For some time I only built Heller kits, but as with everything, time moved on, my tastes changed and they became a distant memory.
Over the years many kit companies have been defined by their country of origin. In the UK we have Airfix; the USA, Monogram; Revell in Germany; Tamiya in Japan. But perhaps one has slipped through the cracks recently, that company being France’s premier manufacturer: Heller.
As a child growing up and learning all about the hobby and the world’s kit companies, Heller were one of those that I considered exotic. Despite being from just across the channel, their kits, choices of subjects and in some cases price, made them seem to be an appealing, if not unobtainable package. Given that they were almost universally lauded within the modelling press for their quality and detail, I never let that be too much of a hurdle and so as soon as I had the chance – or rather the money! – I purchased one of their kits and then never looked back. I was hooked.
Part of the appeal of Heller was their odd choice of subjects. Much like Matchbox in the UK, they would release kits of subjects unavailable anywhere else, their collection of French aircraft remaining to this day pretty much unique within the hobby. I remember the excitement of seeing the Super Frelon (which to this day, I’ve never had the money to buy!) the release of a 1:72 Thunderjet and Ouragan and then two Constellations one of which was the awesome ‘Warning Star’ variant. For some time I only built Heller kits, but as with everything, time moved on, my tastes changed and they became a distant memory.
Over the last couple of decades Heller have rather fallen on hard times, their financial situation being such that new kits haven’t really been an option, that is until recently, when newly-tooled kits started to slowly appear once more. First, we had some 1:72 armour, then 1:35 vehicles, 1:24 cars and vans and then more recently, a couple of very nice tractors. Along with the new tools, the older gems from the range have also started to be seen on the shelves of model shops around the world so that fans of the range such as I, can once again enjoy the sight of these classic kits.
Part of the appeal of Heller was their odd choice of subjects. Much like Matchbox in the UK they would release kits of subjects unavailable anywhere else
The spark for this walk down memory lane was a visit to my local model club last night. We have a member who is a vendor that sells kits at shows around the UK and to the meeting, he brought along a couple of kits including Heller’s re-released 1:48 Mirage IVP. A long time ago I had this kit but gave it away and ever since, I’ve regretted the decision and wanted to replace it to have a go at finally building and painting one for my collection. So it appeared and I was instantly smitten, offering the money for it without thinking and now I have the kit once more to build and hopefully, enjoy. Yes, I know, it’s hardly state of the art, but I can’t help but think that with a little TLC it will look very nice once complete and let’s be honest, there are some very nice Shyart decals to decorate it and who can resist the idea of a French jet in anniversary markings?!
Heller – back from the dead? I think so…
See you next time!