The 1/56 models made by Warlord and the rest are pretty good but most of the toy WW2 vehicles are out and out rubbish with no concept of scale. Still several brands have come up with models that are quite acceptable for the table top. The key initiative is price, if they are significantly cheaper than the 1/56 gaming models and they have a role on the table top they are worth a look.
Lledo produced their ‘days gone by’ range with a limited variety of car, truck and horse drawn models but a vast number of different paint jobs. The paint jobs were part of the marketing campaign. Frequently there will be a 1940s vehicle advertising 1990s tea or chocolate. This is not an issue as they are going to be repainted. The major exception is Cpl Jones’ van from Dad’s Army. No one is going to repaint that. This was a very popular model so may cost a little more than a regular truck but should still be much cheaper than a resin wargaming model. The Hodges’ greengrocer van is however a relatively rare find. At eBay prices it often costs more to post the Lledo vehicles out (£3) than to buy them (£2) so the best approach is to look for a batch or job lot. They also sometime show up on market stalls for about £1 to £2.
The toys are box scale so are ‘sort of’ made to fit the box but some fill the box more than others. The best match for 1/56 are the lorries. The cars represent a smaller original in the same box so are a slightly larger scale. Oddly the horse drawn transports are also small models but at a smaller scale than the lorries. Another scale issue is that most of the models are the same width. There must be some manufacturing economy behind this. It can mean that a vehicle is in scale for the length but not the width or vice versa. Sticking with the lorries the best come with an open top and a load such as barrels or milk churns. These pop off easily and although not a great casting are in effect a free bonus terrain item with each model.
Dinky have been going for years but the models to look out for were made from the mid 1930s to the 1970s. Some are obviously rare and command good prices. The vehicles that we are after had been in production for decades so prices should be low. Many sellers have no idea of price or are trying their luck. A fair price for any of these models would be £6 including postage. The model scale is ‘sort of’ O gauge as the ancestry of the line is model train sets in the 1930s. There is also an element of box scale and reusing what is to hand. The Daimler Dingo model uses a driver that is common to several other models and would be about 1/60. It is clear from the seats cast into that model that the driver is too small a scale for the vehicle and seats have been moulded to ‘big him up’. When buying look out for good tyres. New tyres can be bought but at a similar cost to buying another vehicle. The early toys had smooth tyres and the later productions tougher looking ribbed tyres. It is quite possible to see both types of tyre on the same model as running repairs have been made over the decades. Also check for snapped or very badly bent barrels, these are not worth thinking about repairing. The best way to search for a Dinky is by model number. Some models are similar but the model number tells them apart. For example there is a useful Daimler Dingo (673) and a similar Ferret armoured car (no number, labelled FERRETT) that dates from after the war.
Dinky 673 Daimler Dingo length 70mm, real length 3.18 m, scale 1/45.
Dinky 670 Daimler armoured car length 70mm, real length 4m, scale 1/57 (result)
Dinky 688 Morris C8 tractor length 70mm, length 4.5m, scale 1/64.
If you were paying attention earlier you will know why they are all the same length.
Another company where the name has remained the same but the production base has changed. There is a decent range of 1/50 commemorative WW2 vehicles that can be used. Due to the ‘collector’ rather than toy market these can be pricey now. The Sdfkz 7 below is 135mm long, real length 6.85m, scale 1/51.
Another model from Corgi aimed at the toy market is the Hanomag Stuka. This is a very good match for the Warlord Hanomags. The tyres are cast on but models are often seen without the tracks. New tracks can be bought but with patience a tracked model at the right price will show up. I bought one, thought better, sold it, then changed my mind and bought another for less (both under £10). I cut off the toy triggers to the missile racks. Removing the whole assembly would require drilling out some business like rivets.
Matcbox jeeps are a good size fit for 1/56 but decent models without all sorts of fancy cut outs are hard to find. Chinese models of the Cars Sarge car are quite common. The metal part is the canopy, the body is plastic. This makes cutting the top off a serious job as either the industrial rivet or metal canopy has to be cut through.