Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Hess Toy Trucks Roll On

QUESTION: What is the best way to sell a 1966 Hess Voyager Tank Ship? And how do I figure the asking price?  The tanker is in the box which is slightly faded and has some damage to two of its corners, plus one of the stickers on the side of the tanker is torn.

ANSWER:  It’s Thanksgiving time once again and along with Black Friday comes an equally long-standing tradition—the sale of Hess toy trucks. But the poor economy has most everyone watching their pocketbooks, so even Hess Toy Truck sales, both of previous models and the newest one are suffering. T.V. ads touting the features of Hess’s new truck toy prompt many owners to perhaps dust off older models in preparation for selling them.

But selling Hess toy trucks isn’t easy. The group of true collectors of these toys is a small, very selective one. These are people who are searching for the premier pieces to fill out their collections. One of these prime models is the “B Model Mack Tanker,” which first appeared in 1964. At first the company produced these toys in limited quantities and limited each customer to two trucks. Back then the B Model Mack cost $1.29, but today it can sell for as much as $2,000, down $500 from two years ago.

Leon Hess knew a good thing when he saw it, and soon the company produced more trucks to meet the demand, including a series of minitrucks. For many years, people lined up at Hess Stations on Black Friday morning to get their hands on the coveted toy “truck” of that year, then last year, the company started selling their trucks a week ahead. This year, sales began on November 11, two full weeks ahead. But popularity killed their potential and resale prices fell.

Because Hess toy trucks didn’t gain mass popularity until the 1980s, those few collectors savvy enough to pack one away in its box without touching it are the only ones who can cash in on the higher values of Hess toy trucks from 1964, when they first came out, through the 1970s.

More than half the value of each truck depends on the condition of its box. If the truck, itself, is also in perfect condition, then it’s considered to be “MIB” or Mint-in-Box. Those who saw the collecting potential of these toy s bought two, giving one as a gift to their child and keeping the other in pristine condition for their collection.

Probably the best place to try to sell the tanker in question is on eBay. This saves a lot of searching for markets—let the collectors search for the models they want. However, most Hess trucks sell on eBay for about $20, around the price of a new truck since 2000 or so.
In one case, four of them, listed for a starting bid of $9.99 on one auction with $21 shipping—twice the cost of the trucks themselves—didn’t even sell. Unless a Hess truck is an early model and new in a pristine box, it has little value.

Hess trucks were one of the first toy trucks to have working lights and sound operated by batteries. The first one came in three different versions. The rarest of these was a Bills 18-wheel tanker with a white top and the Hess logo with a yellow border placed over the Bills logo. The side decals on this model display only the word "Gasoline", its battery card has printing on both sides, and the bottom of its box is black. The most common version features a green cab with yellow fenders. A similar version of this tanker truck appeared in the late 1960's, 1970's and 1980's, but the tank is green, with a white strip, displaying the Hess name, down the center. The tanker then returned in 1990 with a white tank, with the Green "HESS" name on the side. Hess introduced another version of this white tanker truck in 1998 as the first in the Hess mini series.

Leon Hess, founder of Amerada-Hess Oil, originally had these toy trucks made as thank-you gifts to his customers. Some, produced as gifts for stockholders and staff, never went on sale. These are the most highly prized by collectors since only a few of these special trucks were made.

Throughout the years, Hess has offered non-truck vehicles as part of its toy truck collection, including a tanker ship, based on the Hess Voyager, in 1966, a patrol car in 1993, a helicopter in 2001, an SUV in 2004, and a race car in 1988, 1997, 2009, and this year, 2011. In recent years, boxes have contained one larger vehicle transporting smaller friction-motor vehicles, such as motorcycles, race cars, or cruisers.

For the first time in the collection's 47-year history, the two vehicles in the current set offer sounds and 34 lights in both on and flashing modes, activated by a button on the truck cab, a chassis switch, and the ramp. The newest truck also features four-wheel spring suspension and a pullout ramp that automatically activates a hydraulic sound. The truck's flatbed trailer carries a race car modeled after an American stock car that sports a pull-back racing motor and Hess Express logo. A push of the race car's gas cap activates flashing lights and the sound of the car's engine. The lucky kid who gets this as a gift on Christmas morning will also be able to play with it immediately since the package contains two Energizer 'C' batteries. But the hottest feature of this year’s truck is an app with which a child can virtually race the car online.

The Hess Toy Truck is one of the longest-running toy brands on the market. As in past years, the truck will be sold exclusively at Hess retail stores in 16 East Coast states from Massachusetts to Florida, while supplies last. However, the price has gone up considerably from that first truck selling for $1.29 in 1964 to $26.99 for this year’s truck and race car.


Ray's Toy Trucks said...

I started collecting when I was smaller and then loved the hobby so much that it became a business for me now and has grown so large that we ship all over the world. We sell not only a complete line of Hess Toy Trucks but Hess minis, signs, posters, soccer balls, buttons and a full line of replacement parts for those people who love their trucks and just need a few parts to get them back on the road! Check us out at http://www.raystoytrucks.com

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