Question: What do ball games, toys and oil have in common? Answer: Leon Hess the oil man that created their concept, was at a ball game when he met the toy maker that sat behind him. Leon talked to the toy maker about making the Hess Toy Truck as a thank you gift to his loyal customers, that was the start of the Hess Toy Truck in the early 60's. A Hess truck tends to double in value the first year after they're introduced, and continue upward from there. Most start out at about $20.00. Once released (about November of each year), they are sold out quickly. That's because from the very beginning Leon demanded they be made of the highest quality and detail. The quality and detail of Hess trucks is so high, that from concept to finished product, it takes about 3 years.
Hess trucks were one of the first toy trucks to have working lights, sound and the first battery operated toy trucks. The first one a 1964 / 65 BMAC Tanker, came in three different versions. The rarest of these was a Bills 18 wheel tanker (the top half of the tanker is white), with the Hess logo (with a yellow border) placed over the Bills logo. With this version the side decals only say "Gasoline", the battery card is printed on both sides, and the bottom of the box is black. The most common version has the cab molded in "Green", and the fenders are painted yellow. The late 60's, and many 70's, & 80's also featured similar versions of the tanker, but the tank is green, with a white center and Hess name on the white strip. The tanker then returned in 1990 with an all white tank, with the Green "HESS" name on the side. Another version of this white tanker truck was introduced in 1998 as the first in the HESS mini series.
While the featured vehicle for 1966 was a World War II oil tanker "Voyager"*(1), it was the first Hess Toy Truck to be made in the USA. Complete with working lights in all areas, it also had wheels on the bottom, so it could roll on the floor. However if you wanted the stand to display it you had to send away for it. Most people didn't do this and thus the stand is very valuable & collectible.
Some of the Hess trucks were the same from one year to the next, or copies of past years. Each year had some minor or major differences. It's these differences that can help increase a Hess truck values or determine the date. Some of the rarest trucks were never sold to the general public. Some were just special versions of that year's truck (different paint or marking). These were special promotions, given to special customers (CEO's, etc.) or employees, or even production test models. We found AcsTrucks.com to display all the variations of those sold to the general public, and some of the rarest ones.
One should always beware of reproductions, and what year they are buying. Prior to 1977 / 1978 the Hess Truck didn't have a date on them. They then marked the date the truck was made on the battery cover. Even then the only difference between 1977 & 1978 was a larger label on the rear of the truck and a claim of more chrome. The 1985 truck was the first to have a bank built in to it. And 1988 was the first year to have the date on the truck and the box. Starting in 1991 the date the truck was sold is marked on the license plate. In 1998 they started their mini series with the Hess Tanker. 2004 they celebrated their 40th Anniversary. They not only had a SUV with two motorcycles as their Truck for the year. But they also came out with a poster & book featuring all the vehicles of the past.
Most of the Hess Toy Trucks are released around Thanksgiving - and people line up to buy them. Many times they are sold out before the first two weeks of December. Sometimes by January the price has doubled.
* Buyer Beware:
1.) The Voyager has many cheap reproductions in circulation. The fakes have black decals that have HESS VOYAGER around an area they wish to show as white. The real ones have a clear decal, with real white printing on them. (see http://www.acstrucks.com for examples.)
Recommended web sites & Bibliography.
1.) Hess Toy Truck
2.) Acs Trucks
This article was originally published and is a copyright of Mister Find IT from Newsletter of March 2005. You hereby have permission to copy the title and create a brief description of no more then 25 words, (which can be from the article) but your description and / or the title must be linked back to the URL of the full article.
(http://www.misterfindit.com/hess-toy-truck.html) See last newsletter.
As a side note: Hess Inc. read this Hess Toy Truck article, and re published it with our permission in their employee newsletter Hovensa (their employee division), Volume 1, Issue 9, 2006.