these conversions is already familiar with basic assembly: cleaning the figure, basing etc. 

1. Select the figures for conversion 

I will be using the Malignos from the Combined Army starter set and the Shrouded with Combi-Rifle. I'd like more and cheaper infantry but I don't want duplicate figures in my army, so this is one way to add diversity. I’d like to get my hands on a second Malignos, so I can have both ‘canon’ versions and an arm-swap version, but they aren’t available in a separate blister and I can’t really think of an occasion where I will have three Malignos’ in one list anyway. Since I need the knife on the Malignos I do have, he'll have to go under the knife! 

Picture: Cleaned Shrouded and Malignos in pieces 

2. Plan the conversion 

It's a good idea to try to visualize the project from start to finish before you begin altering the figures. (These guys are kind of expensive to experiment on!) My first thought was to swap the weapon arms but after looking carefully at the components, I realized that wasn't going to be possible. The Shrouded and Malignos right arms totally different (the Malignos arm is clothed, and the shoulder armor is different, Furthermore, the Shrouded rifle stock is tucked up under the arm, so it would be very difficult to get the gun clean from the arm. 

Instead, I decided to swap the free left arms of both miniatures. Fortunately the Shrouded's left arm is complete (many figures in two-handed weapon poses have the left hand attached to the gun's forestock) so this will be a very simple surgery. Because the right arm of the Shrouded is designed to meet the left arm in front of the torso, I will also cut the right arm just below the shoulder pad so that I can reposition the arm down and away from the body, leaving a little room for the knife that he will be holding. This will affect the figure’s balance point but as it is otherwise vertical it shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Also while this shift in arm position will have some anatomical implications, I’m hoping that armor plating and alien physiology will mask any odd-looking musculature. Since this will be my only Combi-Rifle Malignos, I’ll probably just go with the left hand swap and leave it at that. 

3. Separate the pieces 

I like to work in stages; I'll do all the cutting, then all the pinning, then all the gluing. That way I'm not wasting any time searching for the right tool, or forgetting a step. Doing conversions this way requires a clean work space and a little bit of organization - you don't want to lose a tiny 1/56 scale hand in the carpet! 

Note that even with a very thin-bladed hobby saw, you will lose some material on the wrist. The width of this cut is called the kerf, and it's one reason why you will want to pin the pieces on assembly. By leaving a space between the two parts, you can make up for this lost material by filling the gap with putty of some sort (I am lazy and so I use wood filler). 

Since the objects to be separated are round, you can carefully cut around 360 degrees with the saw, ensuring a clean separation, as well as a true cut that doesn't obscure any detail. Check after each couple of strokes to see how close the pieces are to separating, to avoid a surprise - these are tiny pieces and easy to lose. I cut over a white paper towel both to catch loose debris and the pieces themselves. Finally, be careful to use short, straight strokes, to avoid warping and potentially breaking your saw blade. 

4. Pinning and Assembly

Assemble the pieces according to your plan. Don't worry if things aren't working out exactly as originally intended; this is an art not a science! When I first assembled my Shrouded I discovered that the arms were still too close together, and I had to reposition his right arm farther away from his body to make room for the knife.  

Picture: Pinning Left Hand 

Even the smallest pieces can be pinned if necessary. Here I am using a pin vise with a .028 bit to start a hole in the Shrouded arm. 

5. The finished product

Here are the final results. On the right is the original Shrouded model, modified slightly (with pliers) to have his foot on a box. 

Note that even a minor conversion can have a startling effect on the final appearance of the figure! The provenance of the Shrouded model is obvious when placed next to the original, but I don't think anyone will mistake one for the other on the tabletop. 


  1. You can probably do away with the smaller drill bit if you don't have one. I just start all my drill holes with the tip of an X-Acto knife.

  2. I have tried the X-Acto technique as well and have the permanent scars to prove it!

  3. Wow..are my hands EVER too shakey for that sort of work..I can't even conceive of how you do that! Kudos to you sir!

    I have enough trouble just gluing them together without modifications.

  4. Nice post! The bases are hand made or you bought them? is this is the case, where?

  5. Hi, sorry for the one-month delay, but I'm not used to getting comments on my blog! The bases are all purchased separately, and are mostly from Micro Art Studios, though I think the techie-looking ones are from ID Works. I've been experimenting with a few home-made bases, and I'm pretty happy with the results - look for an update here on this blog!