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Today, I’ve already bemoaned the fact that the Christmas tree-albeit undecorated- is up in front of City hall Jersey City. Now I see a NJ.com that The Hess truck is back — but not at the gas stations. Since Hess stations have closed, this will be the first holiday season that Woodbridge-based Hess Toy Truck will roll out its inventory solely online and at a handful of malls in the area. Online sales of the 2015 Hess Fire Truck and Ladder Rescue, announced Monday, will start November 1 at hesstoytruck.com.
Hess trucks will be available at these New Jersey malls and hesstoytruck.com:
  • Paramus Park
  • Willowbrook (Wayne)
  • Woodbridge Center
  • Cherry Hill

New York

  • Queens Center
  • Kings Plaza
  • Green Acres
  • Broadway

Pennsylvania

  • Willow Grove
  • Park
  • Capital City

The red firetruck, which costs $30.99 — $1 more than last year’s truck — is equipped with a pivoting LED searchlight, hose nozzles, slide-out ramp and four different sound effects. The accompanying ladder rescue truck has a movable nozzle and friction motor. Hess sold its gas stations to Marathon Petroleum in 2014, making that year the last that parents, grandparents and collectors could scoop up the toys at gas stations in the run-up to the holiday season. Marathon’s Speedway gas stations are not selling Hess toy trucks.

In New Jersey, starting on November 12, the toy will be sold at Paramus Park, Woodbridge Center, Willowbrook and Cherry Hill malls at kiosks made to look like Hess trucks. Six other malls in New York and Pennsylvania will have the kiosks. The toys may have outlived the gas stations, but in the absence of the annual trip to the stations for the trucks — which had become a holiday tradition for many families — the company wanted to provide an offline alternative. “There is this nostalgic pilgrimage to the store,” says Justin Mayer, general manager of Hess Toy Truck. “The malls do allow folks to replicate that experience.” But Mayer says a large portion of those buying the trucks are buying online, though he would not divulge how many customers made purchases on the website in 2014. “We saw a ton of folks come online this year,” Mayer says. Trucks bought online come with free shipping. “It’s not where they come from, it’s about who gave it to you,” he says. Mayer says he tested out the firetruck and ladder rescue on his children, who are in first grade and kindergarten, this past weekend. They proceeded to dust off their stockpile of other Hess firetrucks and go to town with latest addition to their collection. “It’s all about the rescue and imagining the play of rescuing somebody,” he says. “The kids love speed. It moves fast when you push it. That’s the play value.” The Hess empire had modest New Jersey beginnings in 1933, when a 19-year-old Leon Hess remade his father’s Asbury Park oil delivery service. The first Hess station opened in 1960 in Oakhurst. Hidden among Hess’ 2015 holiday haul will be 100 silver, individually numbered versions of the truck. All trucks come with five batteries. In 2014, Hess celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first Hess toy truck, which debuted in 1964. In the decades since, the fleet of Hess toys has moved well beyond the first iteration — a gas tanker with oil funnel — to encompass helicopters, monster trucks, motorcycles, and spaceships.

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