Monday, July 2, 2012

The Good Ol' Days of KISS Collecting

Still-sealed 8-Tracks of the '78 solo albums - $1
Attached to this blog post is one of the scans for the KISS FAQ book that we didn't have room for.  I picked up these four still-wrapped 8-tracks of the 1978 solo albums probably around 1984 at, oddly enough, a hardware store in Louisville, Kentucky.  The stickers on each, which are hard to read here, state that they were four for $1.

Well, of course, 8-tracks were considered a dead music trend.  Still is for the most part. These four were only a handful out of a large barrel of 8-tracks the business was trying to sell-off., and at $1 for all four, it was easy to convince myself to buy them.  Sure, I knew I'd probably never bother tracking down a player in order to listen to them, but just having them as a novelty item was worth the $1 investment at the time.

Which bring up a point about the early to late 1980s: it was pretty easy to find KISS items for fairly cheap back then.  The one I remember the most was seing a large shipment of KISS lunchboxes that turned up at Odd Lots (aka Big Lots) back in '84 for $3 each; all in mint condition and with their themoses included.  But such finds were not that common by that point; typically, it was the thift shops and Salvation Army stores that were the best place to look for KISS items.

By that point, all the kids that had grown up listening to KISS in the 1970s and buying all the merchandise, were throwing things out because either "KISS isn't cool anymore" or just didn't care one way or another by that point in their lives.  Perhaps some of them regret today getting rid of those items so quickly, but at the time, the whole "we've got to save everything because it's all going to be collectible some day!" attitude of many people - leading to people hoarding a lot of junk that will never be worth anything because everyone else is hoarding the same junk - was simply not there.  To the majority of people, it really was junk and it became easy for a time back then to find KISS puzzles for a quarter, the KISS ON TOUR game for a dollar, or the dolls for a couple of bucks. Sure, it wasn't quite the same on the album front - many retailers knew by around '85 that those KISS albums were becoming collectible, but for a while at least you could still find some treasures among the many copies of FRAMPTON COMES ALIVE and SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER soundtrack albums that littered the record bins of used record stores at the time (not to mention that there was a pretty big blind-eye to bootlegs back there and it wasn't uncommon to see well-known independent record stores carrying such items out in the open for everyone to see).  It made every trip to any type of thrift shop an excavation in a way; one never knew what treasure could turn up in even the smelliest, broken-down dive or flea market back then.  Heck, it wasn't even uncommon to run into the KISS pinball machine selling for a few hundred dollars back there.

These days, as stated above, the fun has gone out of the hunt for the most part.  Everyone thinks everything is worth a fortune, and albums that would never sell for more than a few dollars even in mint condition today have jacked-up prices because ignorant sellers think "it has to be worth that much, it's KISS!"  Perhaps once in a while you can still run across an item or two if one knows where to shop, but those days are sadly long gone.  Now, everyone is ready to make money off anything with the KISS logo on it.  Unfortuantely for them, so is everyone else, and the glut of merchandise from the late 1990s hasn't help any (especially as those items are what is crowding out all the really cool, old items that one used to see at the KISS conventions).  Not to say that some of the items that have been released in the last twenty years haven't been really unique and interesting, but sometimes four old 8-tracks for $1 just makes for a more interesting history for the items than "Spencer's leftovers."

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