Kiss (McFarlane Toys)

McFarlane Toys
1997 - 2004

"STEP UP!!!!" - Kiss, Psycho Circus

We touched on Kiss back in 2013 when we took a look at the classic Mego line. Although, back then we were taking a little hiatus from actually writing, and just letting the pictures do the talking. Since we passed on that opportunity back then, we'll take this one to delve into the band that touted itself as, "The best."

Kiss formed in 1973 with founding members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley. Though the band has gone through numerous band members over its 40+ year career, Simmons (The Demon), and Stanley (The Starchild) have remained the only two constants. The classic line up of the band consists of the aforementioned two, with drummer Peter Criss (The Catman) and guitarist Ace Frehley (Space Ace or The Space Man).

Other notable band mates included Eric Carr (The Fox), Vinnie Vincent (The Ankh Warrior / The Wiz), Mark St. John, Bruce Kulick...And Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer who ripped off the personas of The Catman and Space Ace for the current lineup. Sorry, but as Peter Criss said, "No matter who they get to put stuff on their face, it ain't us."

Shortly after the highly anticipated 1995 lie album Psycho Circus (it was heavily promoted as being the first album in over a decade to be recorded by the four original was later found out that Ace and Peter only appeared on a handful of songs), McFarlane Toys acquired the rights to produce action figures based on the original members of the band. This lead to the 1997 lineup of Kiss figures - The first of what would be many.

Each figure came packed in with a massive amount of accessories which included a stand made out of one of the corresponding letters of the band's name. They also came with their classic instrument of choice - Though updated a little in typical McFarlane fashion.

This release was followed by a re-issue of the figures. However this time around the stands were removed / replaced with plastic records and sleeves of the band member's classic solo albums from 1978. With the rapidly growing popularity for the figures yet another wave of the figures was put into production. This time the records were produced in a gold color.

 Gene Simmons*Peter Criss*Ace Frehley*Paul Stanley

The final figure produced in 1997 was the Gene Simmons (The Demon) in "fish tank" display box. It's essentially the same figure from above, just in a much nicer display box for collectors. It's a shame they never gave the remaining band members this treatment.

 Gene Simmons

1998 brought with it a new iteration of Kiss - This time based on their Psycho Circus album. Each carded figure was essentially a two pack which featured one band member, and a generic circus persona; Ace Frehley and The Stiltman, Gene Simmons with The Ring Master, Paul Stanley and The Jester and Peter Criss with The Animal Wrangler.

Back in the days of stores such as Sam Goody, Tower Records, Etc., it wasn't uncommon for exclusive items to be made available. Such is the case with the below white box Psycho Circus pack which was released via Suncoast and Sam Goody stores. Each box contained a full set of carded figures from the set. For collectors, the obvious draw is the additional packing materials as the figures are the same as the standard retail releases.

The bottom of the box is probably the best part (personal opinion of course). We love the signatures that are hidden there just waiting to be found. Of course they're printed on the box, and not actually written in ink.

A second release of the figures removed the additional circus character, and retooled the band members to a slightly different look.

Kiss have been credited with creating the ultimate live album. Alive was so highly touted for its production and sound value that it's used as a standard for what live albums should sound like today. The figures were released in both single carded packs and a one shot box set.

Much like the Pyscho Circus set, Sam Goody and Suncoast got a white box gift pack that featured the same style of box, signatures at the bottom and all.

The last figures produced in 2000 would also be the last individually packed figures produced to date. The Creatures packs would also be the first series to produce a figure for The Fox, removing The Catman from the equation.

Like the Alive set, the Creatures set also had a one and done box set release for those not interested in hunting down each individual band member.

It wouldn't be until 2004 that new Kiss figures would make their way to store shelves - This time as the box set Love Gun. This set once again focused on the four original band members - Or at the very least their personas.

Which brings us to 2005 - The last year to date that McFarlane Toys has produced any figures based on Kiss. Two box sets were produced - The Demon and The Starchild. Each set featured a handful of the same band member in various stages of their career through Kiss. Personally, we would have loved this set a whole lot more if it also contained a non-make-up wearing version (which to date has never been produced).

Kiss is one of those few lines that appeals to a massive amount of individuals. This is because it not only attracts die-hard fans of the band, but also collectors that are just looking for an iconic or overall cool looking item to add to their collections. The box sets seem to be the most sought after items, and as such can garner anywhere from $90.00 to $140.00.

As for the individual figures, they're all over the map in terms of pricing. Full sets of the original 1997 wave have sold for as little as $4.00 mint on the card (yes, a full set). The latter  Psycho Circus waves sell for around $8.00 to $10.00 per figure mint on card. Meanwhile the Creatures set will cost you about $80.00 to get a full set mint in the package.

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