Philippe de Lespinay Posts

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: Cox Gas Powered Airplane Models

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.

Cox Falcon Gas Powered Airplane

Cox Wings Gast Powered Airplane

Cox Wings Falcon Philippe de Lespinay

After the slot cars, I was put in charge of Cox Gas Powered Airplane Models, which was their core business along with gas powered models of cars and other toys. These were powered by the famous Cox .049ci marvel, entirely produced on “Coxmatic” screw machines. Specifially, I was head of the newly created styling department, then of the Research and Development department while keeping a firm hand on styling.

Cox Wings Falcon Philippe de Lespinay

Cox Wings Falcon Philippe de Lespinay

Cox studied the possibility of converting their U-control aircraft line to electric as pressure against excessive noise and use by children of dangerous fuels mounted. The miniature rechargeable battery technology was in its infancy, but we designed, developed and put into production several electric airplanes, the most commercially successful being a Supermarine Spitfire. The project was named “Falcon” after I drew this F16 that would have been propelled by an electric motor mounted in the tail.

The Falcon project led to several prototypes, the red one at left having survived. It was never put into production in favor of another design after visual testing by a group of 9-14 year olds. (A couple years later Cox would release a similar jet-styled plane, the F-15 Falcon, with the propeller in the front.)

Cox Wings Racer Philippe de Lespinay

Meanwhile, another project began, that of a low-cost, gas powered aircraft line. The “Wings” project led to a series of aircraft in which this dream machine I designed  gathered the most votes in a test. The original line drawing is shown here. 

Cox Wings Racer Philippe de Lespinay

The original line drawing is shown here as well as a wooden mockup and a production airplane under its blister pack. These are old factory documents.

Designer Notes: Cox Magblaster and Interceptor

philippe-de-lespinay-2d6f30085cc94a97d8325d4fe21d2646

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.

Cox Magblaster Gas Powered Racer
Cox Interceptor Radio Controlled Racer

Cox Magblaster gas powered tether car

Another fun project was the Magblaster, an exercise in camouflage of a huge engine flywheel that had been devised so as to allow easy starting and idling of the .049ci engine.

Cox Magblaster gas powered tether car design sketch

The original chassis powered a van that was very popular, and the same chassis was used for this GT car I styled with multiple air intakes so as to hide the implement. The design is not based on a specific prototype car. The original drawing with a hand-built prototype made of a vacuum formed styrene body set over the chassis.

The Magblaster was also produced as a two-channel radio controlled model called the Interceptor, molded in yellow with contrasting blue graphics.

Cox Interceptor radio control r/c

The radio signals worked a non-proportional steering system and the engine’s throttle. The cost of the radio was $2.00, a fantastic achievement in 1975.

Cox Interceptor radio control r/c

Cox Interceptor radio control r/c

 

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