Designer Notes: Unreleased Heller Porsche 911R

Lincoln Futura Philippe de Lespinay

Philippe de Lespinay started with Heller, the French model kit company in the 1960s as a designer and project engineer. He also also worked for Cox, who are now known for their remote control and gas powered vehicles, but also created many kits over the years. More recently, he was the curator of the Los Angeles Slot Car Museum. And he’s on the hobbyDB Advisory Board, so yeah, he’s our kind of guy.

hobbyDB will be regularly sharing his insights on particular models he has worked on including production kits, never-produced projects, and his own custom builds. We hope you enjoy the journey through his career as well.

Read more about his history in the toy and model business here.

Heller Porsche 911R

This car also not make it into production, unfortunately. The 911R was at the time, THE car to have if you wanted to win the GT class

heller porsche 911R kit

Notice how the views from the ends show the cross section of the hood and the rear glass at certain measurements. In a way, it’s a miracle that a 3-dimensional model could be created from drawings without any assistance from a computer!

heller porsche 911R kit heller porsche 911R kit

Comment

hobbyDB Collectibles Database Zooms Past 200,000 Entries

The collection just keeps growing at hobbyDB! Our database of anything and everything collectible just blew past the 200,000 item mark this past week, with the addition of the Minichamps James Bond Mustang Mach 1. The milestone came and went so quickly we barely had time to stop and notice! It took 13 months to get the first 100,000 entries in the database and just five months to double that number. At that rate, we’ll reach the million mark in the next year or two! We couldn’t have done it without all of you!

James Bond Minichamps Mustang

That 200,000 figure breaks down to over 178,000 unique Items, and over 34,000 Subject listings. In our collectibles database, an “Item” is an individual collectible you can own, such as a single Hot Wheels car or a Captain America action figure. A “Subject” is a topic or person or thing that can be related to several items, such as Elvis Presley, or Disney. Together, they allow our information to be cross-referenced by users, so they can search for a particular brand of toy like Corgi, or for anything related to a particular subject, such as The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine. (And yes, there is a Corgi version of that sub!)

So many of you helped us to get this far… There are now over 11,000 Users on hobbyDB,  adding entries, editing information, buying, and selling (which is how we keep the lights on). The number of registered users more than doubled over the last five months as well. Over 200 of you have signed on as Curators, volunteering to either help monitor specific pages such as the page for John Wayne or the New York Yankees or to check new items to make sure they are entered as correctly as possible.

hobbydb 200,000 items

Brand partnerships have been a big part of hobbyDB’s rapid growth… several companies have come on board to host their official archives with hobbyDB ranging from vinyl art toys (Kidrobot) to diecast model cars (Kess) to real cars (The Shelby American Collection). The beauty of these relationships is that we get complete, accurate information along with frequent updates and additions. (You even get to preview upcoming prototypes such as this upcoming Eagle Challenger Indy car from Automodello, straight from the horse’s mouth!) 

We’ve also arranged to include data from collector databases such as Hugada’s list of over 60,000 video games and South Texas Diecast’s giant list of Hot Wheels. By combining such archives in one place, we multiply the power of these lists. For example, we can cross reference items of interest to both groups, such as the Nintendo Mario World series of Hot Wheels cars. But even with these massive contributions, we still rely on individual users to fill in missing items and provide updates. It’s like an extension of Wikipedia with a serious concentration on collecting.

At the rate we’re growing, you should be hearing about our 300,000th catalog item in the hobbyDB database before too long. In fact, we’ve received so much information from museums, archives and individuals that we need help sorting it all! We’re looking for volunteers with good editorial skills to join the team and help us add data to the catalog. If you’re interested, let us know (You can hit the chat button in the lower right corner of the screen to reach us)!

Comment

Hugada Video Game Database Now on hobbyDB

hugada atari 2600 simpsons video game

Klaus Brandhorst’s first home computer was a bit underwhelming, a simple Commodore 16. “It only had a datasette and it came with one or two programs to fiddle around with, so there weren’t any games,” he said. “It was only black and white on my old TV at the time and BASIC wasn’t so interesting for most 9 year olds. It wasn’t love at first sight.”

Luckily, it didn’t scare him away from computers for life, because Klaus is the founder of Hugada.com, short for Huge Game Database. The name is the only thing short about the venture, as Hugada is a database of over 63,200 versions of 43,700 video game titles. And all of that is coming to hobbyDB.

Back to ancient history… That original C-16 was followed by a C-64, an Amiga 500, then an Amiga 2000. “On the Commodore, we played everything we could get for so many hours until we were thrown out by my parents to see the sun for a few minutes,” he laughed. “We liked games where you could explore and search for easter eggs or hidden rooms, for example the strange ‘Mad Doctor’…  We loved Cinemaware-Games on the Amiga because they looked and played very good but what made them special was the story and the atmosphere. But my all-time favorites are strategy games: “Carriers at War” from SSG, and “Second Front” from Gary Grigsby.”

 dysentery pac man x box commodore 16

The Amiga was followed by a string of more modern PCs. By the mid 1990s, PC games were becoming more advanced and but old video-games became worth collecting. That’s when Klaus started looking back.

“People were giving away their old video games like they were worthless,” he said. “I guess they were at the time. One time, I bought an Atari 2600 system with packaging, never used, for about $5 and the owner said, ‘here, this comes with it’ and handed me over a big plastic bag with 60 or more modules, some of them still wrapped and lots of Xenox double enders. I also bought a Vectrex for less than $10, and a whole shoe box of Nintendo games and a watch in original packaging for a few bucks.”  Considering the original cost of home video game systems in the 1980s, and what they sell for now, he got great deals all around.

“Within a few years it was maybe 150 video game consoles and home computers and thousands of games for them. After I brought home a DEC PDP-11 the size of 2 washing machines, my parents became a bit worried what i was planing to do with their cellar.”

Along the way, he started a list on the computer of every game he could find for every platform. Like the basement collection, it too began to get out of control. “It started with a list of Playstation 1 games my friends and I owned where we noted who has which one. It quickly grew with the titles we wanted to have and then with other systems like the Nintendo 64 and also PC-titles. Then, retro-gaming with all the emulators started, so we had to make lists of the games of course…” Before long, Excel wasn’t up to the task, so he moved it to a real database and put it online.

atari soccer Madden xbox

That was in 1997 or ’98, making it likely that Hugada was the first ever online database of video games. “But I soon realized it’s a lot of work to take care of the site. When I went to university, I basically closed the data for the public additions and entered data for myself from time to time,” he said. “I was really only interested in collecting the data, but not so much in maintaining the site and caring for a community and forum.” So he started looking for a partner to take over the project. As luck would have it, one day he asked his uncle to help him sell some extra models cars, and one of them was purchased by Christian Braun of hobbyDB.

Klaus said, “It turned out my uncle had known Christian’s Family for years. When I was young, I had a SIKU model cars collectors guide written by Christian’s brother – the world is smaller than we think.” So he contacted Braun and shortly thereafter, he started moving the data to hobbyDB. “I’m very happy to see all the data I collected over so many years is now available to a big public to be used for what they were being started for: your own collection of video games and consoles.” Klaus has joined the hobbyDB Advisory Board, so he will still be active in maintaining the database he worked to hard to compile.

In the meantime, he is still active in video gaming and also collects other interests. “Mostly model SIKU cars, but also model planes and ships (the latter in 1/700 scale) of which I have over a thousand. I also cannot leave any Lego Star Wars set in the store and let’s better not talk about DVDs and Blu Rays…”

His favorite game system is kind of obscure, the Amiga CD32. “It had a shabby looking and creaking case, bad controllers and only a handful of games and almost all of them were just normal Amiga 1200 titles, only on CD. When it came out, we dreamed of all the fantastic titles we would liked to have – and never came. I guess I’m always for the underdog.”

If you do a search for “Video Games” on hobbyDB, you’ll be amazed at the number of items we’ve added lately. More will be showing up over the next few weeks, so keep checking in. And if you have screen shots or videos of these games in action, please sign in and upload those to make the Huge Game Database even more huge!

Comment

Designer Notes: Balsa Wood Cox Alfa Romeo 33 Slot Car

 Philippe de Lespinay started with Heller, the French model kit company in the 1960s as a designer and project engineer. He also also worked for Cox, who are now known for their remote control and gas powered vehicles, but also created many kits over the years. More recently, he was the curator of the Los Angeles Slot Car Museum. And he’s on the hobbyDB Advisory Board, so yeah, he’s our kind of guy.

hobbyDB will be regularly sharing his insights on particular models he has worked on including production kits, never-produced projects, and his own custom builds. We hope you enjoy the journey through his career as well.

Read more about his history in the toy and model business here.

Balsa Wood Alfa Romeo 33: A Major Mistake (but what fun it was!)

balsa wood alfa romeo 33 slot car

In search of the ultimate lightweight, I built this crazy car in 1968 using a Dynamic Alfa Romeo “33” body over a balsa-wood cum light-gauge piano wire chassis, that for unknown reasons, survived for the last 41 years and counting.

balsa wood alfa romeo 33 slot car

The original body was French blue, I will have to paint this replacement some day, or maybe not because it clearly shows the intricacies of my engineering heresy! 

The original was powered by a Champion “Bob Cozine Signature” motor, and that thing was fast, but the noise was incredible as the chassis resonated like a violin!

balsa wood alfa romeo 33 slot car

Comment

Profiles in Curating: Meet Wayne Elvis Creeden

August 16 marks the 39th anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley. Despite almost four decades passing since then, he still remains a pop culture icon and musical powerhouse. Today we’ll be posting some of our favorite Elvis related items on our Facebook page. We also want you to meet Wayne Elvis Creeden, who curates our Elvis Presley subject page. 

Wayne Elvis Creeden

“What sparked my interest in Elvis was his personality and graciousness towards other people,” said Creeden. When he was sixteen, a friend commented that his voice sounded like Elvis. “He said we should go out and sing so we did… it started from there and continued until now I’m 56.” If you do the math, that means he started impersonating the King around 1976, making him one of the earliest to do that.

“My favorite era is 1968-73,” Creeden says. That would be early in the jumpsuit era, when Elvis was still a fairly trim thirty-something. His favorite songs include “American Trilogy” and “In The Ghetto.” And yes, Creeden has competed with other impersonators on stage, in full costume. “First time I went to the Elvis fest in Collingwood, Ontario I placed 18th… I was 42 at the time.”

I’ve been to Graceland,” he said. “It’s awesome, and everyone should go at least once. It’s just cool to see the way he lived and his cool things he owned.” In the meantime, you should visit hobby and punch in “Elvis.” You can see what’s in our database and we encourage you to add anything you have in your own collection. Thank you very much!

Comment