Late last month, a fellow on Destructoid who goes by the handle "kidvid666" (also known as Roger Vega) made a very exciting revelation. Apparently, he owns one of the only two Sega Pluto units in existence- he managed to pick it up for $1 at a flea market, from a seller who clearly had no idea how valuable a device they were selling.
Vega had no idea, either - until he saw the Destructoid piece covering the other one, which is currently in the hands of a fellow called Super Magnetic over on the Assembler forums, who is himself a former Sega employee.
For those of you who have no idea what a Pluto is (until recently, I was certainly among you), it's essentially a Sega Saturn with a built-in Netlink - perhaps an early prototype of the ill-fated console. Super Magnetic described the device as "a beast," saying it is, without a doubt, the heaviest console he's ever held. As you can see from the above photos, the Pluto features a flip-top drive bay, a cart slot, power and reset buttons, and what Magnetic describes as "beautiful and exotic vents" on the side.
Oh, and it apparently plays Sega Saturn games, as well, although it's NTSC region locked.
Now, Vega decided to place the model up for auction, at first starting with a website known as Game Gavel. The auction reached a sale price of $7,600. That seems like pretty good coin, no? Unfortunately, after only three or so people bid, the reserve price apparently wasn't met, and the auction fizzled - no sale was made. Curious, no? I mean, it's not like $7,600 was a bad offer; that's a $7,599 profit on what he originally paid.
Still, maybe Vega was just testing the waters to see what he could get. After all, he put the Pluto up on ebat a short time later, this time with a considerably higher reserve price...which also wasn't met when the auction ended at $15,000. At this point, a lot of people were starting to get confused and more than a little angry; many accused Vega of being both foolish and overly greedy.
As it turns out, there was more to this whole story than meets the eye. It all started with the Game Gavel auction, which received only three bids. The first was a paltry $50, followed by a $7500 bid from SoCal Mike (GameGavel's owner), and finally $7600 from xDerekRxof the Saturn League Forums. This was the winning bid. Unfortunately, it didn't appear to be high enough.
"The owner of the Pluto has told me he would not like to sell it for $7600 (the reserve price is higher still). I get the feeling he wants to get more, probably $10,000. Nice kid overall. At least the system is in a cool guys hands," wrote Derek in a Saturn League thread, shortly after the Game Gavel auction came to an end.
Vega tells it a little differently:
"I didn't think enough people got enough of a chance for it," explained Vega in an interview with SEGA Nerds, "so I wanted to post it on eBay." Unfortunately, here's where things went straight south for him. The majority of the bids, he explained, appeared to consist of bots and spammers; recently created accounts with little or no feedback whose only purpose appeared to be driving up the price.
Still, people seemed interested, and the price gradually climbed, shooting up to the final selling price of $15,000. A staggering offer indeed...but the person who made the offer decided to back out, after making Vega wait on him for eight hours. Most of the other buyers - the ones who weren't simply bots - backed down as well, apparently unwilling to pay their offered price. Vega was left short $51, with his Pluto still in hand.
"I hate eBay" he added.
Auctions aside, Vega may yet have managed to sell his console: a cursory glance at hisTwitter feed shows a rather disjointed series of tweets between Vega and a user who goes by the handle of @lastmanoftruth. As near as I can tell, it appears the two butted heads for a bit over Twitter before finally deciding to take their conversation to Facebook. No word yet on what came of it, but I've reached out to Vega for comment.
I'll keep you folks posted as to whether or not you may yet have a chance to own your very own piece of gaming history.
I reached out to both Vega and The Lone Man on Twitter. The sale has effectively been made. I will update again once a price has been confirmed.