Model Car Kits Posts

Designer Notes: Heller Brabham Ford BT26

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 Brabham Ford BT26

In 1969, I decided to make four kits of Formula One cars, but only three were produced. Unfortunately and for reasons I do not know, the tooling for Matra MS80 was never built. But the basic 3-view and parts-distribution drawings did survive in my files.(We’ll cover that kit in a future entry)

heller brabham ford bt26

This was the Brabham BT26 car driven by Jacques Bernard “Jacky” Ickx, the first to use the Ford Cosworth DFV engine. I drew the engine only once for the Lotus 49 model, as the tooling was a separate mold for all three models. (We’ll cover the Lotus 49 in a future post.)

I painted this for the 1970 catalog in less than 1 hour, because time was of the essence. It is done with China ink and water.

heller brabham ford bt26

Philippe de Lespinay McLaren M7A Heller

Brabham BT26

Jack Brabham races a BT26 in 1968.

Designer Notes: Unreleased Heller Matra kits

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 Matra MS80

In 1969, I decided to make four kits of Formula One cars, but only three were produced. Unfortunately and for reasons I do not know, the tooling for Matra MS80 was never built.  It is so sad, that this kit for the was never issued. The car was the Formula One world champion in 1969.

Heller Matra MS80


Heller Matra 650

Heller Matra 650

Heller Matra 650

I think what might be my best drawing and kit concept was that of this MATRA MS650. Drawn in 1968, this model was never issued for an unknown reason. 

It would have made the most detailed, most fantastic kit ever issued in the 1/24 scale.

The MATRA 650 was shown in the 1971 catalog. Why was it not produced remains a mystery to this day. Also shown are the Porsche 908, a revamped (and inaccurate) Porsche 907, and the Ferrari 512M that was issued that year.

Heller Matra 650 Heller Matra 650

Designer Notes: Heller McLaren M7A

Lincoln Futura Philippe de LespinayPhilippe 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 McLaren M7A

Philippe de Lespinay McLaren M7A Heller

In 1969, I decided to make four kits of Formula One cars, but only three were produced. Unfortunately and for reasons I do not know, the tooling for MATRA MS80 was never built. But the basic 3-view and parts-distribution drawings did survive in my files.(We’ll cover that kit in a future entry)

Philippe de Lespinay McLaren M7A Heller

The McLaren kit could be built with or without the side tanks. Again, another model that drawn from pictures and not from the real car, but it is not that far off, is it?

Philippe de Lespinay McLaren M7A Heller

I painted the illustration below for the 1970 catalog in less than 1 hour, because time was of the essence. It was done with China ink and water. 

Philippe de Lespinay McLaren M7A Heller

Philippe de Lespinay McLaren M7A Heller

This is the only surviving document of the kit’s parts distribution. It was published in Champion, a French magazine, in 1969.

Philippe de Lespinay McLaren M7A Heller

This model has been released with different box art over the years, such as the one below.Philippe de Lespinay McLaren M7A Heller

Designer Notes: Heller Porsche 917LH

Lincoln Futura Philippe de LespinayPhilippe 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 917LH

Heller Porsche 917 kit

Another that was not issued in the original form, I drew the car in 1969 as a Porsche 917LH, but it was later modified in the “K” version and issued as such. I would actually have preferred this, the more brutal-looking 1969 model.

Here are some of the built kits in the 1978 Heller catalog. The 917 was now the “Kurz” version.

Heller Porsche 917 kit
heller_porsche_917_3view_800p
heller_porsche_917_3view_800p

Designer Notes: Heller Matra MS5 Formula 2

Lincoln Futura Philippe de LespinayPhilippe 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 Matra MS5 Formula 2

Heller Matra MS5 Formula 2

For many of these kits, there is very little original information still available. I was able to scan some of the prints I had kept, that constitute apparently the only surviving company archive as things were thrown about as the company changed hands several times.

Heller Matra MS5 Formula 2

All what survived of the MATRA MS5 documentation for the mold makers. This was the second kit I did for Heller after the Alpine A210. The model and decals represented the car of Jean-Pierre Beltiose.

Heller Matra Forumla 2 kit

Here I am in the MATRA MS5 at Velizy. This was Joe Schlesser’ F2 car with the Cosworth FVA engine. Great and fast car!

Heller Matra MS5 Formula 2

In the early 1970s, AMT released some Heller kits under their own brand. The Matra was paired up with aHeller Brabham Cosworth BT15 F3 Formule III kit and featured new box art.

AMT Matra F2 Brabham F3