I want to start off by saying this is not a post I have been looking forward to creating, and I hate that it is come to this. However, it's time that we get a resolution going, and the community needs to be aware of what's been happening. This might take a little story telling, so bear with me.
In April of 2015, I (like many of you) went to Celebration 7 in Anaheim. I had an absolute blast, and met some really great people, including many of you and Rick Ponte. One group of individuals I met were employees at EA who as you may know were working on Battlefront, and are working on an unreleased Star Wars game. One of these individuals and I kept in touch after Celebration, and eventually he got me in touch with an EA employee named Scott, who was very interested in putting together a Fett costume.
Scott is an Art Director with EA and currently lives and works in at the EA Shanghai location. Scott let me know that he wanted a suit that could be both displayed and worn to events, and that accuracy was important to him being that a lot of people will see this suit. After a few weeks of back and forth with him, he asked if I could put together a price list together, and I got to work.
In late May/Early June, I got into contact with Rick Ponte, and I asked him if he would be interested in working on this commission. Rick seemed to be very excited and was anxious to take on the project. I asked him multiple times if he would be able to meet the desired deadline of October, and while he said it would be close, that he would make it happen. He also agreed to complete a build thread and keep us regularly updated on the project. Once I had his agreement, I gave Scott final pricing and the particulars of how the commission would work, and he began sending me funds for the project. I also had volunteered all of my parts to help him build an awesome costume with all of the awesome metal parts that make Fett great.
Once I had the money in my account, I immediately began ordering parts to get this project moving along. The first purchase I made was from Chris (Fettpride). I let Chris know about the project well ahead of time, and he helped me out with expediting things so that we could meet the project deadline. Rick received the hard parts for the costume on 7/6/2015, and I agreed to put a little over half of the payment down to get the project started.
Over the next few months, Rick was very good at communicating with me, and promised that although he didn't have time for a build thread due to work, things were progressing very smoothly. Rick had received mostly every part needed to complete the commission by the first week of August, and was very adamant that the project would be completed on time.
After talking with Scott and looking into shipping costs, we as a group decided it would be best to wait until Scott was visiting the US to ship everything. Scott was unsure of when exactly he would be in the US, but knew it would be around December, which we took as a good thing because it would allow Rick a couple more months to work on the commission and make sure we really got things right. Eventually Scott did find out the day he would be in the US, and it was going to be in January. I regularly asked Rick for pictures and updates on progress, and he did eventually send pictures that looked like the project was at least nearing completion. However, while we did see armor and soft parts, there were no pictures of the jetpack or helmet.
As we neared the date in January that Scott would be in town, Rick began to communicate that he might have to substitute his own armor in for Scotts, and then he would just use what we had sent for Scott as his own suit. I let him know this was fine as long as it was exactly the same as the stuff that we had sent. Rick agreed and assured me that it was exactly what we were expecting it to be. However, he said that he would need to ship the helmet and one of the gauntlets at a later date because he hadn't finished them. He also put a lot of the blame on Fettpride saying that the armor he had painted had cracked and was defective due to poor craftsmanship on Fettpride's part (I am apparently not the only person who had gotten this excuse from Rick). Rick had promised that he would send these two things to China on his own dime. In the meantime, rather than shipping everything in a timely manner, Rick went on a little trip that would only allow him to come back and ship the project in time for it to be on time if it was overnighted, which would cost about $800. Apparently it was more important for him to go out to a WW2 reenactment than finish a project that he had been paid a lot of money to do. What he does with his time is none of my business, but completing and shipping the project before going on this trip, and being able to ship it via ground sure would have been the economical way to do things if you ask me. I'd like to tell you this is where the story ends, but it isn't.
Once Scott received the items, he had a couple initial concerns. Apparently, the items were not packed very well at all (despite being put in Pelican cases), and two of the items showed heavy damage. One of the items was a gauntlet, which had too much weight on it and had a pretty bad crack. The other item was the jetpack, which had unusual wear on it for a new jetpack, almost as if it had very heavy usage. I shared pictures of the items with a few people, and then noticed some really strange things. The suit that Scott received didn't seem to have any of my metal parts (remember, I sent Rick all of my parts for this suit), and didn't look correct. That's when we noticed it. Rick didn't send Scott of the parts we sent him to be used on this project except for the soft parts, which were not weathered nearly as well as they should have been. Instead, Rick had sent all of his old gear to Scott, which was not at all what we were promised, and was nowhere near acceptable. Rick defended himself saying that he thought he felt he sent Scott the most accurate suit that he could, which was a giant kick in the teeth considering Scott only received 2 of the 12+ MachineCraft parts I had sent him to be used on the suit. Furthermore, why in the hell would I want other maker's parts on a suit that I helped put together? This was a **** poor excuse for Rick's procrastination, and an outright insult to me as the person orchestrating the commission.
After quite a bit of research, I had found that the parts Scott received were in fact all of Rick's old equipment, and I even screen-matched the armor to armor that Rick was wearing at a previous Celebration (before his updated colors and methods that he had been very proud to tell us about on TDH). Thus, it was confirmed, the parts Scott received were Rick's recycled suit, and because the suit went straight to Scott, I'm guessing he didn't think we would catch it. But, we did, and Scott opted to send the whole suit back to Rick, minus the soft parts that Rick didn't need to work on. I talked with Rick about how disappointed we were, and he swore that he cared about nothing more than about making it right, and his work wasn't finished until Scott was happy with the costume.
Thus, Rick agreed that he would be start working on the parts we had sent him, and that he would regularly update us with pictures and a build thread this time around. Unfortunately, as you've probably guessed, this hasn't happened. Rick assured us the project would be completed in the April/May timeframe, and while I understand he may have some personal things going on in his life, it is now nearly August, and we will likely not be meeting our new deadline of August 1st. I created this thread to let everyone know about the trouble I have had with Rick, and hopefully to use this as a line of communication with him. I have already spoke with the admins and provided proof of the claims mentioned here, and will post them publicly if it comes to it.
Rick, I know things may not be going great for you right now, but this project was a great opportunity for both you and I to both get our names out there, and build some great relationships with people who work with Star Wars for a living. It's unfortunate that it's come to this, but it's time for a resolution. I don't think you're a bad guy, but I think you've bitten off more than you can chew, and it's time that you spit it out. I know there are others that feel this way, and the only thing that I ask of you is that you do the right thing and help me get the parts back so that I can get them out to other painters and get this project completed for Scott.
If anyone has any questions, please let me know. I apologize for the novel and any grammatical errors, I'll be happy to clear anything up if there's any holes in my story.