Direct from China, Rite-Aid’s bargain diecast shelf comes through again! As if the 1/24 VW Santana I scored earlier this year was not enough, the convenience store has again gone above and beyond in offering obscure model cars at great prices. Enter the VAZ-2123, aka the Chevrolet Niva.

A partnership between AvtoVAZ-owned Lada and General Motors, the Chevrolet-branded Niva was meant as a refinement of the venerable, boxy Lada Niva. Retaining the drivetrain and mechanical bits of its older brother, the Chevy debuted its slick new styling for 1998.

This replica seems to be a 2003-2009 model, and represents the real thing pretty well. For a measely $4.99, I don’t expect much out of a model, so the accurate proportions were welcome. Tires are a little bigger than they technically should be, but they look right for such a small model.

The headlamps and taillamps get points in my book for being actual lenses, although the quality is only perhaps 60%. What really impressed me, though, was the badging. The model has a gold bowtie badge, “4x4” stickers on the front doors, “NIVA” on the liftgate, and “CHEVROLET” crisply embossed on the spare tire cover. The fender markers are painted orange and all door handles are the appropriate color. Even the wheels are accurate!

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The most notable omission has to be the body color rub strip on the doors. Real Nivas seem to match the front and rear bumpers with the rub strips, so the model should have painted all of them or none. A bit of Testors paint should clear this up, but the 4x4 badges will then sadly be covered.

Bringing it home, though, I began to notice its odd physical size. The real car is quite small, but this model sits in a grey area. I lined it up next to a 1/32 Opel Speedster and a 1/43 VW bay window. As the Niva should be slightly longer than the Opel, its scale is somewhere in between. At around 110mm long, the Niva is approximately 1/36 scale. This is disappointing; I prefer to have my models match each others’ scales and it will look out of place next to my 43rds, 24ths and 18ths.

Perhaps the larger-than-43rd scale helped Welly produce a more detailed cockpit, though, because with both doors open, the monochromatic interior is right on. I’ve never seen a Niva in real life, but I imagine the real instrument panel is made of a similar grade of plastic!

The catch, of course, is that as a Rite-Aid bargain bin purchase, it has its flaws. This particular one, the only Niva in stock, is missing its passenger door card. Oh, well- I will probably be the only one who notices anyway.

This model has its issues, but at $4.99 I really can’t argue with the price for such a relatively large model. You’d be hard pressed to find another Chevy Niva model of any type or quality in the US without using the Internet, so I say this was very much worth the price.

It’ll be great seeing people’s reactions when they try to figure out what it is!