A Look Under the Hood
October 13, 2016
All year round, we at Hess hear a similar refrain:
“Can’t wait to see what this year’s truck will look like!” – Laura Tilley Mauricio
“Can’t wait to see what it is!” – Sheila Mann Bryant
“Can’t wait! Come on, can we have hint?” – Jim Broglin
“I wanna see!” – Thomas Grobe
Anticipation builds amongst family, friends, collectors and all over social media throughout the year, but especially now as we recently dropped the news that this year’s truck will be revealed and go on sale in less than a month.
As we’re getting oh so close to Nov. 1, we’re itching to tell you what this year’s Hess Toy Truck is, but it wouldn’t be the holiday tradition if we spoiled the surprise now! So even though we can’t tell you what this year’s Hess Toy Truck is just yet, we CAN tell you what goes in to planning these classic toys.
About two years out, ideas are first presented, drawings and feature concepts are initially reviewed, and the possible toy’s design options begin to take shape. Top design candidates are transformed into handmade prototypes that are evaluated based on look, feel, functionality, durability, and playability. The field of designs narrows until Hess approves the new Hess Toy Truck, more than a year before it’s released. Then it’s time to build them!
Inspiration for toy truck designs can come from a number of places, such as:
A Hess oil tanker truck that delivered gasoline to Hess gas stations…
An actual Hess oil tanker ship…
Or even a motor home used by Hess as a mobile office to conduct training sessions at Hess stations.
Choosing the final toy truck design not only involves determining which of the ideas will lead to an innovative toy with quality lights, sounds and motions, but even more importantly ensuring that the design maintains the high standard of quality that customers expect for the Hess Toy Truck. A testament to that quality is the now infamous 300-pound strength test inspired by Leon Hess himself. To demonstrate how strong the Hess Toy Truck was, he had a famous guest, the powerful 6’5’’ all-Pro defensive end Reggie White, step on the truck and it did not fail the test. Since the success of that test, every new Hess Toy Truck model has a 300-pound weight (alas, not a football player) lowered onto it before going into production.
Another element of the design is that batteries must be included. Since the very first Hess Toy Truck in 1964, this ensures that each Hess Toy Truck is ready for play time, right out of the box.
In fact, the design process isn’t just about the toy, but also about the legendary Hess Toy Truck box. It is an integral part of the toy itself and is created with the same attention to detail and exacting standards as the precious cargo it holds.
Once the truck plans are finalized, work on the box art starts. Artists use watercolor, gouache, airbrush paints and graphic design programs to produce multiple options for the box. Final illustration boards are photographed by digital cameras or scanned and then sent to be printed and delivered to the assembly plant where they wait to be filled with that year’s Hess Toy Truck.
What do you think about the design and inspiration process? Be sure to check back in next month to see what the two-year design process has produced this year! We can’t wait to hear what you think of the 2016 Hess Toy Truck. Keep sharing your reactions, favorite Hess Toy Truck memories, Hess history and more on our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram pages. Tag @hesstoytruck as your story might be featured next!