Why Paul chose Ibanez in particular to produce his first signature guitar isn't exactly clear. Perhaps he truly had enjoyed his Ibanez Destroyer. Perhaps he had finally understood what kind of plan Gibson had for their sponsorship deal, a deal that evidently was about to run out in 1977. Perhaps he, like many others, felt that Gibson has betrayed their once high standards of production in the 70's. Or perhaps he wasn't really giving it much thought, although one would forgive that kind of hubris from a man fronting on of the most well-known band in America, until he was contacted by Ibanez during the band's first trip to Japan in the spring on 1977.
"[W]hen we went to Tokyo, it was absolute bedlam. We couldn't leave the hotel, there was a mob/riot at the airport. Ibanez called and said they wanted to get together with me with the idea of making a guitar, a signature guitar" (Guitars that Rule the World in Metal Edge presents KISS Alive 1996
) Although the original idea seems to have been that Paul was to design a completely new guitar that didn't come to fruition. "When I looked through their catalog, I saw a picture of a guitar that was not terribly popular. I liked the asymmetrical shape to it; it reminded me of a Firebird or a Rickenbacker bass turned upside down. It had one pickup one it that looked like you took three bobbins from a humbucker and put them together somehow. It also had that whacky knob that looked like you were going to change your television channels with it." (Guitar Shop, October 1996
The guitar Paul is referring to is almost surely the Artist 2663TC. Introduced in the 1976 Ibanez Artist catalog as seen above, the shape now commonly known as the Iceman was just another model in the Artist line. The "whacky knob" that Paul refers to is the chicken-head knob that was a "4 position tone selector switch". One wonders if Paul remembers the distinct tail piece as well. Paul has mentioned that he and Ibanez produced a number of prototypes (again in the Metal Edge article quoted above) and by my count there were three as seen below. A Japanese site has claimed that the first prototype was finished while Paul was still in Japan but that seems to be a very short window for Ibanez and Paul to first sit down, toss around some design ideas, decide on the shape, and produce a prototype guitar - and all this in just over 14 days. Considering that the demands on Paul's time wasn't limited to just rehearsing for and playing shows but also promotional work it seems a bit rushed. What does seem clear is both parties came to an agreement on the matter because Ibanez was quick to use Paul's name in relation to its newly christened Iceman line. For the first appearance of the Iceman in the 1977 Ibanez Performer foldout catalog there's no mention of Paul but in the poster catalog
later that year ("Tomorrow's name in guitars") both Paul and Steve Miller are name-dropped. Interestingly enough the latter catalog also see the disappearance of the last remains of the old Artist "Iceman" as the IC-210, the 1977 version of the Artist 2663TC, is quietly dropped.