Cancer has taken another legend from the automotive community. Ryu Asada, who has designed cars for both Hot Wheels and Matchbox, died at age 42 of colorectal cancer.
The announcement came through Asada’s Instagram. He had been battling stage IV colorectal cancer for nearly five years, undergoing a variety of treatments while on die-cast design teams. He died on March 23, 2021 with his longtime partner, Hazel Díaz Asada, by his side.
Asada was born and raised in Japan, and later moved to the United States to pursue higher education. He graduated from the ArtCenter College of Design in 2004, at which point he immediately joined Mattel as a Matchbox car designer. There, he estimated that he had created more than 150 different die-cast designs.
He moved on to the Hot Wheels team as a visiting 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 over the $ 1 lineup in 2012. You can find a full list of his designs. here.
But some of his shining stars of design have been cars from his native Japan. Asada helped fuel the JDM diecast craze through her passion for her designs. Since then, people have fallen madly in love with his Honda S2000 NSX designs, his FC Mazda RX-7, and his Lancia Delta Integrale HF.
Two of Asada’s more recent designs have been part of tThe J-Imports mini collection, which included several different Japanese classics. He was responsible for the 1970 custom Honda N600 and the 1999 Honda Civic Type-R.
Diecast collectors around the world have been sharing kind messages about Asada, a man whom many of them deeply respect.
Asada’s loved ones are in our thoughts right now. Cancer sucks.