Pros: classic collectible toy
Cons: I have nightmares about the batteries.
My father, bless him, decided when my nephew was born almost six years ago that every little boy should have a Hess truck for Christmas, and resolved that his grandson would have one every year. My father is not a shopper, yet he dutifully went down to the HessMart in 1999 and purchased his grandbaby the first of his many Hess trucks. Of course, he also didn't anticipate that three more grandsons would arrive over the next four years, but the man is nothing if not committed, and each of his grandsons receives a Hess truck for Christmas, even little Bug, who is about the same size as the truck. As a result, we end up with two of everything, including the 2004 40th Anniversary Hess SUV and Motorcycles.
::: Able to Leap Small Convenience Stores in a Single Bound :::
The 2004 40th Anniversary Hess SUV and Motorcycles has the distinction of being not only an anniversary edition, but also the first SUV that Hess has released. As with the majority of the Hess trucks released since the late 1990s, the 2004 40th Anniversary Hess SUV and Motorcycles features a large vehicle containing two smaller vehicles, all battery operated (of course).
The SUV itself is approximately 10½ inches long by 4½ inches wide by 4½ inches tall. The SUV features a white and green design (to match the Hess logo, of course) with chrome accents and black plastic tires with chrome and red hubcaps. The SUV's undercarriage is entirely black, with a door for battery installation (two "C" batteries install via a small Phillips-head screwed-in door), and also includes the on/off switch for the lights, which include Hess logos on the hood, doors, and front license plate; a rear plate that reads "Hess 2004;" as well as headlights; blue fog lights (at least that's what I'm assuming they are); running lights in front, along bottom of doors, and along the top of the SUV; and rear taillights and brake lights. The interior of the bed lights up as well.
The SUV also features a green spoiler on the rear, side mirrors that flip outward and in (for the car wash, don't you know?), and a rear gate that opens with the press of a button on the top of the SUV behind the spoiler. The gate, when open, functions as a ramp for the two included motorcycles, which are approximately 2½ inches tall by 4¼ inches long by 1½ inches wide. One is green with white trim, and the other is white with green trim, and riders are attached to both. The motorcycles have headlights and a taillight that light up, run by two button-cell batteries (more one these later). "Hess Gasoline" is printed on each side, with "Hess 2004" on the back (in case you get confused as to which vehicle these go with). An on/off switch for the lights is on the side, and if you "rev" the cycles once then let them go, they will actually drive themselves across the floor.
::: Evel Rides Again :::
Before we begin the actual critique section of this review, I'd like to walk you through some math here. The SUV, which your child will undoubtedly leave on due to the coolness of the lights, take two "C" batteries, which Hess does include, and proudly states on the box, as well as shows us a picture, that they are Energizer batteries. Each of the motorcycles (see above for leaving on and coolness) takes four button-cell batteries. I have discovered that leaving these vehicles on overnight will totally drain the batteries, leaving you with one sobbing child and six batteries to be replaced. Now, I have luckily found an online store that sells me 100 button-cell batteries at a clip for $29.00 (and free shipping), but this does not keep my husband from cursing my father loud and long for the upkeep cost of these toys. In addition, I know now that Energizer is also owned by the devil (I already knew Hess was based on the fact that they are open later than the other gas station near me, yet charge $0.10 more a gallon for gas).
As further proof, I offer you the battery installation procedure for the motorcycles. Each motorcycle requires two button-cell batteries, yet at first glance, you will see no possible place to insert them. Hess has been kind enough to include instructions, which will have you cursing in no time flat. For starters, unless you or your significant other regularly takes apart or puts together your own computers, you may need to invest in a set of those little jeweler's screwdrivers. The tiniest screw in the world is set into the shoulder of the motorcycle driver, and you need to unscrew this. As it turns out, the screw is over an inch long, so this could take a while, especially if your cyclist has been dipped in Sunbutter and jelly like ours had. Once you remove the screw, tape it immediately to your forehead, because it disappears faster than a child when there are chores to be done. Then, the battery compartment flips out of old Evel's back, and you can press the two batteries out using the screwdriver, then drop two new ones in carefully. I had a hard time lining them up, but my fingers probably still had jelly residue. Of course, replace everything you took apart and take the motorcycles away from the child so the batteries won't ever need to be replaced.
However, that being said, the 2004 40th Anniversary Hess SUV and Motorcycles is one of Buster's absolute favorite toys from Christmas. It makes no noise (thank god for small favors), works mostly on kid power (aside from the lights), and stands up to even Buster (whom you may remember has earned himself the nickname Destructor, Destroyer of Worlds). Both the boys fight over the SUV (we have Bug's put away lest Buster destroy it), fling it to the ground, push it off the table, and even sleep with it, and it is no worse for the wear.
I'm sure that there are collectors out there cringing that the boys get to play with their 2004 40th Anniversary Hess SUV and Motorcycles, but it's a toy! If they want to collect them later, they can pay $50 or more to replace it on eBay like I've done with most of my childhood Barbies. Since it's nearly two months since Christmas and Buster is still playing with the 2004 40th Anniversary Hess SUV and Motorcycles every day, I nearly gave it a five, but the battery issues deserved at least one star knocked off, don't you think?