If the Phase 2 or 3 products will still have expansion slot capabilities then I wouldn't care if you skip Phase 1. And if the boards will still follow ATX form factor (or similar, like Mini ITX) then the case isn't such a big deal since it's purely for cosmetic appeal.
The X8 sounds fun too so it would be nice to have that as an option, especially if it gets something out there sooner. The X8 actually sounds almost more in line with the spirit of your original drive to start the project, like the worst pain points of the VIC-20/C-64 removed but the classic experience and some modern touches.
I primarily hope there's a system with RS-232 or some serial port capabilities for BBS/Internet capabilities. I wish this project would just merge with the MEGA65 or Colour Maximite 2 worlds to make both stronger, but sorry to say such heretical thoughts out loud on this forum