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.