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Soviet miniatures? If they exist

[dropcap] D [/ dropcap] Since (the end of) the Cold War, the Soviet 1/43 scale models they have been sought after with great interest by western collectors. We know that the first models that imitated the vehicles of the time were made in the 30s in tinplate and that the first models, already at 1:43 scale, went on sale in the 50s ...

But mass production began in the early 70s, with the first model being considered the Moskvitch 412, which went on sale in 1971 and whose design is a copy of the model of the French company Dinky. At the time, the manufacturers denied that this was the case and claimed that, although they owned a Dinky model, it had only been used as "inspiration".

Scale cars of varying quality

It was strange that the manufacturer's name appeared on boxes or vehicles. Companies like Tantal, Radon or Agat They were in charge of producing them, and all of them had in common the cities of origin located in the Saratov region. Hence, all these miniatures are known as Saratov models.

In general, the quality of the product was always very good except between the years 75-76 when, due to a large production, it was painted before the metal cooled down since there was not enough space to store it. This led to small bubbles of paint being produced.

Also, although the Soviet Union received great benefits from the sale of scale vehicles, their production was never a priority for the communist leaders, which meant that metals of poorer quality were used, in some cases, suffering the so-called zinc plague that destroys them little by little. little bit.

In the beginning all miniatures were built in the factory Tantal, which began mass production in 1971. All were of Soviet cars, notably the Lada and Vaz. Faced with high demand, in 1977, much of the production was moved to the Radon factory in the town of Marx, in the same Saratov region, and with this change, the paint and sheet metal problems almost entirely disappeared.

The models received different names such as "Auto USSR" o "Zapchastexport", which appeared in the boxes but never in the miniatures, in which the country of origin would appear: CCCP (Soviet Union).

Booming demand for Soviet miniatures

Although the zinc and paint plague problems disappeared after the 80s, the quality of the miniatures declined, mainly due to the fact that production was soaring in the interest of Western collectors. The doors were a bad match, the assembly was sloppy, and the paint job was really poor. However, these models were incredibly interesting.

In 1994 the company was restructured and production was maintained through two independent companies: Agat and Litan. Initially, all the models were exactly the same as those made at Radon and Tantal, but later new models such as the Mosckvitch 2141 Aleko or the Lada 2108 Samara came onto the market. The quality of the products was once again very good, notably improving the levels of finish.

Unfortunately, in 2007 Agat went bankrupt. However a new company, Incotex, has continued with manufacturing; It was mainly dedicated to the development of electronic products but acquired the old Radon factory which it has renamed as Mossar.

China picks up the baton, for a change

Perhaps because of their exoticism, Soviet models have been a source of research and interest on the part of collectors. In Spain it was very difficult to get them until the internet came into our lives: They only arrived with a dropper and through exchanges between collectors.

Nowadays, however, it is much easier to get Soviet miniatures thanks to brands like IST, belonging to the Chinese company Premium & Collectibles Trading Co. Ltd, which also handles the brand IXO. These have a correct quality for their price and have become very popular thanks to publishers such as Atlas or De Agostini, which sell them in their collections by fascicles.

What do you think?

Mikel Erauzkin

Written by Mikel Erauzkin

Mikel Erauzkin is one of our northern collaborators ...

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