Saratov models: Radon, Tantal, Agat, Litan etc. - what's what and why and when
(1 viewing) (1) Guest
This forum is for all models made in the Eastery Bloc countries like Donetsk Toy Factory, Siharuli and Radon and models of cars from the region by any maker! All scales are welcome!
  • Page:
  • 1

TOPIC: Saratov models: Radon, Tantal, Agat, Litan etc. - what's what and why and when

Saratov models: Radon, Tantal, Agat, Litan etc. - what's what and why and when 6 years, 5 months ago #1

Platinum Boarder
These models have been sold under a whole bunch of different names, so one common way to refer to them all is to simply call them all Saratov models, after the region in which they were built.


Models made BEFORE 1994 can mostly be classified as either Radon or Tantal. In 1994 a restructuring took place and models made after that will generally be Litan or Agat (not Arat, as it's often misspelled by westerners)


The very first model to come out, in 1971, was a Moskvitch 412. It's often been claimed, that the design was a straigh rip-off of French Dinky model #1410, a Moskvitch 408, but this has always been officially denied, stating that yes, they DID have a copy of the Dinky model, but it was only used for 'inspiration' on how to make their own.


One thing is certain, though: they look very much alike as you can see for yourself by comparing the baseplates






The following user(s) said Thank You: jclevering, Dinkydi

Re: Saratov models: Radon, Tantal, Agat, Litan etc. - what's what and why and when 6 years, 5 months ago #2

Platinum Boarder
It's been said, that the French Dinky model was actually 'responsible' not only for the Russian counterpart, but for the whole Saratov model-story. The founder saw the french car and thought "Wow, looks great! We can make some like that at home" and so it began.


As you have probably noticed, the French model was a Moskvitch 408 and the Russian was the successor Moskvitch 412. These two cars were very, very much alike - so much so, that in the early stages of 412-production, it looked completely identical to the 408 from the outside, but soon a few changes were made (as they became available from the design department) giving the 412 (among other things) rectangular headlights, as opposed to the round twin headlights of the 408.


This was also reflected in the Radon/Tantal model: shortly after production had started, the model was renamed from 412 to 408. The models had been stamped on the baseplates with a catalogue number, and the first one was - naturally - assigned the number '1', preceded by an 'A' (probably for 'Avto' = Auto), so the very first, ancestral Radon/Tantal models will have baseplates saying "Moskvitch 412" and "A1". When the renaming took place, the 408 became A1 and 412 was numbered A2. The A1 model 412 is very rare today and one of the 'holy grails'
The following user(s) said Thank You: jclevering

Re: Saratov models: Radon, Tantal, Agat, Litan etc. - what's what and why and when 6 years, 5 months ago #3

Platinum Boarder
Here's a photo of the French Dinky that started it all:






The following user(s) said Thank You: karls

List of catalogue-numbers 6 years, 5 months ago #4

Platinum Boarder
Not all models released have numbers, and nowadays the number system is completely gone, but here's a more or less complete list of all numbers:


A1 Moskvitch 412 (1971-75)


A1 Moskvitch 408 (1975 and later)


A2 Moskvitch 412 (1975 and later)


A3 Moskvitch 426


A4 ZIL-118 "Youth" (this model was scheduled for release, but never happened)


A4 Moskvitch 427


A5 Moskvitch 433


A6 Moskvitch 434


A7 Moskvitch 403, issued 1976, withdrawn 1983


A8 Moskvitch 412 "Patrol", issued 1976


A9 VAZ 2101 Zhiguli (Lada 2101/Lada 1200), issued 1976


A10 IZH-Moskvitch 412, issued 1976, withdrawn 1978


A11 VAZ 2102 (Lada 2102/Lada 1200 Estate), issued 1976


A12 IZH-Moskvitch 1500 Combi, issued 1977


A13 GAZ Volga 2402, issued 1978


A14 GAZ Volga 24, issued 1978


A15 GAZ 13 "Chaika", issued 1978


A16 ZAZ 968 "Zaporozhets", issued 1977, withdrawn 1978


A17 VAZ 2101 Zhiguli "GAI-Patrol" (Lada 2101/Lada 1200 police car), issued 1977


A18 RAF 2203, issued 1979


A19 Moskvitch Pickup, issued 1977


A20 Lada 2121 Niva, issued 1980


A21 RAF 2907, issued 1980, withdrawn 1980!


A22 Russo-Balt Med 24-40 Torpedo, issued 1978


A23 GAZ 2402 "Escort", issued 1980


A24 GAZ 2402 "Ambulance", issued 1980


A25 RAF "Patrol", issued 1983


A26 RAF M22031 "Ambulance" (early error issue with white baseplate, chrome bumpers, cabin divider and tampoprints)


A26 GAZ Volga 24 "GAI", issued 1980


A27 RAF M22031 "Ambulance" (normal issue with plastic bumpers etc.)


A28 doesn't exist, it was meant to be a Moskvitch 2140 (some sources say 2141)


A29 doesn't exist, it was meant to be a Moskvitch 401


A30 doesn't exist, it was meant to be a GAZ A, which ended up getting released - unnumbered - in 1988


A31 ZIL 117, issued 1982


A32 Russo-Balt C 24/40 Limousine


A33 doesn't exist, it was meant to be an electrified version of A15 (GAZ 13 Chaika), and scheduled for a 1980 release


A34 UAZ 469, issued 1981


A35 Russo-Balt C 24/30 Landaulet, issued 1982


A36 Russo-Balt C 24/30 Twin-'chaiselong', issued 1982


A37 Russo-Balt C 24/40 Limousine Berline, issued 1982


A38 GAZ Volga 3102, issued 1986


A39 VAZ 2105 (Lada 2105/Lada Riva/Lada Nova/Lada 1300S), issued 1983


A40 VAZ 2107 (Lada 2107/Lada Nova/Lada 1500S), issued 1984


A41 UAZ 452V, issued 1983


A42 ZIL 115, issued 1985


A43 doesn't exist, it was meant to be a VAZ 2108 (Lada Samara 3 dr.), which was released, unnumbered in 1989


P1 trailer for A20, issued 1980
The following user(s) said Thank You: jclevering

Re: Saratov models: Radon, Tantal, Agat, Litan etc. - what's what and why and when 6 years, 5 months ago #5

Platinum Boarder
The early models all had catalogue numbers stamped on the baseplates (as already mentioned). Lots of variants were often made, all sharing the same catalogue numbers, as long as the only difference between them was tampo prints (some quite famous and sought after issues were made for the 1980 Olympics - these models were produced as early as 1977 - they cost a lot more than the standard versions), but police cars, militia, ambulance versions were given their own catalogue numbers.


In order to always have the correct numbers on the baseplates (something that was insisted upon) it was necessary to craft new baseplates for each variant (civilian, police, ambulance, militia etc.), which was - of course - quite expensive - it also meant that the baseplates were not interchangable in case stocks ran out of one type, and if a variant was withdrawn, any surplus baseplates would go to waste.


This led to a decision in 1986 to scrap the whole idea of catalogue numbers - they could have opted to just stop using them on the baseplates, but no - it was all or nothing, so sometime in 1986 the numbering system was canceled.


So does this mean, that if you have a model with a catalogue number stamped on the baseplate, it was made in 1986 or earlier? Nope, not exactly: baseplates were often made in quite big quantities and some orders got 'bogged' in the system, so some stocks would last for several years - one such example is the A31 ZIL 117, whose supplies of numbered baseplates lasted until the early 90s! So what DO you know from the presence of a catalogue number on the baseplate? Well, you'll know for certain, that the baseplate was ordered 1986 or earlier, the model was released 1986 or earlier, the specimen was made no later than 1992-93 and this also tells you with certainty, that your model is a Radon/Tantal, not a Agat/Litan, since the namechange/restructuring took place in 1994.


Another clue to the age of a model is the writing on the baseplate. On early models, everything was in cyrillic letters, but starting in 1983 (as exports grew), it was decided to stamp the baseplates with 'Made in USSR'. Again, this identification is not bulletproof, because of old stocks and so on, but if your model has "Made in USSR" on the baseplate, it's made in 1983 or later.


You would think that the combination "no ref#/no 'made in USSR" would not exist, since one says "after 1986" and the other "before 1983"... but for some reason it does, and I have no idea why!
The following user(s) said Thank You: jclevering

Re: Saratov models: Radon, Tantal, Agat, Litan etc. - what's what and why and when 6 years, 5 months ago #6

Moderator
This is a very interesting story, thanks for explaining Thomas.
I got about 12 Russian diecast cars at the moment for sale, so I can use your info on it.

Re: Saratov models: Radon, Tantal, Agat, Litan etc. - what's what and why and when 6 years, 5 months ago #7

Platinum Boarder
Some corrections and additions to the start of the release list

A1 Moskvitch 412 (1971-75), issued 1971

A1 Moskvitch 408 (1975 and later), issued 1973

A2 Moskvitch 408 (1973-75), issued 1973

A2 Moskvitch 412 (1975 and later), issued 1971

A3 Moskvitch 426, issued 1974

A4 ZIL-118 "Youth" (this model was scheduled for release, but never happened)

A4 Moskvitch 427, issued 1974

A5 Moskvitch 433, issued 1974

A6 Moskvitch 434, issued 1974

A7 Moskvitch 403, issued 1976, withdrawn 1983

A8 Moskvitch 412 "Patrol", issued 1976

A9 VAZ 2101 Zhiguli (Lada 2101/Lada 1200), issued 1976

A10 IZH-Moskvitch 412, issued 1976, withdrawn 1978

The issue dates listed are for 'proper' production start. Most model-releases were preceeded by very small test-run series, not available to the general public.

Re: Saratov models: Radon, Tantal, Agat, Litan etc. - what's what and why and when 6 years, 5 months ago #8

Moderator
Thank you Thomas,
I have sent you an email to your private gmail address

Theo

Quality issues (Radon/Tantal era) 6 years, 5 months ago #9

Platinum Boarder
While metal quality on the early models was generally good, there was one notable phase of exception:


Around 1976 storage space at the Tantal-factory was becoming a big issue. Production figures had exploded around 1975 with massive export to a number of foreign markets, including the West. Attempting to keep up, corners were cut short, including some that - in retrospect - shouldn't have...


One workaround was to get rid of produced inventory as fast as possible, and some rumors claim that models sometimes got painted before the metal had even cooled off, because the cooling down process took up much needed space. This sometimes resulted in the paint 'bubbling up' due to the hot metal - it looks exactly like the well-known early warnings of zinc pest, but had nothing to do with it. Two models that seem to suffer particularly from this problem are the A5 and A6 (Moskvitch 433 and 434 panel vans). I have both of them, and both are affected, as are a large percentage of the models shown on the internet. The logical reason for this is the large roofs of these two models: large roofs equal big surfaces, equal very hot metal requiring more time to cool off. And yes, the 'bubbling' is most pronounced on the roofs.


Another shortcut taken involved the metals used for manufacturing. Although the Soviet state appreciated the nice income generated from the sales, toy cars were, after all, not considered at top state priority and with the growing needs for metals, keeping supplies flowing became a problem and in some cases recycled scrap metal of very inferior quality (including some from carburettors) was delivered to the factory.


And we all know what happens when metal with impurities is used... problems! Some models made in 1976 and 1977 are very badly effected by zinc pest, one model in particular seems to be worse than all the others: the #A15 GAZ 13 "Chaika". The seller who sold me most of my Radon/Tantal models told me, that he also had the A15, but that it was literally crumbling, and I've seen several others like it on the net. Interestingly, the A15 didn't come out until 1978, but in 1977 - at the height of the problem - the factory must have been churning out this exact model to get it ready for release, so if you ever plan on buying this model, you need to be VERY aware of zinc pest!!!


Up until then, all models had been produced on the Tantal factory, but, as has been described, production was reaching a scale where room became a major concern, so in late 1977, large portions of production (primarily the 'big sellers') were moved to another factory, Radon (aka Radon Marx), also in the Saratov region.


This move more or less eliminated both the 'bubbling paint' and the zinc pest problems overnight. One might wonder, how this would affect the zinc pest problem - after all, the amount of metal needed remained the same, but it's possible, that because production was now split between two factories, the 'quotas' for good metal would do the same. Remember: this was all state-run and not commercial factories like we know them from the west, and raw materials would get assigned by the state.






The following user(s) said Thank You: jclevering

Re: Saratov models: Radon, Tantal, Agat, Litan etc. - what's what and why and when 6 years, 5 months ago #10

Platinum Boarder
Reply sent!

Re: Saratov models: Radon, Tantal, Agat, Litan etc. - what's what and why and when 6 years, 5 months ago #11

Platinum Boarder


I understand you said that Zinc pest is no problem after 1978. I understand also this UAZ was issues in or around 1982 for the first time. Probably this is a much later issue but it is badly affected.

Re: Saratov models: Radon, Tantal, Agat, Litan etc. - what's what and why and when 6 years, 5 months ago #12

Platinum Boarder
This is the first time I've seen zinc pest on a UAZ 469 (A34), and you certainly have a point there, but I had already become aware of the 'dilemma' through some photos that I found last night, proving beyond doubt that zinz pest has indeed been a problem later than 1977-78.


One example was the GAZ Volga 24 "GAI" (#A26), issued 1980 and another was the ZIL 115 (#A42), issued in 1985 and not even from the first batch, since it has an unnumbered baseplate.


In the case of the GAZ, a possible explanation could be, that it's simply a police version of a car (#A24) issued two years earlier in 1978, so it would be reasonable to assume, that the first batch of bodyshells for this particular model was made from A24 components, and so, zinc pest attacks would be expected (probably cast in 1977, right when the problem was the very worst)


But the ZIL is a completely different matter: there's no way this could date back to 1978 or earlier and the same - I think we can safely say - is true for your UAZ.


I have always been aware that there has been quality issues well after 1978 (in the 90s), but from what I know, this was not about zinc pest, but more about sloppy assembly work, poor paint finish and badly fitting parts (due to worn out dies) - your car, and that ZIL, tells us, that there must have been at least one other period of zinc pest after 1978.


Thanks for bringing up this good point.

Re: Saratov models: Radon, Tantal, Agat, Litan etc. - what's what and why and when 6 years, 5 months ago #13

Platinum Boarder
Oh, and one thing that would be interesting to find out is, exactly which models had their production moved from Tantal to Radon in 1977-78 - my sources only say 'the major sellers'

Knowing this, would help clarify if the later zinc pest problem affected one or both factories.

Rare! 6 years, 5 months ago #14

Platinum Boarder
Many of the Saratov models are still being made today, and one of them is #A16, the ZAZ 968 Zaporozhets. The modern one even comes in a retro-box with "A16" on the end flaps and sells at about £28 to £30 on eBay. This may sound like a lot for a reissue of an old model, but the reason it works is, that the original A16 is as good as impossible to find!


Dating back to 1977, the model got scheduled for release, a small batch of a few hundred was released for 'test sales' in the local area, but something wasn't right...


The metal impurities that was plaguing some of the models had struck the A16 in the worst possible way, right in the heart - the dies were so badly damaged, that it was decided nothing could be done to save them and the A16 was never released to the full market. So only a few hundred were made, all sold in the Saratov-region, and considering that they were made right when the zinc pest problems were at their very peak, heaven only knows how many have survived to this day. I've searched quite a lot, but haven't come across a single one that I'm positive to be original.


I've found no information about how the modern incarnation was created, but possibly from a cast imprint of a survivor. It does have all the classic fine features, but close up, you can see that it's really rough and rugged with lots of tiny 'lumps' and imperfections. Furthermore, the wheels look completely weird, certainly not like one would expect on a classic diecast and completely different to the old Saratov-models - I'm almost certain they are a new design. The same goes for the baseplate: a very basic piece of black plastic with a simplistic method for holding the axles in place. The baseplate is secured with a modern star screw, like the ones often found on modern white metal and resin models.






The last two photos may or may not show the original - the boxed orange one sold for roughly £50 back in 2013 and the light green one has the classic looks of an old Radon/Tantal with the semi-gloss metal wheels, not like the modern one, where they are clearly chromed plastic.


I thought I'd saved a photo of the modern baseplate, but it seems I didn't
The following user(s) said Thank You: karls

Re: Rare! 6 years, 5 months ago #15

Moderator
Never seen them before Tee, great story.
Well I know a few things about the zinc pest! When I took the Russians for you the orange yellow police card fell more apart than it already had.
Pick up the pieces for a photo soon
  • Page:
  • 1
Moderators: bickerstonehall