May 20, 2010

By Doug Cataldo

Card Corner Club

One look at the band KISS and you can instantly see why they have dominated the music/entertainment scene for over 35 years. Driven by the talents and business acumen of Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, KISS has persevered when other bands faded into obscurity. Not only have they written rock anthems that have stood the test of time, but they set the bar for merchandising their brand better than any other musical act. Collectors of KISS memorabilia have many avenues to choose from -- magazines, guitar picks, comic books or trading cards to name a few. The trading card aspect has improved tremendously since Press Pass has been producing KISS cards. They've just unleashed their latest set, The Legend of KISS, and you can find a 24-pack box in stores now for about $50. That's about $2 per pack.

The band is already colorful, larger than life and they have a storied history, so capturing their legacy on cardboard seems like a no-brainer. As far back as 1978 the band has been part of the non-sports card scene. Through the years, many other companies have produced KISS card sets, but none fully captured the elements that are familiar to modern trading card collectors, including autographs and memorabilia. Press Pass has taken KISS card collecting to the next level, and with Legends of KISS they've reached a new pinnacle.

Legends checklist contains 100 base cards, and as a long-time KISS collector it is safe to say that these are the very best looking KISS cards ever produced. Each card has a watercolor paint finish and combined with classic KISS images it is sure fire winning combination. The set includes photos from all eras of the band. You'll find shots from the early days with Ace and Peter, the 80s non-makeup years, and shots of what many believe to be the strongest live KISS lineup with Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer.

The card backs feature quotes from the living rock legends and also makeup several mini-puzzles. There are multiple parallel collections for those looking to piece together a rarer, complete set. First Edition Base Parallels come from the first sheets that were pressed at the printer, and these cards are sequentially numbered and limited to only 33 sets. Proof Edition Black and White parallels are seeded about 1:4 packs, and the more rare Cyan edition are #'d to 25 in hobby boxes. You can find Magenta, Black and Yellow parallels in retail products at stores such as your local WalMart. There are also Press Plate cards. Press Plates are one of a kind KISS collectibles of each of the 100 cards and are one of the four color plates used to print the cards. You could find a Cyan, Magenta, Black or Yellow plate and have a completely unique collectible all to yourself.

With the KISS Pop-Ups you can enjoy a 3-D replica of Gene, Paul, Eric, Tommy, Peter and Ace. These cool inserts pop and fold out so that you can stand them up and display them. They also featured the wicked paint design of the base cards and look like mini works of art.

One of the great aspects of seeing KISS live is their amazing costumes. With the Rock Star Relics cards, you can own a piece of a concert-worn outfit from Gene Simmons or Paul Stanley. KISS Kuts feature autographs from the founding members along with a swatch of costume! You could also unpack autographs from Ace Frehley and Peter Criss or a card with all four original members. Unlike many sports card products where memorabilia and autographs run rampant, I give Press Pass credit for spreading out the autographs and memorabilia. The autographs are #d to low quantities and the three levels of memorabilia cards are seeded 1:90 packs. Their plan to keep these types of cards limited seems to have worked, as previous cards have reach three-digit sale prices and if you do a quick search on eBay you can find a few autographs from this product that are fetching just under $300. The memorabilia cards range anywhere from $40 to $90.

Ironically when I spoke about this collection on my radio show, I actually got some flak from my co-host who had a blogger say that talking about KISS cards was boring. I beg to differ, and so apparently do many collectors, as these cards are far outshining many of today's biggest sports stars.

I opened a box and unfortunately didn't find any memorabilia or autos, so needless to say, as a fan I was a little disappointed but, I am two cards shy of the 100-card set and did find 8 parallels and 4 Pop-ups. The cards' beauty alone will have me purchasing multiple boxes, but as a KISS fan, I am spoiled. They have always delivered the total package. The albums often had a little bonus inside, such as a poster or tattoos or a Love Gun. I think it would be cool to include one big hit in every box of KISS product such as a guitar pick box topper or even a sketch card to deliver value to each hobby box.

Luckily for me, and the hundreds of thousands of other KISS fans, the Legend of KISS continues to grow.