Coleco Chameleon boss sheds light on fake console prototype

Ben Parfitt
Coleco Chameleon boss sheds light on fake console prototype

One of the key figures behind the failed Coleco Chameleon console has spoken out on his version of why the venture collapsed.

All trace of the project vanished last month after a pair of prototype devices, one of which was shown to the public at the New York Toy Fair, were exposed as fakes.

It was then a day before I was traveling to the show that [our engineer] came over to my house with the Toy Fair ‘prototype', with his instructions to NOT SHOW the back of the unit no matter what,” RetroVGS boss Mike Kennedy claimed in a long post on the Atari Age forums.

But without any specific information as to why I shouldn't show it, other than it used an aftermarket connector that was composite-out and that was used because he didn't have the HD stable enough to get us through the show. I believed him and went to the show with that unit.

During the show we were accused of not having that system even plugged in so I made the decision to take a photo of the back of the unit showing it was clearly plugged in. If that was true about using the composite connector, I really felt people would understand why it was used and decided to show the pics. I didn't feel we had anything to hide. Then all hell broke loose and it was identified that SNES mini parts or the whole PCB from an SNES mini was inside the console shell.

I was left in a terrible spot at this point and I had a decision to make that evening at the hotel. Do I take this thing apart and see what was in it and quit the show or continue on with the show, demoing the games that were going to be on the system, and then address this issue with [the engineer] when we got back from New York. Right or wrong, I continued on with Toy Fair.”

Kennedy goes on to detail about how he was convinced to part with further cash to fund a second, real” prototype. This ended up being the device that was found to be nothing more than a PC DVR capture card in a shell.

Keep in mind, these pictures were to combat the criticism of the ‘fake' Toy Fair prototype and were given to me by him to post on Facebook to show people the real ‘prototype',” Kennedy lamented. [The engineer] even joked about how people online were trying to identify the board in our shell, laughing and telling me they won't find it because it's our original work. Again, I believed him.

Since this all fell apart I have been trying to get [the engineer] to explain to me why he would point blank lie to my face about that being ‘our board' and passing that two-bit PC board off as our prototype and he can't give me an explanation that makes any sense, in fact I get no explanation other than that there was more going on in there than people can see.

Something was just not adding up to me and I continued to lose sleep at night wondering how this all could have happened. I have paid this guy $7,000 and have nothing to show for it.”

Kennedy insists that his intentions were absolutely genuine.

I want to apologize to all of you for the past few months. There was never any intention to deceive or pull the wool over any of your eyes,” he added. These past few months with these fake prototypes was inexcusable and I hope you can all understand a bit more about how this all happened and why I have remained silent the past few weeks.

"You will all be glad to hear that I am officially tabling the console venture for good. I want to ask you all for some level of forgiveness and I hope you all understand that I would have never gone to Kickstarter with a blatant rip-off of a prototype.”

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