Hot Wheels Pays Tribute to Japan’s Dekotora Truck Culture

A scale-sized homage to Japan’s road-going giant squids.

byBrendan McAleer| PUBLISHED Apr 26, 2016 11:00 AM
Hot Wheels Pays Tribute to Japan’s Dekotora Truck Culture

From the double-engined Twin Mill to Splitting Image, Hot Wheels has released more than a few wacky concepts in its time. The grownup in you probably skips right over them in the grocery aisle, opting instead for one of the more realistic castings of an E30 M3 or VW Caddy or Shelby Mustang 350R; they're perfect desktop décor. But pay attention because Hot Wheels just released a purple paperweight based in real-life insanity.

They call it the Galactic Express, and it looks like Optimus Prime on bath salts. The scaled-down semi-trailer has spikes out the front, turquoise-rimmed wheels, and more angled chrome than a 1950s-era fender-bender. It is weird, weird, weird – and surprisingly realistic.

Galactic Express pays homage to the oddball Japanese art of dekotora. If you visit Tokyo, especially at night, you might catch sight of one of these heavily-altered heavy-haulers, strobing like a deep-sea giant squid. The idea behind dekotora isn't that dissimilar from US truckers adorning their trucks with bug deflectors and shiny 'stacks. However, Japanese owner-operators take things to an extreme, creating rolling mobile sculpture that's lit up with neon and festooned with wild body work.

Besides looking cool, the set shows that Hot Wheels as a company has its finger on the pulse of automotive enthusiasm around the world. Their Japanese Historics line currently showcases everything from a crowd-pleasing 510 wagon to a lesser-known Toyota 2000GT in the livery it wore when setting an endurance record.

This dekotora rig is thus both a sly tip of the hat to those in the know and a neat new machine for kids to crash n' bash around the living room rug. The guys who build these trucks in real life do so out of a love for their rolling behemoths; the scale might be smaller, but the appreciation is still there.