Diecast vehicles for modern wargames

By Mike Crane

Over the years I have noticed that there are more grown men in the toy departments looking at the Matchbox cars than there are children.  I keep hoping that people are thinking I am toy shopping for a grandchild. Oh, well. Who cares, really? If they work, the diecast models are very inexpensive. I would like to point out several vehicles that I have recently purchased and repainted with a desert-sand colored hobby acrylic for use in my modern wargames.

The first is the Humvee model produced by Matchbox. It comes in a package

Battle Mission 5-Pack

Battle Mission 5-Pack

of five vehicles named Battle Mission 5-Pack. In addition to the Humvee, a double-cab pickup truck is included which can be painted white and used by Arab guerrillas, and a Dodge station-wagon may be painted olive green and used as a WWII Allied commander’s car. The price of the package at Walmart is $4.97.

The other military vehicles currently available are the Tonka die-cast iron and plastic models. They may not be exact replicas of a particular vehicle but they are close enough to be used by the enterprising solo-gamer. These models are sold individually under the Strike Force Metal Diecast Bodies designation. At Walmart, these models cost $3.97 each.

Humvee scale comparison

Humvee scale comparison

The Matchbox Humvee and the Tonka models fit in well with the 1/72 plastic figures currently on the market. The Matchbox Humvee is just a tiny bit larger when compared to a model which is supposed to be exactly 1/72. Actually, the Matchbox Humvee fits the figures better in my opinion. If you are a solo-gamer with a good imagination, exact scale matches are not so important anyway. I bought three packages with the Humvee models in them.

The Tonka models include an armored troop carrier, a cargo truck, and a

Matchbox Humvee

Matchbox Humvee

water/fuel truck. All of the trucks fit into the 1/72 scheme. Two armored troop carriers and two cargo trucks were purchased. I did not buy the water truck when it first appeared on the rack. It was gone the next week, of course, but in a nearby rack there was a Tonka civilian gasoline truck with a blue cab and a silver tank. It was exactly the same as the military truck, so I bought it and painted it with desert-sand acrylic.

Tonka Anti-IED Carrier

Tonka Anti-IED Carrier

At the moment, I am thinking the trucks and a Humvee will be used to create a scenario in which a supply column is ambushed on the way to a US outpost. A squad of infantry will be in the first and last armored troop carriers. The Humvee will follow the leading vehicle with the commanding officer inside. The water/fuel tanker will be in the middle between two cargo trucks. If the

Tonka truck

Tonka truck

scenario does not work out, I will just sit and look at the models anyway. They really look good to me.

P.S.—I just got back from our weekly jaunt to Walmart to shop for groceries. I wanted to double-check the prices of the models and saw that the Matchbox Battle Mission 5-Pack has been replaced with a newer version. The new package still contains a Humvee and I am sure a use can be found for the other vehicles—especially the WWII jeep. Get them while you can.

 

 

Tonka water or fuel truck

Tonka water or fuel truck

Vehicles in Modern scenario

Vehicles in Modern scenario

New Battle Mission 5-pack

New Battle Mission 5-pack

About mike crane

I am a retired high school teacher living in Texarkana, Arkansas, USA. Although I enjoy wargaming in all periods, my favorite eras are WWII, Colonial, ACW, and Napoleonic. I enjoy making rules that are simple, fast, and fun.
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3 Responses to Diecast vehicles for modern wargames

  1. JAird says:

    Great finds – I like the “old” Matchbox 5-pack the best, being truly lazy I prefer to avoid too much in the way of repainting when picking up diecasts. Although the helicopter in the new set looks as if it could be useful! Like the Tonka vehicles as well – I’ll have to have a look out for them as well.

    Your convoy looks pretty impressive – and that’s what I like most about diecasts : purchase to play in very short order!

    Your first paragraph rings very true. 🙂

  2. George Arnold says:

    From Rob Morgan:

    Mike Crane’s note on the ancient ‘Matchbox’ range (they were established in 1953 and their first model was the Coronation coach of Queen Elizabeth II), is very useful. Over long years and in a number of scales, some odd to say the least, this company have provided support for the wargamer, and sturdy — virtually unbreakable — support at that! My own best recollection was of the Ferret Mk1 scout car, a post-war light afv, with an open top, and a small driver. This was so useful when the first Airfix troops, the British in 1944 helmets were issued, it made a NATO-era BAOR or western Europe ‘recce’ force possible. There was a Saladin armoured car, and a Saracen APC around too, though the six-wheeled armoured car was a little smaller.

    I was in a Toy Museum in West Wales last Summer, and saw a collection of these long issued, but now discontinued “toys” (Huh!) and many of them were in the larger scale. About right for 15mm figures, or 20mm at a pinch. One was the “Corporal” missile on its trailer from the 1960s, others were Bedford lorries and jeeps and Land Rovers. One I never acquired was the superb Alvis “Stalwart” cargo carrier, the DUKW of its day. There was a TV series in which cross-country rough terrain vehicles completed courses, and the Stalwart always won, as it could swim.

    Mike’s right about the usefulness of a grandchild, I always take Daisy, my granddaughter, with me when reconnoitering the toy shops. She’s a bit small yet, but I’m hoping to train her to recognise useful ship models by the age of five.

    — Rob

  3. Jonathan B says:

    I’ve got a variety of diecasts for use in WW2 and my new modern AK-47 venture.

    Maisto made an M939 truck that’s good for late moderns, or earlier if you take the “a truck is a truck” approach. I’m doing just that for my 15mm AK-47 force, using the M939 as a cheap source of multiple trucks because I had acquired about 20 of them on Ebay a few years back.

    Ebay can also still turn up the old Matchbox Sherman in a variety of paint schemes, which is a bit fat but usable alongside Roco Shermans. There’s also several military vehicles in the older Hot Wheels lines from the 80s/90s.

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