For 2020, the Japan Historics series returns to Hot Wheels’ premium line with three all-new castings and metal-base versions of two popular models. The beautiful five-car series continues to fill in the gaps of Japan’s automotive history with a distinctively Hot Wheels twist, and if these prototypes are any indication, they will be flying off the pegs.
First up is the Mazda Cosmo Sport, a car that has eluded the Hot Wheels lineup for far too long. In real life, the 1967 original was the first dual-rotor sports car ever built. It was also Mazda’s first rotary car, one that kicked off a long line of piston-less vehicles from R100s to the twin-turbo RX-7s.
As it happens, this casting is of the oft overlooked L10B, the long-wheelbase and facelifted version of the Cosmo Sport. When asked why it was de-bumpered, designer Mark Jones told us, “I like the car better without bumpers, and we were inspired by the Marathon de la Route race cars,”
which ran a grueling 84-hour test of endurance at the Nürburgring in 1968.
As for the model, the details are superb, especially the full window trim, headlight bezels, fender vents, and lights. Clever engineering has replicated the proper curvature of the body by utilizing the base to take the details and rockers. Doing a full one-piece body would not have been possible because of the thickness of the zamac material that Hot Wheels are cast in. It would have also prevented the insertion of the interior piece without narrowing it considerably.
Further clever details exist where the base separates from the body. This may facilitate bumpers in the future, if needed. As for an alternative model we’d like to see, black steelies instead of chrome and the Marathon de la Route graphics would make a very cool model if Hot Wheels has plans for a Mazda or racing set (hint, hint).
The second all-new casting is the original Nissan Silvia. While the name might conjure visions of drifting S13s and S14s, it was the 1965 original that started the lineage. Based on the Datsun Fairlady Roadster chassis and powertrain, the hand-built body based on Kazuo Kimura’s beautiful exterior design was Nissan dipping a toe in the personal coupe market.
Only 554 were built. Finished in its most recognizable color, metallic gold-green with tan interior, it is rendered in stock form. Again, the details are exquisite, especially the emblems and full window trim detailing (this is true for all the cars in this series). The Japanese take pride in their ornate detailing of badging and trim, and these are faithfully reproduced here.
One much-appreciated detail for the Silvia is its wipers. Thankfully, they are parked in their correct orientation for this particular car. Unfortunately, many models miss this little point, especially when doing RHD versions of cars.
The turbine vector-style wheels work well with this model, and the use of thin whitewalls is a important stock signature look of this car. It has the proper stance as well; the little detail of the rear tire tucking in under the fender is spot-on to the design characteristic of this car.
The final all-new casting is that of the second-generation Datsun Sunny Truck. The B120 truck was immensely popular in Japan, having been sold domestically from February 1971 to March 1994. In fact, even after it was discontinued in Japan it was still built in South Africa until 2008.
It is quite an impressive model, and a testament to Hot Wheels veteran Mark Jones’s talents. It shows his versatility in a tremendous range of automotive cultures when he can design the quintessential modified Sanitora with all the proper details and a fantastic stance to boot (not even all the 1:1 scale Sanitora here can accomplish that).
Hot Wheels’ designers often mold little easter eggs into the cargo areas, and the Sunny Truck is no exception. This time, Mark put something personal in the bed. “I have be known to go plein air painting on occasion, and so thought I’d add the easel, turpentine or water can and a roll of brushes.”
In addition, as a boon for customizers, the easter egg cleverly adds more thickness to rear rivet area. This will help those who drill and tap their modified minicars for screws. On other pickup trucks like the Mazda REPU this is almost impossible because of the shallowness of this area. On the Datsun 620 it is barely possible.
The windshield weatherstrip and rear B-pillar vent is also a strong detail point on the real car. Although this is a workhorse, in Japan you see more examples that have been modified and well-preserved than those in their utilitarian dress. In fact, even in utilitarian dress it will be modded too!
Next, the DR30 Skyline makes its first appearance as a premium model. Introduced in 1981, the sixth-generation of the legendary Skyline pulled the Skyline lineage out of the post-OPEC embargo era and into the modern age. With the return of the multi-valve DOHC engine, albeit in a turbocharged four-cylinder layout. Sporty handling, tremendous tuning possibilities, and sleek lines made it a customizer’s favorite, and of course it had a starring role in Seibu Keisatsu.
Designed by Ryu Asada, the Hot Wheels is an existing car found in the basics line, but which now wears a new metal base. The details on this debut premium iteration are perfect. The model benefits from very crisp detailing, as it has many touches that are translated via color breaks and angular lines. It’s incredibly impressive, as the clean lines and two-tone are an integral part of its design character.
Believe me, this is a hard car to paint and detail in plastic scale model form (with the two-tone AE86 vying for difficulty). The sharp window trim and two-tone really set this model apart. The gold 8-spokes chosen for this model remind us of a certain friend of ours.
The Honda City Turbo an icon of 1980s Japan. Nimble and quick, it was indeed the perfect car for urban environments, and it spawned infinite tuning options. Using the City Turbo II, Honda launched a one-make race series that saw many destroyed.
As JNC readers know, the original City was notable for coming with a foldable bike called the Motocompo in the back. Like the regular line version, Designed by Ryu Asada, the Hot Wheels City has an easter egg in the back — not one, not two, but three Motocompos in the trunk. Cleverly the bikes also hide the rivet post for the rear of the car.
The rest of the Hot Wheels Honda City Turbo II is very well done and was faithfully replicated from the example kept at the Honda Collection Hall. The detailing of the lights, trim, and vents are expertly rendered, but it’s the faithful replication of all the graphics, including the windshield banner, that makes this a very special model.
Japan Historics 3 promises to be one of the highlights of the 2020 lineup. As these prototypes prove, every single model in the series is superb, and we are happy to see 1980s cars being welcomed into the Japan Historics fold. With fine detailing and ingenious engineering, they will surely be a beautiful addition to the collections of any diecast or Japanese car enthusiast.