Philippe de Lespinay Posts

Designer Notes: Heller Ferrari 512M

Philippe de Lespinay Heller CoxPhilippe 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 512

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1970 was a big year for me as I moved to the United States and brought my finished models as a business card to find job opportunities.

Heller Ferrari 512M

The Heller models, that were by then distributed by AMT in an exchange deal with the French company, were appreciated by the Model Car Science magazine’s editors and they ended on the front page of the February 1971 issue.

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This was another Ferrari kit drawn from pictures, the 512M of 1970. The actual kit turned out quite well.

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Designer Notes: Heller Lotus 49B

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 Lotus 49B 

Heller Lotus 49B Cosworth

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.

Heller Lotus 49B Cosworth

The Lotus 49B is one of the most iconic and recognizable models in the series. It could be built in various configurations with or without aerodynamic wings.

Heller Lotus 49B Cosworth

Heller Lotus 49B Cosworth

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 Liore et Olivier 45 Bomber Kit

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 Liore et Olivier 45 Bomber

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This WW2 light-duty bomber was my first attempt at designing an aircraft model kit. I tried to introduce much detail in this 1/72 scale model, that included for the first time ever in a plastic model kit, inner cockpit detail such as decals for dashboards, accurate seating arrangement, radios…

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The landing gear doors were fully functional, the modeler able to simply open them in the exacting correct position as the design was using flexible hinges from the very plastic they were molded from.

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also drew and organized the assembly instructions that show the cockpit detailing and the lower retractable machine gun station. The landing gear detail was also very accurate and this model drew very high marks from the specialized magazines when issued

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