by Jarek Skonieczny
L scale - 1:32
O scale - 1:43 (or 1:48)
S scale - 1:64
OO - 1:76
HO - 1:87
N - 1:160
Z - 1:220
A typical Jeep in 1/87 scale would be approximately 1-1/2 inches (3.75 cm.) long. See the sidebar for a quick primer on model vehicle scale as it relates to model railroad scale or "gauge" (the distance between the rails).
Atlas is one of the best known companies in the model train business, and clearly there are going to be a lot more Jeeps on train layouts following the 2007 introduction of the Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited into their line of HO scale vehicles. Its detail is remarkable for a 1:87 model, and Atlas says it was "developed from factory CAD data and an extensive study of the actual vehicle."
The initial red, white and Jeep Green versions have been supplemented with Bright Silver, Red Rock, Steel Blue and Dark Green (60K JPEGs). Each lists at US$15.95.
The World War 2 Willys MB, being the model most commonly associated with the word "jeep", also seems to be the most popular model in all scales of collecting. HO scale is no exception, and MB's seen in this photo include:
Left: Kenner plastic GI Joe Jeep (left) in a fraction of the original GI Joe's scale
Middle: SAS version (but with German insignia). Stories do exist of German troops converting captured MB's for their own use. The manufacturer of this model, also plastic, is unknown.
Right: Die cast (w/plastic parts) MB manufactured by Zylmex, also available with M*A*S*H markings on the hood.
The search for HO-scale model Jeeps will certainly take one into model railroad hobby shops, where the most popular dress-up vehicle manufacturer is Roco of Austria. While the "kits" in Roco's Minitank series are priced as high as larger 1/24 and 1/32 scale kits, their detail is superb, especially given their small size.
The hood of the Roco MB comes off to reveal a detailed engine, and there are trailers, soft tops and other accessories. The white MP version even comes with a wire cutter for the front bumper.
Roco also produced the M151 MUTT in HO scale (15K JPEG), in soft top and hard top versions, with or without a trailer. The Ford-built MUTT replaced the M38A1 as the front-line combat Jeep, in the Vietnam era.
Wiking is another manufacturer of fine HO vehicles in plastic, and a recent version of the Wiking MB (15K JPEG) was a Berlin Air Bridge commemorative edition.
An MB in white metal kit form was produced in HO by Trident (25K JPEG). This kit comes in "as cast" condition so painting is required after assembly.
Another popular MB model was recently released by Micro Machines as part of their Military Iron Shield Command set (40K JPEG).
Midgetoy manufactured these little CJ's in the 1950's. Being a one-piece casting with steel axles and plastic wheels, they are almost identical to their S-scale bigger brothers (35K JPEG) also manufactured by Midgetoy.
Another die cast model is a flat-fender by Lone Star of England, apparently a CJ-2A.
While die cast versions are much more popular with toy car collectors than the plastic versions, HO train hobbyists require much greater realism than common die casts can provide. The popular Noch/Eko CJ-5 (30K JPEG) model has been available in many packages, but the most interesting is the picnic set complete with a tent and two figures. Eko also has an HO model of the Jeep Forward Control FC-170 (20K JPEG).
Micro Machines really made a splash with the kids with these little toy CJ's. They don't offer the realism of the Roco models, but the "off road" moving axles and "modified" trim offer the kids sort of mini-matchboxes to play with. This being especially true of the white 4X4 out front, which sports identical trim to the 1/64 Matchbox version (20K JPEG).
To add to the realism of the Roco CJ-5 (25K JPEG), it was released in the Laredo, Renegade, and Golden Eagle trims. A Hard Top set (30K JPEG), complete with glass, was also available.
Train crews in the real world often rely on "hy-rail" vehicles to travel along railroad lines to and from construction zones. These 4x4 vehicles have 2 extra axles with tiny railroad wheels which lead the front wheels and trail the rear ones, keeping the rubber tired vehicle on the rails. The red Bachmann model on left has a working electric motor and headlights, along with the "hy-rail" features to help it drive along HO scale tracks.
Since train sets are available in correct period livery, the green plastic Eko panel truck is meant to dress up 1950's-era train sets.
Although not really meant as an HO train model, the "Kinder Egg Surprise" Cherokee XJ (rear) features a flywheel which provides plenty of torque in a vehicle, perfect for taking the family to the ZOO.
The popularity of the Cherokee models has meant that HO scale train sets require them to be available as dress-up vehicles. A recent release from Herpa (20K JPEG) is a Grand Cherokee in several trims (40K JPEG).
Special thanks to Mike Albright and Pete Pearson for helping me locate some of these models. As many more "Tiny Jeeps" must exist out there, any further info on collecting model train-scale Jeeps is always welcome.
-- Jarek Skonieczny
And thanks to Jarek, for a thorough look at another interesting area of collecting.
By the way, the second toy Jeep I can remember owning (the first was a Dinky Toy) was a plastic "CJ-3B" made in Spain by Mini Cars, which I used on my HO train layout in the 1960's. A photo of the Mini Cars Jeep (13K JPEG) shows it years later, somewhat the worse for wear, in front of a Roco CJ-5 dressed as an M38A1, and a "huge" Matchbox MB. -- Derek Redmond
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