Model Car Kits Posts

Designer Notes: Heller Ferrari 330P4

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 Ferrari 330P4

Heller Ferrari P4 330P4

One of my favorites Heller kits was this Ferrari 330P4. It was drawn strictly from pictures, as I was never allowed to approach the actual car at the 1967 Le Mans race. The kit turned good but the pattern maker made a mistake in the roof line.

Heller Ferrari P4 330P4

I built this kit for the company to use in promotional photos, but used two sets of body parts so as to have the nose removable from the main body, which it is not possible in the actual kit.

Heller Ferrari P4 330P4

Heller Ferrari P4 330P4

Here I am at my drawing table in 1966, at the Heller design department, rue d’Hauteville in Paris. The pictures on the wall are the telltale of some of my favorite machinery.

Philippe de Lespinay Heller model

Designer Notes: Heller Brabham Cosworth BT15 F3 Formule III

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 Brabham Cosworth BT15 F3 Formule III

As with many of Heller’s kits, Paul Lengellé beautifully illustrated the box art.

Heller Brabham Cosworth BT15 F3 Formule III

Here’s the original drawing of the kit’s parts. The engine and gearbox were the same as on the MATRA MS5 kit, so they are not represented here.

Heller Brabham Cosworth BT15 F3 Formule III

I built the kit for use by Heller in trade shows in 1968, and these pictures were taken by a professional for the company. Please note the suspension springs in steel wire wound around an ordinary nail, that make the model look so much more realistic than any of the period.

Heller Brabham Cosworth BT15 F3 Formule III

The chassis was assembled from molded flat sections and could almost pass for the real thing.

Heller Brabham Cosworth BT15 F3 Formule III

The only “bad” detail on the model is the Weber carburetor that is not only inaccurate but looks a bit stupid. But have a look at that Hewland MK9 transmission!

 

Heller Brabham Cosworth BT15 F3 Formule III

In the early 1970s, AMT released some Heller kits under their own brand. The Brabham was paired up with Heller Matra F2 kit and featured new box art.

AMT Matra F2 Brabham F3

Designer Notes: Heller/AMT Renault R8 Gordini

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.


Renault R8 Gordini
Heller AMT Renault R8 Gardini

After a minor dispute with Heller, I designed this Renault 8 Gordini racer for a company called Verneuil. But Verneuil did not have the capability of production and I was offered a better deal at Heller and returned. So the kit was eventually produced by Heller.

Heller AMT Renault R8 Gardini instructions
Here is a kit I assembled for factory pictures and the 1969 catalog. I added some decals from an American slot car decal sheet. The kit was simple and did not have opening doors, but had plenty of engine detail. The Delta Mics aluminum wheels were a typical upgrade from the stock steel wheels.

Heller AMT Renault R8 Gardini

Heller AMT Renault R8 Gardini

AMT negotiated with Heller for the distribution of the car kits, and issued 4 different “double” kits in 1971. The injections were packed in clear plastic bags and sent to the American company that repackaged them in large boxes with their own illustrations, that unfortunately paled compared to those of Paul Lengellé. The Gordini was packaged with a version of the Heller Renault Alpine A 210 as one of the sets in this series.

Heller AMT Renault R8 Gardini Alpine A 210

Designer Notes: Heller Porsche 907

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 907

Heller Porsche 907 Daytona de Lespinay box art

After Porsche finished 1-2-3 at Daytona in 1966, the race was on to produce a model of this 1:24 scale kit. I made this drawing strictly from pictures provided by my friend, the journalist Gérard Crombac, and a single wheelbase measurement. The kit was really nice, simple and easy to put together.

Heller Porsche 907 Daytona de Lespinay technical drawing

I was always making sure that my “blown up” drawings would work, meaning that any part here could actually fit if all the parts were put together. Very few changes were made for the production kit.

Heller Porsche 907 Daytona de Lespinay assembly instructions

Like for other Heller kits of the time the box art was drawn by Paul Lengellé.

Designer Notes: Heller Alpine-Renault A210 Le Mans

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 Alpine-Renault A210 Le Mans

Renault Alpine a210 kit Heller

The first kit I designed was that of an Alpine-Renault A210 Le Mans car.  I traveled to Dieppe to the Alpine factory and was able to take all the measurements, pictures and information as a personal guest of Alpine’s founder  and president, Jean Redele. He also loaned me an Alpine A110 Berlinette 1300S, and I had great fun with it for several weeks. It actually pushed me to purchase one, that I raced until I smashed it comprehensively while trying to avoid an errant car.

Heller Alpine-Renault A210 Le Mans Instructions

I tried to do a good job on the new model and introduced some new features that were not present in any available kit, such as separate rim sections for the racing wheels, real rubber safety belts and suspension springs made of steel wire that one could form over a nail, a trick I learned from a great model maker long passed away. I even tried to get a windshield rubber seal to work but it did not, and I had to revert to the standard method of gluing the windshield in place. The kit was well received in the period magazines and sold extremely well to a public welcoming a French racing car model, something that simply did not exist then.

Not much has survived of the Alpine A210, except for the assembly notice of which I drew the images, and assembled the old-fashioned way, by gluing the text blocks in place. Those were the days!

There were plenty of “firsts” in this kit, including that one had to make his own suspension springs wound over… a nail! The wire and nail were supplied in the kit. This system worked very well and was reconducted for most of the kits I designed for this company.

Philippe de Lespinay Renault Alpine

Soon after I had a Alpine-Renault 1300S, here in 1968 in Paris (before the turmoil that hit the country and caused a near revolution). This car was unfortunately destroyed when I hit a snowbank while the car was fitted with Dunlop racing tires for dry pavement.  A year and a half later, was on my way to Los Angeles, California.

AMT negotiated with Heller for the distribution of some car kits, and issued 4 different “double” kits in 1971. The injections were packed in clear plastic bags and sent to the American company that repackaged them in large boxes with their own illustrations, that unfortunately paled compared to those of Paul Lengelle. The Alpine was packaged with a version of the Heller Renault R8 Gardini as one of the sets in this series.