The release of the Hot Wheels R30 Skyline is not surprising today, but still astonishing.

So how did this happen?  How did Hot Wheels just release an R30 Skyline?


In worldwide markets for that matter, including the US?  How did a car that was never released in the US, and would probably be misidentified by many as a “sporty Sentra” before a Skyline, just get made by Hot Wheels?  And not just accepted as a viable car to be released worldwide by Mattel, but become the most anticipated car of an entire assortment?

The evolution is honestly extraordinary.  For more than 40 years, Hot Wheels was mainly American cars, sports cars, with fantasy models mixed in.  That is pretty generalized I know, but there wasn’t much in the way of Japanese vehicles, especially classic Japanese cars.  Sure, there was the Z-Whiz, modeled after a 240Z, and a few others here and there, but not much else.

Then Lamley started hyping Japanese cars and Hot Wheels followed suit.  Just kidding.  It was a little more slow and logical than that.

In the previous decade, an R32 Skyline was introduced, then a Silvia, then a 240Z, then an AE86, and finally a Datsun 510.  All were considered massive pegwarmers.  But seeds were planted.  Japanese cars started getting more attention.  Hot Wheels dabbled again with two nostalgic Skylines, two cars that were never sold in the States.  They were noticed, but not purchased in droves.

Then?  Year 1 ADW (After Datsun Wagon)

Jun Imai’s Wagon, released in 2013 in the Boulevard Series, then the following year as a Super TH, set the stage for what folks like to call the JDM era at Hot Wheels.  Demand grew.  Former pegwarmers became must-haves.  Secondary prices skyrocketed.  Hot Wheels kept releasing JDM models, and collectors kept gobbling them up.  Now, in 2018, Hot Wheels is releasing four new Skyline castings and a Laurel, all purely Japanese.  And the buzz for each is greater than any other known release so far in 2018.

And this run starts with the R30, an 80’s era box that might be the most influential Japanese car from that era.  It makes perfect sense as a Hot Wheels model, but it is crazy to see it anyway.


Where do you start?  I remember the first time I saw one of these in person.  It was at JCCS several years ago.  The cars stood out, but I honestly could not tell if I liked it.  My Skyline focus was more in the 70’s, and anything Japanese from the 80’s that demanded my attention had a Honda badge on it.

But the car grew on me.  I spent some time with an Iron Mask R30 here in Utah a little bit after that JCCS, and by the end of that I was in love.  Fast forward to a memorable night almost three years ago exactly in Mesquite, Nevada, where my good friend Jeff Koch introduced me to two fellers from Las Vegas, both of whom owned Skylines, one of which was the exact R30 I saw at JCCS a couple of years before.  They wanted to meet the Lamley guy and I wanted to meet the Skyline owners.  Those fellers?  Jay Kho and Roy de Guzman.  You might be familiar with their cars:

Ever since that goofy night of bad sushi and parking lot trading in Mesquite, we have become great friends.  And with that friendship has come the opportunity to have a first row seat as this happened:


The release of the R30 this year, a near exact – but certainly unofficial – replica of Jay’s car, completes a most unlikely pair of Hot Wheels.  There is Roy’s Hakosuka paired with the same R30 that Jay owns.  It is still a complete trip to see.

I’ve featured Roy’s car before, so let’s focus a little on Jay’s.  Not that I need to.  Japanese Nostalgic Car, Speedhunters, and Petrolicious have already done that:

So I will focus on the replica.  Designed by Ryu Asada, who is also a huge fan of the R30 (he grew up in Japan watching Seibu Keisatsu, which featured several), the Hot Wheels R30 is mostly stock in looks, with a slightly lowered and modern stance, just like Jay’s.  This R30 is supposed to be an exact replica of Jay’s car like the recent Hakosuka is of Roy’s, but it is essentially the same car.

And now that Jay removed his Super Silhouette tribute decals, it is almost exact:

So you can imagine Jay is pretty stoked about this.  I would be if I were him.  (He is.)

And the rest of us non-R30 owners?  Many of us are stoked too.  This is a JDM Golden Age.  An R30 Hot Wheels – along with the R33 and others coming – confirm that.  I hope it lasts a very long time.

23 Replies to “The release of the Hot Wheels R30 Skyline is not surprising today, but still astonishing.”

  1. I love this one. Pure 80’s vibe, cool color, nice deco and wheels, clear plastic headlights. A big 9/10 !
    I’ll wait to find it at a good price. Some guys on eBay think they can sell it ten dollars just because it’s a japanese car hyped on Lamley.

  2. i still prefer tomica premium for this one though cause in my country, the price almost the same for this model now

  3. Why no mirrors? That is my only complaint. Otherwise this (along with the R33) might be the best casting of 2018 so far.

    1. Mattel has a love hate relationship with mirrors. Cars that desperately need them dont and the ones that do seem sometimes awkward.

  4. The question remains why is it astonishing an old car gets released by the worlds formost leader in Diecast manufacture. That question can be said of any brand new nostalgic Hot Wheels release. The Beach Bomb and VW people mover variants has been a staple since its unreleased prototype misfire, why wait to 2017 to release the flatbed? Why wait till now to release the Ford Econoline pick up? Why did it take so long for the L’il Red PickUp to be pegged when that came out of the factory in the 70s looking like a Hot Wheel? Many other exaples exist…
    The Skyline is cool and fairly stock looking which will gain collectors from many camps, is a cool suprise and is highly anticipated, but it is hardly astonishing.

  5. Found my first one of these yesterday, Already DLM’d and my next one will stay carded. Awesome model, the 2018 A and B cases are real strong.

  6. I don’t know if I would call it exactly “the most anticipated car of an entire assortment”. I got 2 for myself, one to open it and one to keep it in the blister, but the reality is that the pegs and dump bins are full of them, untouched. Then, it could be where I’m located, Northwest Arkansas… where there are many hillbillies that only know about trucks and guns… and marrying their 14 year old second cousins, and where in a few years 90% of the population will either have the same last name or related… anyways, I like the casting.. can it be better? I think so.. never the less, its was a good decision by HW to add cars like this one to the mainline, I’m all for it.

    1. It sounds like it may be relative to your location. I’m here in the Pacific Northwest and have not been able to find anything Japanese from the last three cases.

  7. Wow…I hadn’t actually bothered to take a closer look at some decent photos of this model yet, but now that I have I’m stunned. This looks really really good. Nice simple deco, stance is just right, tampo detailing where it should be…and this is one of the times that the tried-and-true 5-spoke wheel looks right at home, especially in gold.

    I think it’s nice that some ’80s cars are getting their time in the spotlight (both in diecast and in the real world). It could be said that that decade was the last one for truly simple, understated but elegant automotive design. Boxy, yes, but in a good way (most of the time). Design just got fussy after that, but I think the restraint in terms of the lines is starting to look very good in today’s world…just look at the 190E as further proof of that. I hope they do more ’80s iron…how about a second-gen Prelude?

    1. Well stated about the “boxy” designs of the ’80s. I suppose it is all in the eye of the beholder, but I personally really loved the “fluid” “organic” looks that followed through the ’90s; Prelude, Supra, RX-7, 180SX, MR-2, 3000GT, SC400, just to name a few. Alas, that theme had run its course by time the industry started moving back into “boxy”. Nowadays we have what I would best describe as the “Transformers” era, where everything looks like an angry robot and there is precious little true beauty.

  8. In my opinion Hot Wheels has to dig deep when It comes to choosing new castings from the ’80s era. Suitable new castings of domestic vehicles get thin fast and Japan and Europe are the logical places to look. Hopefully this will translate into more overseas models and American trucks from this decade hitting the pegs.

  9. So, with all of my respect, you think all of the 80`s cars which deserve some respect have Honda badges on them? I have bad news for you. It`s NISSAN all the way.

    1. He said the ones that had his attention had Honda badges, he didn’t say they were the only ones that deserved respect. Everyone’s entitled to their favorites, homeboy.

  10. Stoked, my girlfriend just grabbed two while shopping at Target- anyone else have a hard time telling their significant other what to look for while shopping? Worked out though! Do you want this, um Nissan… “YES”

  11. I think there are two things to this JDM craze:

    1. Many of us grew up in the 70s and 80s when these cars were common. My first car was an ’74 RX2 and my second was a ’72 Celica GT.

    2. As far as the Japan-only release cars, social media (and access to information in general) has made us aware of all the greatness Japan had (and still has) to offer.

    1. The problem is that it causes people to think that a specific car is better than it really is so they pay high sums then get disappointed as they find out that the AE86 for example doesn’t decimate all when stock.

  12. Mattel saw the potential within JDM releases because it brings younger collectors into the fold, it’s a nice break from hot rod and muscle release because i think Hot Wheels already covered almost all of it.

  13. It allays sucks how I barely find stuff like this when I go shopping for Hotwheels and no way am I paying over NZ $5 for a modern Hotwheels car on the second hand market!

    Sorry about that little rant but where was I, oh yeah that R30 looks sweet i just hope I can find one of these on the pegs so i don’t need to pay stupid prices for it second hand.

  14. Hot Wheels did a great job on this R30 Skyline. I absolutely love the decision to go red on black with gold wheels! It is not a car that is in anyway ingrained in my memory, but it is somewhat familiar as something I had thumbed across in Japanese car magazines in my younger days. I greatly look forward to Hot Wheels doing more of these JDM models (and moving into the ’90s).

  15. Hi!
    I’m here to eat my hat.
    Although I do love me some Hakosuka and Kenmeri Skylines, I’m not a complete brand fanboy, and wasn’t expecting to like this one so much. Then I managed to stumble across two hanging on the pegs at Target, and fell in love. Such great casting/ tampo detail. I had to walk out of the store with both…

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