By Jim Rohrer
Matchbox cars are about the right size for some tabletop wargaming. The ubiquitous Humvee was sold by Matchbox in several paint schemes. Thinking of their potential for patrol scenarios or mechanized assaults, I recently bought some of these on Ebay. The days of buying Matchbox cars for a dollar are long past, in case you have not checked lately.
Like the jeep I drove in the army, the basic Humvee was a four-passenger vehicle. Also, like the jeep, the basic Humvee was not armored. Later models could be up-armored but still we would classify them as lightly armored for wargaming. A wide variety of weapons could be mounted on them. If trouble was encountered on a patrol, one soldier would fire the heavier weapon from the roof while the others would pile out and use lighter weapons. Perhaps we could designate Humvees as light armor vs no armor and heavy weapon vs lighter weapon. That gives us four unit types.
When using these models, I have been wondering whether I could dispense with the soldier figures and just assume they are present. Otherwise, every time the team loaded up for movement, you would have to remove the figures from the board.
When my cars arrived (from three different vendors), they were as advertised and as shown in the pictures on Ebay. But, as always, I had missed a few details. Some of the paint on some of the vehicles may have been added by an owner. One gun is broken off. The army green paint job on one vehicle does not look realistic to me. Fortunately for me, my favorites all have an orange mark painted on the trunk (a + or 1). Those five will be in one army and the others in the opposing army.
The army might have been better off buying Jeep Cherokees instead of shelling out $200,000 for each Humvee. The wide body does not fit into narrow streets. The aluminum frame is intended to flex instead of break but I wonder how flimsy it is. And, of course, the Humvees were vulnerable to IEDs.
They have not been entirely phased out, but as far as I know Matchbox has not starting making models of their replacements.