Days Till Collector's Edition Goes On Sale:

Where It Began…from a Man with a Truck and a Dream

Leon Hess started his career in 1933, driving a 615-gallon oil truck to deliver heating fuel to houses in his hometown of Asbury Park, New Jersey. When he retired 62 years later, he had built this small business into one of the world’s largest energy companies, including a chain of Hess gasoline stations, which is where this story started to unfold.

Where It Began…from a Man with a Truck and a Dream

Seeking to thank his gas station customers, Mr. Hess envisioned offering toy trucks of the highest quality and best price. The idea was to offer a fun, affordable, high-value toy that wouldn’t break and could be played with straight out of the box. That simple, straightforward idea—saying thank you—remains at the heart of the tale fifty years later.

Where It Began…from a Man with a Truck and a Dream

Year after year and decade after decade, the Hess Toy Truck has been recognized as a state-of-the-art, high quality vehicle that inspires continual devotion from both kids and toy-truck fans. What began as a thank-you has become a beloved toy - a touchstone of the American holiday season and one of the most popular playthings in American history.

Where It Began…from a Man with a Truck and a Dream

Leon Hess passed away on May 7, 1999 at the age of 85. The Hess Toy Truck and the website you are viewing are an extension of his ongoing legacy. The impact of the Hess Toy Trucks, from the fun and affection they generate to the utmost quality and inventiveness they represent is a lasting testament to his vision, creativity, ambition, focus and generosity.

How It's Made

It takes a very long time to become a Hess Toy Truck. The process of developing the annual toy starts between two and three years before it actually goes on sale. And in some cases it’s been as long as six years from concept to market.

How It's Made

The drawings and feature concepts are reviewed, and the toys begin to evolve. Many trucks are proposed and many fall by the wayside. The top two or three designs go to the next round, where they are transformed from drawings to handmade models, then evaluated for functionality and playability. Eventually, the new Hess Toy Truck is chosen.

How It's Made

Each Hess toy is comprised of 75 to 100 small hard-plastic pieces. A tooling, or mold, for each of those pieces must be cut to precise measurements. Once the toolings are made and tested, the pieces are produced and meticulously assembled. Then, as anyone who has unpacked a Hess Toy Truck knows, the final toy is placed—very carefully—in its box.

How It's Made

And what happens to the trucks that didn’t get picked? Some of them vanish, never to be spoken of again. Others have actually reappear years later, souped up and ready to light up a future holiday promotion.

Marketing of the Toy Truck

Until the 1980s there were no TV ads or major radio campaigns for the Hess Toy Trucks—just newspaper ads and signs at the Hess gas stations for a well-made toy, battery included, sold for a great value.

Marketing of the Toy Truck

Starting in the 1980s, Hess began releasing new TV commercials every year. Their variety and ingenuity made every spot a surprise. One year the spot updated the famous poem “’Twas the Night Before Christmas”; in another, it was set to a jingle that rewrote the words to Roger Miller’s hobo classic “King of the Road.”

Marketing of the Toy Truck

To celebrate the Toy Truck and Racer in 1988, Hess adapted a song by the ’60s group The Angels, “My Boyfriend’s Back.” The Hess jingle was: “The Hess Truck’s back and it’s better than ever!” That line got to the heart of the matter, the excitement around the arrival of a new great toy. Every year since, the jingle has been rearranged for the new release.

Marketing of the Toy Truck

Since 2009, Hess has been expanding its digital identity – first with a Facebook page, then with a series of free app games based on the toy trucks. Kids and adults alike can play with the Toy Trucks in the virtual world on their smartphones. In 2012, Hess launched an online store where customers could purchase Hess Toy Trucks, here at www.hesstoytruck.com.