Jeep Toys for Grownups
by Rachel Bowes
You love to take your Jeep out to play and it comes with all sorts of parts and accessories, but you would never call it a “toy”. Many enthusiasts, however, are venturing into a world of Jeep toys: collector’s edition ones, that is.
Jeep collector’s toys include a wide range of models, dating back to the late ‘40s. Depending on age and condition, they can be valued anywhere between a comfortable $25 to several hundred or even thousand dollars.
“Some of the rarest ones can go for as much as two to three thousand dollars,” says President of the Willys Jeep Reunion Bob Christy, “Some of the really rare ones were specially made just for Willys executives – those are really valuable.”
While some models come with a hefty price tag, many can be purchased for less than $100. This makes them accessible to any potential collectors, so it is common for Jeep enthusiasts to have at least one or two kickin’ around.
“I had a lot of them as a kid. Now, I have about 25 of them,” says Bob. He cannot quite place his finger on why he is drawn to the miniature Jeeps, but he does say a big part of the attraction is being able to see details, parts and Jeep styling cues from the real thing reflected in them.
The small, to-scale models are frequently in an aged and battered state, which leaves a lot of room for tabletop wrenching. Some collectors restore the Jeeps, even giving them “lifts” or transforming them into dragsters with itty bitty aftermarket parts.
Collectors Jeeps include everything from the old Willys Jeep Pumper fire trucks to the 1962 Jeep Commander. There is even an Elvis Surrey Top Jeep from 1962, displaying a wonderfully pink paint job and fringed top.
Bob estimates there were at least 10 different companies making the toys, so their diversity is impressive. “I love it whenever I find one I haven’t seen before,” he says.
The toys range from stamped metal to plastic and many embody the Willys public service Jeeps which were so popular after the war.
Whether they are collected for their monetary value or their inherent nostalgia, these Jeep toys certainly make for a unique and wonderful hobby for any Jeep lover.Rachel Bowes
is a copywriter with 4WD