360 DEGREES OF TORY
August 08, 2009
By Doug Cataldo for KISSONLINE.com

Hot off the success of the sold-out debut KISS Ikons trading card set from Press Pass, collectors can now enjoy 360 degrees of the Hottest Band in the World. The second KISS release from Press Pass contains a 90-card base set, 4 insert sets and multiple parallel series to chase. A huge part of what makes KISS larger than life is their theatrical and visual show, and Press Pass delivers with a dazzling dip into the bombastic KISSnation.

This time around they've developed some stunning acetate and lenticular inserts collections and they included signatures from all four original members. You could find a single card containing the autographs of Gene, Paul, Ace and Peter. There are also memorabilia cards of not only Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, but beloved drummer Eric Carr. A box of KISS 360 is priced at $79.00.

To cover the entire career of KISS is quite an undertaking. They've been making KISStory since 1973. In 2009 they celebrated the 35th anniversary of their landmark recording KISS Alive! With an appearance on American Idol, the announcement of a new KISS CD and other significant milestones such as the introduction of KISS M&Ms, KISS Mr. Potato Heads and plans to launch another explosive tour, they continue to leave an unparalleled legacy in the world of rock and roll.

Press Pass did an excellent job capturing many KISStoric moments for fans of the band to explore. 360 opens with a 9-card look at the non-makeup era of KISS. This subset addresses the most popular KISS tunes from the 80s including Lick It Up, Tears Are Falling and Unholy. Classic live shots from the Revenge, Lick it Up and Asylum tours make up the fronts of the cards, while the backs contain stories from founding members Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons about how the songs were written.

The set continues with a look at KISS in 2009, where the band is currently on fire. Fired up by the energetic Eric Singer on drums and solid lead guitar playing of Tommy Thayer, they haven't played with such musicianship since the reunion tour of 1996. It's this chemistry that sparked songwriting for a new KISS CD. These 9 cards contain quotes from the band on the recording process and a promise that it will rock like classic KISS releases from the 70s.

KISS wouldn't be where they are today if not for the continued efforts of Simmons and Stanley to keep the band going, but a significant portion of their early years were spent with Ace Frehley and Peter Criss. The 18-card Behind the Curtain subset contains some amazing candid shots of the band in and out of makeup during the early years of the KISS craze. There are shots of the band applying their trademark makeup, preparing to take the stage and handling photo shoots and interviews. As a lifelong fan, I was really impressed with some of the photos in this particular series, as I had never seen them before.

Gene Simmons loves the spotlight, and he gets it all to himself in the 9-card "The Demon Speaks" set. Containing even more candid classic photos and quotes from the Bat-Demon himself, ranging from his ego to his adoration and appreciation of the KISS Army, Gene lets it all hang out as only he can.

Without the multi-talented Paul Stanley; KISS could have fallen to the wayside in 1982 after the departure of Ace Frehley. The quintessential frontman is one of the top rock vocalists of all time. His remarkable voice, combined with Simmons' marketable mouth has kept the KISS juggernaut running strong. Stanley is handling the producing chores on the new KISS CD and he's been instrumental in keeping them on track to deliver the classic KISS sound in 2009 too. Within the 9-card "Behind Starry Eyes" collection, fans will get some wisdom from the Starchild.

KISS fans love to recount the band's wacky road stories from their numerous tours that have taken place over the years. From tossing furniture out of hotel room windows and shooting arrows through artwork, Ace Frehley certainly lived life on the road in the fast lane. Many of these tales are told on the backs of the 12-card Roadstories set.

"Welcome to the show!" These key lyrics in the song Psycho Circus are the heart and soul of the KISS live experience, and this is also the name of a 6-card set comprised of the band's thoughts about the longevity and the global phenomenon that KISS is. There are heartfelt quotes from current members Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer about how they feel about playing in KISS, but also how they are moved by the fact that KISS continues to dominate and make new fans wherever they go. There are some great photos in this subset too - a fantastic photo of Ace signing a beautiful blonde's svelte abs is a standout to be on the lookout for.

The remainder of the base set is made up of a discography of KISS albums. Starting with the 1974 release of KISS to 1998s Psycho Circus they cover 18 albums from the band's vast catalog.

Collectors looking for some rarities can try to piece together parallel sets including the Blood-Spitting collection which can be found in 1:4 packs and the "$" parallel #'d to 50 that can be found 1 in every 24 packs on average. Finally, you might also unpack a limited edition 1-of-1 Press Plate card. These hard-to-find gems are the plates used to print the actual cards. You could find a Cyan, Magenta, Yellow or Black variation of all 90 cards.

Kudos to Press Pass for delivering a quality KISS trading card product. With all of the innovations that were non-existent when the first KISS trading cards were made in the 70s, it is only fitting the Hottest Band in the World has the Hottest Trading Cards in the World!

CLICK HERE to visit Press Pass' Official KISS 360 Website