Bally Meets KISS
by Pinn Bally
The idea for a KISS-themed game was in January 1978. The president of the KISS licensing and merchandising firm invited the members of Bally corporation to see KISS in concert at the Chicago Stadium, with the thought in mind that Bally might be interested in theming a flipper game on the band.
The Bally Corporation all agreed after seeing KISS in concert, that they were on their way towards a 'KISS' pinball game.
It took over year and a half to put it all together. The Bally's Pinball Division marketing director called on the expertise of every department for the ultimate design production, performance and promotion of their newest celebrity-themed electronic flipper "KISS". There's no question that this machine marked a significant event in Bally's history. It was the first regulation sized soild state flipper game released since the announcement of the Bally's new Pinball Division.
Like the production of any major Broadway show in a Hollywood movie, the public only sees the finished piece. The planning, thought, negotiations, timing, shipping and all the rest of the 'Behind Scenes" is a story all to itself.
Every piece of artwork had to be approved by the KISS marketing division and by each member of KISS. Because the KISS makeup and costuming is letter-perfect each time they appear, they justifiably demanded the same perfection on "their" pinball game. This approval covered the length of hair on each member, the fullness of lips, the sizes of body muscles, down to one really interesting problem. The group's head are depicted on the two sides of the cabinet. Normally Bally cuts a paint stencil that's used to spray the art on one cabinet side, then they turn it over for the other side effecting a reverse impression of the other. However, Paul Stanley's makeup required a star painted over his right eye, so the reverse art wasn't accepted. Bally had to create a whole new set of stencils to put the star over the proper eye on each side of the cabinet.
The KISS pinball machine was the first of it's kind for a "4-player". The new "Strobe light effect" was used on the letters K-I-S-S on the backplate realistically resembling the KISS logo used on stage.
The artwork on the backglass features the four original KISS members in superhero, comic book form; all muscles, fire and chrome. The KISS logo flashes when the machine is on standby waiting to attract the next player. The game basically consists of completing the 'KISS Card', four rows of K-I-S-S, by hitting targets or rollovers, and so increasing bonus score. There is also a return ball gate feature activated by making the top center rollover. A row of 4 yellow targets on the right hand side half way up the playfield, awards the player double bonus when all four have been hit. Hitting the four a second time awards extra ball and a third time awards, "Special" (usually a free game).
Upon starting the game the chorus to "Rock 'N Roll All Night" is played in electronic tones. At the end, the chorus to "Shout It Out Loud" is played.
When the game is tilted this machine laughs in gruff, dastardly electronic tones. The tilt volume can be adjusted to high or low. The game can be adapted to be played with three or five balls.
The playfield is very open at the bottom, with four bumpers, each one having on it a picture of the original four members of KISS.
There are two spinning targets that gives access to the top of the table. The target at the left hand side, far end, is of Gene's head in makeup. When this spins, on the other side there is a picture of the TONGUE, creating a satisfactory illusion of Gene Simmons' waving his tongue.
The two spinning targets give access to the top of the table and five rollovers back down to the bumper area.
The KISS pintable is proof of the theory held by many pinballers that a pinball machine does not need to be complicated to be enjoyable. Indeed this simple but immensely popular game has outlived many of its comtemporaries and some later tables. Most KISS machines have been withdrawn from commercial use in recent years but many have found their way into private hands and continue to give amusement to their owners. Bally built 17,000 of these games, an exceptionally long production run for any machine. A good condition KISS machine can sell from $500. to $2500, when available. The band's continued popularity has certainly helped to keep the price of the game high, which is good news for collectors who already own a KISS pinball.
The KISS pinball flyer cover.