Molodets (Brave Boys); 32 heavily weighted plastic chessmen without board, box has original label; Soviet (Ukrainian), white v. red, c.1984-1990
Height: King 8cm, weight 28g, base diameter (all) 3cm; Queen 7cm, wt 26g, Bishop 6.3cm 20g, Knight 5.5cm 28g, Rook 4.8cm 20g, Pawns 4.2cm 20g White: red felt pads Red: white felt pads
A somewhat rare, red and white version of a stylish late Soviet Era design from the Dniepropetrovsk Oblast (district) of central-eastern Ukraine. A product of the “Dneproplastmass Plant” hence the set is sometimes casually referred to as “plastymass” by some Russian vendors.
Due to its clandestine involvement in the manufacture of military missiles and rockets (and heavy involvement in the Soviet space program) since the mid-1950s, Dniepropetrovsk was termed a “closed city” right up until the early 1990s. During the Cold War, it was commonly referred to as “Rocket City” by U.S. Intelligence.
The Molodets chess set consists of 32 hollow, plastiform figures in white and red plastic that have a smooth satin finish. The bases were originally sealed with ill-fitting, thick green plastic caps. These have been removed and weight now occupies the once empty interiors lending a nice hefty feel to the pieces over the board. The plastic caps have been discarded and replaced with felt in opposing colours, more in keeping with the original design and elevating the overall appearance of the set as a uniform piece of art.
Designed in the 80s and manufactured until 1990, this could possibly be one of the last sets to be produced in the former Soviet Union before the collapse of the Iron Curtain in 1991. It is interesting that coming from an area famous for the production of missiles and war machines the set somewhat reflects rockets and space travel itself! The king especially is reminiscent of the R3-23 Molodets (a surface to air missile that is launched from a train) as can be seen in the last picture. Note the red crenellations just below the nose cone of the warhead. Dnipro, as Dniepropetrovsk is now known, produced these infamous, state of the art R3-23 Molodets from the mid-80s until 1991 right around the time of our sets design and manufacture. The sphere of the queen and ball finials of the pawns also reflect the early Soviet satellites like Sputnik 1 that were also designed at Dnipro’s Southern Missile and Rocket Factory in the late 1950s.
I managed to salvage the original label from the disintegrating cardboard box the set came in. This has been pieced back together and attached to a new box of the same dimensions as the original. It has the words ‘CHESS’ at the top and bottom and DREPROPETROVSK to the right of the illustration, depicting war machines (a tank and a rocket being launched) and a statue of a cosmonaut reaching up into space. The words “Plant DNEPROPLASTMASS” appear at the bottom of the label. Unfortunately, the “цена” (‘price’) is left blank (see our main site: thechessschach.com for pictures).
Both kings carry the hand-painted iridescent bronze ‘Power’ signature of the artist on their bases. The Molodets set also comes with a ‘Certificate of Artistry’ which are posted out separately once we tally up how many ‘Bronze Signature’ sets passed through our galleries in 2021. “All good things …” as the saying goes.
Ref code: R3-21
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