As everyone undoubtedly knows, the main mechanized infantry vehicle for Canada is the LAVIII. Of course, as far as I can determine, nobody actually makes a LAVIII in 15mm scale. It’s based on a MOWAG Piranha and there are a few vehicles based on that chassis, the easiest of which to find are the LAV 25 and the Stryker.
I originally purchased some QRF LAV 25s as my LAVIII substitute. I chose these because a) their Stryker looks like ass and b) the LAVIII is somewhat closer in appearance to a LAV III than the Stryker. When they finally arrived, I found out that a) also applied to the the LAV25.
I also quickly discovered that the QRF model was ridiculously small. Let’s get into an aside here. . . QRF insists that its models are built to “True 15mm scale”. I can’t remember what the exact figure they use is, but it’s somewhere south of 1:104. While that’s all very good, let’s remember that “15mm” so much as a scale as an arbitrary number, and what’s important is how it looks near a human figure. The QRF LAV 25 is marginally larger than a Peter Pig Toyota Hilux, and the wheel is about the size of a car wheel in relation to a figure, and the figure’s head extends higher than the top deck. It’s clearly too small, regardless of the arguments of purists.
The QRF vehicles were also horrendously cast and devoid of detail, with the smoothly flowing lines of something which has travelled through a large intestine. Unfortunately, they’re also not particularly cheap, so that was money poorly spent.
I did some more digging and found out that Trident miniatures does a LAV 25 in HO scale. They’re available for sale through Pacific Western Rail Systems, an online model railroad shop that I recommend without reservation.
Eventually these models arrived, each in their own little box. They’re injection molded plastic (ie, a plastic model kit), and for something in this scale, they come with a great many parts.
Also unlike many models, these come with instructions. This is helpful, as I’ve never actually assembled a LAV25 before. I wish more manufacturers would do this, as poring over badly lit photos on the internets is a poor substitute for a sheet of clear instructions. More specifically, I’m looking at you, QRF Blackhawk (but that will be another story, if I ever actually assemble the damn thing).
Because the model is made in a Germanic country, it goes together without any difficulty, assuming you follow the instructions. There was very little flash and it required minimal clean up. The parts were small, but tweezers and a steady hand made assembly relatively smooth. Because of the large number of parts, assembly takes a while. Don’t expect to assemble four of them in one night; one per night is a better bet.
Once they were assembled, I primed them white and began painting. I could go into a lengthy essay on how I did it, but why bother when I can just point you to a tutorial (bonus: actually uses LAV-25). Unlike the tutorial, I airbrushed them in khaki which was a mixture of Ceramcoat (yes, the cheap craft paint) tan and Golden liquid acrylics white. That’s a bit like mixing a Belgian trappist ale with Old Milwaukee. The weathering coat was a light grey dust colour.
At this point, a flood came through my kitchen ceiling and I left for four months. Surprisingly, I didn’t lose any parts in the meantime. Then I started painting again.
Because they’re plastic, they lend themselves very well to detailing. I added a bunch of stowage and random bits from my collection of excess model bits, and rolls of other fabric based items made from tiny rolls of Bounty® paper towels held together with white glue.
The hatches don’t have to be closed, so it’s relatively easy to add figures to the models. Naturally, I didn’t have any military figures, but I did have the large collection of cheap WeHonest “1:100” scale figures. Some of these figures are seated, and by amputating their lower legs I could fit them into the turrets. They’re civilian figures, but if you give them a repaint with some military colours they can pass at a reasonable distance. Besides, what military hasn’t press-ganged an old lady into being an AFV gunner?
Final weathering was with some powered pastels mixed with water and some chips and weathering laid in with a pencil (as per the tutorial, really).
The miniatures have a level of detail which I have rarely seen in models in this scale. They make the other models in my collection (including other plastic models) seem wholly inadequate.
They also look just fine with 15mm scale figures. Note in this picture how the wheels come up to about the right level on the figure, and how it doesn’t look like it’s the size of a Mini Cooper. It’s really all you can ask for.
To sum it all up, the Trident miniatures are fantastic. They’re excellent value for the money, given their prodigious detail. And if you squint hard enough, they look just like LAVIIIs. They’re Piranhas worth fishing for.