My Kickstarter Win/Loss Record

Kickstarter! Kickstarter! Kickstarter! And yet I often hear people darkly warning anyone who will listen that KS is a fad, or a ripoff, and a lot of projects never get backed, and they all ship late, and there’s nothing to say the people won’t just take your money and run, and all that. Hmm. I have been backing projects on Kickstarter since before it was cool (that is, in December of last year, before Double Fine) and my experience has not been doom or gloom. In fact, I can now report back on several projects that I have funded…

LunaTik Touch

What It Is: A clicky pen with a capacitive rubber tip. Click the back and it’s a pen; retract the rollerball and it’s an iPad stylus.
When I Backed It: February 2012
When They Promised It: April 2012
When I Got It: July 2012

I loved the idea right away, and the company, Minimal, had a good track record. The late arrival didn’t bother me, and when it did arrive, that packaging was completely professional. But since ordering and receiving it, I’d seen a lot of other pen/stylus combos, and I’d gotten used to the Wacom Bamboo stylus; this harder tip had a very different feel. The tip also tends to slowly unscrew as I use it. I used it as my main stylus for two weeks, then took it into the office just for use during meetings.

Was It Worth It: Sorta. Having used it now, I feel I could have gotten a cheaper alternative, or even lived without it. But that was the only way to find out. And I am ready to love again.

Recoil Winders

What It Is: A small recoiling winder for headphones and small computer cables
When I Backed It: February 2012
When They Promised It: April 2012
When I Got It: July 2012

I keep a lot of cables with me in my murse messenger bag, and I’d been looking for a way to keep them tangle-free. I got a three-pack (small, medium, and large), but as a bonus, they threw in a fourth small winder — a common thank-you gesture for projects that receive a lot of funding. Kat and I use the small ones for earbuds and I have an iPhone charge cable in the medium one. It’s a little tricky to get the hang of it, but once you remove and rewind the cables two or three times, it’s pretty easy, and the winders work very well.

Was It Worth It: Absolutely. This solved my problem better than I thought it would. In fact, I liked these so much, I went back and bought a few more from their retail site.

Steampunk Blaster

What It Is: Resin prop raygun and holster for steampunk cosplay
When I Backed It: March 2012
When They Promised It: June 2012
When I Got It: July (almost August) 2012

I spotted this at the same time that I was working on my steampunk outfit, and I thought it had a great look. It was also clearly a small creator without the same kind of resources as, say, Minimal. But, like the big guys, it also arrived two months late, though I think the reason is better: the guy got married this summer.

Was It Worth It: Totally. This looks unique as a prop and feels awesome in my hand.

Of the 30 projects I’ve backed, six were not funded, and five are still in the funding stage — which means the other 19 were successful. So…the worst I can say is, yeah, KS projects often ship late. But ripoffs? Not that I can see. I am stoked for the Torch bike helmet and the Brydge iPad keyboard, both of which are backed and in preproduction, and I am really hoping the Retronix guitar gets funded.

To me, Kickstarter is a shopping mall for early adopters. Proceed with caution — like you would for any purchase — but I don’t have any reason to treat Kickstarter with extra suspicion.

UPDATE! Several more projects I’ve backed have come through, so I thought I would continue to offer reports/reviews on those as well. I’ll just keep adding.

Tagtool Stylus

What It Is: Combination fountain pen/capacitive stylus
When I Backed It: July 2012
When They Promised It: July 2012
When I Got It: September 2012

I like fountain pens, but I’ve never had a really nice one, like a Mont Blanc or what have you. I also like iPad stlyii, so I tend to back a lot of those projects anyway. This seemed like the perfect marriage for me — a cool titanium pen I could use at work and switch-hit between old world and new-fangled instantly.

When the pen arrived two months late (because it is a Kickstarter project, after all), I popped the fountain pen cartridge in and it was everything I always thought a fountain pen should be — amazingly smooth, very responsive. Awesome, I thought. I put the cap on.

No, wait, no I didn’t. The cap would not stay on. At all. I tried to keep it in place but it simply didn’t remain where I put it; if I move the pen at all, gravity takes over and the cap (which is plastic, not titanium) slides off. This makes it tricky, at best, to use as a stylus, and equally problematic for the pen part, since the ink dried out in a day without being covered. It went from a $30 double-use item to a zero-use item.

I contacted Tagtool to see if it was an isolated incident, and they were very polite and sent a replacement right away…which led me to believe that it was not. The replacement took three weeks to arrive, and the new pen still doesn’t feel like its cap is an exact fit (the cap sits at a slight angle) but now there’s a new issue: the pen doesn’t work. Ink simply does not flow to the nib. I actually squeezed the cartridge and ink came squirting out of the neck of the nib, but then when I go to write with it, it’s bone dry. So…yeah, fuck that.

Was It Worth It: No. Great idea and pleasant customer support, but two pens that don’t work correctly in two different ways is a huge disappointment.


What It Is: Easy PC diagnostic tool + cutesy USB flash drive
When I Backed It: September 2012
When They Promised It: November 2012
When I Got It: Early access October 2012

I knew this was a gamble, because I was not really buying what I wanted most. I am interested in the software, but they will at some point charge for access to it. I backed the project to get it started, and I don’t really need another USB stick, but I really want to see if this software is as easy as it claims. I backed the project at a level that gave me early access to Jumpshot (and free usage on multiple machines) before my USB stick arrived…and sure enough, after hearing that USBs were shipping and I’d get mine soon, I received a link to download the software in October. I downloaded it and the service was not available. The client needs to connect to the online host, which has all the latest diagnostic tools — they can keep updating them on their end and I just get the latest goodness whenever I need to run a diagnostic check. I think this is a smart system, but I now see the flaw: What if my computer is so borked I can’t get online? Hmm.

Still, the idea that I can make a bootable USB drive full of one-click solutions and cute cartoon characters and fix, say, my dad’s laptop is a good one. We’ll see where this goes.

This entry was posted in Geek. Bookmark the permalink.