Sunday, 11 May 2014

Lasercut Card Casspir

At Sangin HQ, we are always on the look out for cool new models. Many email conversations go back and forth every day, about this new miniature, or have we seen this or that. When Colin sent around a link to a company out of South Africa that was making laser cut card vehicles, I was incredibly curious to say the least! Now, I have built many plastic kits in my time, but building card aeroplanes was something I did as a kid, and I do definitely remember the card HMS Invincible that I got with a Quest magazine ages ago (wish I still had it to be honest!).

On to these card vehicles. The company Laser Cut Card are a South African based company, who make laser cut card products (clever naming on their part). Their products range from containers, buildings, right up to Warhammer 40k-esque guns and a selection of South African armoured vehicles.

The vehicle that particularly caught my eye was the Casspir. A 4x4, Mine Resistant Infantry Mobility Vehicle. With it's V-shaped hull and massive wheels it seemed like something which should be able to survive the wilds of Afghanistan! According to Wiki, the US have 68 of them, as well as the Buffalo EOD vehicle, which is a derivative of the Casspir. As to who (and if anyone)has deployed them in Afghanistan, and in what capacity, I am not totally sure. If anyone has any insider info, let me know!

What I do have, is this picture here,

Which is of a Casspir de-mining the area around Bagram Airbase. Now that Casspir in the image has steel wheels, and is specially designed to undertake de-landmining operations (driving round and blowing them up it seems), which is a bit different to the card-model, but I think it is not too much of a stretch that there are Casspirs used.

So armed with a sketchy concept about whether it had deployed in Afghanistan and all of the enthusiasm contained in a hyperactive puppy, I ordered myself a Casspir. Not knowing what to expect when shipping from South Africa, I was really happy to have immediate contact from the guys at Laser Cut Card, and had the Casspir a week later. Needless to say, I was super impressed.

It's here!
So upon opening the pack, I was greeted with multiple sheets of flimsy looking card, a small sheet of 3mm MDF pieces and some plastic tubing. This raised some questions about whether this was a good investment for me.
Not pictured: My uninspired and confused facial expression
All of the pieces on the card had been cut so that there was only a small tab of card keeping it attached to the frame, additionally the folds in the card have already been pre-scored, which was a definite bonus.

The instructions for the Casspir are on the Laser Cut Card website, I kept them open in front of me while I was working. The instructions are easy to follow, although a couple of times they skipped some simple steps. This wasn't a massive issue, as it was easy enough to figure out what needed to happen (for example they never said attach the cab to the passenger cabin, or to attach the front grill).  

Tools wise, you need a sharp knife (I used a scalpel with a fresh blade) and superglue. You will want a ruler as well later on. I suppose you could use PVA glue to assemble it, but Superglue was quick to set, and you don't want to be sitting there waiting for every join to glue, because it will drive you mad.Or madder, depending on how mad you were to begin with.

The assembly begins with the cab of the Casspir....
First side glued! And some nice product placement for Selley's.
The way Laser Cut Card have designed it is with two major pieces (the cab and the passenger cabin) which you then stick details to. 

Completed Cab, waiting for adornments
I would recommend patience when assembling these, the adage of "measure twice, cut (glue) once" definitely applies here, especially when fitting the rounded edges of the big pieces, or when lining up the window frames etc.

The embellishments are simple enough to attach, they have all pretty clear places to go. It is a bit fiddly to line up the window frames, but even if it is wrong, it is a simple matter of using the scalpel to remove it and have another go (which happened with me once or twice).

Cab with embellishments. Note it is missing the front grill, because I forgot to add it at this stage!
Once the Cab is assembled, it is on to the passenger cabin. Here is where I had my only disagreement with the kit- I could not for love nor money get the sides to line up nicely. I think there would certainly be a case for it being operator (my) error, rather than a design fault. The net result was that I was left with a 2mm gap in the cabin. 

The simple solution was to make up a long snake of greenstuff to putty over the gap. Not a big issue at all, and as I say, I think it was me doing something wrong, rather than there being an issue with the Casspir design.
Greenstuff covering (some of) my sins....
Once the shell of the passenger cabin is assembled, it is a pretty simple matter of attaching the window frames, doors, rifle ports, top hatches, suspension etc to round out the model.

One of the really interesting things for me, was the wheels. Basically the wheels are split into 7 discs each (with 6 wheels, that makes 42 wheel circles, plus wheel hub bits) the discs are attached in layers, which then form the whole of the wheel.

Rear wheels in progress, with discs about to be attached
This system is incredibly simple, and looks damn good when it is done. What might have looked like a dog's breakfast is saved by the fact that they have put tread on the wheels, basically it means that the joins are how it should look. I made sure to always assemble the wheels with the axle running through them, to help to line them up, but again, it was a simple matter to get them lined up and attached. I was getting good at the assembly by this stage, so that will have helped too.

With the Cab, Passenger Cabin and Wheels all done, then you have to put it all together. This basically involves cutting two axles of plastic tubing, as well as two pieces to be the differential. Which makes the underside look like this...

Good shot of how the wheels show tread, and the V-shaped hull too
With the wheels attached, the core model is complete!

The micky-mouse ears of the spare wheels entertains me....
The kit also comes with a couple of heavy machine-guns, again assembled using laser cut card and plastic tubing. Given the couple of Casspir pictures I have are unarmed, I decided to use a spare GPMG from an Airfix Landrover kit and mounted it on the top hatch, rather than using the heavy machine guns from the kit.

To be fair, the GPMG now looks tiny.....
 Worth noting also, is that the Casspir is a BIG vehicle. I figured given it is an MRAP, it seemed only right to compare it in scale to the excellent EOD team from Empress Miniatures which I finished recently....

The Casspir ain't small!
Now. I said that I was underwhelmed when I got my flimsy card sheets. And boy was I COMPLETELY WRONG TO FEEL LIKE THAT. I had to put that in capitals, because I have to emphasise how good the Casspir was to assemble. I did it over two nights, and it took about an equivalent time to making a plastic kit I think.

Assembly aside, on to the painting. I was a touch worried with how well painting card would go. I mused over whether to use some form of a sealant, but in the end, I used a simple black spray paint, then opted for an overall desert scheme like the rest of my US vehicles. I was tempted to paint it white, but thought my weathering skills would not be up to the task of doing it justice! I think I need to black line the model yet, but the paint has not done anything weird for being painted on card.

Below is Casspir compared against the Tamiya 1/48 Humvee and the Airfix 1/48 Jackal. The Casspir is a big vehicle (7m compared to the Jackal's 5m). I haven't done the actual measuring, but it looks maybe a touch big? Not terribly so, but it is a touch on the big side.

I have to say, the guys at Laser Cut Card have done a sterling service, I am thoroughly impressed. Don't do what I did and write off card as not being a durable material, the Casspir is well designed and has good structural strength, possibly owing to the shape of the model, but I want to give the Laser Cut Card guys all the credit for the design in creating what is a faithful representation of the Casspir, all in card!

As for me? I need to stop looking at their website. They have some great terrain (containers!) and some more South African vehicles (the Ratel 90 looks fantastic). I will definitely not be hesitating to buy more. 



  1. That looks really good Pooch.
    Did it take you as long as say building the Tamiya humvee?
    Readers may like to note that the Casspir is used in a few episodes of Strike Back.
    Did I mention we have a humvee in Chch now?

    1. Yep, about the same time as the Tamiya humvee, if not a touch less. The Tamiya kit has a lot of suspension pieces!

      I think you can find the Casspir in a few things actually, District 9 comes to mind.

      A humvee in chch? Modded up? Or it it someone's SUV?

    2. Oh yeah District 9 was filmed in RSA as well.
      Nope a real hardback up armoured one.

    3. Is it some private collectors? That is pretty cool....

    4. yeah seen it parked on the road last week, made my day

    5. Oh that is cool.

      Might have to hunt around for it when I am down next.

  2. I agree, LCC make some great stuff. I ordered the container shop set from them as a test a while ago. When you open the envelope it looks pretty underwhelming :-), but once it's constructed, it turns out be really nice.
    I'll be ordering again in the future.

    1. I think the containers will be my next order, I have a few plans with what to do with them!

      Good to hear you had a similar experience.

  3. Hi Pooch, like the card model, the only thing I thought was a bit naff (and stands out when placed next to your plastic kit vehicles) is the card indents on the folds/joins, I guess a keen modeller could easily fix that though with modelling putty, paintable green stuff or something. Like your collection of vehicles, the jackel looks awesome!
    I'd be keen to see some more insurgent vehicle plastic kits we could bash!
    Keep up the great work buddy

    1. I think I will have a crack at doing that on my next ones- I don't expect it to be too difficult to pull off.

      Agreed on the insurgent vehicles. I am always on the hunt for technicals-everytime I go into a toy shop I have a look for them!

  4. I like your blog post. Keep on writing this type of great stuff. I'll make sure to follow up on your blog in the future. Laser Cards