I haven't done a Review/Additions post in a while, but that doesn't mean I haven't added anything new to my fleet in the meantime. I just didn't share them with you guys yet because, between going back and forth from my parents' place, the start of the semester, and two symposiums in the last two weeks, I haven't had the time to take pictures and write up reviews. I'll post this first freestyle review with stock photos from Swifty's Garage because I left my Opalas at my parents' place and didn't take any pictures while I was there, so I'll have to switch them out later on when I get them back Tuesday.
Anyways, let's talk about the cars... Manufactured by São Paulo based Automodelli, these two pieces turned to be so unusual, I don't even know where to start. I suppose describing the two models I aquired is a good place as any, then we can move on to more technical details and, finally, I'll let you guys be the judge, because I really don't know how to rate them.
The first model is this deep blue 1975 Opala GL, the base trim level for the Opala that year. It's a resincast, so it feels very light and somewhat fragile, but the detail is about as good as the red one, which is all metal. The windows aren't the acrylic pieces we're used to, but plastic sheets more akin to the material used in blister packaging. The scale is about right, though the model is a bit too wide compared to the real thing. The blue paint, which is exactly the same used in the real cars and sourced by automotive body shops, is exceptionally good, with a smooth, mirrored finish not usually seen in diecast cars. The chrome trim, however, is not paint, but a type of adhesive foil which doesn't sit all that well along the bodylines. I feel that, assuming paint wasn't an option, leaving the chrome trim off would have been a better option to the chrome foil.
The second model is a bright red Opala SS, also from 1975. It shares much of the characteristics of the first model, as they are cast from the same mold, but this one is all metal, including the interior, so it's easily one of the heaviest cars in my collection, even though it isn't even close to the biggest. Overall, this model has a more satisfying, less fragile feel to it, thanks to the all metal construction. I suppose the SS is the Cool Customs to the GL's Mainline, as it's not only beefier, but has more detail to boot. The window trim is silver paint instead of chrome foil, SS stripes and badges are period correct, and the engine and exhaust bits molded on the base are colored as well. The paint quality is just as good as the GL, even though the solid red is a bit underwhelming next to the beautiful metallic blue of the resin model.
Unfortunately, we must now move to the elephant in the room; these pieces, interesting as they are, are not diecast cars. They are diecast, and they are definitely cars, but they're not diecast cars. The wheels, cast in the same piece of material as the base, don't roll, and the body lines, even though accurate, don't hide the fact they were carved by hand and the flaws that come with it. Finally, the base, body, windshields and bumpers are all glued together, instead of riveted, and there's no telling exactly how well the glue will hold. Considering my models were bought used and were among the first to roll out of the assembly line, this isn't something I worry about, but it also means there's really no way to take them apart for custom wheels. Not that I'd feel comfortable doing that anyways; these models were a bit pricey. Brand new, they range from 70 to 89 reais, depending on what your model is made of, but I got my two car set for 60, so 30 a pop.
So, with all that out of the way, do I recommend this model? Well, yes and no. As I said above, Automodelli's Opala isn't really a diecast car. It's a handcrafted diecast sculpture of a car. It looks good enough to be appreciated in its own, but it will look out of place in any traditional diecast collection. If you collect unique left-of-the-left-field pieces, handcrafted models or very hard to find cars and other such oddities, then this model is right up your alley. Otherwise, I can't recommend it even as a curiosity piece, as prices can get very high.
One Car Collection
I'd love to add Automodelli's Opala to my One Car Collection but, unfortunately, I can't. It doesn't follow the rules I defined earlier, and it doesn't really look at home next to my centerpiece or the other models. I'm not even sure I'd call it a Premium level car, despite the price. Even if you ignore the static wheels and unusual construction, it just doesn't hold up to offerings from Greenlight, Auto World, Kyosho and TLV. I can't add it to the 1/43 collection, for obvious reasons, and a basic collection would be much better served of Hot Wheels' amazing 1974 Opala SS 4100, which has seen three releases so far. The first two, in stock and drag racing trims, are the ones you want.
In 1/43 scale, Premium X offers the Opala you want, a beautifully made 1976 SS, available in Silver and Orange, while IXO offers a donwgraded version of the same model in Yellow and Green, both sold in recent partworks.
As for Premium level 1/64, all we can do is wait until a big company picks up this overlooked Brazilian Classic.