Here is a Hot Wheels casting that I’ve been wanting to showcase for you guys since I first laid eyes on it back in October: the #Manga Tuner. For once though, it is not because I am a huge fan of the casting, its roots, or even its history. Rather, its a brand-new, #First Edition casting that was designed by Hot Wheels designer, Ryu Asada; whose personal interest is what makes the debut of this car so fascinating.
The #Manga Tuner actually made its debut at the 2019 Japanese Classic Car Show in Long Beach, California, back in September. It was met with intrigue at the show and via pictures online. Suffice to say, I was one of those that was intrigued and had secretly hoped it would be on display a couple weeks later when I was in Los Angeles for the Hot Wheels Convention — and indeed it was. Ryu had the car on display at one of the Q&As, and I got the opportunity to ask him about it.
The question that had been on my mind was: What is this new, #’Tooned style car? I had seen Ryu post this style before, in addition to several artists draw hand-drawn pictures of these shortened-body, raised-roof, elongated-windowed cars. Ryu was delighted to hear of my intrigue as he explained that his inspiration for this new style of Tooned Hot Wheels was influenced by the old Noppo model kits. He added that he had some as a kid, but to buy them now is not an easy thing to do here in the United States. One, they are rare. If you can find a Noppo model kit, buy it, as they will cost you hundreds of dollars if you want to buy one of the few listed on eBay. He added that since he is in a position to recreate this style for the masses to enjoy — being that he is a designer of toy cars — he decided to do so with the hopes that kids and collectors really like them. There are several planned for this year.
Obviously, the #Manga Tuner lends its name and its looks from the bosozoku-style, Hot Wheels Mad Manga — a casting that has developed a bit of a niche following on its own. That was designed in 2012, with the Track Manga — a roof-less version designed for track performance — getting released in 2018. Now comes the third member of the “Manga Family”: the Manga Tuner; which is done in this “Noppo-style” cartoonish look.
As I mentioned, this is the first of several vehicles to be done in this “Noppo-style” #’Tooned look. There is actually a Truckin’ Transporter being released concurrently called, “Tooned Up” that is similarly-styled. The second will be the ’70 Volkswagen Baja Bug which can be seen in the image from the convention above.