The brilliant ’69 Nissan Skyline Van is like nothing Hot Wheels has ever done.


I’m obsessed with Hot Wheels Car Culture.

Truly obsessed.  I have claimed it is the best thing Hot Wheels has ever done, and as it evolves year-to-year, mix-to-mix, that opinion only gets stronger.  From Japan Historics in 2016 through Cargo Carriers in 2018 (with much more to come), Hot Wheels has never been better.

But that isn’t the only reason I am obsessed with Car Culture.  HW Car Culture is evolving.  The first Japan Historics was an amazing set, with its mix of JDM favorites done in several racing styles (with a police car mixed in), sitting on the new 4-spoke Real Riders.  It was a great way to introduce Car Culture.

But as each mix has been released since, the line has matured.  The mix themes get more and more interesting, as does Julian Koiles’ art, and subsequently the new models that debut in the line.  That is illustrated perfectly in Japan Historics 2.  It is a far more realized – and sophisticated – mix than Japan Historics 1.

The obvious difference between the two mixes is that Hot Wheels added more premium features to the line in 2018, resulting in yes, a higher price point, but also better executed models.  Better paint, more details, and more freedom to develop new castings.  But things go much further than that.  Japan Historics 2 is more Japanese.  From the colors and wheels used, to the absence of any blatant racing graphics, the JH2 models fit together as a group, and reflect a true Japanese car meet.  Look no further than the two new models in the mix, the Nissan Laurel and C210 Skyline.  Both cars would be common sights in Japan, but relatively unknown elsewhere, especially in the US.  Yet we have evolved to a point that these two models can anchor this mix, and sell out everywhere.


Which leads me to the ’69 Nissan Skyline Van.  Since I received my preview set of Cargo Carriers last week – and promptly filmed the preview video so I could open it (coming soon) – I have not been able to take my eyes off of the Skyline.  I’m not kidding.  Yeah, it’s just a toy car, and I consider myself a fairly reasonable person with well-rounded taste.  But I cannot stop ogling over this model.  I’m sitting in my living room right this second, typing on my laptop, and the Skyline Van is sitting next to me and my peppermint tea.  I’ve picked it up several times just to look at it.

I knew I would love the Hakosuka Wagon as soon as it was announced.  That isn’t a surprise.  Couple my love for wagons with my love for Japanese cars, and it goes without saying that this model would be an instant fave.


What I didn’t expect was how much more I would like it than I anticipated.  I already thought it could take the “John’s favorite” crown, and in hand it surely has.  But my goodness, this model is truly NEXT LEVEL.  The execution picks up where the Laurel and C210 left off.  These three look like nothing Hot Wheels has done.  Ever.

Let me show you what I mean.  Let’s start with this comparison:


I have always loved the 510 Wagon.  It was a wonderfully out-of-right-field choice when it debuted in 2013, and it has been a Hot Wheels superstar ever since, rivaling the ’67 Camaro and other collector favorites in popularity the last few years.

But darned if the new Hako Wagon makes the 510 look like an oversized blob.  I still love the 510, but I am doing it no favors putting it next to the Skyline.  The lines on the Skyline are more crisp, the proportions more realistic, and the style more pronounced.


The small Real Riders make a huge difference, instantly creating better proportions.  Beyond that, though, look at the lines and details in the front grill, window pillars, and rear tail gate, not to mention the crisp surf line and tight wheel wells.

In fact, the execution of the Hako Wagon reminds me of, well, this:


Yeah, that is the Toyota Crown Wagon by Tomica Limited Vintage.  And yes, I am comparing the two.  TLV will still use more pieces, but in terms of crisp details, the HW Hako is pretty darn close.  TLV will always do stock, but if they wanted to do a modified C10 Wagon, it would look like the Hot Wheels.

And I haven’t even talked about the paint.  Metallic light green, understated for sure, but gorgeous.  And no over-the-top graphics.  The model gets to speak for itself.


And speak it does.  This is Hot Wheels at its best.  I think it’s the best model Hot Wheels has ever done, and maybe the best indicator of where Hot Wheels can go.  I will pay $6 all day for a model like this.  That is truly a bargain.

So this is where we are.  Directly following a successful Hot Wheels mix anchored by a Laurel and C210 Skyline, we get one featuring an obscure Japanese wagon and a modified Minivan, neither sporting any racing graphics.  That is quite a change.

I’ll get to my preview of Cargo Carriers soon, but this model needed its own feature.  It better, since it now carries the crown of my Favorite Hot Wheels Casting.


26 Replies to “The brilliant ’69 Nissan Skyline Van is like nothing Hot Wheels has ever done.”

  1. Damn… This thing is really spot on and truly gorgeous. I do agree that this is probably the best casting ever made by Hot Wheels in terms of proportion. The wheels sizes look so right on this casting. By putting it side by side with the tomica vintage wagon, you will also see that the proportion and the scale of the casting is on point—- neither too big nor too small. Front, side and rear tempos are of course great stuff to be seen. And oh boy, the paint is so good —- so crispy that you can see the details of the casting well.

    I feel like some people are going to say something like “lamley hype again” but come on, the Hot Wheels Design Team has done a really good job here.

  2. Sipping peppermint tea seems perfectly appropriate while reviewing this one, given the color. This is one the very best they’ve ever done–and an example of how ALL Hot Wheels limited series vehicles should be done.

  3. Other than dating HW cars of the not-so-distant past, it’s nice to see they’re evolving as the diecast world around them does. Time for an updated 510 wagon though!

  4. Car Culture has been great since the very beginning, but I think they’ve really perfected the formula in the last couple of mixes, and I think this wagon is the sign that they’ve truly arrived at something very special. If I’m not able to find this in stores, it may be the rare occasion where I ditch my “no ordering online” policy. I don’t think I can go without this model.

    On a related note, I was able to complete a set of JH2 by finding them by chance in stores. The other night I swung by my local (non-24 hour) Walmart right around closing time…and let the following be an example to others: I spotted a case of Car Culture that they hadn’t pegged yet, so I took the liberty of cracking it open myself. I took 3 cars (as I had already picked up the RX-3 and Laurel elsewhere) and LEFT THE REST BEHIND. I only needed the 510, the Skyline and the Fairlady, so I only took them, one of each. I’m not making myself out to be some kind of saint or anything, but if everyone would operate this way, it would be a much nicer collecting world out there. I know I’d have been pleased if I were the next person to find the batch.

  5. There’s no question the new ’69 Skyline Van is a beautiful casting and much more accurate than most others as it essentially stock. Most of the other cars Hot Wheels has done have the Hot Wheels “flavor” with over-sized spoliers, flares, and rims/tires. The Skyline Van – while sturdy- looks much more delicate than a normal Hot Wheels. I still feel the 510 wagon is brilliant in it’s simplicity of design and it lends itself well to the normal HW treatment.

  6. “Hot Wheels better than ever”…..NO. I don’t know if you were around the hobby when the Legends line morphed into the Cool Collectibles/100% line, but that is when Hot Wheels were Best Ever. I’d also say that the line isn’t getting better and better w/ each release of the release of the Cargo Carriers release as there are some peg warmers in this group. The Honda Odyssey will be hanging around for a while before it sells thru, not sure what people would see in that. The only thing saving the Ford Transit is the Gulf livery, because a Star Wars bounty hunter cannot. The two VWs will only sell quickly because of what they are, and the Sunagon isn’t much. I like the Nissan, it looks cool aside from the 4-spoke wheels…I’d rather see watanabe wheels.

      1. The Honda Odyssey is the first, if not only, one I’ll be after. Maybe I’ll grab the Ford Transit if I see it.

    1. I guess quite a lot will pick up that Odyssey. After all, it is roughly based on Bisimoto’s own 1000 hp Odyssey in real life which is very dope. Of course, the Hot Wheels one does not look exactly the same but is close enough.

      The Ford Transit is an underrated casting. I hope it will get more attention this time.

  7. The only sort of model I wouldn’t mind paying $6 for. Yes, this one is definitely worth that price. But the other models in the set? Not even slightly. That’s the problem I have with CC (Mattel, indirectly) because the sets have got more expensive but only one or two models are actually worth it. Still, at least we get to enjoy this beauty of a casting!

    1. You make an interesting point. I know there are some that feel that $5.49 for these (a 36% increase) merits no raised eyebrows, and certainly for this model it may not. But for others to come…I’m not sure they’ll receive the same graces. I saw plenty of pegwarmers in the Race Day, Modern Classics, and Redliners set….at the lower price point. It’s simple human nature that some designs and shapes and colors are liked more than others. So what happens when that issue is now compounded by such a huge price increase, percentage-wise? We’ve already discussed the distribution issues with CC, and if this creates more pegwarmers, we already know that some stores won’t carry new stock until the old moves out…and I wonder what the outcome of all this will be. I was really interested in picking up that Sunagon, but will not for $6. This pricing experiment may come back to hit HW/Mattel in a negative way. I know my own perception toward the Hot Wheels brand took a more negative turn at the fun pricing surprise with JR2, but it wasn’t necessarily about the money. It was the promise – we were told $4 and change. More of a principle thing, I suppose.

      That being said I’m having more fun these days looking for mainlines.

  8. It’s nice, and I want one. But, “the best thing Hot Wheels has ever done”? Disagree. There was a time when mainline Hot Wheels where all metal. They had spectraflame paint, redline tires, and often a working feature. They came in packaging of the same design language as the contents. They rolled faster than the competition, and they are now considered iconic. They always will be the most iconic and the most important of the entire lineage. That would be the original toys from 1968-1972, truly the best thing Hot Wheels has ever done.

    1. I see today’s Hot Wheels cars–as nice as they are–as if they are almost a totally different brand of diecast, just as today’s rock sounds nothing like Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Hendrix, etc.. Each era has their own sound just as HW cars mirror with what’s happening in the real car world.

      The first Hot Wheels cars forever changed the way toy cars were designed, produced, and marketed. No other diecast company has come close to duplicating the style and go-fast-custom-hot-rod image. Hot Wheels are as synonymous with toy cars as Coke is to soft drinks.

      1. Have a listen to the band Greta Van Fleet if you wanna hear new rock that references and builds upon the great bands you mention.

        They are selling tickets and records like crazy.

        Tickets to their concerts are harder to find than it is to find JH2 cars hanging on the pegs!


  9. Too bad I’ll never see one in person. I can’t believe how detailed/crisp that grille looks. Looks like a greenlight or tlv piece with separate headlights and everything.

  10. Is it even available on eBay even though I realize or agree that purchasing it on eBay would be more costly as opposed to purchasing it at a retailer.

  11. i am disappointed with the evolution of a 2 dollar price increase ..for what ? just because guys are liking this series?…greedy…

  12. This Skyline is great, awesome.
    The Car Culture series are mediocre. We have seen many great series by HW before: Boulevard, Garage, 100% and Vintage Racing

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