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We'll deliver 'in a few weeks' says troubled ZX Spectrum reboot firm

New deadline for retro kit

Troubled ZX Spectrum reboot firm Retro Computers Ltd has promised to deliver its Vega+ product in “a few weeks”.

“We apologise sincerely for our forced radio silence (more on that) and delay in our promised updates, but please know we have been, and are still, working on the Vega+ final production and delivery,” said the firm in its first Indiegogo update since May.

“In time,” continued the update, “we will be able to publicise in detail what is going on... But right now, on the advice of our lawyers and related authorities, we have to wait until all various investigations and legal actions have been completed.”

RCL also blamed “a production issue and outside influences beyond our control” for not starting production sooner. We have asked Smart Made Simple Electronics, RCL’s manufacturing partner, to comment and will update this article if they respond.

The company has failed to meet its previous deadlines for delivering the ZX Spectrum-themed Vega+, a handheld gaming console that was meant to have 1,000 games bundled with it upon delivery. It has taken more than half a million pounds in crowdfunded donations to make the console and has delivered nothing to those who handed over £105 each in expectation of receiving a Vega+.

So far there has been no tangible sign of any progress being made in the delivery of the consoles.

A war of words

In recent days Paul Andrews, a former director (and current shareholder) of RCL who claims he is fighting to ensure the company delivers its promised product, said that he had obtained the company’s full bank statements. He claimed he was able to do this because RCL’s current directors left him as a named party on the company bank account, and says he obtained the statements by going to a branch and doing so in person.

Although Andrews initially said he would release the statements publicly, he did not do so, saying his lawyer had told him it would be “inadvisable” to reveal the statements’ contents.

For its part, RCL alleges that Andrews “unlawfully” tried to access the bank account. The company also says he “unlawfully received a new bank card”, while Andrews claims the card arrived out of the blue in the post and that he immediately returned it to the bank.

Suzanne Martin, RCL’s managing director, did not deny to The Register that she was posting pictures of Andrews and his family on Facebook groups linked to RCL, insisting that the photos were “in the public domain” and claiming they were proof that Andrews misused company money for a personal holiday. Andrews said that the photos were “absolutely not” in the public domain and that the holiday had been a business trip to the CES show as part of RCL’s abortive attempt to enter the US market.

Various bloggers who have been closely monitoring the saga have been in touch with El Reg, saying someone has attempted to have their blogs suspended over the last couple of days.

Comment: Lots of hot air and little light

The basic contention of RCL’s customers – backers, to use the Indiegogo phrase – is that the company has taken their money but seems to continually extend the deadline for when it will give them a product. Although a small number of vocal backers have asked for and received refunds, others have yet to get their money back – though some have told El Reg that they have managed to obtain refunds through their banks and credit card providers.

Meanwhile, RCL continues to insist that production is only a few weeks away. The firm told El Reg a few months ago that it would go into production in July, something it now admits it has not done.

What none of the to-ing and fro-ing indicates is whether we will see the Vega+ delivered to its customers.

Given the deep affection felt by many older techies for the Sinclair ZX brand and products, the thousands of people who signed up for this particular project deserve answers. ®

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