An art impression by Dutch artist Sjaak Oosterling.


Zavod Imeni Stalina

Zavod imeni Stalina(ZIS) (since 1956 - Zavod imeni Lihachova (ZIL), Moscow, USSR

The range of the Soviet large scale pressed steel vehicles were produced from the early 1960’s through until the mid 1990’s. To the casual onlooker or collector in the world of old toys, these toys are of no great interest, are crude by modern standards and only a few different types were ever made or so it would appear.



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It must be in or around 1959 that large strange pressed steel models appears in the Dutch,German, French  and U.S.(!!)toyshop's.

Up till now it is still not sure where these models came from and who produced them.

A Russian collector( thank you Pavel Arc) wrote us this:

- Basically these models are well known by all soviet children's from the early 60th (i'm not sure - I was born only in 1975 ) till the 90th of the last century.-

In 2007 I've been in Belarus  and in 2009 twice in the Ukraine.

Since these visits I'm almost sure that these models never have been for sale in a regular department store in these two countries.  I showed a lot of people pictures of these trucks and none of them recognized these models as a toy.

That is not so strange. The regular income of an average resident of Belarus and the Ukraine did not afford them to buy these trucks.

After the end of AZLK and mass import of china toys metal trucks have gone to the history.

Click here for this AZLK history on Wiki

These Russian toys are similar to Russian and even Chinese trucks and are known as ZIS

The first serie trucks contains four different models, a tipper, a excavating truck, a crane and the amazing very collectable fire truck. Later on the name ZIS was changed in ZIL.


This 1959 tipper is probably one of the first ever made and is the forerunner of the later tipper.


Although the tipper is the most common model is has some interesting details like a number plate with the year when the tipper was made.

Most tippers have a little hook at the rear, near the number plate. It is to fit a trailer.


This truck was used in several movies like Dimant hard.  (left picture)  There was (is) a Chinese equivalent called the Jiefang-CA1



There is an American collector, Jack Barton who wrote us this about the history of the Soviet trucks on this site:

I am of the opinion there are two forms, those for domestic sale and those  for export. I think the bright coloured digger trucks are export items. I have found three different wheels.    The rubber tired ones you show in red rubber (older) and black rubber.  There is also a large all metal wheel and a smaller all metal wheel. The two I have with
the smaller all metal wheels have a hood that is more pointed than the other hoods.


From a French collector, Fabrice Escalier, we received these photo's. This is probably an early Zis 150 another one appeared in March 2009. This tipper does not have a tipping mechanism.


The more Soviet trucks we encounter the more questions we have. For example this tipper. At first though I looks like the other tippers shown on this site.

A closer look however learns that I could be made in another factory.

To lift the tipper the regular (?) tipper has a quite different construction as the green/red one.

A different steering system , A different back window , The "regular"tipper left has a pressed number plate. The other one a printed number one its tailboard: TIO-01.

Look at the site of the seats. Left the rear wheels of the regular, disc wheels with rubber tires, right solid plastic wheels. And at last the difference of the fenders.



The Soviet trucks of this series just had three models. A tipper, an excavator and a fire engine.  There are however some other special trucks. Very hard to find and very collectable.

There are three special trucks: A milk truck , a bread truck and a tanker.


Bread truck 1

October 2010 I found a bread truck for sale , the first in 6 (!!) years. Auctioneer Bartoli sold this exceptional bread truck dated 1973.


Bread truck 2

Mai 2010 I was in a little village, Velyki Mosti, in the Ukraine and took the pictures below. Can you believe that even in 2010 the bread delivery is still the same as in the 60ties?


Bread truck 3

July 2010, I was Tjernovograd (Ukraine) and took the pictures below. This is a smaller bread truck . It looks like a Ford Transit, but it is a GAZ.


Milk truck 1

Oktober 2011 fellow collector Dutchman Geert de Natris bought this lovely unusual Milk truck. It is much smaller than the trucks above.

It has a lenght of just 22 cm and according to the enclosed deliver sheet built in September 1986.

The factory who produced this truck is at this moment unknown.



The excavating truck is very detailed and hard to find in a good condition. I was told that even in the U. K. these Russian trucks once were for sale in the toyshop's.

The excavating truck is mainly coloured in red en blue. Some where in red with just the blue excavator The later versions were more coloured with blue, yellow and red.

It has like the tipper a number plate at the rear with the production year.


In 1970 the factory changed some specifications on the excavator.

This truck has a little longer wheel base than the other excavator's. If you look at the other excavator pictures you note that most digger rotation cranks are at the rear of the truck (bed) while this model has the rotation crank nearest the cab. (same as mine) This longer wheel base truck is a little more stable than other excavators.



An other excavating truck has a different boom and detailed text printed into the steel .



The Russian fire truck is far out one of the most beautiful and detailed fire trucks ever made! The number plate (= production year) was stamped into the pressed steel body.

Exciting is to push out the ladder. At it's maximum position it is over 150 cm long! (5ft) The front wheels can be turn about.

At the back there are 4 disc wheels with solid rubber tires. The size of this truck: length: 70 cm        width:  32 cm              high: 30 cm .

These firetrucks are difficult to find, very collectable and quite expensive. Keep in mind that there are no spare parts available, so if you find one, be sure it is complete.

The steering wheel in the middle section is to lift the ladder. The steering wheel at the back to turn the platform. With a little handle at the foot of the ladder, this ladder can be pushed out.

To turn the platform
To lift the ladder
To push out the ladder

Most of the above tippers, excavators and fire engines have an identification printed at the back, most of the time the production year. Some of these have a printed mark on the bonnet.  Trucks with these markings are very rare and more collectable.

SIM bonnet
3MA bonnet
SIM bonnet


This year (2010) I found a very rare fire truck.  It was made in 1968 and the first fire truck I have seen with "MADE IN USSR"markings.  This is the proof that this truck was made for export outside the Soviet Union. For the rest this truck is the same as the other ones.

The ladder is over 150 cm long!!!


Collector Jack Barton owns this 1965 fire truck below. It seems that this is the fore runner to the fire truck we have in our collection. Note that the rest for the ladder is different from the later (1970) truck.


What is ZiS? A simplistic answer would be that ZIS was the Soviet counterpart of Mack, Volvo or Mercedes trucks. ZiS stands for Zavod imeni Stalina, which roughly translates into Plant of Stalin's name. This name was adopted in 1933 to kiss up to the Boss. Prior to this, the truck factory had started in 1931 as AMO (Automobil Moscow Obshchestvo Enterprise). Their first product was what became the ZiS-5 flat bed lorry, a loose copy of the American Autocar truck. ZiS-5 mass production started after the name change in 1933 and this ubiquitous truck came to play a huge role in the Great Patriotic war together with the GAZ-AA truck, both becoming the transport backbone of the Soviet Army. ZiS produced 53.2311 trucks of this model since 1933 to 1948. The Russians called the Zis-5 "Tryohtonka" for its 3-ton payload capacity, a 3-ton Tonka truck.


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to open the Camocean page


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