Sunday 13 December 2015

Of Ersatz and 3D-Printed NZLAVs

A while back I made a post about the S&S models NZLAV (click here to see that post). While a very nice kit, it has a major disadvantages of price and postage costs. This means that to represent a typical squadron of LAVs on a one to one basis I would require a minimum of 16 NZLAVs.

Left to Right: S&S NZLAV, Ersatz NZLAV, and a Maisto LAV-25.

To do this with the excellent S&S Models kit would work out at around over NZ$450, not including postage for them from the UK to NZ. Given this I needed to find another solution. The most logical and immediate solution was to get 3D printed vehicles.

This option was pursued but would ultimately take significantly longer than expected to produce results due to a number of false starts.

Left to Right: 2x  Maisto LAV-25s, (the middle one is starting the conversion process towards becoming a Ersatz NZLAV), and  a Bravo Team  Stryker.
So I started to see if I could produce the required vehicles by converting diecast Maisto L-25s into NZLAVs. The first challenge was trying to source enough vehicles to do this. My source of vehicles was The Warehouse ( A large nationwide chain of big box stores in NZ that sold them for around NZ$8-$10 each), but each branch only carried a very small number of the LAV-25s. Fortunately I was ably assisted by family and friends in tracking these down, in particular by Will who tracked down a large number in various stores throughout Auckland and then mailed them down to me.

The large plastic gun barrel is replaced by a metal pin.
The process of getting all these diecasts together for conversion took time, so I had to find an immediate substitute, which I found in the form of 1/72 Strykers, a number of which were provided by Kirk. I am going to continue work on the conversions, as this will mean that I will have another squadron of LAVs available.

From Left to Right: Freshly printed NZLAV, assembled and unpainted, and final painted model.
Despite the problems with making ersatz NZLAVs, and having the  Strykers available, I continued to pursue getting 3D printed NZLAVs, and finally I managed to get some produced.

3D Printed NZLAVs and the S&S model NZLAV
The biggest hurdle with the printed models is to remove them from the cocoon of plastic that they are printed in. This is a very time consuming process, but certainly less than the 4 hours it takes to print a NZLAV hull. 

S&S NZLAV is flanked by two 3D printed models.
The plastic used is the same type as used in Lego, so it will put up with a great deal for handling. It also takes paint well.

3D printed NZLAVs and a Javelin team from Wartime Miniatures.
I have added some extra details, such as coils of wire and jerry cans to the models, and am going to add spare wheels to some of them as well. I might even add a light obstacle blade, and I am toying with the idea of painted one up in a MERDEC scheme - such Paul at Plastic Warriors has done here.


  1. Fascinating Uncle B, especially the 3D one, I didn't realise you had to hack all that crap away! A vagary of your printer type, or a more universal element of complicated shapes?


    1. Hi Hugh,
      To be honest I don't know if it was to do with the printer or the design. The Shapeways stuff arrives very clean, but the 1/1800 Destroyer I had a friend print had a cocoon of crap on it.

      The explanation I have been given tends to suggest that it is indeed a result of complicated shapes needing scaffolding for each layer of plastic that is laid down by the printer.

    2. Its a function of the printer type. Your friend probably has a 'deposit' printer which need scafolding. Shapeways use lasers to burn powder which is built up in thin layers, and self supports.

    3. Well, that's a very interesting thing to know! I presume that that the later type are more expensive? Thanks for the info Cyril!

  2. Good grief man, you have gone LAV-Mad! I am sure that the USMC LAV's were still in MERDC into the 90's, then the NATO scheme or Desert kicked in.

    I have a trumpter LAV kicking around I will end up. If nothing else, the wheels and hull may be good for resin casting.

    Excellent work Brian.

    1. Hi Paul,
      Yes I have gone a bit overboard with LAV production, but there is a method to my madness.

      Painting a NZLAV in a MERDC scheme is something that a few folf have expressed interest in seeing, so I figured that I might try it.

      As to sending up a LAV , thank you very much, although I might try and see if Aaron could collect it:)

      And as for 'end up', well, it will end up in the horde of LAVs :)

    2. All good. I think it might be a TOW variant, so you may have to work a turret.