The Influence of Hot Wheels Designer Jun Imai, Part 1: JDM

Party pooper!

A bombshell dropped right in the middle of Hot Wheels’ 50th Birthday Party last Friday: Designer Jun Imai announced he was leaving Mattel.

While the brand will JUST FINE moving forward, there is no denying the influence Jun has had on where Hot Wheels is today.  It definitely merits a look.  So, right after finishing my 50 Favorite video, I am back at it on another retrospective.

Part 1 looks at what Jun is most widely known for, his JDM castings.  I picked out a few that reflect his influence (minus the fantastic Mad Manga, because I could not find mine on short notice).  Part 2 looks at his equally great American and European castings.


12 Replies to “The Influence of Hot Wheels Designer Jun Imai, Part 1: JDM”

  1. Wow Jun imai created lots of awesome hotwheels car’s and trucks.👍 I have a lot of those in my collection.👍 I will definitely miss Jun imai and his hotwheels designs.

  2. It’s designers such as Jun Imai that have kept me interested in the newer, realistic castings. I don’t now long his tenure was at Mattel, but he has definitely made an impact.

  3. Are you kidding me? Jun by FAR was the best hot wheels designer in the last 20 years. His strong influence in the JDM castings brought them to the collectors attention and created a whole new love for diecast collectors. He’s going to be very sorely missed. I hope to more of his ideas somewhere else.

  4. His influence helped bring Japanese car consciousness into a hobby dominated by American iron and bizarre customs, like the impact “imported cars” had on the rest of the auto industry.

    1. Mattel wants him for barbie and Ken. Or told to work matchbox side, work with plastic and 2 side design. Nooo! I quit..!..the 510s and datsuns from hotwheels are my favourites. I keep an eye out in the uk. They are hard to come by.

  5. lets get this straight, it’s “ha-ko-su-ka”, not “hakoos-ka”… dammit gaijins and your shakeera instead of “sa-ku-ra”. lol

  6. Is he butting heads with the big honchos? Or, office’s politics gone awry? Or moving to another toymaker with more $? Or leaving the industry? What is the reason for such a heartbreaking news? #Enewsgossipmode

  7. The Datsun 510 was never a peg warmer in Southern California! Trust me, they where not easy to find.

  8. It can absolutely be overstated how much of a pegwarmer the Datsun 510 was. The original blue FE was one of the hardest to find mainlines ever for me (I almost had to buy one online back in the day, which I’ve never had to do for any mainline since) and the BRE was snapped up immediately! I searched super hard for the BRE, and never found one. The only 510 that could be considered a pegwarmer around here were the ugly nightburnez yellow ones.

    The West Coast knew Datsuns were cool before the rest of the country did I guess..

    1. I remember back in 1980 here in So-Cal imports were becoming quite popular and the 510 more than others. I had to trade some AMCs to a guy in Alabama for some 510 BREs when they first came out

  9. Best wishes Jun on your next venture. Since I am an Internet Sufer looking at various DIECAST SITES I am sure if you stay in the Diecast Market I will run across you one day. Again “”GOOD LOOK””.

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