I have covered the development of the RETRO Video Game System for quite a while. I interviewed the former team that were running things. I spent over 20 hours transcribing that interview into text for those that prefer to copy/paste when sharing rather than share time stamps in an audio file. They had a failed IndieGoGo campaign, mainly fingers were pointing at lack of a playable prototype. Now, the people behind the RETRO VGS have partnered with Coleco Holdings and rebranded the RETRO VGS. We now have the Coleco Chameleon to talk about. You may have been seeing stories popping up stating that Coleco was back, resurrected or whatever. You have been lied to. The Coleco that took on Atari is still very much dead.
You see, Coleco as we knew it, the company that went toe to toe with Atari in the 80’s, the makers of the Cabbage Patch Kids, is dead. That Coleco went out of business in 1988 and their assets were sold to Hasbro and Canada based SLM Action Sports. You see, the “Coleco Holdings” that is working with the RETRO VGS team is not the original company we knew and mostly loved. No, it is a revitalization firm that holds the rights to a lot of brand names. They hold the rights to many companies in areas such as coffee, snacks, baked goods, undergarments, apparel and hair care among the rights to the Coleco name (they started licensing that out in 2006).
In 2006 River West Brands/Coleco Holdings released the Coleco Sonic (no information on who produced it). One key thing that River West Brands did with this release is also create “Coleco Holdings”, a subsidiary as best I can tell of River West Brands. This device was a portable that played many Sega games. The other “Coleco” item you may be intimately knowledgeable with is the ColecoVision Flashback, produced by AtGames. The ColecoVision Flashback is a plug and play device that features 60 ColecoVision games.
They are purporting that this is Coleco re-entering the gaming market as a partner of RETRO Video Game Systems, Inc. I guess, that could be true as River West Brands owns the rights to the name “Coleco” but I am not too terribly sure they are licensed to operate under that name, rather they only license it out to “partners”. The ColecoVision Flashback is not advertised as AtGames PARTNERING with Coleco, rather it is licensed as an AtGames product (if their name is mentioned at all). This has to be where everyone is getting the idea that Coleco is back in gaming. This is untrue. They are no more back in gaming than they were with the AtGames Flashback. Their name is but the company that created that name is long gone.
We see a bit of clarification on the “partnership” here on AtariAge. Basically, this is a licensed product, much like the AtGames product. This is the Collectorvision owner, Jean-Francois Dupuis posting under his AA account, “retroillucid”.
Someone named Chris Cardillo is mentioned as a “partner in Coleco”. That is true. Mr. Cardillo bought into Coleco Holdings back in November of this year. His past success stories include his self-proclaimed “largest G.I. Joe action figure collector” and two books (both published through his own book imprint “Cardillo Publishing”. One book is on G.I. Joe action figures and the other is on Nintendo games- both “collecting guides”. Source- Paramuspost.com
As you can see in the quote from Mr. Cardillo, he understands the difference between Coleco Holdings and the original Coleco brand.
The Coleco Chameleon is planned to be shown at the New York Toyfair early next year. I just hope they bring a working prototype to show potential stores prior to purchase or this could be even more embarrassing than the failed IndieGoGo campaign.
The Coleco that we knew, the one that started in the 1930’s is dead. Hasbro was there in 1988 with cash in hand for the bones of their former toy competitor. The “Coleco” we see today is Coleco in name only, much like Atari is no longer the Atari we grew up with.
For more on the Coleco Chameleon read my article on it here on Retro Gaming Magazine.
Click here to read more on the RETRO Video Game System.
Miss Colecovision and the games you played as a child? Check Ebay out to relive your chidlhood.