The 10 Most Significant Models of the Lamley Era: Hot Wheels Boulevard ’71 Datsun 510 Wagon


No model is more closely associated with Lamley, at least for you long term readers. The Boulevard Datsun 510 Wagon is easily THE Most Significant Model of the Lamley Era. Seriously, it seems like I built the whole blog on it. I don’t even know where to start when it comes to explaining why.

Actually, start here. Don’t read on until you read this feature, which I wrote in 2015. I could seriously just copy and paste this piece and be done with it:

I still consider that one of the best features I ever wrote, and it explains the fascinating story of how the 510 Wagon became what it is, and why it is such a big player in our hobby.

And that isn’t even mentioning the far greater significance it has to former Hot Wheels and current Kaido House Designer Jun Imai. I mean, it’s his freaking wagon! And its life continues with Jun as the real 510 Wagon keeps evolving and Jun has followed with his new 1/64 Kaido House Wagon ready for imminent release.

But through a bit of chance and fortunate timing, the Wagon will always be a significant model to me and Lamley. And I think the article linked above explains it better than I can now.

But it goes without saying that things have grown even from there. This is no longer the “JDM Hype” Era. JDM is just part of the hobby now. Anyone clinging to the idea that this is some sort of diecast phase can let it go. A new Japanese car will no longer surprise like it did in 2013. It will just be appreciated and accepted. And that is awesome. It is still fun to think how the AE86, 510, and Skylines have evolved to Laurels, Starlets, Sunnys, Cosmos, and Silvias. And when you think about it, the JDM Era didn’t shift into any other specific era. Maybe we argue – as I have in the past – that we are now in the Euro Era, but that doesn’t sound accurate. Maybe the 90’s Era? Nope. I would suggest the “Car Culture Era” to borrow from Hot Wheels’ successful premium line. Diecast brands are drawing from everywhere and every era.

And honestly, I think – at least at Hot Wheels – much of that can be traced back to this Wagon. JDM cars sure. But if collectors can go head over heels for a Datsun Wagon, they can go head over heels for anything. And they do.

And I’ve just been along for the ride, writing and filming about all these amazing models that have come from all kinds of brands. I will keep doing Lamley as long as I feel the same excitement and intrigue for something new as I did for Jun’s wagon when I first saw it at JCCS in 2012, and when Wheel Collectors sent me the first set in January 2013. And when I found them scattered about messy TJ Maxx stores in October 2013. And ever since.

I think if you asked Matt and Matt at Wheel Collectors, they would also tell you that their store grew on the Datsun Wagon. As long as big box stores weren’t ordering Boulevard, Wheel Collectors was. We talked all the time, saw the emerging hype, and they capitalized. As they should have. We saw the collector demand rumbling, and since the Wagon never got a full store release, hobby was the way to go. That was a fun time, watching it all play out.

(Tangent: Since I am here at 10 years, I really need to mention how much I appreciate my Lamley Partners. I’ve gained some great partners that support me, and I support them. These hobby dealers, whether Lamley Partners or not, are vital to our hobby, and deserve our support. Things have gotten wacky lately due to Covid aftermaths, but these small businesses tap into what we love and make it easier to collect.

And moving into the next decade of Lamley, I hope to continue with Jcar Diecast, Surplus Goodies, Village Diecast, Modelmatic, A&J Toys, MOYshop, and Sterling Protectors. I have long-term relationships with all, and I see more cool things coming.

But I do have to give a special shout in this context to my OG partners, Japan Booster and Wheel Collectors. I mentioned Japan Booster in my TLV feature, and I need to mention Wheel Collectors here. We partnered soon after I started the blog. I might have been buying my own hype at the time, with my 14 readers, but I had a vision for the blog, and approached Wheel Collectors about helping me make sure I had the models I wanted to feature if I couldn’t find them in my local market. Matt and Matt might have even seen my vision better than I did. We quickly partnered up and have been a team ever since. It’s been one of the joys of doing Lamley. We are good friends. We’ve seen up and down swings in our hobby. We’ve endured some criticism, some warranted and some not. But it’s been a blast nonetheless. Here is hoping to 10 more years.)

Back to the Wagon. I’ve focused a lot on its origins. It’s importance. That significance has only grown. The Super Treasure Hunt in 2014 remains the most sought-after Super ever, as does the first Convention model. Surprisingly the model has never seen the RLC, and I don’t think it ever will.

Which leads me to this. It’s time to put it to bed. Not destroy the tool or anything. Keep new versions coming. What I mean is the Wagon has taken its place as one of the most iconic Hot Wheels castings ever. Joining the ’67 Camaro, VW Drag Bus, and a slew of others. In the modern era I would argue the ’55 Bel Air Gasser, 510 Sedan (which owes a lot to the Wagon), and maybe the Bone Shaker are in the same conversation. But that’s it. It’s lived a good life.

But the Wagon has also been passed by. It’s entering its nostalgic phase. It’s time to pass the torch. Hot Wheels castings have taken an insane turn, and what the Wagon bred is now passing right by it. Jun in a way did it himself with the Skyline Wagon he designed for Hot Wheels just before leaving the brand. It’s almost impossible to compare the two. The Skyline and its detail and crispness made the 510 look like one of those Matchbox Regular Wheels models from the early 60’s.

And the Design Team is moving forward too, surely taking the permission that the 510 Wagon afforded them and dropping insanity like Dima’s upcoming Maxima Drift Wagon.

Both are amazing. And both make the 510 Wagon look a little old and tired.

I’ll always love the 510 Wagon, and I will add every release to my collection. But more as an appreciation. We are in a true Golden Age as Hot Wheels and diecast collectors, and as Lamley moves into its next decade of covering all this good stuff, I’ll look forward with a true appreciation for the models that brought us here. None more so than this olive green Wagon.

Thanks everyone for reading. Writing these 10 articles has been a total pleasure. Cheers.

2 Replies to “The 10 Most Significant Models of the Lamley Era: Hot Wheels Boulevard ’71 Datsun 510 Wagon”

  1. As a reader since Lamley’s conception, it was a pleasure delving into these 10 articles and looking back on the blog’s first decade. While you can debate which models are the best until the cows come home, you can’t deny the stories behind these little cars, and how those stories and the ways in which they’re told build this hobby into what it is and what it deserves to be. These past 10 days leading up to advent, as it were, have been a humbling reminder of how much more diecast collecting is than just acquiring as many models as you possibly can. In the grand scheme of things, life’s not about material possessions, after all. It’s about stories and relationships. It’s about good times and memories. That being the case, I think those are the most valuable takeaways from this hobby, and probably everything we do.

    I’ve often wondered what it is I like about John’s articles and videos so much. What is it that keeps me coming back to the blog? Why do I get so excited to watch the newest video? I think the answer is the stories. I love how nearly every article and video has a story behind it, and how John just loves telling it. It’s not just, “here’s a model.” It’s, “here’s a model, and here’s why it’s significant to the hobby, or my collection, or here’s the history of this model, etc.” Often times I already know the story or the history, but I tune in for the presentation style and the true enthusiasm, which is so contagious. So thanks for all you do, John. Your content creation and dedication to die-cast journalism continues to be top-notch. You’ve also bridged the seemingly enigmatic and intangible divide between collectors and those working in the industry, which is something I never thought possible 10 years ago. I hope you’ll keep doing what you do for as long as is reasonable for you.

    And as a note on the Datsun 510 Wagon, the Boulevard version is still my favourite after all these years and various releases. You can dress it up in funky colours and fun graphics, but there’s just something so charming about the plain one with just lights and badging details, and the fact that it was a replica of Jun Imai’s own car at the time. And like you said, the story behind this release is legend.

  2. The 510 Wagon is the only one of that wave of Boulevard that I never saw in stores in Ottawa. At least I have the first premium Hakosuka Skyline from Hot Wheels although I wish I had bought multiples of it when I had the chance.

    2013 Boulevard mix 1 was also the final wave of the original Hot Wheels Boulevard series that I saw in stores anywhere. I really wish I had seen mix 4 in particular for the two Corvettes, the Jeep Wagoneer, the ’85 Bronco 4×4, and, of course, the Porsche 993 GT2.

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