Elon Musk’s tunnel-digging venture has started shipping flamethrower-like devices to the general public, and they’re already hitting eBay for thousands of dollars. The first 1,000 “not-a-flamethrower”s were handed over to customers at the company’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California on Saturday.
The product is the latest for Musk’s company, which is currently working on ways to make tunnel digging more efficient. Borne out of frustration with Los Angeles traffic back in December 2016, Musk’s company started selling Boring branded hats as work got underway on a test tunnel at the SpaceX headquarters. After selling 20,000 hats and raising $1 million, Musk moved onto flamethrowers. He claims he got the idea for the unusual fundraising method from cult ‘80s sci-fi film Spaceballs.
At a live-streamed presentation held at the Leo Baeck Temple in Los Angeles last month, Musk announced that the flamethrower would start shipping to customers soon. The company faced issues with sending such a device through the post, so hosted an event to bypass such restrictions:
However, the device has been criticized as a dangerous gimmick. Because the device does not produce a flame larger than 10 feet, it’s technically legal to own without any sort of license. California assemblyman Miguel Santiago, a Democrat representing Los Angeles, introduced bill AB1949 to close this flaw and limit the device’s sale. The Firearms Policy Coalition, a gun rights advocacy group, dismissed the bill for criminalizing nonviolent behavior. The San Francisco Chronicle notes the bill is now held in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, where bills that are likely to lose votes have been sent before to die.
It’s also unclear exactly why Musk is selling a flamethrower, obscure pop culture references aside. The devices represent a tiny fraction of the company’s funds, with $112.5 million coming from a more traditional round, and the idea of firing flames several feet long thanks to a legal technicality doesn’t exactly reassure people that the device is a safe and smart offering.
How Does It Work
The device acts similar to a giant bunsen burner. A propane tank of around 14 ounces connects to the rest of the device. Users open the valve of the tank, flick the ignition switch to light the pilot flame, then pull the trigger to send the flames flying.
How to Buy The Boring Company’s Not-a-Flamethrower
The Boring Company has sold out of “not-a-flamethrowers.” The initial batch was limited to just 20,000, raising around $10 million for the firm.
While Musk initially proposed an asking price of $500 for the contraption, eBay sellers have already scooped up the first batches and placed them online at extortionate prices. “Buy it now” prices range from around $2,000 to a staggering $20,000. One eBayer was selling the optional $35 fire extinguisher with a price of $295, while another eBayer was selling the included instruction manual for $250.
It’s unlikely that The Boring Company will produce any more of the devices, and it may be hard to find someone willing to send the device through the mail. The best bet is looking through second hand listing sites like Craigslist and eBay, although it will likely involve paying top dollar.