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ZiL 130 is Cooler, Heavier Than All of Your Christmas Toys Combined

Jay Ramey December 31, 2012 Cars You Should Know, Diecast Delights 31 Comments

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Remember those light, flimsy Tonka trucks that you had a kid, and that you now see at antique stores for $245.00 plus tax? Well, this isn’t one of those trucks. Oh no. This is a gigantic scale model of a ZiL 130 V1 with an OdAZ-885 semitrailer that’s nearly three feet long. Made in Russia from the early 1970s onward, these were made out of steel so thick you couldn’t dent it with a hammer, weighed as much as a typewriter, and featured amazing detailing.

ZiL (Zavod imeni Likhacheva) was a longtime producer of trucks and limousines, with the ZiL 130 being its staple truck from 1962 till just a few years ago. A V8-powered truck, the midsize ZiL 130 spawned a huge number of versions, ranging from the 3-axle ZiL 133 with a KamAZ diesel engine, to the 6×6 ZiL 131 army truck, in addition to the hundreds of different bodies and equipment that were fitted to the base ZiL 130 chassis. While the ZiL factory itself didn’t produce the ZiL toys, being busy building the real thing and whatnot, the neighboring Moscow-based passenger car maker AZLK did. 

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AZLK, known for its Moskvitch cars that infested British roads in the 1970s, also made a ton of consumer goods on the side that, incidentally, also tended to weigh close to a ton. In addition to making a ZiL 130 dump truck, AZLK also made a number of equally heavy steel excavator and bulldozer toys, as well as ridiculously huge pedal cars that resembled their full-size Moskvitch 408 cars. The engineering and assembly quality is spectacular though. No expense was spared, and obviously no cost or weight-cutting measures were used. Unfortunately the ZiL 130 toy trucks only came in two varieties, the tractor with semitrailer as seen here, and a dump truck with a hydraulically operated bed. Prototypes for a fire truck and a crane existed, but they were never built.

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The details on this truck are something to behold. The metal door handles rotate to lock and unlock the cabin. The latches on the trailer sides operate much in the same way as on the real trailer. The landing gear on the trailer pops down via a spring-loaded mechanism. The dash is made from plastic and the seats are covered with a soft plastic canvas. And of course the front wheels turn, in case you wanted to attach a rope to the small latch under the front bumper that will rotate the steering mechanism as you pull the truck along. Which, given the truck’s weight, you’d probably want to do if you had a long walk home. Or even a short walk home. Early versions had rubber wheels, but sometime in the 1970s they switched over to plastic ones. The year of manufacture was at first stamped in paint on the rear gate, but later came in the form of a small license plate that attached to the rear gate.

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Is this a safe toy for your kids? The weight and the various sharp angles of thick-gauge Soviet steel probably make this truck non-compliant with things like the Geneva Convention. The weight of this truck alone likely takes it out of the realm of toys, and into the category of a scale mockups of commercial automobiles. In California, it probably wouldn’t pass emissions. Does that answer your question?

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The owner says that just like the real 130 this truck needs to be oiled, and also needs to be exercised from time to time. A little WD40 goes a long way towards preventing the steering system from freezing in place, and the semitrailer saddle locking mechanism from getting rusty. Dust is a bigger factor with these than rust, so cleaning it once a year isn’t a bad idea either.

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As you’ve probably guessed, something this large and complex just couldn’t be produced today. Large scale trucks as a whole have disappeared from toy stores, as the kids of today aren’t into steel replicas of heavy machinery. And the manufacturing and safety requirements for toys just wouldn’t allow for something so uncompromising and bulky to be made out of pressed steel with brittle plexiglass parts. In short, the only American toys I can think of that would come close to the size of this truck were last made in the 1950s, so short of restoring one of those you would have to manufacture something like this from scratch. And speaking of restoration, the owner of this truck tells me that these are now being restored by enthusiasts in their home country. Since these were in production for 24 years, there are still quite a few scattered around the countryside, so barn finds are quite common.

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Just how expensive are these? The owner of this truck says that you shouldn’t spend more than $120 for a ZiL 130 with a semi trailer, and not more than $80 for a ZiL 130 dump truck. These are believed to have left production in 1994, though the majority of the ones you will encounter will say 1992 or 1993 on the rear license plate. Quite a lot of these were brought back to the US by tourists in the early 1990s, back in the days when airlines didn’t charge exorbitant fees for oversized items (such a time existed, believe it or not).Given what these are retailing for at antique stores online, it’s safe to say that the people who brought these into the country probably didn’t make a lot of money on these, given 20 year storage costs as well as the price of shipping/flying something so large and heavy out of Europe. Which also makes buying one of these on German eBay as non-starter, so don’t bother looking for these on European eBays unless you’re really desperate. There are relatively plenty of these stateside, and typically there is one or two for sale online, usually by a completely clueless antique shop that can’t even spell the name of the truck right, so just use the search term “Russian truck.”

Manufacturer: AZLK (Avtomobilny Zavod Leninskogo Komsomola)
Material: armor-plated Soviet steel
Scale: approx 1:11
Length: excessive (32 inches, or 81 centimeters)
Height: excessive
Width: excessive
Weight: egregiously excessive
Hazard Level: unbelievably high
Number of parts: depends on time of day of manufacture
Years Made: 1970 – 1994
Number Made: unknown, standard issue to every Soviet child
Suitable for Children: no
Suitable for Adults: not in every country
Engine and Fuel type: carb V8, 76 octane petrol
Service intervals: annually or never, doesn’t make a difference really
License required: commercial, or at least a bachelors degree in mechanical engineering
Price new: 7 rubles, if you could find it (or about 5 bucks and pack of L&Ms in the early 90s)
Price now: $65-125
Title and Registration fees: unregistrable

(Thanks to MKM for providing the toy truck for this article. Actual truck image from Avtoexport, in public domain)


  • Scandinavian Flick

    Wow, these are cool. I found a bunch of them searching "Russian Truck" on Ebay, including a similar one to this: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-semi-truck-hauler

    Some of the military and Dakar rally trucks are particularly awesome.

    • Jay

      That one's identical, same year as this one even.

      Not sure why the frame is a diff color though, but it doesn't matter. The colors on these could be completely random I was told, they were basically painted them in whatever color they had in stock that week.

  • Sjalabais

    From a time when children were allowed to learn life from non-digital sources… It's great! Bought some Russian toy cars, including a gas station, for almost nothing in a run-down German corner store five years ago. 30 year old toys that were not appreciated there.

  • Jay and fellow Hoons. Wanna go on a chartered van trip (in a UAZ or a Delica) on the Road of Bones?

    • Vavon

      That looks like a really cool thing to do.

    • njhoon

      I`m in! I have wanted to do that since I watched the Long Way Around. When I dated a red headed Russian girl who grew up in Siberia it sealed the deal.

      • The plan is early 2014. Check out that guy's site. It's very informative. Apparently, the road has been greatly improved with all the oil money, etc. Yakutia has a lot of diamonds, tin, gold, oil, natural gas…

        What part of the world do you live?

        • njhoon

          I scanned the site, it looks pretty cool (pun not intended). I'm from the suburbs of philly in New Jersey, in the US.Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

        • mr. mzs zsm msz esq

          So far I hold the record of being farthest north vs my wife, that might change in three months, and if it does we'll talk. Any ideas about cost?

          • There was a post with price estimates. I think with airfare, it can be done for less than $4,000.

            • mr. mzs zsm msz esq

              Dang, that's more than what we spend on trips to Poland for my wife with one kid and family vacations too. I don't think I'll be able justify that, sorry. I wish you luck in your crazy fun though and hope one of the other readers can go too!

          • PS The cheapest way to go north is via Dalton or Dempster highways.

  • Vavon

    It seems Russian toy trucks are just as cool as the real thing.
    [youtube 5RVptjzPGzo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5RVptjzPGzo youtube]
    P.S. better turn the volume down.

    • Dean Bigglesworth

      If you haven't watched Long Way Round, watch it. In addition to being generally awesome, there's some good footage of russian trucks when the roads were basically undrivable on bikes and they had to put them on trucks to get anywhere.

    • At least the water is not freezing cold here.
      [youtube w0DAVS2mn9M http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0DAVS2mn9M youtube]

  • MVEilenstein

    "In California, it probably wouldn’t pass emissions."

    I automatically like it when I hear this.

  • BlackIce_GTS

    Part 4190651-(upside down L), ZIL 130 series front bumper service tool:
    <img src="http://www.iann.net/giants/behindscenes/props/giant_screwdriver/images/screwdriver_002.jpg"&gt;

    • fodder650

      is that a screenshot from Land of the Giants?

      • BlackIce_GTS

        It appears it is. It just happened to be the best picture for "giant screwdriver".
        (usually when I post a picture, clicking on it will take you to wherever I got it from)

        • fodder650

          You mean the fact that the web address for this is "Giants/Behindscenes"? Yeah I'll be in the corner installing AOL off of CD.

          • BlackIce_GTS

            Remember when they used to use floppy disks? That was great, free floppies!

            • fodder650

              But the CD's made great Christmas ornaments if you got enough of them.

              • Vairship

                And they'll scare off birds if you hang them in trees.

  • Dean Bigglesworth

    If i had kids i would buy one of those. I had a (plastic) Volvo full-trailer when i was a kid which was about 80cm long and loved it, but the frame snapped in half when i rolled it down some stairs in the winter. You can still get them at many toy-stores, and there's all kinds of cool stuff like log trucks, tow-trucks, semi-trailers, full-trailers, garbage trucks… look at the English/Finnish brochure here http://www.emek.fi/Esite/esite_2011.pdf

    Mine was an early nineties version of model 40085(Volvo FH truck & trailer)

  • Metric Wrench

    Thanks for the post. I can't tell you what memories that brings back – in many ways.

  • Goodwin

    Ive got one o these stacked away at my parents place. Mine is not mint like the one on the pic, that probably makes it even more cool, right?) Ill be sure to snap some pics of it when I go there in spring.

  • Stephen Hood

    You can still get really great toy trucks, bulldozers, road graders and such made by the European manufacturer Bruder. The toys are made of high impact plastic similar to the plastic used to make Legos. Both American and European brands are represented in their collection. I've bought my son about ten of their vehicles and he's only managed to damage one. They can be found at mom and pop toy stores and online. I've never seen them at a chain or big box store ( except on clearance at TJ Maxx). The detail on their Pro line is similar to that of the Russian truck. They have a line for toddlers that is less realistic, but their Jeep Wrangler and Range Rover Defender are excellent scale recreations as well as their Mack truck.

  • ReneM

    Actually what I remember was a pretty hefty tonka roller that withstood my mom backing the car into it. Google "mighty tonka" to see the hefty tonkas that were produced well past the 50s. An example http://www.mightytonka.com/mighty_1964.html Mighty tonka dump truck, weight 11 pounds. But yeah, the current tonka line, all of it, is plastic.

  • M.L. Schoondergang