Although it has been misused and abused by well-funded companies, crowdfunding is, at its core, more like investing rather than pre-ordering a product. It always comes with the risk of failing, no matter how successful previous campaigns from the same group have been. There is no shortage of anecdotes about dashed hopes and even infuriated backers and the case of the HAL 9000 replica has just been added to that archive now that its creators have gone bankrupt and gone silent.
Given that Master Replicas Group or MRG is no newcomer in that niche market, one would think it would have had a better chance of success. Not to mention that it had Warner Bros. legal blessing to even use the HAL 9000 name. Sadly, these are hard times and even harder for MRG but even more for those who sunk a good chunk of their money into that dream.
Then again, the HAL 9000 replica was ambitious and was already fraught with problems early on. The company, known for its faithful recreation of movie props, naturally went all out on the hi-tech project that would have made the eerie homicidal AI a fixture of your home. The finished product should have shipped last year but now it will never see the light of day.
Engadget says that backers have received notice that MRG has moved from reorganization to liquidation. All its communication channels have gone dark as well. Suffice it to say, backers won’t be expecting a refund of their $500-$1,000 investment.
It’s always a sad tale when crowdfunding projects fail, especially when there may not have been any intention to deceive backers. It is, of course, also a cautionary tale of what crowdfunding really entails and, perhaps, of how that system has also become a bit broken and lacking in consumer protection these days.