It has been a rough week for so many following the passing of Hot Wheels Designer Ryu Asada. The outpouring of tributes from so many corners of the collector, auto and design worlds is a testament to the impact Ryu had on so many.
Those that knew him speak of his addictive positivity, even the last four years as he battled cancer. Collectors speak of the tremendous influence he had on the collecting world. Gearheads speak of his encyclopedic knowledge and passion for all things auto. And designers speak of his innovative brilliance, being able to create techniques that made $1 models look incredibly realistic.
I was lucky to know Ryu, having met him over a decade ago at the Matchbox Gathering Convention in Albuquerque, and building a friendship over the years as he moved to Hot Wheels and I started Lamley. He was always willing to chat up his designs, and give me a few tidbits on them for the blog and channel. Most special to me, we bonded over the way Hondas played a unique role in our upbringings.
The thing, though, is that my relationship with Ryu wasn’t unique. To know Ryu was to be friends with Ryu. Over the last few days I have talked with many who were closest to him, like his Mattel colleagues, as well as collectors on the other side of the world who randomly messaged him on Instagram to ask him a question and then fall into a long online chat with him about all kinds of topics. They all speak of him in the same way. Ryu connected with everyone he met. That is why this loss is the gut punch it is for so many of us. It goes way beyond his brilliant designs.
Among all the tributes, including this fantastic look back at Ryu’s life by Japanese Nostalgic Car, I wanted to post something here. I shared a lot of my thoughts on my YouTube Channel in a special look at Ryu’s diecast legacy with both Matchbox and Hot Wheels, which is posted below. But I also wanted to compile many of the articles and video features I have done over the years with him.
Whether it be a few paragraphs he sent over to me about a new model, or a preview he did with my at the Hot Wheels Convention, I have tried to link them all here. Read them, watch them, and hopefully enjoy them. Watching Ryu talk about his thought process gives you a small glimpse into his passion and brilliance, and he can serve as a good teacher for how the design process works.
I will miss Ryu immensely, and I share that feeling with so many. He went way too soon, but he packed an amazing amount into his 42 short years that will live on for years and years to come. RIP Ryu.