Heller SA

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Heller Hobby GmbH
FormerlyHeller S.A.
Company typeGmbH
Founded1957; 67 years ago (1957) in Paris, France
FounderLéo Jahiel
ProductsScale model plastic cars, aircraft, ships, military vehicles
ParentGlow2B [1]

Heller Hobby GmbH[2][3] is a French manufacturing company established in 1957 in Paris. Currently headquartered in Radevormwald, Germany, Heller produces plastic scale model kits of cars, aircraft, ships, and military vehicles.[4]


Heller was founded in Paris in 1957 by Léo Jahiel, born in Lyon. He had previously worked at SOMAP, a plastics company, and set up company headquarters on Rue de Paradis in the 10th arrondissement of Paris, with a production facility in Trun, Orne. The first Heller's model kit was a 1/100 scale Sud Aviation Caravelle, produced the following year.[5] In 1963, a production facility was established in Trun.

In 1972, Heller joined with Solido (a die cast toy car maker), Jouef (an HO scale train maker) and Delacoste (maker of balloons and toys) to form "Le Jouet Français."[6] In 1980 the company went into liquidation and was in Court directed administration in May 1981. The company was broken up: Majorette bought Solido, Vullierme bought Delacoste, and Jouef was bought back by a subsidiary company of the "CEJI" group (Compagnie Générale du Jouet).[7]

On June 9, 1977, Heller's founder, Léo Jahiel, was made a member of the Légion d'honneur by President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing for his years of professional activity.[8]

Heller was acquired in 1981 by the Hobby Products Group of Borden, Inc., owners of British model company Humbrol. In 1986 Airfix also joined the group. Production of Airfix kits, already in Calais, would subsequently move to the Heller factory in Trun. Heller, with the rest of the Group was acquired by an Irish investment company, Allen, McGuire & Partners, in 1994, and received 31 million francs of investment.[9]

In 1999 Heller re-branded as Heller SA and acquired, together with the Thirion group, French toy manufacturer Joustra. In 2005, Heller SA was acquired by French buyers but in 2006 once again the company went into administration.[10]

In July 2006 the company was put into receivership and in November Hornby PLC bought sister brands Airfix and Humbrol but not Heller or its factory. By January 2007 Heller SA was transferred to "la société MANOP" (Manufacture d'Objet Précieux) under the direction Benjamin Leneman and over the next 7 years slowly returned to profitability selling model kits.[11]

Heller SA yet again found itself in trouble in 2016. It was "in a situation of non-financial return due to cash flow problems and a decline consumption related to the November attacks."[12] The Commercial Court of Argentan, on 11 March, approved the acquisition of Heller-Joustra (Heller SA) by Maped, following six weeks of administration. Maped, in partnership with entrepreneur Alain Bernard of the New York Finance Innovation (of Paris, France) had invested 3.5 million euros in Heller-Joustra.[13][14]

On March 18, 2019, Antoine Lacroix, Directeur General of Groupe Maped announced that Heller was acquired by the company Glow2B of Germany,[1] which had been the distributor of Joustra and Heller products in that country. They announced that production would continue in both France and Germany.[15]

Ownership History[edit]

Period Owner Comments
1957-1972 Leo Heller Jahiel via Heller SA, France First kit made in 1958
1972-1981 Merges with Jouef, Solido and Delacoste to form The French Toys Group The French Toys Group falls into administration in 1981. Borden Inc acquires Heller.
1981-1994 Borden Inc, USA via Humbrol Ltd, UK Humbrol had manufactured paints for Heller since 1977. Heller also moulded Airfix kits for Humbrol from 1986 to 2006.
1994-2005 Allen & Maguire, Ireland via Humbrol Ltd, UK Allen & Maguire were venture capitalists. The purchase of Humbrol included a lot of debt and Allen & Maguire lost control to the Bank of Scotland in 2003.
2005-2006 Global Natural Ltd, England [16] Management buy-out of Heller SA from Humbrol Ltd. Ex-Humbrol MD Steve Lord headed the company. Company fell into administration in July 2006 and Hornby plc acquires Airfix and Humbrol.
2007-2015 MANOP, a French jewellery manufacturer buys the business for €200k. Now trades as Manop Heller Joustra SA. Heller Joustra SA falls into administration in 2015.
2016-2019 Maped SA, an international French stationery and craft company buys Heller Joustra for €1.5m. Maped is well known in the UK for its Helix mathematical instruments brand.
2019 Glow2B of Germany acquires Heller. Glow2B was the distributor for Heller and Joustra in Germany, and plans to continue in both France and Germany. The Heller factory was acquired by plastic moulding company Viplast who will continue to mould Heller kits for Glow2B.[1]

Product lines[edit]


A 1/72 scale model of a Dewoitine D.510 from Heller

The early Heller aircraft line — in a mix of scales 1/100, 1/72, 1/50 and 1/40 — were rather crude with large rivets, thick canopies, and low level of detailing. During the 1970s they concentrated on 1/72 and 1/50 and the quality improved rapidly, kits from the end of that decade were often very well detailed and sophisticated. The Heller line included many types of aircraft that couldn't be found elsewhere, like the Bloch MB.150 and Potez 63, Dassault Ouragan and Dassault Mystère, Saab Tunnan, J21 and Safir, and the big French transports, the Noratlas and the Transall C-160. Later kits were the PZL.23 Karaś, the Morane-Saulnier MS.230, and the Curtiss SBC Helldiver biplane.

Still later, Heller's Constellations, DC-4s[citation needed] and DC-6s were additions to the 1/72 multi-engine aircraft line, along with the s Canadair CL-215, a purpose-built fire bomber.

The early 1/50 helicopters were crude and questionable as to scale fidelity,[citation needed] but here again they were unique subjects: Aérospatiale Super Frelon, Aérospatiale Puma, SNCASE Alouette, Aérospatiale Gazelle, Aérospatiale Lama.


Heller made a set Apollo kits which included the Command/Service Module and the Lunar Module. It was well-detailed for its time, however, the kit represented the Block I configuration of the Apollo hardware, which was not flown during the crewed missions and was only used for early low Earth orbit test flights.

Heller also made a kit of the Ariane V in 1/125 scale. The International Space Station was also made in the same scale as the Ariane V. They also made an Ariane IV in 1/125 and 1/288 scale.


List of all Heller ship model kits
Kit number Model Release year In production Comment
L950 Pourquoi Pas in 1/100 1969 No Never released
L955 Brigantine in 1/100 1970 No -
L960 Occident in 1/100 1971 No -
80897 HMS Victory in 1/100 1979 Yes The kit has been reboxed several times
80899 Le Soleil Royal in 1/100 197x No The kit has been reboxed several times


Heller made kits of the Citroën 11CV, the WWII-era front wheel drive sedan, in 1/43, 1/24 and 1/8 scales. There was a series of 1/24 old cars and small trucks including golden age European types—Delahaye, Delage, certain Bugattis, the 4.5-liter "Blower" Bentley, and others that were not, and have not yet been, kitted by other manufacturers in that scale.[citation needed] These were sophisticated kits for their time.[citation needed]

Heller contributed to the vast universe of 1/35 armor: lend-lease jeeps and deuce-and-a-halves, a Panhard armored car, and a squad of Chasseurs Alpins. Heller also produced a grand 1/35 Super Frelon, one of the first aircraft kits scaled to support the armor culture.


Heller's Yamaha YZF M1 2004 (Valentino Rossi). Kit xxx from 2005
Heller's Yamaha YZF M1 2004 (Valentino Rossi). Kit 80913 from 2005
List of all Heller motorcycles model kits
Kit number Model Release year In production Comment
80902 Yamaha TY 125 in 1/8 197x No -
80908 Honda Road Bike in 1/12 - No -
80910 Honda RC211V "Valentino Rossi" in 1/12 2003 No Includes a figure of Valentino Rossi to ride the bike
80911 Yamaha YZR-M1 in 1/12 2003 No -
80912 Ducati Desmosedici GP3 #65 2003 in 1/12 2003 No -
80913 Yamaha YZF M1 2004 "Valentino Rossi" in 1/12 2005 No Includes a figure of Valentino Rossi to ride the bike
80920 HONDA NSR 500 in 1/24 - No -
80921 Yamaha YZR 500 in 1/24 - No -
80922 Suzuki RGV 500 in 1/24 2002 No -
80923 Honda RC211V in 1/24 2003 No -
80924 HONDA NSR 500 "Team Pons-Loris CAPIROSSI" in 1/24 - No -
80925 YAMAHA YZR 500 "Team Tech3-Olivier Jacque" in 1/24 - No -
80926 Ducati Desmosedici 2003 "Troy Bayliss" in 1/24 - No -
80927 Yamaha YZR-M1 2004 in 1/24 2004 No -
80928 Yamaha YZR-M1 2005 in 1/24 2005 No Rebox with new decals
80983 Honda 750 Four in 1/8 197x No



Junior range[edit]

Composed by the "Cadet" series of kits.

See also[edit]


  • Rampin Paolo, France in Miniature 1900–1980, Edizioni PR, Milano, 2004 .


  1. ^ a b c "Le plasturgiste Viplast a inauguré ses locaux à Trun (Orne), sur le site historique Heller". Retrieved 2020-05-13.
  2. ^ Heller Hobby GmbH on dun & bradstreet website
  3. ^ Credit report
  5. ^ Modelisme: Heller
  6. ^ Jouef compagny history
  7. ^ Historique de la firme Jouef
  8. ^ Leo Jahiel: the founder
  9. ^ Brook, Jeremy: 60 Years of Airfix Models, The Crowood Press UK (February 2, 2016)
  10. ^ Short History of Heller (A Requiem?)
  11. ^ "Heller-Joustra retrouve son lustre d'antan, le Journal de l'Orne, 19/09/2014". Archived from the original on 2016-08-10. Retrieved 2016-05-10.
  12. ^ Maped rachète Heller-Joustra Maped rachète Heller-Joustra, le Figaro, 21/03/2016
  13. ^ Les jouets Heller Joustra tombent dans l’escarcelle de Maped, Le Monde, 21.03.2016
  14. ^ New York Finance Innovation - Heller-Joustra
  15. ^ Heller catalog on Glow 2B website

External links[edit]