Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Whoa-oh Take The Money And Run

I don't know why, but this just galls me today. Way back in Summer 2012 I was just starting to jump on the crowd-funding bandwagon, and a fellow named Bruno Galice had a campaign on Indiegogo running to produce a small band of pirate goblins sculpted by renowned gobbo sculptor Kev Adams. I pledged, the project funded, and I looked forward to my new gobbos.

Cool concept art! 
The problem is that nothing arrived. In fact, many of the backers reported receiving nothing. I held out hope. Things happen. It's not like nothing had been done on the project, since we had been shown supposed evidence of the sculpting WIP and manufacturing.

First there were sculpts

Then there were more sculpts.

Teasers of what we would be receiving.
Then there were bins of pewter!
Months passed, and still nothing arrived. Multiple emails went unanswered. The Indiegogo message area for the project was filled with people wanting answers for their non-delivery. There were claims that things had been sent but somehow not received. There were claims of illness and accusations of lying and all sorts of drama. All the while I held out hope. It wasn't a huge monetary investment on my part, so I was more than willing to wait however long it took.

The last update from Bruno Galice to backers came in February 2013, in which he claimed that he was sending out another 25 parcels that day. Speculation on the Indiegogo campaign messages ran rampant until the campaign was suddenly missing. I contacted Indiegogo about the sudden disappearance and received this response:
Unfortunately, at this time, the Indiegogo campaign, “Pirate Goblins Box Set”, has been discontinued.
Campaigns may be removed from Indiegogo if the campaign is found in violation of our ToU or at the campaign owner’s request during the review process. You can see our full Terms of Use here: http://www.indiegogo.com/about/terms.
We have asked the campaign owner, to contact his contributors. Unfortunately, at this point we have not heard back from him and have frozen his account and campaign(s) so that he can no longer use Indiegogo again.
Additionally, you can try reaching out them through their other social media sites.
Facebook-https://www.facebook.com/pages/TrepsGames/122059754603237Twitter- https://twitter.com/treps
Okay, then. I continued to attempt to contact Bruno through email. I remained positive, if less so than before. I even offered to pay for shipping if that was a problem (he responded that money was not a problem.) Email after email went unanswered after that. Every day I would get home from work and ritually ask my family, "Box from France?" Every day the answer was no.

Eventually I sent him this email.

Hi Bruno, 
   I just saw a few pictures someone posted on their blog about getting the Pirate Gobbos. I don't really know what's going on with you personally, but I saw that the indiegogo project had been pulled. I would still like to get a set of the goblins when you are able to send them. No hard feelings, no questions asked. Just please don't forget the people waiting on those wonderful little gobbos. 
Mike

Soon after, I received this unexpected photo.

For me?!!? Really!!?
What better evidence could I hope for than a photo of my gobbos and an envelope with my name and address? So I waited. And waited. And nothing arrived. 

My final email to Bruno, in my typical non-confrontational manner:
More than three months have gone by since you sent me a photo of the package with my name on it. I never received the goblins. I think I finally believe that I'm never going to get these. Whatever is stopping packages traveling from France to U.S. is impossible to overcome. Thanks for trying.
There was still a part of me that thought staying congenial would lead to me eventually getting the gobbos. It didn't. I will never get them. I have, as they say, been had. 


Maybe a great guy, but don't entrust
him with your money.






11 comments:

  1. Really sorry to hear about your experience, but at least you hadn't spent hundreds of dollars. Small comfort I know. I had to wait two years and send a lot of angry emails before I got a single resin figure from the Mike McVey/CMoN Kickstarter – won't be dealing with either of them again!

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    1. I assume you are talking about Sedition Wars. Yeah, that one took forever, and was just disappointing in the end. Between that and Bones, I developed a healthy kickstarter skepticism.

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    2. Sedition Wars seems to be the new standard for epically overhyped ****-ups on Kickstarter :(

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  2. Really sorry to know... specially when kev adams was involved in some way. There should be a way to punish this kind of behavior or at least a way of refunding people.

    That being said, that was a big dream of mine... to be able to produce a small batch of miniatures and sell them, not for the money but for the joy of seeing them boxed and actually painted in different ways by people. I've been holding a crowdfunding for years but it came to a point that companies use it as preorders, flooding the services and the much overfuded a projecy gets, the longer stuff takes (ages) to arrive, if they do at all... and in the end, people grow sick about a service that should help the average joe to fulfill his/hers dreams.

    Sadness apart, I've only spent money on just one crowdfunding, and was basically cause the guy made exactly the kind of figures I do. And still stuff ain't coming. I suppose it's the big drawback of CFs.

    Hope someday you'll recive a beaten up and dirty post office box ...with gobbos on it.

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    1. You are right about the pre-order thing, although for some I see it more as risk mitigation. Tooling costs a lot of money. Reaper was able to use their kickstart funds to start manufacturing on-site.

      It is rather strange to see how upset backers get over delays. The estimations of delivery on the campaigns always seem incredibly aggressive to me. The only big manufactured item that arrived right on time for me was the 3doodler, and that's probably because the creators had engineering backgrounds. When artists start making manufacturing estimates, expect inaccuracy. Bruno, on the other hand, had product in hand (well, in bins) and yet somehow very few people got them.

      Campaigns like you describe creating sounds great to me, but finding them is difficult. The pirate gobbos were exactly that sort of small project.

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    2. "When artists start making manufacturing estimates, expect inaccuracy."

      Good lord, truer words were surely never spoken. You could probably replace "artists" with "anyone who's not actually a profesional manufacturer", too.

      My bet is that those bins of goblins were all that were ever made, and only covered part of what was needed to cover orders. The shortcoming was made up for with parcels mysteriously "lost in the mail".

      Live and learn, I guess :(

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  3. I haven't actually participated in a Kickstarter/indiegogo event yet, although I've heard about tons that sound good and/or have people I know through the internet involved with them. I don't know if I ever will, because I have a healthy dose of paranoia and skepticism and I've seen enough reports like yours that stuff just went... wrong.

    Like javi said, hopefully you'll find a box of gobbos in your mailbox someday soon - Customs sometimes takes forever, so you maybe never know?

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    1. The photo of "my" gobbos was sent exactly six months ago yesterday (as in the day fo the original post. I didn't realize it at the time.)

      But maybe you guys are right... I suppose there is always the chance it will make its way to me, like those stories of a lost family pet that travels across the country to miraculously find its owners. If that package ever arrives I will create an original illustration of Bruno Galice being wonderful in some way and publish it here.

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    2. Is there any proof he sent them ? I mean, something else than your name on a box... cause he could be erasing it, writting down other backer's name, rinse and repeat...

      Maybe you should visit your local post office asking if there is or was any problems between France and The States lately, or what could happen to packages containing metals coming from europe.

      I know wild stories about putty boxes being detonated at customs cause under x-rays it looked suspicious.

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    3. No proof beyond that photo. It was six months ago now and I have received other packages from Europe in that time containing metal models, so I doubt the mail service had any problems. I don't plan on pursuing it.

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  4. If I saw a picture of this guy, and I knew he was from France, I wouldnt give him 1 cent.

    His face is just saying "Im an asshole"

    looks are not deceiving - they tell you everything.

    I guess you were looking at pirate goblins though ;)

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