ZXVegawatch – the blinded mice that RCL forgot

8 days down in the month, and 22 days remaining until April’s over and the questions flood back to Retro Computers Ltd about the whereabout’s of it’s legendary Lord Lucan of a console, the Vega Plus.
Honestly after nearly 2 years of promises, lies, further promises, lies, further promises given the Hollywood treatment (lies), you’d think to yourself “what the hell is in it for the company to keep stringing this along?”.
Well there are a few reasons for this. First off, to close the company the company needs 75% of the shareholders to agree to close. Something of which will never happen as 2x shareholders happen to be the ex directors of RCL, who successfully setup Retro Games Ltd and this month release to much applause the C64 Mini. As both guys are owed a substantial amount of money by the current directors of RCL, it still remains in their best interests to see this recovered and to have the outstanding product shipped.
So why can’t RCL just have the company struck off by Companies house? From my understanding when Paul Andrews and Chris Smith (ex directors) commenced their legal action, they ensured that the current directors were individually named. Should the company cease the exist, then the recovery of outstanding funds will be liable to Suzanne Martin and David Levy to resolve, something I suspect neither of them wants to be chased for.
Then there’s the matter that the current Website address is actually owned by ‘Intelligent Toys’ David Levy’s own company, something that brings into question whether the companies are linked closer nowadays..
Anyhow keeping with the subject this week, whether you have been keeping up to date in the saga or not, you may have also come across three associated names to the dismal saga that pop up from time to time in conversations and to avoid naming outright I’ll just call them as follows:

  • Mr F (Webdesigner, webhost, and for approx. 12 months was the news reporter and appeared to be social media communications ambassador for the company during his time)
  • Mr S (Adminstrator of RCL’s unofficial facebook group, but now employed as a ‘investigative journalist’ by RCL directly)
  • Mr T (ex Administrator of one of the largest facebook groups, and who’s wife for an extended length of time also co-administrated RCL’s unofficial facebook group)

Mr F’s story is quite lengthy and to be frank may be worth covering in a separate article, but suffice to say they performed the following actions for the company:
Website design and hosting – for which they were paid £14,000 for services rendered, of which only £100 has been documented on their accounts at companies house as of the last accounts (so we are looking at a honest individual from the get go).
However behind the scenes, it appears there other key duties were as follows:

  • To provide timely news updates to counter any negative press that may be released during production time.
  • Continue a sustained campaign against the previous directors, tarnishing where possible their names and business at request from employers, and where possible lay blame for continued delays in the hands of the ex team members citing ‘troll campaigns’, interception of production, and withdrawal of rights to software.
  • Link a previously well known high traffic website catering as an archive to Spectrum hardware and software (which had been taken over from previous owner by Mr F) to the ZX Vega both as a facility to add further software and to act as the official forums for later updates.
  • Hardware test alongside recommended users the prototype console (previously created by the departed team), assist sourcing alternative software for replacement of the withdrawn OS.
  • Setup an online shop for which further pre-orders could be taken directly for both the prior Vega model and the new Vega plus.

Mr F carried out his duties well, taking full credit to the activities above, of which a lot of documentation can be found on www.zxvega.co.uk and the facebook support group Here to see some of the varying acts produced.
Now during recent events which as yet have not been disclosed, Mr F has since parted ways with the company, presumably due to the lack of payment for outstanding invoices, of which he also for an extended period of time defaced the company’s official website advising the site was closed due to a payments issue (I sense irony here!), which increased communications via the company indiegogo campaign requesting refunds.
It is worth noting during this time someone (either RCL or Mr F) removed all of Mr F’s name from the official company sites news page prior to the site coming down. Likewise the previously linked official forums also have a notice advising they will not discuss any matter relating to the project, with posts logged either deleted or in some cases amended to breech the rules of site through offensive wording.
Hardware wise, during the time in employment, Mr F had been seen numerous times with development consoles through events such as Dizzy’s 30th celebrations, through to social media posts, with last visible sightings in possession during the Spectrum 35th event. As to the current whereabouts of these models, it is unknown, although one is confirmed in possession of the Oliver twins.
The online shop as of today has been out of action for a few months, however due to previous reports the quality was unfinished and would not allow for any orders to be processed during its time in operation. In some ways a good thing in hindsight!
Currently Mr F. has removed all social media links bar a private facebook page and twitter account, and has retreated to attempting to update his obtained site and database, although due to the lack of updates since possession, this has enabled an alternative database documenting all releases, including those currently not logged to become active in the public domain gather support from the spectrum community quite rapidly. Both databases are compatible with similar DB id’s (many of which are mirrored upto a point), however at time of writing there is no intention from Mr F to k alongside the open source alternative.
Mr S’s story is a little topical, as reportedly his name came to light as a swiss hacker linked to the piracy of NDS paytv card systems who through cross examination confessed to the actions and to emails linking to sabotage between NDS and news corps rivals. Since then he had largely hidden away until submergence in the headlines linking him to the admin of RCL’s unofficial social media outlet. It’s here Mr S tends to provide false hope through false updates, upcoming production dates, while continuing the task under the new title of ‘investigative journalist’ also given to Mr F by attacking the previous directorship and their products on a day by day basis.
Currently checking their social media groups status, they are currently holding less than 200 members, I can only presume these are either long term die hard fans still holding out for a truthful update, people who just do not check anymore, and spam accounts, but with activity remaining low and with Mr S’s continuing habit of liking their own posts it remains a fantastic read similar in style to Chemical Ali during the Iraq war.
Mr T’s story is actually quite sad and a reminder to anyone who is a fan of a brand, or an up and coming Youtuber, Vlogger, Blogger, etc. to not sell yourself out and hold onto your own morals.
As an admin of his own smaller youtube channel, twitter outlet and Spectrum group within facebook (which had a huge member count) it appears the poor guy was charmed to provide admin access to his spectrum group to an employee (Mr F) of RCL in exchange for one of the first production models released as a token of thanks. The deal would be that any conversations relating to negativity towards the project would be removed, alongside any discussions of the ex directors new projects, and in replace would provide a sustained discussion containing positive messages for the Vega plus, including discussions over size, mock up images, box art, and where PR images could be dropped in to give encouragement to users to pre order during the campaign and to keep the money following inward to RCL. Like the unofficial channel they shared admin ties through Mr T and his wife Mrs T both giving the impression the company was well connected to backers, but deep down holding the fort on the belief the company was in production (to the point of making up status updates / expected delivery dates) and encouraging people to fund the project.
Since losing his channel, though being removing by other admins, Mr T has continued a trend of producing multiple twitter and youtube profile’s with only uploading in most cases copyrighted intro’s or 3-4min playthroughs, only to delete all work in a matter of days sighting harassment, only to days later re-upload and commence the cycle all over again. On rare occasions we are treated to a ‘special’ where Mr T will lay down a 30-40min discussion regarding the entire situation, and how this doesn’t affect him, but largely continues to harass youtuber and Bumfun Software owner George Cropper over his work uncovering the Vega plus scam and keeping the situation within visibility of the gaming press.
Separately Mr T has been found on previous times, pirating Bumfun software and uploading it to private servers for free download or in some cases directing users looking to buy rereleased titles from Bumfun to preowned 30year copies on eBay (which not illegal, performing the same effect of attempting to reduce the sites customer base).
While I do not want/wish to know the full ins and outs over the feud that has occurred between these two individuals. From watching from the sidelines it has become apparent that the continued heat is always commenced from Mr T, only to sight hacking, or in one case actually falsifying a critical illness to generate sympathy to his cause.
In many ways its a shame when the eventual D-day comes for the company, these individuals won’t be standing to face some of the music created by their activities. However the community always remembers, and with current technology its always worth noting that documented evidence of their activities is only an archive away when the likes of Kim Justice, Guru Larry, Slopes Game room, Funky Spectrum, etc. compile their documentary offerings…

Chris Thacker

Author: Chris

Freelance writer, Blogger, Youtuber Chris has dabbled around the industry for many years. having been published in two books, and with over 30+ years knowledge of gaming history, there are many obscure facts tucked away in his brain which have yet to be documented.

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