We speak in “eras”. The consensus among most collectors is that we are in the JDM Era. That is probably accurate. Japanese cars are crazy popular among collectors, and we are seeing several new castings each year. “Era” implies an eventual end, and I don’t think Hot Wheels Japanese cars are going anywhere. It might be more about making up for lost time. Replicas of the most popular Japanese cars keep coming, filling in gaps that have been always been there.
It might be more accurate to say we just saw the Jun Imai Era come to a close. Jun’s castings were very popular, and he gets a heavy amount of credit for introducing the Hot Wheels world to classic j-tin. The only problem with that is that Jun was one of many talented designers who have dominated the last years. Maybe it can be argued that we are in the Gasser Era, spearheaded by Brendon Vetuskey’s ’55.
I’ll submit another one. Maybe we can call this the J-Liu Era. It might seem weird to name an era after a marketing guy, but Jimmy Liu has played a key role in taking Hot Wheels Premium lines to the next level. Think Car Culture, Team Transport, RLC (the models, not the site), Entertainment (those super cool Forza and Gran Turismo cars), and some upcoming lines that will surely cause a frenzy. He has even had a hand in designing some collector-aimed models like the soon-to-be-released S15 Silvia and S14a “Kouki”. Jimmy’s job is toys, but he keeps his ear locked on the collector and car vibes, and acts accordingly. He has taken a few risks to get collectors what they want, and they have mostly paid off. He’s quite the collector advocate.
Of course that leads to another candidate. Maybe we are in the Car Culture Era. No premium line has been as well-received as Car Culture. So that might lead to us digging deeper and calling this the Mark Jones Era, after all he has done most of the new castings for Car Culture. No, we need to call this the Steve Vandervate Era. You like a deco on a Car Culture model? Or RLC Model? Or Convention Model? Most likely Steve created it. That leads to Julian Koiles, whose packaging art is one of the joys of Car Culture.
We are in the Post-Jun Imai JDM Gasser Car Culture VanJonesKoiles J-Liu Era. Glad I cleared that up.
Or, let’s just call this the Cool Wagon Era. Maybe not the defining element of today’s Hot Wheels experience, but man, we love our wagons.
Wagons have been on my mind. But then again, wagons are always on my mind. The new Audi RS 6 Avant, with its corresponding Super, has been a total treat. You get a better sense of how nice it is with the basic version, but the Super TH adds a different element, with the Aero Real Riders providing a nice nod to its European origins.
And that follows the amazing ’69 Skyline Van, which has made a stellar debut with two versions in only a few months. Two completely different, but equally great takes. The first in a very Japanese aqua green from Cargo Carriers, and the second in Advan deco from Team Transport. No one will ever confuse the Skyline Wagon with a race car, but hell if it doesn’t look spectacular in Advan deco. Thankfully no racing decals to push it too far into non-realism.
That is quite a pair.
Of course these debuts only fuel the Hot Wheels juggernaut that is the 510 Wagon. I have probably spent more blog space on the 510 Boulevard debut than any other one model, and I don’t know if that will ever change. It fits in nicely with these two debuts as well. Somewhat green Boulevard to pair with the Cargo Carriers Skyline. Spectraflame red Super to pair with the Audi Super. And Advan deco (albeit a much inferior take) to pair with the Team Transport Skyline.
And this is only a slice. I am working on a much better Hot Wheels Wagon feature, because there are plenty to add. Many that have been overlooked, especially when it comes to American beauties.
But what is it about the Wagons? Why are they so popular? Maybe because some of us grew up with them? Two wood-paneled behemoths called my garage home during my formative years, and that is one of the reasons I love wagons. But many of you younger folks spent your early days in minivans, and I don’t see them flying off the pegs.
Maybe because wagons are a novelty these days? Especially here in the US, we don’t see that many. Sport wagons like the Audi are more of a thing in Europe, but the US is now the home of minivans and crossovers. It is a bummer, but it is reality.
Or maybe the wagon silhouette is how the auto gods meant cars to look. Wagons, at least to me, are more pleasing to the eye. More balanced. Maybe our subconscious makes us gravitate to the wagons. Then again, that would mean we would buy more real ones.
Alright, maybe it is just #lamleyhype. That seems to be an easy explanation. Maybe this is just the Lamley Hype Era. It has a nice ring to it.