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Coleco Chameleon .... hardware speculations?

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The Z3K is still out there on the back burner, but since I have to eat and live, I gotta do the paid jobs first.

 

Jim Rohn has a term called "The law of diminishing intent"

“The longer you delay something the less probability you have of doing it”.

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Jim Rohn has a term called "The law of diminishing intent"

“The longer you delay something the less probability you have of doing it”.

....and that's ok with us ... it's not that we don't have toys to keep us busy anyways.

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It's been almost a month since something was posted to this thread.

Has the luster of a new Coleco console finally dulled?

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It's been a while since any new info was added to this thread, so this seems like a good time to do exactly that. Welcome to Longpostville; this is not going to be short.

 

My focus for this post is going to be Sean Robinson. He's already been mentioned a few times in this exact thread, and those mentions can be found by searching within the thread for the term 'Robinson'.

 

The intent of this post is twofold: firstly, to remove any ambiguity as to whether or not Sean Robinson has a criminal background; secondly, by doing so, to inform anyone who may be considering engaging with him in a business or commercial capacity as to exactly why he is a fraud, swindler, and completely untrustworthy.

 

With that out of the way, let's start with an illustration of our person of interest. Sean Robinson looked like this a decade or so ago; we'll assume that his conscience has allowed him to age well enough that he's recognizable today from the following picture.

 

UZwdQvb.png

 

I first ran across him somewhere around the late-1999 / early-2000 timeframe, when he was using the handle 'Seanrox' on IRC and forums. He had started hanging out at a couple of technology-related meetings in the L.A. area that I had been going to on a regular basis, and after talking over the course of a few weeks it became apparent that we were both interested in classic computer systems and arcade games. Over time, other people with similar interests also got to know him.

 

It all sounds like the start of a beautiful bromance, and, for a while, it was. Sean always seemed to have stuff - particularly related to classic arcade video games - that we were looking for. And if he didn't have it right then, he could come up with it in some surprisingly short timeframes, like usually within a couple or three weeks. The guy was a frickin' miracle worker in that regard, for the most part. And he only charged buddy prices for these items, which we thought was really decent of him.

 

For about a year or so, everything was cool; he'd even go to parties that people in these same groups held at their homes. Then things started - gradually at first - going South.

 

Some of us (myself included) started not receiving items that we'd paid him for. No big deal at first, they were just delays... But then he'd drop off of the face of the planet for weeks at a time, only to show back up again out of nowhere. Every time he showed back up, there was a new reason for him going incommunicado: a sick or dying grandparent, major car problems, trouble with his marriage, issues at work. OK, shit happens. Just sort it out when you can; we'll hang on for you, dude. Keep the cash, we know you're good for it.

 

Yeah, this is the familiar pattern starting to emerge. But you want to give your friend a chance to get through it, so you give him the benefit of the doubt.

 

At this juncture, I'd like to make one thing very clear just in case it isn't: Sean Robinson was offering these excuses in person. Remember: we're talking late-2000 / early-2001 here by this time. Sure, there was also email and IRC involved, but the world of social media as we know it now simply didn't exist then. People actually met and talked and interacted directly. A radical and unsettling concept for many readers, I'm sure, but that's just how it was back in the day.

 

Regardless, he was, quite literally, live and direct, lying to both my and our faces. That bastard has looked straight into my eyes and told me complete untruths about when I could expect to receive various parts, etc. that I had paid him for which never materialized. And I'm far from the only person he did this to. He was also pulling this stunt with people on Usenet, but it would be a while before we found that one out.

 

Moving on: a number of us got taken as a result of giving him the benefit of that doubt. As we were to later learn, Sean Robinson was running a much larger ponzi scheme in that he was using money received from one arcade collector to cover debts to another, and that ponzi scheme was happening with a much wider circle of people who we didn't know. But, as it typically goes with most ponzi schemes, they can never bring in enough cashflow to both cover the outstanding debts and provide working capital. He was out of financial runway, and we were going to learn how far the extent of his swindle actually went.

 

2001 has passed and we're into 2002 (IIRC). Sean has been getting increasingly flaky, and showing his face less and less. We're still tolerating his presence (when he's actually turning up), but most of us have decided that he's worthless by the middle of the year.

 

As is typical of people running these kinds of scams, he's been claiming that he'll take care of everything, it'll all be OK, just give him some time, etc. We're tired of hearing it, but, having already written off our losses, decide to run with it because we frankly have no alternative. We're also starting to poke around in various claims he's made to see how much truth there is to them, and are starting to find that there is little to none.

 

One of the claims he made was that he was in a band. That's fine; on face value, anyone can be in a band. But, around the time that he started acting flakier and flakier, he also started telling us how his band was going to go on tour in Japan for a year.

 

At various times, he had also told different people that he was in a band with Kip Winger. Or someone from Kix. Or... <Insert Hair Band Name Here>. Either way, he and them were gonna be partying down in Japan for the next twelve months, so he wouldn't be able to get in contact with anyone in L.A. in that time. You know, with the rocking hard and sake and geishas and all that.

 

Ignoring the fact that a year-long tour of Japan would mean playing the same venues three or four times over, we smelled a giant pile of bullshit. Calls started being made - and received.

 

One of the calls that was received was from a detective investigating many complaints of grand theft against Sean Robinson. I got one, as did a few other people I know. The questions were pretty much the same across the board: how do you know him, how long have you known him, have you had any financial dealings with him, and how did those work out?

 

This was when we knew he was totally, utterly, and completely full of shit. He was facing charges in California that were going to send him to prison for at least a year, and the band tour of Japan was a cover story for the time he was about to spend in the clink. From speaking with the detective, we ascertained that his dealings were much larger than the flakiness we'd suspected of him.

 

We'd also put some effort into researching his background and contacting other people he'd swindled, most of whom were only too happy to tell us about their interactions with him. We eventually worked out that the amount of Sean Robinson's fraud was probably somewhere around the mid-five figures. He'd screwed over a lot of people - and many of them for much more than we had been.

 

We also learned that he apparently lied to his wife for two years straight regarding his employment (he had no steady job at the time, but had told her that he was going into work every day), and that he'd also sold a vehicle belonging to a family member through a false claim of ownership. Unfortunately (and particularly given his demonstrable lack of honesty and trustworthiness) we were never able to fully-prove these claims, but, given his track record, find it difficult to disbelieve them.

 

In any event, he ended up serving about a year in prison on multiple counts of felony Grand Theft courtesy of the Riverside, California courts. Check the attachments to this thread; screenshots taken back in 2003 (amongst other items) are in there that serve as records of this.

 

Something that I feel should be made clear at this time: despite the fact that Sean screwed me out of a few hundred dollars, my complaint was not one of the ones that resulted in charges against him. While the amount that I had lost was above the limit in California for Grand Theft at the time, other people had been swindled out of considerably more than I had. As a result, charges were brought on the basis of their complaints rather than mine as their losses were more likely to result in a successful prosecution. I never ended up being compensated for my losses.

 

Now, at this point, you'd think that Sean Robinson would do the smart thing by serving his time in prison and fading the hell out. Sadly, you'd be wrong.

 

As of 2010 (a year or two after his probation period was over), he was heavily involved with the Commodore Computer Club USA, as well as other technology-related groups in the Pacific Northwest. I'm guessing that they're unaware of his felonious past.

 

This brings us up to the Coleco Chameleon. Sean Robinson's middle name is Lee, which is the connection between him and the 'Mysterious Mr. Lee' mentioned in relation to the Coleco Chameleon. For confirmation of this, please check the attached court records.

 

It's no surprise that the Chameleon was a failure. While I cannot pin that on Sean Robinson directly, the fact that he was involved speaks volumes for the integrity of that project.

 

For now, I need to stop. This has run remarkably long, and I'm tired of having to write and edit it. Please read through the attached documents, and if there are any questions that I can reasonably answer I will do so to the best of my ability.

 

But under no circumstances should Sean Lee Robinson be considered to be someone with a shred of honesty, integrity, decency, or ethics. He is a liar, thief, and scammer, and should be approached and treated as such.

 

As a footnote, it wouldn't surprise me to find that if he were to turn up in certain places today he may find himself having his ass kicked eight ways from Sunday in the parking lot. There are a lot of really pissed-off people with long memories that he's left in his wake, and I wouldn't fault them for seeking compensation out of his hide if they saw him again.

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Very interesting! Thanks for sharing. I'd heard rumblings that Sean had been involved in a shady past, but this is the first concrete proof of that I've seen.

 

Sean being a scammer doesn't excuse what Mike did, of course, but it does offer a grain of truth to what Mike was saying what happened. It's still about 95 percent his fault, but Mike was clearly desperate enough to be willing to get into bed with a crook.

 

Really sounds like these two deserve each other. :lol:

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Nothing posted there is inconsistent with what was found during the research done for the CC book. Sean was offered the chance to speak in his own words both on the show and for the book and he declined the offer.

 

Also, nothing discovered about Sean changes my conclusion I made after the Toy Fair fake prototype, and in fact these discoveries contribute to that conclusion. We know that MK asked several people to create, and spoke about, a smoke and mirrors mock-up and all refused. My opinion is that he asked Sean for a mock-up which Sean was willing to do, and when it had blowback after he proclaimed the mock-up to be a fully functional prototype he threw Sean under the bus. And with Sean's past it seemed a plausible story that Sean scammed him, only to believe that you would have to believe MK, a lifetime collector, couldn't ID a SNES in a Jag or the SD2SNES multicart the show reviewed.

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There were two "prototypes," a SNES-in-a-Jagshell at the NY Toy Fair, and shortly after, a photograph-only video capture card in a clear Jagsghell. Did Robinson make both?

 

Also, in one of the confessional meltdown posts, Mike Kennedy said if you know where to look, Robinson's misdeeds can be found in the free public record. Does anyone have any links?

 

Note to wannabe "entrepreneurs through and through" who want to "corner the market on retro gaming:" do a background check before writing checks for thousands of dollars to shady strangers. Unless you're shady and desperate yourself, naturally.

 

I look forward to checking out the court documents when I'm back from vacation -- it's hard for me to open a zip file from an iPhone. If anyone feels like unzipping and posting the individual documents (with color commentary preferred, of course!) that would be extra awesome! Just be careful not to post private information.

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There is some background that I'd like to provide regarding the release of this information.

I had followed the Coleco Chameleon debacle both here and in other outlets as it was unfolding. This meant that I was aware of Sean Robinson's involvement with that project more or less as soon as everyone else was, and really wanted to get the warning out about him at that time. Unfortunately, what I didn't have at that point was any proof to back up the claims that would need to have been made regarding his criminal past.

 

That changed a few months ago when I ran across a laptop that I hadn't used in about a decade: it wouldn't boot, but I was able to yank the hard disk and pull data from it. The archive of court documents related to Sean Robinson was one of the items that was recovered.

 

Initially, I dithered over what to do with the information: it wasn't clear to me that there was any benefit to releasing it now that the Chameleon fiasco was over. However, after much thought, I eventually came to the conclusion that his actions in relation to the Chameleon were not dissimilar to those involving arcade collectors for which he had been sent to jail nearly 15 years prior. This makes him a recidivist, and, as such, there is no reason to believe that he will ever stop trying to pull one over on the unwary.

 

This led to the conclusion that the best course of action would be to warn as many people as possible about him, and to provide concrete evidence as to why he should not be given one iota of trust.

 

If I can, I'd like to make one request - can we please have the posts detailing his past and containing the court documents added to the index in the first post of this thread? I would like this information to be as easily-accessible as possible.

Edited by x=usr(1536)
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I look forward to checking out the court documents when I'm back from vacation -- it's hard for me to open a zip file from an iPhone. If anyone feels like unzipping and posting the individual documents (with color commentary preferred, of course!) that would be extra awesome! Just be careful not to post private information.

 

Re: private information: all of the documents in the .ZIP file are taken from publicly-accessible sources. This means either the County of Riverside, California courts or Usenet searches of the rec.games.video.arcade.collecting newsgroup performed via Google Groups. Any information contained within those documents can be found by anyone able to use those resources appropriately.

Edited by x=usr(1536)
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Has anyone reached out to Clay Cowgill to get him to corroborate the Robinson story?
I mean, anyone can blame someone with a criminal record.

 

 

To understand how this ended, I want to direct your attention back to the early times of this venture, early to middle 2014. At this time, my first choice to design the system, Curt Vendel (who Scott Schreiber helped introduce me to thus ending his minimal involvement in the venture) decided he wouldn’t have the time to devote to this venture and opted out soon and never got started. At this time I researched others that could step in and bring this product to fruition and that lead me to Clay Cowgill. Clay really took this project under his wing from Nov 2014 to January 2015 and helped us (me and Steve Woita) define the hardware and its capabilities – this is when we were considering, at Clay’s recommendation, architecting something in-line with the Beaglebone Black.

 

It was also at this time, that another person entered into the mix, Sean “LEE” Robinson. Sean was a “acquaintance or colleague” of Clay’s and it just so happened that he had moved from Washington (state) back to Southern California. He had heard that I was working with Clay on this project and offered to help. Since he and Clay were colleagues, and the fact he was local and very close to me, it seemed like a good idea to have them partner up on the project, which they did to some extent. Supposedly, Sean had a working prototype ( that I NEVER saw) playing Neo Geo games in Jan 2015. This prototype was later used again when he rejoined the project explaining how we supposedly had a prototype so fast AFTER Carlsen left. Read further . . . . .

 

In late January 2015, Clay alerted us that he was contracted by SONY and that he would be leaving the project. At this time, Sean also decided to leave as well. Enter in the John Carlsen/Steve Woita FPGA “era”. Now I am not going to go into this part of the timeline because we know how all this worked out. Fast forward to John Carlsen leaving the failed RETRO VGS project.

 

At the time of John’s leaving in September 2015, Sean “LEE” Robinson re-entered the picture and reached out to Steve and I.


 

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^ well, in all fairness, 1536 isn't blaming Sean of anything Coleco Chameleon related, he has no inside knowledge about Mike and Sean. He's only giving some very helpful background info about Sean with more supporting evidence than others have brought to the table. It helps construct a more convincing picture of who Sean is, what he's done in the past and what was his endgame here.

 

We all witnessed the implosion of the Chameleon/RVGS first hand but finding out what happened behind the scenes is a lot more murky. I've heard a lot of stories, some of them contradictory. That's going to be a big problem for anyone trying to get the whole picture here. To someone who just watches a documentary they think there are definitive connections linking various events and people together that are just waiting to be found and chronicled, like dinosaur fossils waiting to be excavated and put back together. But I've been running a channel reporting on several shady projects and when people who do know the truth clearly don't want you to know the facts (as we have with this project) that's when the lines connecting information start to blur. Some connections are stronger than others, some of your strongest connections turn out to be false leads. So it's not like dinosaur digging, it's like chasing a Sasquatch.

 

You're right to be critical with new information as we all should be, but 1536's info seems spot on. It would be nice to hear from Cowgill too though.

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All this effort and shenaniganizing, if properly focused, could have made a console. Maybe not the Chameleon precisely-exactly as described, but perhaps something similar and satisfying for everyone involved.

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^ well, in all fairness, 1536 isn't blaming Sean of anything Coleco Chameleon related, he has no inside knowledge about Mike and Sean.

Just replying to confirm that the above statement is correct. My knowledge of Sean Robinson's involvement with the Coleco Chameleon is limited to what has been made publicly-available either here or elsewhere; I do not have any deeper insights or information beyond that.

 

He's only giving some very helpful background info about Sean with more supporting evidence than others have brought to the table. It helps construct a more convincing picture of who Sean is, what he's done in the past and what was his endgame here.

I will also confirm that the above statement matches my intent in releasing the information that I had regarding Sean Robinson.

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... I cannot shake the feeling that had the NY fair fake gone unnoticed we would be talking about how MK (and his gang of 7 VPs, Cardillo included) pocketed 2M of KS and delivered nothing.

 

As SD&R has shown a few times already it seems very common for this retro-nouveau console HW projects to be .... basically innately fake ... it seems many of them start with a "fake/made-up" prototype just to get the money ... whether that act is so just they get the funds to legitimately develop the console or not is largely irrelevant believe it or not ... "know your shit, stay on top of your comrades and don't lie" .... is it so hard?

 

I agree with Pipercub, I think Sean was commissioned to build a fake .... we may be wrong in the end but if it was not commission it was willful cover-up until it was no longer sustainable.

 

@Pipercub

When's the book coming out? Does it cover MK after the dust settled, like his whereabouts and job (if any) to present day? Rumors has it he's paying for his deeds one way or another but nothing was made public or confirmed, it's all hearsay at this point.

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... like his whereabouts and job (if any) to present day?

 

I would start, by looking at the Ataribox "team". :P

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Thanks for the long post as it gives more background.

 

I agree in this case if the energy that was put in the BS was actually put into making something legit, some sort of system would have likely come out of it. I am not sure why people waste so much time with tom foolery, shenanigans, and smoke and mirrors.

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I would start, by looking at the Ataribox "team". :P

You beat me to that thought, but it would not surprise me if some of the same people are uncovered in that project. Even if they have nothing to with the Ataribox, that "project" is yet another one where if time and energy were actually spent into making something instead of the BS, then there would probably be something. Just tumbleweeds there too...

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^ well, in all fairness, 1536 isn't blaming Sean of anything Coleco Chameleon related, he has no inside knowledge about Mike and Sean. He's only giving some very helpful background info about Sean with more supporting evidence than others have brought to the table. It helps construct a more convincing picture of who Sean is, what he's done in the past and what was his endgame here.

 

 

In fairness, I didn't blame 1536 of him blaming Sean of anything CC-related, either. :P

Edited by PlaysWithWolves

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I agree with Pipercub, I think Sean was commissioned to build a fake .... we may be wrong in the end but if it was not commission it was willful cover-up until it was no longer sustainable.

 

 

 

William Ockham would agree with this as well. One shady guy (MK) paid another shady guy (Mr Lee) to get in bed with him to churn snake oil (both fake protos).

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You beat me to that thought, but it would not surprise me if some of the same people are uncovered in that project. Even if they have nothing to with the Ataribox, that "project" is yet another one where if time and energy were actually spent into making something instead of the BS, then there would probably be something. Just tumbleweeds there too...

Personally, Im watching Polymega. That has copied the RVGS so closely I would swear its a performance art re-enactment.

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William Ockham would agree with this as well. One shady guy (MK) paid another shady guy (Mr Lee) to get in bed with him to churn snake oil (both fake protos).

 

Read the wrong way, that second sentence conjures a gross image ..... :P

 

Personally, Im watching Polymega. That has copied the RVGS so closely I would swear its a performance art re-enactment.

 

 

Forgot about that one... lots of similarities there as well. That thread probably needs the "certificate of nothing" as well.

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Personally, Im watching Polymega. That has copied the RVGS so closely I would swear its a performance art re-enactment.

 

Just saw that site... Seriously, What the fuck is with these people? Lots of big ideas, and absolutely NO patience or skill to bring it to fruition... sigh.

 

-Thom

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