It's for charidee…

I got a press release yesterday from the fine folks who do PR in Australia for the Xbox 360, touting the latest console in their charity-inspired “Konsoles For Kids” auction. It’s a great idea — get a bunch of basically white Xbox 360 consoles, airbrush them with the faces of the famous — or famous in Australia, at least — I doubt Reg Regan’s headed to Hollywood any time soon — and get said celebs to sign the boxes, then fling them on eBay, let market forces do their thing, and donate the entire proceeds to the Make-A-Wish foundation.
This week’s console is particularly interesting — it’s a Halo 3 console, signed by the development team, Bungie. It’s so interesting that I’ve since seen it pop up on a number of games sites, interest has gone through the roof, bidding has topped three grand and they’ve offered to make it an NTSC model depending on where the bidder lives. Which presumably means they’ve got a whole bunch of empty airbrushed cases locked in an office somewhere, awaiting their multimedia gizzards — but I digress.
I’d been in the same room as a few of the cases, and laughingly commented that the Kerri-Anne Kennerley case — pinker than any system really needs to be — might not attract the really big money — so when I spotted that the site had a “see other consoles and auction results” link, I clicked, curious to see what the great unwashed would pay for a celebrity system.
The only thing is, Microsoft won’t fess up to it. Go to the site (as of right now), and all you’ll see is the picture of each system, slapped with a real-estate style “SOLD” sticker across it. Sale prices are not currently disclosed.
This strikes me as curious. Why not proudly state how much this admittedly excellent charity idea has raised, especially as the Halo 3 box is going through the roof?
A little digging reveals at least part of the story; Microsoft might not be listing the figures, but eBay certainly is — at least for most of them.
Cameron Sheppard $530
Kerri Anne $535
Nicole Livingstone $560
Eels $600
Canterbury: $610
Jodie Henry $611
Libby Lenton $611.50
Mark Skaife – $635
Russell Ingall $640
Ian Thorpe $640 (Surprising — his stock has clearly fallen)
Wiggles $650
Reg Regan: $710
Anthony Mundine $721
Craig Lowndes – $820
Peter Jackson $1085 (Fascinating — yes, he’s an Oscar-winning director, but this isn’t a picture of him — it’s the King Kong movie poster, airbrushed in and signed by Mr Jackson.)
Andrew Johns $1125
Halo 3 – $3350 (at the time of writing)
That’s not quite all of them — mostly that’s found via the feedback that the buyers have left, aside from the Wiggles one, which I hunted down primarily out of interest — I do have kids.
A quick bit of additional searching reveals that the buyer of the Russell Crowe Xbox 360 loved it so much that s/he’s put it straight back up on eBay. Charming, some scalpers…
Then there’s a few “phantom” auctions — no amount of searching could uncover the Karl Stefanovic Xbox 360 auction. Presumably for the over-50’s Gears Of War playing set, that one.
It appears I was right about the Kerri Anne console — or should that be “Konsole”? — and it highlights one interesting aspect of these auctions — anyone who won an Xbox 360 under the Wiggles final price was in fact getting a knockdown price system — this particular SKU has an RRP of $649, and it’s arguably $749 given that a copy of the rather excellent Crackdown is thrown into the deal. The Machiavellian part of my brain wonders why (or if) an MS PR person wasn’t sent to monitor each auction and snipe it if it went too low — but that’s pure scurrilous speculation on my part.
So, is putting up with a garish Kerri-Anne beaming at you each time you fire up Dead Rising worth saving a couple of hundred dollars? Somebody obviously thought so…
(Alex’s note: Before anyone bombards me with criticism for “having a go” at a charity event, I’ll reiterate — I think the Konsoles For Kids auction is a fantastic idea, and my hat is off to MS for coming up with it. I just find the juxtaposition of celebrity, RRP and eBay to be a fascinating topic in and of itself.)

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