Isaac Heller, Man Behind Whirlybird Helicopter, Dies Aged 88

Jewish-American toymaker and former navy technician that built Remco brought electronics knowledge to make 'toys that could zoom, soar or otherwise move.'

Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
A Remco toy truckCredit: Cstevencampbell

Isaac Heller, who with a cousin built Remco Industries into one of the most prominent U.S. toymakers of the post-World-War-II era, died Saturday at age 88.

The New York Times reported that Heller, a former Navy electronics technician, bought up surplus military goods and transformed them "into toys that could zoom, soar or otherwise move. (The name Remco stood for 'remote control.')"

The toys included the Whirlybird helicopter, the Barracuda atomic submarine, the Dick Tracy wrist radio, and Mighty Mike motorized trucks.

"Every boy wants a Remco toy" was the company slogan. When it began to produce dolls, it appended "and so do girls," the Times reported.

The company also produced licensed products, including figures of the Beatles and the Star Trek cast.

Isaac Heller was born July 23, 1926, in Ellenville, N.Y., about 90 minutes northwest of Manhattan at the foot of the Catskill mountains, where his family owned a farm, the Times reported.

His parents were Morris Heller and the former Yetta Shapiro, Russian Jewish immigrants. He studied electrical engineering in high school and joined the Navy.

In New Jersey he and a cousin, Saul Robbins, founded Remco in 1949. The company filed for bankruptcy in 1971 and closed in 1974.

The Remco brand is currently owned by Jakks Pacific, the Malibu, Calif., toy company. Robbins died in 2010, the Times reported.