“Toy Trucks, Real Stories: HESS Trucks in the Early Years”

Hess Trucks from the Hess Company were an annual tradition at Christmas time for many families in the United States. With a new vehicle released every year, these toy trucks were not only fun for kids but for many adults who collected them and looked forward to each new release. 

In our store, Kerbobble Toys, we get many Hess trucks that people no longer have room for, inherit or are just ready to let go. We find the Christmas season is the best time to put these treasures out for sale. Each vehicle we receive is checked carefully to make sure it’s in working order and doesn’t have any damage. Hess trucks are a wonderfully durable holiday toy and are still great for kids to play with. We find a mix of customers who purchase them from parents and grandparents wanting to introduce their little ones to these amazing toys or to collectors trying to complete their collections.  

The Hess Truck toy line was created by the founder of the company, Leon Hess. The first toy was released in 1964 with a replica of a fuel oil delivery truck. It was available at all Hess service stations for loyal customers to purchase during the holiday season.

The tradition has continued even today with a new model released every year. Customers would line up for these best-selling toys the day they were released. Hess gas stations, however, were purchased and rebranded as Speedway gas stations in 2014. After that, the toys were sold online only. Just this year (2023), Chevron acquired Hess Company and they have announced that they will continue the tradition of making the beloved toy trucks that can be purchased exclusively on the website Hess Toy Truck. On this website, you can also find an excellent guide to all of the vehicles made.

The iconic vehicles often feature unique flashing light combinations, realistic sounds, detailed chrome accents, and opening rear doors. Some models are accompanied by a smaller vehicle such as a race car or motorcycle that fits into the bed of the truck. Over the years, the Hess fleet has taken on various forms, including oil tankers, boats, helicopters, a space shuttle, and even monster trucks!  

Unique Hess Truck Features

First-responder vehicles such as fire trucks, an ambulance, and police cars have always been popular and continued with this year’s release of the 2023 green Police Truck and action-ready Cruiser with a new feature of the speedy pull-back motor. Even newer models can be highly popular such as the 2022 release of the Flatbed Hess Truck with two hot rod racers. There were a few vintage models that served as banks as well as toys making for great collector’s items. Many designs have the year they came out printed on the box on the license plates making it easier to reference. Also throughout the years, Hess produced bags, posters, and other memorabilia. They also made a line of Hess miniatures featuring a variety of different vehicles.

How to Care for Your Hess Trucks

Most Hess trucks require two C batteries for the main vehicle and smaller batteries for smaller accessory vehicles.  Early models take one large D battery. There are certain years to be aware of that came with a battery in the box. If the batteries were not removed before storing for many years, there’s a risk of battery acid damage. In this case, carefully remove the corroded batteries and clean the casing. Sometimes if the damage is not too severe the vehicle will still work. If it has completely corroded and acid has escaped be careful when dealing with battery acid or corrosion. This significantly decreased the value of a truck and should not be given to kids to play with.  

Hess trucks were made to be durable and long-lasting. One thing to be aware of is the battery compartment tab. It can get brittle over time so be careful when opening older models to check the batteries. It can sometimes snap right off when you open the compartment. Cleaning your Hess truck is easy since it’s typically made of plastic and can be easily and gently wiped down with a cloth or paper towel.  Avoid harsh cleaners or brushes.  Boxes should not be exposed to water or dampness as this can cause mildew to form over the years.  

Yellowing is something that happens with certain toys over time that are plastic. It has to do with the bromine that is added to flame retardant. Check out Retro Fixes for some tips on reversing yellowing. Certain Hess models seem to be more prone to yellowing than others. 

What Are My Hess Trucks Worth? 

Hess trucks range in value today.  Typically in our store, we get 1990s – mid-2000s models which go for anywhere between $14.99 – $34.99 depending on the year and condition and if the truck is in the original box. Some vehicle years are harder to find than others which increases value. We encourage anyone trying to value a collectible to do your research!  Don’t rely on one website that states your item is worth thousands. Your collectible is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it at the time you decide you’d like to sell it. We use a combination of websites to value any vintage toy and Hess trucks are no different.  When looking up an item on eBay always check the “sold” listings to see what these products actually sold for not what they are listed for. That being said there are a few Hess models that are valued higher than others

8 Most Valuable Hess Truck Toys

  1. The first and original Hess truck from 1964 is of course the oldest and most sought after.  Because of its age and low quantity produced,it can fetch quite a bit of money depending on the condition. Be aware that there is a model from the 80s that is called The First Hess Truck. It was meant to replicate the first real Hess truck, not the first Hess toy truck, and can easily be confused as the first toy made. The original 1964 model is an oil tanker mainly white with yellow highlights and a green cab. It had the ability for kids to fill its reservoir with water and spray out of the nozzle. Only a limited number of these were made making it valuable and harder and harder to find. 
  2. The 1967 Hess Red Velvet Truck is an 18-wheeler fuel oil tanker in the Hess dark green with white and yellow accents. Equipped with a removable hose and working lights. This truck came in a White Box with a unique red velvet base. It came in 3 variations and only a limited number were made making this a highly sought-after item. 
  3. The 1969 Woodbridge Tanker is also a great find being an older model and has a unique feature on the box that didn’t appear on other ones. Printed on the box is  “home office in Woodbridge, New Jersey”. Since the box is what attracts collectors having it along with the tanker will fetch the most. 
  4. Hess Barrel Truck from 1975 can be a valuable collector’s item especially if it’s complete with the box and 3 oil barrels that it originally came with. 
  5. The Hess Training Van from 1978 was a replica of the company training vans used by the Hess Company.
  6. 1970 Hess Fire Truck is the first fire truck model made and in good condition with the box and instruction card that can be worth more than other models.
  7. 1977 Hess Tanker with black switch –  most of these trucks were made with a red switch however some models have a black switch on the body instead. 
  8. 1966 Hess Tanker Ship Voyager was a detailed replica of the real Hess Voyager that was launched in 1962. It featured a starboard, working port, bow, and stern lights. This precious collectible in excellent condition with the box can fetch thousands. 

It’s clear the Hess truck is a lasting holiday staple for many not only in the U.S. but now all over the world. These collectible toy trucks will be creating loyal fans for years to come. 

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