Ryu Asada, Hot Wheels’ next great designer?

In the last week or so, two of the final models of the 2014 Hot Wheels year were unveiled, to much applause from collectors.  The Porsche 934 and 2015 Mustang both are making pretty big waves:

The response from collectors has been universal: These two models are fantastic.  One is a car that is as current as they come, the other a classic.  One American, one German.  Yet both are amazingly detailed for $1 diecast cars, from their appropriate stances, to side and hood details, to other era-appropriate design queues.

And they both share one other common thread: they were both designed by Ryu Asada.

Ryu has burst on to the Hot Wheels scene, and blue collectors are now learning something that Matchbox collectors have known for awhile.  Ryu is a tremendously talented designer.  He initially came to Mattel to design for Matchbox, and started strong there as well.  He designed a huge number of models from the 2005-2012 era of Matchbox that was defined by realism, both classic and current. Models like the Toyota Land Cruiser, Lamborghini Muira, Caterham Superlight, and last year’s BMW 1M were all Ryu creations.  In fact, Ryu had a hand in almost all of Matchbox’s output during that time.

Then in 2013, Ryu was transferred to the blue side of the Mattel Design Center, and has been making his mark ever since.  Here is just SOME of his output in 2014 alone:

1990 Honda Civic EF

Fiat 500

Rig Storm & Project Speeder

Mastretta MXT

Ryura LX

Other models include the Hi-Tech Missile, Snow Plow, and the C7 Corvette Convertible.  And that is just 2014.
In 2013, we saw Ryu’s work in the C7 Corvette Stingray and Chevy C10:

And even before that, while Ryu was still designing for Matchbox, he churned out these two Honda gems for Hot Wheels, the S2000 and CR-X:

As you start looking at that output, you start noticing trends.  An ability to duplicate cars past and present, with a flare for the cool and interesting.  Ryu’s 1990 Civic for example not only duplicates a car that many of us are familiar with, but more importantly is Hot Wheels’ tribute to Kanjo Racing, a Civic-cominated car scene that originated in Ryu’s hometown of Osaka, Japan.  
You also see very creative non-licensed cars, like the “in-process” Project Speeder.
And yes, this variety of cars does remind one of another Hot Wheels designer, one Jun Imai, who has deservedly gotten his fair share of attention lately.  The comparisons are obvious.  Like Jun, Ryu is as pure a car nut as they come.  While Jun zips around in his Datsun Wagon and 240Z, Ryu is equally as passionate about his S2000 and Subaru SVX.  They both have an appreciation for car cultures of any kind, and they both are encyclopedias of knowledge.  
And while designers don’t make all the decisions on what models are going into each lineup, they definitely can leave their mark.  Jun did so with the 510 Sedan and Wagon, BMW 2002, Hakosuka and Kenmeri Skylines, Toyota 2000GT, and Mad Manga, among many.  Ryu appears to be doing the same with his output so far. 
When we ask readers to vote for their favorite models of 2014 later this year, we are certain the Porsche 934, Civic EF, 2015 Mustang and Fiat 500 will all be at or near the top.  That says a lot for what Ryu is doing.  And the great thing?  He is only getting started.
So Ryu, keep it up.  We can’t wait to see what is next…

13 Replies to “Ryu Asada, Hot Wheels’ next great designer?”

  1. It would be really nice if for once, US products were left by the wayside and more European cars were produced, modern ones, like the FIAT 500, there are other brands you know, BMW and Mercedes are not the only ones, how about some

    Land Rover's
    Range Rover's

    and so on and so on…. just for a change, why cant we have some decent stuff.

  2. Agreed on european cars but you can get majorette and norev for those if mattel doesn't do them. I would love to see the new corvette z06

  3. We used to get Jaguars, Peugeots, Citroens, Audis and Range Rovers.

    I'm guessing licenses have stopped getting renewals. Plus, Matchbox predominantly covers that list.

  4. USED, being to word in your statement, if the blue side can do Honda's, FIAT's and so on, whats wrong with the rest of the above, Matchbox has become a shame lately, they have dumped the LR4 and when we will ever get teh Evoque is anyones guess.

    Majorette have done the Evoque, and Oxofrd Diecast has just completed the entire Jaguar Land Rover catalogue, when was the last time a Pug was done or a renault car, what about up to date Opels/Vauxhall's.

    The licensing excuse is wearing very very thin, if many other manufacturers can produce these cars, then whats wrong with Mattel, or is that they are just too greedy.

    You say that Matchbox covers that list, umm, NO, there is NO modern Jag, NO moder Land Rover (the defender is from a decade or so ago), NO modern RR, the Sprt is from the orginal prototype, not the latest version like Others are doing, ONE Renault Van, what about the cars, same for Citroen or new DS brand, nothing there, One Bentley thats as old as the real car, which has had three updates since the model was launched, AUDI, where are they, NO Skoda's, One Alfa, where are the Street cars.

    But if you want a Chevy, Ford Dodge and so on, you can have boxes of them, by limiting the brand so much, they have alienated so many buyers, from kids to collectors.

    it is so frustrating, I have just been going through my catalogue of models, and to see things like Renault 5, Renault 11, Rolls Royces, Fiats, Euro Fords, Vauxhalls and more, you can clearly see that my collecting has gone from many hundreds a year down to a few dozen, and very few of those are Matchbox or HW.

    And that is a real shame.

  5. indeed, and thats where all my money has been going, just took collection of a load of Peugeots in branded boxes, they really look the dogs doodahs

  6. I like the older models, the newer stuff doesn't compare IMHO. that C10 is gravy. how about an older C10, back to the 50's style

  7. Ryu Asada? He is one of my favorite Hot Wheels/Matchbox designer. Hot Wheels stuff that he made: 2014 'Vette Convertible/Coupe, '15 Mustang, Porsche 934, Fiat 500, Mastretta, those stuff are my tops on Hot Wheels. Matchbox: Beamer 1M only.

  8. Too bad that Majorette has a really bad distribution, because they are even hard to find here in Spain, but if you're into city and european cars, they are the company to go to. They make some supercars, like lamborghini gallardo and reventón or audi R8, and i have to say they are waaaaaaaaaay better detailed than anything by Hot wheels. Comparable to Matchbox. But Matchbox doesn't make that many cool cars anymore, and are not sold in Spain. If Hot Wheels stops making Ferraris, i only pray Majorettes makes them, because they are making awesome cars.

  9. Welly is another company worth taking a look at. I have become a fan. They are really hard to get in stores ( although i have found a handful) they have some cool Jaguars, i bought a couple of them and are beautiful, well made, well proportioned. Their Aston Martin V12 Vantage is incredible. Their Aventador in my opinion is the best one in the 1 $ range diecast. I could go on and on about welly. They make Audis too. RMZ City is another brand that is even better, yet they are cheaper here in Spain. they come with jewel headlights, full tampo tailights and logos and rubber wheels…they too make Mercedes, Porsche, Corvette, Camaro, Audi, BMW, Lamborghini, and their castings are flawless…i too think the licencing excuse is wearing thin…

  10. I am too a Honda fan. I am dying to get a stock Honda NSX from the 90's from HW. But i have had to get models from Majorette and Tomica…

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