KISS Invades Wal-Mart!!! (10/9/2009)

The day was finally here for the world’s KISS fans as their newest CD “Sonic Boom” was unleashed upon the masses and if you lived in the United States or Canada, the recording would be available exclusively at Wal-Mart retailers.  This was pretty big news considering the fact that this is the world’s largest retailer and that some 2800 hundred stores would be setting up special KISS displays to commemorate the occasion.

A Typical Wal-Mart Superstore
A Typical Wal-Mart Superstore

As a long time music fan and purchaser I didn’t find the fact that KISS signed this deal to be all that strange for them to do. Given that we had recently seen similar deals done by the likes of Journey, AC/DC, The Eagles and even Foreigner it seemed to make the most sense at the end of the day. After all, this year alone saw the closure of the Virgin Megastores and Circuit City and this cut two major means of physically purchasing music out of the picture so unless you solely bought your music online you would be searching just a little harder for places to get your latest and greatest releases. The new KISS CD “Sonic Boom” would be a special edition and feature not only new music from the band but also re-recorded classics and a live DVD of concert footage.  Journey did the exact same thing with their “Revelation” album while Foreigner gave us a remixed collection of their classics as opposed to redone ones with “Can’t Slow Down”.   I had to admit that I needed to double check myself in the liner notes on the Foreigner disc as I originally thought I was listening to Kelly Hansen so a dead on Lou Gramm. We reviewed each of these CD’s on when they came out so to read the Journey one click HERE and to see the Foreigner one click HERE if you are curious about what we had to say about them.

KISS Wal-Mart Rack Display
KISS Wal-Mart Rack Display

I made my way to the Wal-Mart store that was on the way back from Atlantic City, NJ on the day of the album’s release since that was the closest one to me at the time (I believe this was the Camden store, but I was not driving and instead the passenger and not paying 100% attention).   I had read that the displays were set up in the stores electronics and music sections which made the most sense but the truth of the matter was that it would only be two reasonably sized sections with band labeled product in the store I arrived in.  The photo above showcases the KISS Mr. Potato Head figures (yes, you did read that correctly) and the KISS M&M’s along with KISS rollup blankets and trading cards.  While not displayed in this graphic, the rack also had the complete first and second season boxed sets of “Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels” and the first “KISSology” DVD package available for purchase.   If you have never seen Gene’s show before it is very well done and so much better than the all-too scripted “Osbournes” show which once aired on MTV. The diehards already know and most probably own this next reference but to those who do not, the “KISSology” 1st DVD set has got some incredible vintage footage of the band and is a recommendation of the highest level. This delivers some Winterland footage from 1975 and far too many other treasures to line out here. We reviewed all three of the released volumes and a link will be provided at the end of our narrative for your reading pleasure.

KISS Wal-Mart Display Rack
KISS Wal-Mart Display Rack

Above we see the new album displayed prominently and showcasing numerous copies that were all available for $12 bucks each.  That’s quite a bargain for something that has three discs to it, so be a KISS purest and hate the lineup that delivered this album, I still think that your own personal Gene Simmons implant will find you eventually craving your own copy so your collection can be complete.   Wal-Mart also had on sale a great selection of the bands back catalog and they were priced between $5 and $8 it seemed.   While the photo shows the numerous “Millennium Collection” Best Of’s that were released, they did also have copies of “Dressed To Kill”, “Destroyer”, “Rock and Roll Over” and “Love Gun” available to get those fans who might not yet own a copy of them up to speed.  I had to admit that I loved the fact that so much KISS stuff was available here for purchase because I had never seen that many of their items on any of the stores shelves in the past visits I had done. One of the downsides was that the store did not receive their KISS signage and hence had no giant band logo above the display like they had when The Beatles remastered catalog had been set up. The manager suggested that I come back on Thursday since she anticipated having it by then and my suggestion to her was perhaps some of the staff should walk around in official KISS face paint to spark a little more interest in the items, at least for today. Sadly, a few of the clerks around me who heard this idea were not interested in having any part of it. Oh well, to each their own right? Coming up next, the one and only Official KISS Mr. Potato Head “Spuds”.

Starchild & Cat Man Mr. Potato Head Spud
Starchild & Cat Man Mr. Potato Head Spuds
Space Man & Demon Mr. Potato Head Spuds
Space Man & Demon Mr. Potato Head Spuds

While I have always felt that action figures were the perfect thing for a band like KISS to have happen, I never in my wildest dreams imagined that their likenesses would one day be on the Mr. Potato head line.  They looked pretty interesting but I held back as best as I could from purchasing them since I figure that we will eventually find a complete box set of the four made available.  If I am wrong, then I will just end up searching the KISS conventions for a set when the need for completion in KISS collectibles becomes a necessity.  As you see there is one for each member of the band with one representing Paul, Gene, Tommy and Eric.  Yes I know that these figures are sporting the makeup originally worn by Ace and Peter, but with those two members gone from the lineup, they are most likely reflecting the fact that Tommy and Eric are now the Space and Cat Men.   Ok folks, time to ready yourself for the most unexpected KISS item ever see – The KISS M&M’s!!!!

The Four Different Packages of KISS M&M's
The Four Different Packages of KISS M&M’s

I love chocolate as much as the next person, but had learned that the KISS M&M’s were dark chocolate as opposed to the conventional type that we find stocked on the shelves of candy and grocery stores across the land so I passed on picking up a bag.  I figure I will wait until we find KISS M&M’s with Peanuts, or KISS M&M’s with Peanut Butter.  You might be laughing at me for saying this but if there is already one brand available what is to stop them from using the same designs on the candy lines other varieties.  You might not be able to see this from the image above but not only does each bag represent a unique member of KISS, but the actual candies inside the bag all have a brand of that members makeup.  I did think that this was a pretty cool facet of them.

KISS "On Tour" Trading Cards
KISS “Tour Edition” Trading Cards

This collectible is a little more on the normal side and while the box was much larger than the contents, they each contain a full set of the new KISS trading cards by Press Pass. There are 33 cards in the set and while I have yet to open mine up, I know that they are of the highest quality based on what this company has released in the past. We got our KISS Fan hands on a set of their KISS “Ikons” trading cards back in June 2009 and we wrote a blog musing about it. You can see that musing and find a means to order one via via this LINK. I really enjoyed that set of cards and they impressed me even more than the super cool set we found released when the band first reunited with the original members in full makeup. There are three different boxes of these cards and one features a full band shot while the others feature a visage of Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley.  I’ll probably leave this set unopened and go buy another one so I can see how they look.  That’s what most of the typical KISS fans do anyways, and I am no different from them when it comes to certain things.

I didn’t wander down to the Halloween aisle because the clerks who were over there said there was nothing related to KISS on the shelves anyway and I had read that not only were KISS masks supposed to be on sale but also KISS makeup kits. Also missing were the $5 KISS shirts which I would have liked to grab a couple of to wear at the shows and it was at that time that the manager felt that much of this missing stuff was probably still waiting on being unpacked. It would only be a matter of time before that stuff was available for this outlets customer base but I was headed back to Brooklyn and that didn’t help me at all since we have no Wal-Mart anywhere near us. The closest one to me is out in Long Island, about a 35 minute drive away.  Too far a hike to get a couple of band shirts for a cheaper price.  There is always the stores online aspect so perhaps I will look into those items via that means.

KISS Fabric Poster Group Shot
KISS Fabric Poster Group Shot

While I am sure that there were some other posters around somewhere in the massive retailer, the only KISS one that I observed in this section was the smashing cloth poster that you see above.  This was nice and is perfect for those fans whose rooms are covered in stuff of this kind, and while I did admit to liking it myself, my days of hanging KISS posters in my room are long over.  Of course I do have a small group photo from the “Psycho Circus” album that was a present and hangs above my light switch, but I digress.

KISS would appear on the Late Show with David Letterman on Tuesday night and perform “Modern Day Delilah” for the crowd and it sounded great.  I admit that it was rather refreshing to see them doing this new rocking tune instead of “Rock and Roll All Nite” for a change.  Love the rock anthem as much as I do, I prefer the difference when it comes to the bands televised appearances every now and then.  I also admit that it was interesting to see KISS performing in such a tightly confined space as opposed to a gigantic stage but that is what most television studios are when it comes down to it.  Smaller spaces that look just a little larger on the broadcast when we sit down on the couch to enjoy them.

In addition to a comprehensive review of the new KISS “Sonic Boom” album, has offered up reviews of a wide number of KISS releases and shows over the years and all of them can be enjoyed by clicking HERE

The KISS Loft: 10 East 23rd Street
The KISS Loft: 10 East 23rd Street

KISS History began in this building which is 10 East 23rd Street, New York City.  Back in the day’s of their earliest creativity, KISS had a loft on the fourth floor of this building and would flesh out the ideas that they were coming up with and rehearse them again and again until they felt that they were ready to be unleashed on the public.   We all know what happened when that came to pass.  I always find that passing by this building and knowing what took place there so long ago for my favorite of all bands gives me a lot of positive energy and the realization that we can do anything that we put our mind to.  For me, this is Rock and Roll Holy Ground.

Official Website:
Official Website:

14 thoughts on “KISS Invades Wal-Mart!!! (10/9/2009)”

  1. OK, this was a great little roundup of KISStory as it turns out. I am pretty repulsed by the over-mass-merchandising, but whatever, that’s Simmons. I loved the Ace poster though, I’ll have to go down and see that. That would have had to have been the tour after the one for Trouble Walkin’, which I thought was the Bad Boys tour, but no mention of Pete on the poster. Love the Ace costume in there too. Sonic Boom still falls flat after the first couple songs though.

    You almost made me feel like a real KISS guy again. Letterman was cool, they sounded good. But no goosebumps. Gene can still KISS my ASS. Now what’s up with Anomaly? 🙂

  2. I have been thinking about the situation with the makeup and scabs. Ithink one reason I am pissed at the situation is the lack of respect for Ace and Peter. I am disgusted that the replacements wear the makeup and I am further disgusted at the recording of Sonic Boom versus Psycho Circus. Paul likes to point out that lawyers got involved and that past members were delusional in their songwriting abilities, causing a disjointed effort. The “delusional” members, whose past spngs are still played did try to bring some songs to the plate and were reportedly rebuffed. Now comes Sonic Boom and they supposedly record as a real band. Why didn’t they try it with the past members? Because they couldn’t control the originals while the current are hired yes guys.

    I have listened to Sonic Boom, but will not buy it, or any merch with the replacements as Ace or Peter.

  3. This is very cool 😀 So many KISS merch. whoa!
    Ken….I love and agree with your facts 🙂
    Great review and again….awesome pictures!
    I really enjoy them

  4. Nice post and fun read. I laughed out loud when I read “the holy ground” comment. I think we went by there a couple of times.

  5. The KISS display at the Wal-Mart in Newburgh, NY was overall prety sad. Though there were plenty of copies of the new CD as well as some of the remastered back catalog, only 1 shirt was available for sale (and a huge, tent sized 2XL at that, easily big enough to fit myself and 3 small children), no Potato Head dolls, no KISS cards, but a boatload of the M&M’s and KISS blankets. That was it. And, thrown in the corner of a CD rack that was the previous home to the Beatles remasters a few weeks prior, unless you happened to be walking down the CD ailse you’d never have seen it. As for masks and things, I did walk around the store but saw nothing, so perhaps they were just as well hidden as the CD display. Honestly, AC/DC had more of a presence at this local Wal-Mart when Black Ice went on sale. So much for Gene & Paul staying on top of this and making sure each store had the displays laid out correctly.

    Oh yeah, and Sonic Boom is pretty decent overall.

  6. Great report, Ken – we got ours this week, now I just want a few $5 Destroyer shirts and life will be good….! Thanks for your help with the Kweevak article…

  7. At the time of this posted comment (10/17/2009), it appears as though KISS has achieved the #2 position on the Billboard Magazine Hard Rock and Independent Charts. It’s also done well in Sweden, Norway and the Czech Republic and all of this comes without “Sonic Boom” being released in Japan or Australia yet. Congratulations to KISS on this achievement.

  8. KISS on top at Brazilian Billboard list this week, how much of KISS stuff can a person get? lol oh my god they are everywhere, Ken you did a amazing job with this article even took photos, Ken is the guy you wanna read when looking for Rock music reviews

  9. I think it’s appalling the preferential treatment this album has been deferred. The substandard content aside, an exclusive deal with Wal-Mart has guaranteed undeserved sales for this record. Wal-Mart continues its corporate globalization of America with this exclusive KISS record, while continuing to rape America of its traditional mom-and-pop record stores which it has long since helped put out of business. If it is true that Wal-Mart is responsible for 35% of the record sales in this country, I’m almost ready to say THANK GOD for digital downloading. I can’t imagine that Number of the Beast or No Rest for The Wicked are on very many of their shelves. That leaves 65% of the country who have the means and knowledge to get their hands on something better than the corporate backroom dealt ‘musician-ship’ that Wal-Mart will hand you. Please everyone, go down to your local Bleeker Bob’s, or your Vintage Vinyl’s, or whatever your local establishment is and support true Rock and Metal. Support your local establishments for their own fiscal security. If you want to make a difference on the sales charts, get on iTunes, that’s the only option these days. Buy the shit out of Anomaly by Frehley, the new Slayer, all of that. Wal-Mart is the nonsensical reason why we had one week on the Billboard charts where The Eagles narrowly edged out Britney Spears for #1. While all of our bands were somewhere middling in the morass of nowhere in sales. Pull together, Metal brethren, and let’s march our way back up the charts WITHOUT paying Wal-Mart for substandard records or any other crappy product that happens to habitate within their subhuman doors.

    For a good look at the corporation and their business practices, start here:

    Not being a cheerleader, no P/A…just stating the facts.


  10. While I agree with you about Wal-Mart destroying small ‘mom&pop” stores around the country I don’t believe you can fully blame them for the success or failure of a bands album sales. Too many people today have no problem illegally downloading a bands cd and then burning copies for all of their friends to enjoy, thus depriving a band of sales of their new CD. Also a lot of fans of older bands do not keep up with the bands they listen to,they are happy to live in the past and ignore a bands new material, a perfect example was when Iron Maiden announced they were going to play A Matter of Life and Death in its entirety a few years ago, they were crucified for it. too many fans in america just want nostalgia and to hear the same songs over and over again. Because of this bands have to find new ways to make the public aware of new material, for better or worse that is where wal-mart comes into the picture. they offer a huge promotional campaign that cannot be matched and that helps a band get the word out to the public about there new cd. this is what KISS saw and they took advantage of it, they turned the release of their new CD into an event with other merchandise being available to buy. Now this might not be everyone’s cup of tea but that is how KISS does it, merchandising is a very big part of the KISS machine, personally I enjoy collecting all the stuff they put their name on, for me it is a hobby. As for your substandard content remark , a brand new killer CD, an excellent re-recorded classic hits CD and a bonus DVD are far from substandard, you definitely got your moneys worth with this one. And please explain how Wal-mart is responsible for undeserved record sales, Psycho Circus sold pretty much the same amount as Sonic Boom did in its first week and that album was not a wal-mart exclusive. Ace’s new album only sold 17,000 in its first week, is that Wal-marts fault too, no it is the fault of the fans who don’t support there favorite bands. Wal-mart does not put out substandard records or crappy product, bands do, it is up too the fans to decide if they want to buy it or not and if that means I have to Wal-mart to buy it I will. But when I leave there I will also go to Vintage Vinyl and pick up something there too. Like I said before you blame Wal-mart for what is wrong with the music selling business maybe fans should look in the mirror.

  11. Good read 😀
    Kiss M&M’s sound yummy… Though I agree all these strange merchandise things are a bit too commercial, even for Kiss.

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