When you see anything bright white paired with an emerald green, the iconic Hess toy truck might come to mind. These plastic big rigs were all the rage at birthday parties and sleepovers for decades. Inspired by the real-life Leon Hess's fuel trucks, these holiday toys continue to be passed down from generation to generation. And Hess truck values just keep climbing as these valuable Hess toy trucks attest.
1964 Tanker Truck Trailer
The very first Hess toy truck entered the world quietly. It took a few years for the toy to become a holiday staple, but this B61 Mack truck tanker already came equipped with some of the company's most iconic features - working headlights/taillight and the white and green color palette. They released it in 1964, and it's still one of their most valuable toy trucks today.
If you're lucky enough to find one of these, you're looking at a few hundred dollars at least. In unopened condition, they jump up in value to a few thousand dollars. For example, one truck in great condition that still has the original box sold for $2,700 at auction.
1967 Red Velvet Tanker
In 1967, Hess got groovy with their packaging and added a red velvet base inside their boxes for the trucks to sit on. Hence, the nickname 'red velvet' tanker. Another green and white oil tanker, this truck has yellow accents, a removable hose, and the customary flashing headlights/taillights. According to Ray's Hess Toy Trucks, only 300,000 of these were manufactured, making them relatively rare.
Because they're an early Hess toy truck and they're the first year to feature the red velvet base, the trucks are considered one of the most valuable Hess models. Depending on their condition, these can be worth upwards of $5,000. One '67 red velvet tanker recently sold for $3,900 online.
1969 Woodbridge Tanker Truck
Hess was an expert at the capitalism game even in the 1960s, taking some of their previously designed tanker trucks and repackaging them as new products. This increased their profits and decreased their design and production time. One of these was the 1969 "Woodbridge" tanker, which is the same truck as their 1968 tanker save for the new packaging that gave it its nickname.
Original Woodbridge tanker truck boxes feature the phrase "Home Office Woodbridge, New Jersey" printed on them. If you can find one of these tankers with the original box intact, you could sell it for about $3,000-$4,000. For example, one Woodbridge tanker in great condition and with the original box recently sold for $3,500 on Liveauctioneers.
1970 Fire Truck
You can't be in the oil business without being able to put out a few fires, and Hess took inspiration from the very fire trucks they used to patrol their refineries for their 1970 toy truck. These fire trucks usually sell for around $300-$500 when they're unopened and have very little wear. For example, one 1970 fire truck with the box and instructions recently sold on eBay for $449.40. But, if you happen to find one that was made in the USA instead of Hong Kong, you could be in for some much bigger profits.
1971 "Season's Greetings" Fire Truck
In the Hess toy truck lineup, fire trucks are one of the harder vintages to find. The 1971 fire truck was a re-release made for the holiday season, and it came with removable hoses and battery-activated features. According to one auction listing, these trucks' green lettered "Season's Greetings" stickers they were named for were only added to these plain boxes when people picked them up at the Hess service stations.
Like many of the earliest Hess trucks, a "Season's Greetings" tanker is worth a few thousand dollars. Just in 2021, a fine example with the original box and instructions sold on Liveauctioneers for $2,500.
1993 Premium Diesel Tanker
When you break out of the 60s and 70s Hess trucks and move towards the 1990s, you see a sharp dip in their values. This can happen when there's too many of one collectible on the market, and Hess toy trucks were super popular with young 90s kids. Today, so many of them make it to the resell market that they're not worth as much as their older counterparts.
However, you shouldn't stick up your nose at all 90s Hess trucks. Keep an eye out for the '93 diesel tanker. These weren't publicly sold; rather, Hess gifted them to bulk customers of their premium diesel fuel that they released that year. One unopened tanker with the green wrapping still on it sold for $750 online.
2018 Hess Miniature Collection
Of the most surprising heavyweights in the Hess toy truck value division is the 2018 Mini Collection. This was a limited-production release of three mini trucks from Hess's toy past: 1970 Fire Truck, 1977 Fuel Oil Tanker, and 1988 Toy Truck and Racer. It was created to mark the 20th anniversary of the company's mini series, and thanks to its commemorative and low-production numbers, it sells really well. For example, one unopened set sold for $4,550 on eBay.
What Makes Vintage Hess Toy Trucks Valuable?
If you've ever come across an older toy box, you're almost guaranteed to find a vintage Hess toy truck in it. These trucks are still so common, and that commonality makes only a slight few of them worth finding if you've got selling on the brain. These are valuable characteristics to find in old Hess toy trucks:
- Find trucks made in the 1960s and early 1970s. These toys are the first of their kind and were made in lower production numbers.
- Always look for trucks with the original boxes. Boxed trucks are really what collectors are willing to bid on.
- Find Hess trucks that have little to no wear-and-tear. The toys that've been colored all over and sunk to the bottom of the lake on vacation aren't going to be up to snuff at market.
The Perfect Hess Toy Trucks to Fuel a Collector's Fire
Listen, we won't fault you if you're looking to get rid of your parents' or grandparents' old toys. They can take up a lot of space, and to the right collector, they might be worth way more than the weight of your familial obligation. Since Hess toy trucks are still such a beloved holiday plaything, you can bet they'll still be worth something years down the road.