15 mm Sd Kfz 251/1 Model Comparison
I was able to find nine manufacturers of 15 mm Sd Kfz 251/1s and have reviewed them all individually. This is how they all compare to each other, from a wargamer’s perspective. (9/25/2015 Update: With the release of Battlefront’s new plastic Sd Kfz 251 this article will be revisited soon with an update.)
The Sources of 15 mm Sd Kfz 251/1s
In alphabetical order:
|Battlefront Sd Kfz 251/1 Ausf C|
|Command Decision Sd Kfz 251/1 Ausf C|
|Forged in Battle Sd Kfz 251/1 Ausf C|
|Quality Castings Sd Kfz 251/1 Ausf C|
|Quick Reaction Force Sd Kfz 251/1 Ausf C|
|Peter Pig Sd Kfz 251/1 Ausf C|
|Plastic Soldier Company Sd Kfz 251/1 Ausf C|
|Point of Contact Sd Kfz 251/1 Ausf C (Actually a 251/2)|
|Zvezda Sd Kfz 251/1 Ausf B (actually an Ausf A)|
Overall, all nine sources make adequate models. They are not fully interchangeable as they do differ in size, but all look perfectly fine on the tabletop individually. While it is fine to mix and match some of the manufacturers’ models, they are not all compatible.
In order to have the best apples to apples comparison, Sd Kfz 251/1 Ausf Cs were chosen. This was the model that was in production since the early days of the war, and was only supplanted by the Ausf Ds starting in 1943. It is therefore perfectly reasonable to see an Ausf C from the beginning to the end of World War II.
The Zvezda Sd Kfz 251/1 Ausf B was included because Zvezda does not make a Ausf C. There is no reason to believe that an Ausf B could not have survived the entire war, so it is not a real problem that it has minor differences in the body of the vehicle, and certainly has no effect on gameplay. Since writing the original Zvezda Sd Kfz 251/1 review, I have been informed that the Zvezda Sd Kfz 251/1 is actually an Ausf A. In any case, it’s a nice inexpensive model and deserves a place in this review.
Pricing of the Various 15 mm Sd Kfz 251/1s
One of the major factors when wargaming is of course the price of the hobby. As can be seen in the table below, the cost per model varies considerably among the different manufacturers, with Zvezda the least expensive at $3.95 per model, and Battlefront the most expensive at $12.50 per model.
Cost per Model *
|Zvezda Sd Kfz 251/1 Ausf B (actually an Ausf A)||6127||$ 3.95||1||$ 3.95|
|Plastic Soldier Company Sd Kfz 251/1 Ausf C||WW2V15003||$28.99||5||$ 5.80|
|Point of Contact Sd Kfz 251/1 Ausf C (actually a 251/2)||$30.00||5||$ 6.00|
|Quick Reaction Force Sd Kfz 251/1 Ausf C||QRF-GAP03||$ 6.30||1||$ 6.30|
|Command Decision Sd Kfz 251/1 Ausf C||CD-304||$24.00||3||$ 8.00|
|Forged in Battle Sd Kfz 251/1 Ausf C||P-90||$34.00||4||$ 8.50|
|Quality Castings Sd Kfz 251/1 Ausf C||$10.00||1||$10.00|
|Peter Pig Sd Kfz 251/1 Ausf C||08-314||$11.79||1||$11.79|
|Battlefront Sd Kfz 251/1 Ausf C||GE240||$12.50||1||$12.50|
* I believe that these are the retail prices of the models, even though some have odd price points. I was only able to find the Quick Reaction Force model at one website. They had the model listed at $9.00 crossed out and $6.30 as the price. I can only assume, since I only found the figure at a single source, that $6.30 is the actual price.
With such a disparity in the costs per model, the question becomes one of quality. Is the Zvezda of equal quality as the Battlefront? No, but all that is certain is that the Zvezda is not the worst model, and the Battlefront not the best.
Sizes of the Various 15 mm Sd Kfz 251/1 Models
One of the biggest questions with any scale models is how in scale are they and how well do they work with other models that claim to be the same scale. The two ends of the spectrum of 15 mm Sd Kfz 251/1s are hugely different. This could be justified by some of the figures claiming to be 15 mm (approximately 1:107) and some claiming to be 1:100 (not surprisingly, 1:100). Some of the 15 mm models are nearly spot on, some float between 1:107 and 1:100, and some are just too darn big.
In the picture above, the two blue boxes represent 15 mm and 1:100 looking at the top of the halftracks. A 15 mm Sd Kfz 251/1 should match the smaller blue box’s dimensions, while the 1:100 models should match the larger of the blue boxes. The red box is the size of the actual model.
- The Quality Castings Sd Kfz 251/1 is just about spot on 15 mm scale, and Command Decision is just a hair off. Both are effectively spot on target.
- The Forged in Battle Sd Kfz 251/1 is a hair short, but right where it should be in width.
- The Peter Pig, Zvezda and Battlefront Sd Kfz 251/1s are all floaters between the scales, which means that they’re reasonably close.
- The Plastic Soldier Company Sd Kfz 251/1 is the right width for 1:100 but too long, which is doubly too bad as that means that it is way over the 15 mm scale it claims to be.
- The Quick Reaction Force Sd Kfz 251/1 is the right width for 1:100 as well, but is the length of an aircraft carrier. It is so long it actually looks a bit weird.
- The Point of Contact Sd Kfz 251/1 is just wacked. It’s huge in all dimensions.
The 15 mm Sd Kfz 251/1 Models
I have arranged these in the order of my favorite to my least favorite. Some of them are ties, some are clear cut. All are serviceable, but I will certainly be staying at the top of this list. There is no pretense of an objective system here. No points for this and that summing up to a total that indicates the overall model rank, as that just gives a false sense of objectivity. My opinion is based on the quality, price, and suitability of the model for use in 15 mm wargaming. Or more simply put, which model would I like to put on the table first.
The ranking on this list should not be taken to indicate anything negative about any of the models. I really liked some of the lower ranked models, but just did not think that I would fill out a full Flames of War panzergrenadier force with them. It is a simple mathematical fact that when creating a list like this one half of the models will be in the top half, and half in the bottom half, but that does not automatically mean that the bottom half are bad models.
The Quality Castings 15 mm Sd Kfz 251/1 Ausf C
This is my favorite 15 mm Sd Kfz 251/1 without any doubt. I had a very poor experience with an online retailer, and I was prepared to excoriate this model as a result. Instead I found myself heaping praise upon it. It is outstanding.
The model is well proportioned and close to scale. It is also well detailed. From the front suspension to the passenger compartment, the sculptor of this piece spent time on the details and it shows. There are plenty of track sections, tools, fuel cans, et. cetera adorning the outside of the vehicle, while the passenger compartment shows the textured floor and seats.
There are two drawbacks, one bigger than the other. The small drawback is that there is no driver’s compartment. Cast in one piece, it is not possible to have such a cavernous space, and the other metal figures are the same. The larger drawback is the lack of crew. Many manufacturers, including Quality Castings, sell halftrack crews separately so it you want some they’re out there. I personally am content to live without them for this model, but might end up picking up a set and sharing it between several models, if possible.
This is my favorite 15 mm Sd Kfz 251/1 model of the whole batch. It is spot-on in scale, has great detail, and if purchased in large enough numbers to earn a discount, quite well priced.
Read the original review of the Quality Castings Sd Kfz 251/1 here.
The Plastic Soldier Company 15 mm Sd Kfz 251/1 Ausf C
I am a big fan of the Plastic Soldier Company’s offerings, and was not disappointed by their Sd Kfz 251/1 C. The box set comes with the makings of five halftracks. The base model is a bit bland but there is a ton of stowage and crew figures on each sprue, which means you will have gear left over when you are done building these. (The extra gear from my box set will adorn other companies’ models that did not come with any).
The model is big. It is a fair match to 1:100 scale but is really too big for that too. The reason for high ranking on my list is simply the low price and high number of customization options available. Each one of these figures can be made to look unique very simply with the included stowage items. In addition, there is a conversion kit to make several support models (with flamethrowers, 75 mm guns, etc.) available,
though I have not investigated it yet. For details on the Plastic Soldier Company halftrack conversion kit follow this link. For details on how the halftrack conversion kit works on non-PSC models, follow this link.
I would not hesitate to kit out a Flames of War panzergrenadier force with these models.
Read the original review of the Plastic Soldier Company Sd Kfz 251/1 Ausf C here.
The Battlefront 15 mm Sd Kfz 251/1 Ausf C
I consider Battlefront to be the standard in all evaluation of 15 mm WWII figures. I believe this is fair not because I am a huge fan of theirs, and indeed I am something of a critic, but merely because they are what is most widely available. I realize that in the UK and other parts of the world that have a deeper vein of wargaming in the culture and that may not be true over the pond but like it or not for me at this time and where I live it is true.
The Battlefront figure is a high quality figure that comes in five main pieces: two tracks, two wheels, and the hull. Assembly is relatively simple, although there is quite a bit of cleanup needed on the wheels before mounting them due to how they are cast. As usual with Battlefront models, there is no assembly guide to assist, so care is needed to insure that the tracks are not glued onto the wrong side of the hull.
Battlefront has provided nicely for the crew. There is a gunner and a block of three passengers that can be added to the model. The gunner is separate from the gun shield, but assembly is easy with a drop or two of glue. They have also included the parts necessary to field an Sd Kfz 251/10, armed with a 3.7 cm gun, instead of the standard Sd Kfz 251/1. A bit of modification is necessary to fit the gunner to the larger gun, but it can be done.
Read the full review of the Battlefront Sd Kfz 251/1 Ausf C here.
The Zvezda 1:100 Sd Kfz 251/1 Ausf B (actually an Ausf A)
In spite of being mislabeled as an Ausf B model on the packaging, this is actually an Ausf A. This makes absolutely no difference on the table however, and only a true grognard will be able to tell the difference. This is my next choice simply due to the incredibly low price point of the model.
At around $4 per model, this is an incredible value. This is definitely not the most detailed model, but it is reasonably so. I bumped it below the Battlefront model for two reasons. First is the lack of any accoutrements. There are some tools cast into the model, but there are no supplemental pieces to customize the model. The second reason is that the very simplicity of assembly leaves some unsightly gaps. Nothing earth shattering, but not attractive.
This model is just about the same width as the Plastic Soldier Company offering, which implies that the Plastic Soldier Company Sd Kfz 251 conversion kit will fit like a glove. (This will be explored in a future post). It also means that all the extra equipment in the Plastic Soldier Company kit will look just as good attached to the Zvezda model. You could do a lot worse than picking up the PSC box and filling out the balance of your force with these Zvezda Sd Kfz 251s with bits and bobs from the PSC kit.
Read the original Zvezda Sd Kfz 251/1 review can be found here.
The Forged In Battle 15 mm Sd Kfz 251/1 Ausf C
The Forged in Battle Sd Kfz 251/1 Ausf C is a nice little model. Cast entirely in resin, these models are a bit on the higher end of the scale, but very reasonably priced. They come with crew figures but no stowage. The alternate gun for a command tank, a 3.7 cm gun, is of a form that I have never seen on any other 15 mm Sd Kfz 251/1 although I did find one photo online indicating that it was correct (I am not fully convinced though).
While the detail is crisp and sharp on this model, it has two large flaws that land it smack dab in the middle of the pack. First is the cast-in base. Due to the all-resin casting there is a solid base that the halftrack sits on. I just prefer my vehicles to be unbased. Second is that the passenger compartment is not full depth, meaning that the gunner models have no lower legs. I just do not understand why they did not make a full-depth compartment. It is possible to add passengers from other sources just by cutting off their legs, but any close inspection will reveal that the model just is not quite right.
Read the original review of the Forged in Battle Sd Kfz 251/1 Ausf C here.
The Command Decision 15 mm Sd Kfz 251/1 Ausf C
Command Decision, manufactured by Old Glory (Skytrex in the UK?), has an older model of figure fulfillment. Instead of designing packs to fit a particular game’s figure needs, they simply provide a pack of German riflemen, or artillery crews, or in this case, of halftracks.
Packaged three to a package, the all metal figures can be fitted out with machineguns front and an AA MG rear. The package I obtained also included a mortar option, though I was not impressed with the
casting as it was more a giant block of metal than a nice tripod-based spitter of doom. Heck, even the Point of Contact mortars have better detail, but you can read about those at the bottom of this list.
When I first looked at these models I was struck by how tiny they appeared to be. It was only after taking measurements that I realized that Command Decision nailed the 15 mm scale, and that almost everybody else was too big for scale. Of a bit more concern is what appears to be a casting problem. The models themselves had a reasonable amount of flash, but it appears that some extra molten metal settled in the rear of the passenger compartment. While certainly not a major issue, it will cause some problems if trying to add some passengers.
There are no passengers in this package, and no stowage. There are both front and rear machine guns, mortars, and a 3.7 cm gun to convert one model to a command variant. Command Decision does make a halftrack passengers pack, but I did not investigate it.
There is nothing wrong with Command Decision”s Sd Kfz 251 models that earned them this spot on the list. There are just other models that are a bit better.
To read the original review of the Command Decision Sd Kfz 251/1 Ausf C click the link.
The Peter Pig 15 mm Sd Kfz 251/1 Ausf C
This is a model that I really wanted to place at the top of the list but cannot. I like this model. I just wouldn”t plunk down the lucre to kit out an army with them as they are too darn expensive for what you get.
Being only a few cents cheaper than the Battlefront model, you get a whole lot less in the way of detail. No stowage, no passengers, no command version gun, nothing. This doesn’t mean that it isn’t a nice little model. It is! It is just too expensive when presented with the other options here.
If you are playing a skirmish game with few vehicles, such as Arc of Fire or perhaps I Ain’t Been Shot Mum!, then by all mean pick up a couple of these. I cannot recommend that you do so to fit out a Flames of War panzergrenadier force though.
Read the original review of the Peter Pig Sd Kfz 251/1 Ausf C here.
The Quick Reaction Force 15 mm Sd Kfz 251/1 Ausf C
My first reaction upon seeing this model was wonderment at how incredibly long it is. The passenger compartment could probably fit an even dozen of the riders that came with the Battlefront model! It is the correct width for 1:100 scale but too long by a lot. In fact, the proportions are off by enough that a casual observer (by which I mean a gamer, not somebody off the street), will notice at a glance that things seem a bit off.
A redeeming quality to this model is the relatively low price point. It is by far the cheapest of the metal models. For that price one gets a 15 mm model that is reasonably simple to assemble with a reasonable amount of detail. There is no stowage though, no gas cans, track links, etc. So it is a pretty basic sculpt.
The original review of the Quick Reaction Force Sd Kfz 251/1 Ausf C can be found by following the link.
The Point of Contact 1:100 Sd Kfz 251/1 Ausf C (actually a /2 as it is packaged)
As much as it surprised me that the Peter Pig Sd Kfz 251/1 was towards the bottom of this list, this offering was slated to be dead last from the moment I laid my hands on it. What a disappointment. I despise these models.
To begin with, the models are huge. Sold as 1:100, they are way too big. They are too long and too wide by far and dwarf all the other models. Then add in the fact that they are assembled as Sd Kfz 251/2s. Normally I like additional bits, but not when I have to modify my ready-to-wear figures because they have the wrong kit. (And it is annoyingly fiddly to do to boot!). In addition, the assembly is poor with giant gaps between body panels.
In short, you can open a package and plop these down on the table within minutes, but anybody with any pride in their forces should look elsewhere. Ugh.
You can read the original review of the Point of Contact Sd Kfz 251 models here. You can read about how to convert the Point of Contact Sd Kfz 251 to the 251/1 model here (not hard, but fiddly).
Concluding Thoughts on the 15 mm Sd Kfz 251/1 Models
Under certain conditions I would put any of these models out on the table, but I definitely prefer some over others. If you can find a discount source of Quality Castings Sd Kfz 251/1s then back up the truck and load up on those. My favorite hands down. The only real surprise to me was how far down the list I put the Peter Pig model. It is a nice model but not a good value.
The Zvezda and Plastic Soldier Company Sd Kfz 251/1s are so close in size that the pieces are probably interchangeable. This means that the extra detail parts that come with the PSC models will probably look great on the Zvezda models. And the conversion kit will probably work perfectly as well (to be verified soon). I think that any combination of these two will work out great for a gamer.
If fielding halftracks from multiple sources, try to stick within the size groups. The small group consists of Forged in Battle, Command Decision, and Quality Castings. The middle group consists of Peter Pig, Battlefront and Zvezda. The only models from the large group I’d really consider are the Plastic Soldier Company offering, which would mix down with the Zvezda models well enough.
There are plenty more reviews at the Spotting Round Reviews Page, though none quite as extensive as this one. Yet. (There are plenty more review on this site not listed on that page. Simply follow the Review menu item and you’ll get them all.)
Wikipedia is a good source for basic historical information, and their article on the Sd Kfz 251 series has an excellent guide to what the different variants were. What”s the difference between a Sd Kfz 251/1 and a Sd Kfz 251/16? This is the easiest place to find out.