HO Scale Jeeps

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
Just as Dinky Toys got their start as dress-up vehicles for O-scale model train sets, most HO ("Half of O") scale vehicles are primarily destined for duty as diorama vehicles on 1:87 train layouts. (Note that this is smaller than the 1:64 slot cars which are sometimes referred to as HO by slot car racers.)

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).

Custom Models from the 1/87 Vehicle Club

Alan Olson and Richard Olson of the 1/87 Vehicle Club exhibited a detailed Herpa ZJ and several conversions based on the Roco CJ-5, at the club's East Coast Meet in January 2017. Thanks to Andy Madden and Bob Johnson for the photo. See more Jeeps on the 1/87 Vehicle Club website.


2007 Wrangler

RubiconAtlas is one of the best known companies in the model train business, and clearly there are 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 was 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 were supplemented with Bright Silver, Red Rock, Steel Blue and Dark Green (60K JPEGs). As of 2015 the Wrangler seems to be out of production, and harder to find for sale.

Wiking CJ-3B

Speaking of Atlas, their venerable Trackside Shanty plastic kit (250K JPEG) forms the background for this photo of a reasonably well detailed little plastic CJ-3B in HO scale, from Wiking Models of Germany. All this 3B needs is a little paint on the tires and windshield frame.

Herbert Troelstra in the Netherlands says this model dates from as early as the 1960s, and Wiking reintroduced it in a more recent series of classics, for a higher price of course.

Wiking also did the CJ-3B in a U.S. Army version. The black tires make this one a notch more realistic out of the box, but realism obviously wasn't the top priority since the 3B was posing as a Willys MB, in this edition commemorating the Berlin Air Bridge (1948-49).

Military Models

The World War II 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:

MB'sLeft: 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: Diecast (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.

RocoThe 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.

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 included by Micro Machines in their military Iron Shield Command set (40K JPEG).

Eric Kuiper told us about an 2016 HO model of the NEKAF M38A1 from the Dutch firm Artitec, who originally specialized in model trains but have moved into a large range of military models. Eric commented, "Considering the size of the models they are highly detailed, even with a choice of number plates."

The model seen here is painted in UNIFIL white. It is also available in Dutch Army olive drab and an Israeli Defense Forces version (30K JPEG).

Civilian Jeeps


Midgetoy manufactured these little CJ's in the 1950s. 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 early diecast model is a flatfender by Lone Star of England, apparently a CJ-2A.

While diecast versions are much more popular with toy car collectors than the plastic versions, HO train hobbyists require much greater realism than common diecasts can provide. However, the Schuco CJ-3B (even smaller than HO, at 1/90 scale) comes close. See Schuco Piccolo Willys Jeep.

Although Wiking of Germany used their plastic CJ-3B to represent a Berlin Airlift MB, this Wiking model of a fire Jeep appears to be based on an actual MB. This conversion of surplus MB's by fire departments was quite common in Europe after the war (see WWII Jeeps as Fire Engines on CJ3B.info.)

Farm machinery models are popular for use on train layouts, and Wiking gave their Jeep CJ-5 a farm look with a pair of milk cans in the back. The more common version of the Wiking CJ-5 however is in olive drab (50K JPEG). See also the 2014 version honoring UN Forces in Cyprus, on CJ3B.info.

Wiking models are marked on their detailed underside (100K JPEG) with a logo composed of W over M.

Roco's CJ-5 is also often seen in an olive drab military version, but Roco added realism by releasing it in Laredo (30K JPEG) Renegade, and Golden Eagle trims. A Hard Top set (30K JPEG) complete with glass was available, and also a Fire Jeep (70K JPEG) including hardtop.

The plastic Noch/Eko CJ-5 made in Spain was popular and was available in many colors and variations, but maybe the most interesting was the picnic set (30K JPEG) complete with a tent and two figures.

Eko also had an HO model of the Jeep Forward Control FC-170 (20K JPEG), and a Belgian board game called "Diagnostic" included a tow-truck version (20K JPEG) of the FC without windows or moving wheels, among the set of game pieces (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 or Wiking 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).


Jeep Wagons

Brekina in Germany has released a late-1960's V8 Wagoneer with amazing detail for a 1/87 model. It's also available in red, white and yellow.

The popularity of the AMC and Chrysler Cherokees has meant that HO scale train sets require them to be available as dress-up vehicles. A 2011 release from Herpa in Germany is a ZJ Grand Cherokee in several colors including red and black (60K JPEGs) and this Fire Chief version.

A recent cast-resin release from modelmaker "Best of Show" is a late-1950s Willys Jeep station wagon, available in blue or red.

Train crews in the real world often rely on "hy-rail" vehicles to travel along railroad lines to and from construction zones. These 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. The green plastic Willys panel truck is an Eko toy.

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.


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 1960s. 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

Return to the Toy Jeeps Pages on CJ3B.info.

Elsewhere on the web, see Bill Cawthon's article Jeep: From Station Wagon to Superstar.

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Last updated 29 April 2020 by Derek Redmond redmond@cj3b.info
All content not credited and previously copyright, is copyright Derek Redmond