Opel Blitz FireFight: A Few Gems Stand Out | Print |  E-mail
Written by Don MacVittie   
Saturday, 07 July 2007
Don picked up a selection of Opel Blitz trucks to flesh out his 7th Panzer Division Panzer and Panzer Grenadier armies at the time of the invasion of France, and made certain to get a selection from several vendors so that you can see some of the differences. Due to the large number of Blitz variants out there, it was impossible for us to purchase every one, so we chose a sampler that suited our army's needs, one per vendor. Where possible, we list the variants available.

For this review we have models from Battlefront Miniatures, Battle Honors, Command Decision, Gaming Models, Peter Pig and Quick Reaction Force. Battlefront's resin offering comes two in a pack, and Command Decision's, as always, comes three in a pack. All of the other vendors' products are sold singly.

Interestingly, two vendors have recently intimated to us that a bad Wargames @ Nordalia.com review can result in changes to their product lines. While we're flattered, that does mean that products that don't fare so well in this review might not be available in the near future, even if you want them for some reason.

The Opel Blitz

The Opel Blitz was one of the most prominent German trucks during World War II. It was employed on every major front, for everything from troop transport to AFV recovery to artillery tow. The Blitz is arguably the most widely recognized wheeled vehicle of the WWII German Army.

Most wargaming armies need transport�we try to avoid it, but double or quadruple the movement makes us end up purchasing some, even if we never end up using it. The vehicles in this review certainly increase the mobility of our 7th Panzer infantry, and in some games even reclassify the troop types.

The minis we saw ran the gamut from astoundingly good to barely passable, and the amount of work required to get them on the table and transporting troops ranged from Battlefront's and Gaming Models' simple prime-and-paint to Quick Reaction Force's and Battle Honors' multi-part assembly, including axles. While all of these vehicles could be used on your table, we found the Command Decision vehicles the nicest of the bunch. They're scaled appropriately for 1:100, they look very nice, they're not too expensive and they go together easily. Battlefront comes in a close second with its complete lack of assembly and affordable price, though if you don't like the bases that are built into the BF resins, you may prefer Battle Honors' truck which, while very nice, as usual has a lot of fiddly bits.

This is the first multi-product review in which we've included Gaming Models, and since its paint job was nowhere near level of the other models in the review, we repainted the vehicle. For your reference we've included before and after pictures of the vehicle.


Battlefront/Flames of War



The Battlefront Miniatures Opel comes in a pack of two resin vehicles with bases molded on. This is one of the shorter models in the review, even counting the base, and it's the smallest lengthwise as well. It's also much thinner than rivals, making the vehicle look long and tall. In reality though, Battlefront is close enough in size to the original, off by just about 6mm in length, which could be accounted for by location of measure. As mentioned above, there is no assembly for Battlefront Opels�just wash, prime and paint.

The best thing about these models is cleanliness of detail. They're easy to paint up because the lines and angles are clearly delineated. While the filled-in cab may be an issue for you, all of the other details are nice enough.


The worst thing about these models is the inability to customize. With all of the other minis we could put cargo or seats for troops in the back. But with the BF model the tarpaulin is part of the same mold as the truck, making it nearly impossible to remove the tarp without causing damage to either it or the truck itself. No, we didn't try it�from the way the two are connected, we're pretty certain that it will be more trouble than it's worth, given that two-part options are available. A lot of people will also have an issue with the bases being built onto the model, and indeed, many will take the time to sand the bases off. There are no easy solutions to the filled cab or the closed back, however.

The detail on wheels, grille and tarpaulin are very well done, and it's easy to make it stand out with dry-brushing and inking (we did both with these models).


Overall, the Battlefront figures are fine, and we're happy to add them to our army. They fit in well enough with the other trucks in the review, and they were easy to get ready to play with. The big block of resin between the wheels is sometimes annoying, but our experience is that if you paint it flat black it's not noticeable in the course of normal gaming.

Manufacturer: BattleFront Miniatures

US Sourcing: BattleFront Direct

MSRP: $17.00

UK Sourcing: Empire Games

MSRP: � 5.50


Gaming Models


The finished GM product after our repaint

Gaming Models' Opel Blitz is a new entrant in our multi-product reviews. Like Battlefront's mini, the GM product is all resin, but the company uses a lighter resin mix than Battlefront does, making its model feel lighter overall than any other entrant.


The above are pictures of the Gaming Models product pre-painted on delivery

The model measures in well with the others in this review, and it comes pre-painted. Being all-resin, and given that resin casting normally requires that the top of the mold be large and flat, one might expect a large base on this figure, similar to the Battlefront entries. But one would be wrong. Gaming Models gets around mold limitations by casting the wheels separate from the body and gluing them into place before shipping the model to customers. A nice touch.


The best thing about this model is the combination of price and ease-of-use. If you need to get a vehicle on the table quickly, for $4.00 (USD) each, you can order from Gaming Models and use the vehicle the day that it arrives.

The worst thing about this vehicle is the overall look. The prepaint job is not up to our gaming standards, and likely won't be up to yours. The porous nature of the resin used makes surfaces appear rough even after painting. Now, we don't want to misrepresent Gaming Models�in its catalog the company clearly states that its vehicles are not collector quality. We suggest you check out our pictures before rushing out to purchase: After painting, the Gaming Models product is definitely usable, but don't expect it to be the most beautiful piece on your table.


As with Battlefront's entry, some customers will have issues with the filled-in cab and non-detachable tarpaulin of the Gaming Models vehicle. One means painted windows, the other means no ability to customize what's in the back of the vehicle.

Generally, the level of detail is nice on these trucks, but the casting is rather rough-and-ready, with file markings showing on the roof and hood, and there are some spots where resin is filling in what should be empty spots. We'll leave it up to you to decide if the model is too rough-and-ready; we found the door borders the worst bit, and the canvas the best feature.

Gaming Models does not have a website or a distribution system. To order, contact directly via email.

PRICE: $4.00


Old Glory/Command Decision


All CD Pictures contain with and without canvas top

As is usual for Command Decision, these vehicles come three per pack. Each is an all-metal casting of just a few parts: wheels, main body, truck bed, cab roof and tarpaulin. The vehicle measures well and fits in just fine with the other models in our review.

The best thing about this model is the detail and cleanliness of the casting. All portions of the vehicle are clean and well-defined, it goes together easily, and it just looks good.

The worst part of this vehicle is fitting the cab roof onto the main body�it's fiddly and takes patience. But given some pre-fitting and persistence, you can get it on there good and solid. It's a testament to the quality of this model that having to pre-fit a part is the worst thing we could find to say about it.



The ability to put the tarpaulin on or leave it off is an excellent benefit that will allow you to fashion benches or glue in ammo boxes, or whatever you like. If you want a closed look, you can simply glue the canvas cover down and call it a day.

Because the top of the cab is separate from the rest of the cab, you could conceivably place drivers into the cab�but we did not attempt to do so, as we did not wish to purchase the full Command Decision pack of 50 vehicle crews just to place drivers in our few open-topped early-war vehicles that don't already have them.



We think this vehicle is much better than the majority of those in this review. They look great when assembled, are easy to throw together, and yet offer options. The casting is very clean, and the ability to customize the bed of the truck is a nice perk.


Manufacturer: 19th Century Miniatures LLC

US Sourcing: WarWeb

MSRP: $22.00 (3/package)

UK Sourcing: Old Glory UK

MSRP: � 13.50 (3/package)


Peter Pig



At the time of this review, Peter Pig does not produce an Opel Blitz. If you're specifically looking for a Blitz, then skip this section and check out the rest of the article. Still, we wanted to include PP in the review if possible, and it makes a Granit truck, so we brought one in to look at. While measurements do no good to compare an Opel to a Granit, the Peter Pig vehicle fits in well looks-wise with the Opels in our review.

The Peter Pig Granit comes with wheels, cab, main body and two headlights. Nothing overly complex, and the nature of the Granit's headlights is such that casting them separate makes sense (they were on metal risers straight up in front of the grille).

The thing we like the most about this vehicle is the ease of assembly. You can throw it together in minutes without much work, and it's designed to look good on the table.


The thing we like least about the Peter Pig offering is the thickness of � everything. The walls of the truck are obviously too thick, the cab is filled in, it just feels like all of the inside spaces have been squished together. We could not fit figures into the back facing one another�their feet would have to be cut off to make them fit because the space is taken up by oversize sides. The floor of the bed is also rounded a little on the edges, a flaw treatment with dry brushing will only accentuate.

We figure solid cabs are for resins, where there is no real option and pieces thin enough to make separate cab roofs would be too fragile to make sense on the gaming table. If you don't mind a truck with solid cabs, this may not bother you so much.

The headlights are cool enough, and well done. They went into place OK, without much fiddling, and they add a lot to the overall model.


Because benches are built into the back of the truck yet there is not enough room to put seated troops back there; the cab is filled in; and the sides of the bed are obviously too large, we found the Peter Pig offering wanting. You may feel differently, but we recommend looking elsewhere for your general-purpose German transport needs.

Manufacturer: Peter Pig

US Sourcing: Brookhurst Hobbies

MSRP: $8.99

UK Sourcing: Peter Pig

MSRP: � 4.50


Quality Castings/Battle Honors



Quality Castings, like most of these vendors, offers several versions of the Opel Blitz. To switch things up a bit, we opted for the open-backed version with troops in the bed. While we enjoy the canvas-covered models, this one was relatively newly sculpted�making it more interesting for a review�and we were looking for some comparative difference.

The model fits in well with the other vehicles in the review, and though the cab is slightly taller than the CD mini, the two sit side-by-side well, particularly if one has the cover on the back and the other does not.

As is usual, the Quality Castings model comes in a lot of pieces, more than any other in our review. This is not, however, to say that it has too many pieces: You can build this all-metal truck with only a body, cab and four wheels, unusual for QC products, and decide whether to go from there.


Which brings us to the thing we found most impressive about this model: the add-ons. With the Shutzen team (six figures), the driver (the only vehicle in this review that came with one), stowage, optional wooden side-rails, separate and optional seats, and the folded up tarpaulin on an upright mounting bracket, you have a lot of options for what you build from this figure. We're impressed, overall.

The thing we liked least about this figure was the driver. Not what the driver looks like�he's just fine�but the figure simply would not fit in the cab without removing some portion of the poor guy's legs. We don't mind lopping legs off, but we'd like to see some effort spent at shipping the figure ready for mounting so that customers can focus on clean-up and assembly, rather than what amounts to modifications. For this review, we left the driver out because we didn't feel the benefit in a closed cab was worth the effort involved.

In contrast, the seated Shutzen team is nicely done, and while they at first feel like they don't fit well, once glued down they seem to be sitting naturally. We struggled with this a little bit, finally got them placed in such a manner that we were willing to live with them, then were pleasantly surprised at how natural they look.

The optional side rails are a nice touch, and though they are difficult to get seated (this is a problem with many optional side-rails from many trucks, from many vendors in 15mm), they look good in place.


The reflector on top of the cab is too tall on this model by far, and if you want to cut it down, it will take some work. But since that work is simply filing, it shouldn't be that big a deal. The model as pictured does not have this item filed down, so you can assess how important this issue is for you from our pictures.

The stowage is a nice touch, and we found that it fit well on the back end, between the frame and the bed. It could also go into the bed of the truck itself, but that would be a tighter fit.

Overall, we're a fan of this vehicle. It is a bit on the expensive side, but the detail is very nice and the options outstrip everyone else. Had this mini been near the price of the Command Decision line, it would have won this review, and we will definitely check out some of the other remastered Opels from Battle Honors. You may find the price to be worth it with the figures included � but a bag of CD riders is relatively inexpensive also.

Manufacturer: 19th Century Miniatures, LLC

US Sourcing: WarWeb

MSRP: $9.00

UK Sourcing: None Known


Quick Reaction Force



We got our hands on a Quick Reaction Force Opel Blitz, and frankly, we wish we hadn't. While QRF seems to have worked out its supply issues within the States, this vehicle is the worst sample of its product we've ever received. Sadly, we cannot say it's the overall worst 15mm product we've ever gotten, but it comes close.

It is slightly larger in every dimension than any other entrant in the review, but that difference in size is uniform across dimensions, so it fits well enough.

The thing we like best about this product is that it's the only one to ship with the canvas open, meaning you can put whatever you like in the bed of the truck and have it be visible with the canvas on the back.

The thing we found most troublesome about this model is, simply, quality. It is horrendous. Coming out of the package, the model looked as good as any other, with one exception�the cab in our sample was filled with lead. Or more precisely, half filled with lead. The passenger side door window was mostly clear with just a few bits of flash in it, easy enough to clean. The driver's side window had 1/8 of an inch of flash in it, with the front window starting paper thin on the passenger side and going to 1/8 of an inch on the drivers' side. We carved the passenger and front windows out the best we could before taking photos, but we gave up on the driver's side window and left it filled.

The next most annoying thing is that QRF tried to overtake Battle Honors in the "unnecessary detail for a wargamer" department. The drive train and axles are included in the package, and are necessary to hold the wheels in place. They are fiddly and difficult to get straight, not to mention forming a fragile wheel-mounting system.

The overall casting is rough and ready�more so than even the Gaming Models product�with boards on the back made up of rows of wavy lines, deep marks across different portions of the body, and rough edges pretty much everywhere. We painted it up using our normal base coat, dry-brush and ink, so that you could see what we received. It is likely that after the review we will strip this model and turn it into an objective marker by making it into a wreck. And we'll likely have fun doing so.


We usually reserve this backhanded compliment for Command Decision models, but we have to admit that, once painted up and at tabletop distance, the QRF Opel looks good enough with the other vehicles. Check out the pictures of all the vehicles together, taken to mimic looks at table-top distance, to see whether you agree. Still, we suggest if you have an alternative to this model, take it, you'll be happier. Once again, we highly suspect that this is a relatively old casting. It's our hope that QRF will find the time to re-master it, but if they do not, we have to recommend against purchasing this product.

Oddly, in the same shipment that we received this model, we also received a Panzer IIIe, an Sdkfz 222 and a Kubelwagen�and each of these models is fine and painted up nicely. But the one that we brought in for review is more "Opel gets hit by train" than "Opel Blitz".

Manufacturer: LKM Direct
US Sourcing: WarWeb
MSRP: $7.95
UK Sourcing: LKM Direct
MSRP: � 4.00

Measurements


Name

Length

Width

Height (cab)

Height

Original/100

61mm

22.65mm

20.25mm

25.65mm

Quick Reaction Force

60mm

29mm

22mm

28mm

Command Decision

56mm

27mm

19mm

27mm

Quality Castings

56mm

27mm

22mm

**

Peter Pig

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/a

Gaming Models

58mm

23mm

23mm

30mm

Battlefront

55mm

21mm

19mm***

26mm*

Width measurements taken at tailgate, height measurements taken at highest point with canvass on.
* excluding attached base.
** the QC model has no canvass.
*** including base
N/A: Since the PP model is not an Opel, we chose not to include its measurements


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