Ryu Asada, Hot Wheels Design Legend, Dies At 42

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Cancer has taken another legend of the car community. Ryu Asada, who has designed cars for both Hot Wheels and Matchbox, has died at age 42 of colorectal cancer.

The announcement came via Asada’s Instagram. He had been battling Stage IV colorectal cancer for almost five years, undergoing a variety of treatments while remaining on diecast design teams. He died on March 23, 2021 with his longtime partner, Hazel Diaz Asada, at his side.

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Asada was born and raised in Japan, later moving to the United States to pursue higher education. He graduated from the ArtCenter College of Design in 2004, at which point he immediately began working at Mattel as a Matchbox car designer. There, he estimated that he had created over 150 different diecast designs.

He moved to the Hot Wheels team as a guest designer, his first design being the Gearonimo in 2009. He joined the Hot Wheels team full-time, where it was estimated that he created 20 to 30 1:64 models per year. He took control of the $1 lineup in 2012. You can find a full list of his designs here.

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But some of his shining stars of design have been the cars from his native Japan. Asada helped fuel the JDM diecast craze via his passion for his designs. People have since fallen head over heels for his Honda S2000 NSX designs, his FC Mazda RX-7, and his Lancia Delta Integrale HF.

Two of Asada’s most recent designs have been part of the J-Imports mini collection, which included several different Japanese classics. He was responsible for the custom 1970 Honda N600 and the 1999 Honda Civic Type-R.

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Diecast collectors across the globe have been sharing kind messages about Asada, a man many of them deeply respected.

Asada’s loved ones are in our thoughts at this time. Cancer sucks.