Fidget Cube : Fidgetively Speaking [7]… random comments and cogitations

Just hanging around the Château here in the fog, so I figured I do another post to kill some time.

  • FYI~ I am waiting on only a single quote “backer” edition cube and my number is up around 93K… I apparently ordered in the afternoon of the day they closed the “December” tier. I am “locked down’, and waiting around like everybody else
  • Like everybody else, I’m disappointed that the brothers are not responding with ongoing updates. It seems like a small enough chore to delegate to a minion when they are sitting on $6 million plus of our money. That simple fact leads me to believe that things are so kludged up in the supply/delivery chain that they are is clueless as we are
  •  I am still searching around for one of the really cheapo clones for review purposes. Twice now I have ordered cubes, thinking that that is what I am purchasing based on the photographs, only to have a duplicate style to a cube-in-hand come in the mail. [the one I am looking for is the variety that has a very long, especially flimsy looking joystick… in photos it seems to be smaller in diameter than others, has a very obvious casting nub in the center of the flat disc and an equally obvious, rough mold separation line around the edges] [if anybody has one of those that they’d like to contribute for review purposes I’d be happy to pay the shipping, but I’m no longer buying anymore of the cubes… I’ve spent too much of the fidgetative cash reserves already on this silliness]

I sincerely hope that Mark and Matthew end up making good money on this campaign. The simple fact that we are so anxiously awaiting the delivery of our units is proof and validation of the accuracy of their concept. Hoping for 750 backers and ending up with 150,000 indicates to me that they were on the right track. However, if I were in their shoes, I would certainly have come to conclusion that the cubes no longer have a long-term business potential, and would be planning on pulling out as soon as they have fulfilled our orders. Their marketing niche got gutted by the clones. [Without them, it would’ve had some long-term potential after the campaign rewards were satisfied]

Having said that:

  • The folks I don’t have any sympathy for are the ones who made “purchases” of large numbers of “reward” units with the intention of reselling them for a profit on things like eBay. Anyone who did this was looking to leech off of Ansty Labs vision, project, and efforts directly. If they’ve waited to be some of the last to have their orders fulfilled because of the larger number of cubes involved and there ain’t going to be no profits because of the flood of clones on the market… well, it sucks to be you. Karma can be a bitch.
  • Now, I have said this before… I don’t begrudge the folks who started turning out the clones. I am sad that Antsy Labs didn’t get to profit from the secondary market to the extent that they might have. However, from other peoples reviews already it is obvious that these are not the finalized product that we will receive as our rewards. Unlike the leeches above, the clone-clowns actually had to put some initiative and something more then just a few dollars of their own capital at risk. As I also said previously, it is naïve of us to expect that successful products, whether a Swiff-It,  a vuvuzela, a pair of touchscreen gloves, or the FidgetCube won’t be imitated. The rag merchants down on 6th Avenue in NYC have been rushing knockoffs of fashion-house designer’s clothing to market for decades, and who hasn’t seen imitation Louis Vuitton handbags down at their local fleamarket… It’s not just the Chinese.
  • [in all my”research” into the clones, I have not yet found them available in any brick-and-mortar stores… even in Chinatown. You still have to make your purchase somewhat blindly on the Internet, And wait for delivery]
  • We supported a Kickstarter product development campaign with our contributions of approximately $20 each. None of us should have actually believed that a “fidget cube” had a $20 value. I for one can see the $5- $8 range [that the clones are being marketed at] as being far more realistic. I think that the only way to feel really great about participation in KS campaigns is if you are one of the fortunate few who get in on one of the early bird reward tiers, where your contribution will be substantially below a retail price once it goes into full marketing. That’s the only way you’re going to get a warm and fuzzy feeling, otherwise you simply are a “supporter”.
  • My rationalization and justifications for my position on this whole thing, are exactly these points set out just above. If this were my project, I would’ve been disappointed that anybody profited from my project directly. I would not have hung my hopes out on the idea that I would have a lifetime income on a single product even if it were trademarked and patented. And I would’ve been deeply gratified to have simply met my KS goal… Anything after that is gravy.

A friend of mine with an already successful business recently started a Kickstarter campaign for a new product. He wanted enough venture capital to be able to supply a finished, high quality product right from the start. He funded within the first week. Once I saw that he had reached his goal, I elected not to subscribe. Even though I looked into it within a few hours of starting, I had missed out on all the early bird specials, and if I now decide I want the product I will simply pay retail… I know what he charges. Plus, I don’t have to hang on a delivery date for my reward.

Enough for now. Let’s all hope that an absolute blizzard of shipping notices will blanket the comments page ASAP. Barring that, let’s hope that we get at least an informative update from the folks at Antsy Labs.

CIAO and chill… here’s a pretty picture>>



Fidget Cube : Fidgetively Speaking [6]… A Truly Antsy Backer™ Escapes Upptacamp

My buddy, TOG [The Other Geezer] and I escaped up into the Northwoods for a couple of nights, and I got to take a break in the incessant refreshments of my emails. TOG teaches at the vo-tech, and we always get up for a couple or three days during the February school break. This was about the 10th year in row.

We are fortunate to be able to get away Upptacamp at least eight or 10 times a year… Mostly during the better weather. This fall we missed out on a two, and the last time we had been up was Columbus Day weekend. Since we’re only 4 miles from one of the nicer, and taller, ski mountains, TOG was actually heading back up again the day after we came down to go skiing with another of our friends. I don’t do the falling off the mountain thing.

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We had to cut steps into the six-foot tall whitewalls to get out of the lane, and then TOG stamped out a path up top with the snowshoes while I excavated a slot just wide enough to walk through out of that lump on the porch. We were actually walking over nearly 3 feet of snowpack. There’s a flight of steps that go up to that deck in the picture below… four by my memory.

[Also, note the 2 1/2 foot long “brow” hanging off the snow shed roof]

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This is the view out back to the trout stream. Yeah, IT’s under about 4 feet of snow because of the drifting.

file_000-3 We also like to eat.

I brought along Frenched rib lamb chops, venison, and fresh burger. TOG raided his meat locker for bacon and sausage from his pigs, and a dozen fresh eggs from the chickens… his pets make him breakfast.

We spent a lot of time reading our Kindles with our eyes closed, and I’m happy to report that I didn’t worry about the cube crisis for a single moment. And, of course, I came home to no shipping email.

[today, back home here in lower Maine at the Château, I had 72° on my porch]

Fidget Cube : Fidgetively Speaking [5]… in days long gone

If any of you people haven’t figured it out by now, I’m old. I’m older than dirt. I have been a Truly Antsy Fidgeter™ for my whole life. I bought this “fidget stone” in the Beijing thieves market sometime back at the end of the 18th or in the early 19th-century when I was a Shaolin monk… [this was prior to my joining the Monks of Cool*]

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It is Chinese, and is made from nephrite, a type of jade. One side is carved with two fu-bats**, the Peaches of Longevity, and a monkey [the Trickster] reaching to steal the peaches. The obverse is a dragon*** carved into some of the matrix from which the jade was removed.

Keep Calm and Fidget On…

* The monastery of the Monks of Cool is found in a laid back valley in the lower Ramtop mountains. They are a reserved and secretive sect and believe that only through ultimate coolness can the universe be comprehended, that black goes with everything, and that chrome will never truly go out of style. To become a fully accepted Monk, a novice is given the following test. Several outfits are laid out in front of him and the tester asks, “Yo, my son, which of these outfits is the most stylish thing to wear?” The correct answer is “Hey, whatever I select”.

** in Chinese the word for good fortune – “Fu” [福] is a homophone for the word for bat

*** potent and auspicious powers

Fidget Cube : Fidgetively Speaking [4]… some random bullet points

Thanks to everyone who has said nice things about this series of posts. It is been very gratifying to check the stats and see that the visit#s are WAY above my average traffic.

Today will be a little bit random, and include a few things I have culled from others posts over on the Fidget Cube Kickstarter comments page.

Now… Onward into the fog:

  • from ALC~~“do you know if there’s directions for that Lego fidget you linked? I’d love a parts list so I could see if the Lego store has all those pieces available for picking. 🙂 (BTW, loving your blog posts!)”…  Thx for the kudos, but NOPE. No idea. I am not a lego person. I just saw the post while I was mucking about and dropped the link into the comments for everyone’s shits and giggles

  • Several people have mentioned the extreme irony of our having generated over 20,000 posts simply because we really are “fidgety” people with way too much time on our hands, too much unfocused energy, and a desperate need of the very fidget cubes we are whining about to give us something to do…. Notably from Final Cataclysm~~

    “…this is THE ABSOLUTE WORST campaign to receive any kind of delays. Why? We all have too much time on our hands and the urge to be a constant spaz whatever the end result is. Thus, we spam the hell outta Antsy Labs, lose faith super easily and continue to complain that things aren’t moving fast enough” ….

  • I really liked Nikki S’s thought that maybe the shipping situation delay is the fact that they could be using “drop trailers” at the shipping locations. As she mentioned, these are ones that get bulk loaded before they are picked up by the shipping companies. They only move away from the loading dock once the entire semi trailer is full. Nor do the carriers generate an actual the “shipping notice” before those packages get scanned into their own system. This could very well account for the fact that nobody seems to of gotten any new shipping notices this week despite the promises from the February 7th. update.
  • the gifted [or…possibly deeply disturbed] Ricky Haiku suggested some of headers for future blogs posts at “Fidgetively Speaking”.

    Hand Cones-of -Shame for Backers. [keeps us off the keyboard until the arrival of our “Precious”]. And “Fidgetively Speaking [4]: Silence Of The Hands [the wide spectrum of coping, community (and pathology) in the (thus far) Cubeless Community]

  • he also gave us:

    “…as fingernails are bitten to the quick waiting for a sign, any sign that the Shipping Fairy hath smiled upon our reward/order/BIRTHRIGHT …a variety of Coping Mechanisms has been seen on both the Kickstarter project’s home page and across all social media. We see the Optomistic Comforter, the Entitled Child, as well as an endless supply of “I Just Got Here, Has Anyone Heard Anything” or “Is This A Scammy Scam And If Not Where Are Mine Now?”

  • My “Oh, Right” find-of-the-week: From Antsy Labs own Dec. 7th update~~ “As community interaction is a huge part of what we strive for at Antsy Labs, our team is now growing to include an Antsy Labs Scientist. This individual will browse the comments  on occasion and weigh in when they’re able to, and will be identifiable by the highlighted label next to their profile name. Any questions that may come up in the comments can be addressed to them – we hope that this will further increase the availability of information coming directly from the Antsy Labs team moving forward.”  ….If anybody sees him, would you tell them I said, “hello”?

  • A quick and gentle reminder of the Primary Fidget Cube 101 Basic Fact #1: your backer number doesn’t mean shit.  Nobody cares what yours is. Please stop posting them.
  • Finally, in what should probably be referred to as Primary Fidget Cube 101 Basic Fact #2:  if you’re kind of new over on the comments page, pleasepleasepleaseplease[!] take a few minutes and scroll back and read through a few dozen posts… Just about every piece of information that you need has already been hashed over to death.
  • [I’m going to make this a separate bullet point just for clarity] if you have a problem with actual, honest-to-god, damage to your cube when it arrives [not the stupid plastic box], Don’t waste your time telling us about it or expecting that missing scientist from Antsy Labs to see it in the comments… TRY:

Ciao. Thanks for reading, and remember: before we ordered these cubes we just twiddled our thumbs. You still have thumbs don’t you?

[oh, yeah… In a gratuitous puff of self promotion:  Just because you came here for some Snark about the cubes, doesn’t mean there’s not a lot of other great stuff. Check out all the links to the right for my posts on camping, hiking, outdoor gear, hammocking, Buddhism, and “the meaning of life”>>>>]

Fidget Cube : Fidgetively Speaking [3]… Clone Wars

For today’s amusement, and to fill my time while I wait for the legendary “shipping notice” so longed for by each of us pitiful 20%-ers, I want to jump into that deep, controversial pit concerning the Fidget Cube [no™] clones.

My Opinion: No Problemo!     Matthew and Mark [AntsyLabs] made their 6 1/2 million dollar nut. They can afford all the hot cars and hookers they want. No matter their developmental and production costs, they made a really nice profit! They can invest well and relax for the rest of their lives [in an economical way], they can pour it into future products, they can squander it, whatever. Their choice. Anyone who believes that a successful product will not be imitated in today’s global marketplace is ridiculously naïve. Yeah, it’s too bad the clones came to the market before the genuine product came out. However, the reviews I’ve seen of the genuine article give me every reason to believe that the product we backers get will be every bit as good, if not better, than the clones already available. When we sponsored this product every one of us went into it knowing that our “cost” was going to be around $20 per “reward”. Complaining that these counterfeit products became available at a lower price point is as ridiculous as complaining about something that you bought from an infomercial for “only three low payments of $19.99…” then shows up on the shelves of the dollar store for $.99. That’s going to happen. We supported the project; we didn’t buy a product. I’m really happy that these guys made an incredible profit.

Now, personally, I bought three clones to find out what they were like. I enjoy doing comparisons and reviews here on this site, and it seemed a small price to pay for my own entertainment… mebbe yours as well. I don’t think that in doing so I took any money out of Antsy’s pocket. Just because I don’t buy Ford a second time doesn’t mean I took any money away from Ford Motor Company. I bought a different product.

I am going to assume that most of you who have navigated over here are reasonably familiar with the clone offerings. What I ended up getting was one of the “camo” cubes, a black or “midnight” cube, and a white one with lime buttons. Three different sources, three very different prices. Two with free shipping, and each of them delivered within four days of order. Once I get my AntsyLabs Fidget Cube, I plan on doing a post of the actual comparisons, so I will not go into details here.

I had hoped to have three different versions to compare with the genuine article when it arrives, however the white cube turned out to be the exact same model as the “camo”. The cube I thought I was getting was intended to be one of the shittier versions, but what came was a dupe except for the color. I had looked pretty closely at the photographs on the sites [that one was from an eBay offering]. I had identified five or six “telltales” and was using them for criteria. What was shown, was not what was delivered. I think that this is the biggest problem with the clones in general… there is no reliability in what you will actually get for your money. But, that white cube was less than half the cost of the camo.

My biggest curiosity is in whether those of us who backed the KS offering will actually be getting identical cubes, or will there actually be variation in features or quality of manufacturing due to the sheer number of units required.

Finally, and I will probably touch on this in more detail when I do an actual product comparison, but it’s obvious from the comments on the Kickstarter page that not everyone has the same subjective response to any of the fidget-actions on the faces of the cube… Whether we are talking about the clones or the genuine article makes no difference.  I have seen just as many people complaining that the light switch is too stiff as I have seen complaining that it is too floppy. For some folks the clones may very well be a better solution to their exact fidgeting need.

Thanks for reading. I’m going to go obsessively refresh my email, hope for my shipping notice today, and pray that we don’t get another “update” filled with cheesy gifz and no real facts about why they can’t up their delivery game.

Fidget Cube : Fidgetively Speaking [2]… Conspiracy Theories

Because I had a lot of fun writing yesterday’s post, I thought I would continue to diverge from my usual offerings on here and indulge in some of the internet’s favorite claptrap…. Conspiracy theories. Those evil possibilities and perhapsifications about why you could get such cheap knockoffs before even the most optimistic Antsy Labs shipping guesstimates… and why you haven’t gotten your cube yet.

This is, of course, mostly for the benefit of those deeply disturbed people with too much time on their hands [like me] over on the Fidget Cube Kickstarter “comments” page who want to hash over every info-bit and nuance concerning “their Precious”, and obsess over their “backer numbers”. The rest of the world doesn’t give a rats ass.

So, conspiracy fans and Fidget Cube fanatics… what if :

  • Maybe Antsy Labs had already finished their R&D and had prototypes all ready for production in hand before they established the Kickstarter. “Hey, guys! I just realized we could set up a Kickstarter and sell a whole bunch of these for three or four times what we were thinking of wholesale! We are ready to go, so why not make some quick buckaroos off of a bunch of naïve patsies? We get all that money before we even go into production. Hookers and hot cars, here we come!”

I don’t think this one has legs. I truly feel that the boys at Antsy Labs, Mark and Matthew McLachlan, had completely good intentions. If they were actually this greedy, I don’t think their initial goal would’ve been a measly $15,000. “You might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb” as my old social studies teacher once told us. Do the math. At $20 each, they were only looking to produce 750 cubes total. This just ain’t your classic “fuck-you money”. I think that they hoped they would make enough of an nut to get into production, and then move on to ordinary sales at whatever price the market would bear. A number of folks would get their Fidget Cube early on, and hopefully talk it up… Just like every other Kickstarter. Instead, their campaign got picked up by every geek blog on the Internet and ballooned to $6 million almost overnight. I believe the simple truth is that there was no possible way that they could foresee that the project would be so overwhelmingly received and they were quickly overwhelmed by the logistics they faced.

  • $6,000,000 + KS buckaroonies in hand, maybe Mark and Matthew sent their prototypes out for bids to the Chinese manufacturers, or set up small production runs to look at QC and any possible changes that might be needed. The manufacturers, seeing a good thing right under their greedy little fingers, did the fairly commonplace Chinese piracy thing and slid a mess of these out the side-door into the secondary market. Clones on the march… and on the market before Antsy Labs had even determined their final design.

I’m pretty much okay with this one. It covers why there are visible design changes in the clones that people have posted, the Chinese manufacturer’s willingness to indulge in fakes, product piracy, trademark violations, etc. is an established fact, and it fits with what the self-admitted Chinese pirate “Jack” related in his interview.

  • Holding that second theory in hand, and returning to real conspiracy, a corollary possibility is that Antsy was culpable in the release of these “seconds” to the open market. They had made their bundle once their Kickstarter campaign had concluded. Our money was already in their hands. Anything beyond that could be viewed as gravy. “Why not make a little extra dough? It’s not like the supporters won’t get their reward…eventually. Heck, some of them might even buy one of our “fakes” out of curiosity before they get their genuine cube… especially if we slow down our shipping to the poor schmucks. Even a wholesale price is real money at this volume.”

Again, this is a little bit more Machiavellian than I think these guys really are.

  • Finally, there is the perfectly plausible answer that the guys at Antsy Labs got had. They didn’t apparently patent their design before moving toward production [if that was even possible given that the Fidget Cube is merely an assemblage of standard, existing parts, and not something entirely unique]. As already mentioned, Chi-clones of everything from video games to handbags is an established fact. Probably “Jack” and the rest of the guys in Shenzhen just plain, out-and-out, stole their design, rushed it to market [without AntsyLabs desire to refine the features to the n-th detail], and made a bundle.

I suspect that most of us can fairly easily believe that this is the most likely possibility. With the ridiculously low cost of Chinese manufacturing, even meager wholesale profits amount to crazy money over there. That guy “Jack”, scum bag though he may seem to us, is a very wealthy man by local standards.

Any of these may, or may not be, why you can get a cheap clone and you haven’t had your Cube show up in the mailbox yet. Regardless of anything concerning piracy, clones, conspiracy and the like, the job that Antsy Labs faces in delivering something around 300,000 fidget cubes to all the legitimate backers is pretty daunting.

Now… “Why you haven’t gotten your cube yet”:

You are an impatient bugger who has not read the updates, and/or has failed to realize that this whole process is now entirely out of both Antsy Labs and BackerKit’s bloody hands and has been outsourced to a number of localized distribution centers peopled by minimum wage minions who don’t give a rats-ass whether the cubes are stuck to the goddamn sticky pads or whether your precious plastic box is cracked. Your holy “backer number” doesn’t mean shit to them. Count yourself lucky if-and-when your cube comes that it is in the color you ask for. You will get it when you get it… if you’re really lucky you might even get a shipping notice. The clones and the genuine units that have already shipped have at least proved that the Fidget Cube is worth waiting for. The fact that some ripoff artists made something available for cheaper doesn’t change the fact that each and everyone of us bought into paying $19 plus shipping for our cubes when we subscribed. Chill out.

[BTW: I won’t be doing/taking any “comments” here on this Fidget Cube posts… Take those back to the KS page]

Fidget Cube : a Kickstarter… Fidgetively Speaking [1]

Before even starting one thing leads to be made completely clear:  Kickstarter projects are not an investment. You are supporting the development of an item by making a contribution. It is not an investment, and there is no guarantee of return or profit. The item you may receive is a reward for that support and not a purchase. You only get a “reward” when and if :

  1. The project is funded beyond the level set out in the offering
  2. Development is successful
  3. Sufficient production is practical
  4. Distribution can be arranged

Any time line suggested is tentative at best. Few Kickstarters are ever concluded and shipped within the devs original hopes.

There is a lot of curiosity, and controversy all over the web now concerning a new Kickstarter funded toy called a “Fidget Cube”. Back in late summer 2016, Antsy Labs, [brothers Mark and Matthew McLachlan] opened a Kickstarter for the Fidget Cube; something they called a “vinyl desk toy’. It was offered as a reward for supporting the development with a contribution $19 and a hoped-for shipping date of December ’17. It took off like a rocket. They were hoping for $15,000 as an initial pledge. Within a few days it had raised several million dollars, and when the campaign closed they had topped $6,000,000!

[for an over view, here is a good link that was posted soon after the campaign opened >> ]

So now we arrive at the threshold of controversies. The project had grown overnight to a size, and complexity of execution that they had never anticipated. In one of their early updates the brothers admitted that they had intended to handle shipping by asking some friends over for pizza and beer. 300,000 units was going to make that very impractical. They were in possession of a huge amount of money since Kickstarter releases the funds as soon as the offering period is over.

I do not believe that anyone who backed the project doubted the brothers good intentions. However, something got fouled up and this is the first time I have been aware of a Kickstarter where pirated clones reached the market before any of the genuine units had become available… And these clones reached the market in almost unlimited quantities. Just search “fidget cube” and you will find them for sale on everything from Amazon to eBay and WalMart, and from storefront Hong Kong discounters to mom-and-pop sites.

There are now [Feb. 14th] nearly 20,000 comments on the Kickstarter page for the genuine item concerning everyone’s frustration. Mostly these revolve around the fact that the cubes that they “purchased” have not yet been delivered by the date “promised”, and that they could have “spent” less money, and already have a toy in hand. Unfortunately, far too many of these folks simply have no realization, or understanding [set out above] of how Kickstarter projects operate. That said, the gang at AntsyLabs haven’t done themselves any favors with the sporadic nature of their updates, and those update’s sparsity of any real facts. I suspect that those comments would’ve been reduced by two thirds if Antsy had simply put somebody in charge of responding in real time right there on the comments page. [that they could’ve gotten somebody for $15 dollars an hour]. 

My observation is that people who get involved with a Kickstarter would like to be kept in the process loop. Give them the fact that “the original material did not have the texture that we wanted”… “the frim-fram did not fit inside the widget-tater correctly”… “the overall quality of the prototype was not high enough”… That’s all they want. Keep them up-to-date, and give them some actual information. DON’T try to parcel them off with vague, unfulfilled promises, and cutesy gifs. AntsyLabs failed on this and the 20K comments show it. Worse, the unanswered suppositions and unfounded rumors simply fuel those few real trolls to keep everyone upset.

I doubt that anyone will ever find out exactly why so many pirated/cloned units came to market so quickly. It is entirely possible that the developers naïvely trusted their design to a number of manufacturers on a bid basis to determine a “Goldilocks factor”. One or more of those partners may have proved to be less trustworthy than the brothers hoped, and all too eager to sell those prototypes in the secondary market. It does seem that the brothers have still failed to acquire a patent, or even patent pending status for their cubes. I am not sure they have even copyrighted the FidgetCube name.  This may be due to the fact that the “FidgetCube” is actually only an assembly of pre-existing parts that are widely available, and widely used in other items.

Whatever their source, the clones are pretty obviously nearly identical to the prototypes represented in Antsy Labs original offering on Kickstarter. There are several versions of them that I have seen offered for sale and each differs slightly.

  • There are differences in the size and shape of the joystick. Some of those include a click feature, and others don’t. [one of them seems to have a casting bump in the center]
  • The ball bearing seems to vary in size on different units
  • The little click-wheel luggage locks may or may not actually have tactile feedback
  • The “Domino” buttons may or may not click… all or singularly
  • The circular spinning wheel seems to have a lot of “freedom of motion” issues [this is being recorded even by those who have received the genuine FidgetCubes that are finally shipping]
  • People have reported a difference in the cube materials.
  • Some of those domino buttons are rubberized, and some are hard plastic

In additions to the differences many of those who have tried the clones have also reported that there is a far more subjective difference in the cubes. Some people might want the click wheels to “click” and others might prefer they didn’t. It is pretty obvious that no matter the success of the Kickstarter campaign, not every backer is going to be satisfied in the final production item. Unfortunately, this is the nature of participation in a Kickstarter. You get what you get, when you get it.

[I will plan on updating this post once I get my own cube, and, perhaps, have a chance to compare it to some of the “clones”]