2021 has been a very exciting year for us and there's a lot more good news to come! Firstly, we are so thankful and encouraged by the response to our Fx Track system debut in March. We quickly sold out of all of our inventory and it was very clear that we needed to expedite our production schedule with increased quantities.
We know you folks have been eager to know when new Fx Track is going to be available and we're sorry that we haven't been able to update you sooner.
As luck would have it, our product launch and rapid sell-out co-incided with the post lunar new-year holiday season in China and COVID quarantine requirements our manufacturers had to manage with their staff. This has resulted in delays in both getting production started and estimating delivery schedules. Furthermore, we depend on two different manufacturing partners which produce our track elements. Coordinating the schedules of these two sources adds another layer of complexity and uncertainty.
In any case, the good news is that new inventory of S8 and S32 straight tracks and R72 and R88 curve tracks are currently in full production and we expect to start receiving product very soon at our Hong Kong office! As soon as product arrives, we perform quality inspection and pack the track elements into retail packaging. Retail products are prepared into consolidated shipments to both Canada and Germany for retail distribution. Rather than prepare individual shipments for each product, we are going to consolidate all of the products into one large shipment for sea container shipping. Previously we have used air freight for distribution; however, air freight costs have risen significantly and the size our shipment make this option untenable. Sea container freight costs have also risen significantly; however, it is more efficient and cost effective especially given the size of this consolidated production batch.
The current schedule for product release is as follows:
1. Pre-order sales will start for the S8, S32, R72 and R88 on June 1, 2021 at both the Canadian store and JB Spielwaren (for the EU)
2. Inventory is estimated to ship from Hong Kong in June and arrive July/early August in both Canada and Germany.
3. Pre-order sales will ship as soon as product arrives. Customers should expect to receive products in August.
4. No quantity limits will be imposed on orders, i.e. the 3x items per customer limit will be removed.
Temporary Store Closure
We have been intending to upgrade our online store's e-commerce platform for quite some time. This was made especially clear during robust sales of our Fx Track debut--since our store made several errors in processing orders due to limitations in capacity. Therefore, we are taking this opportunity to migrate our online store to Shopify. During this transition, we will be temporarily closing our store to new orders so that we can focus on making this transition with minimimum disruption. Orders that our currently pending in our backlog will not be affected and will be fulfilled very soon.
The plan is as follows:
1. The online store at fxbricks.com will temporarily close effective May 5, 2021.
2. The store will be transitioned to a new Shopify platform for testing and deployment.
3. The store will re-open June 1, 2021 at 00:00 EST (co-inciding with new Fx Track pre-orders!)
Other Track elements
The R56 and R104 curve tracks are still currently scheduled for tooling and production this summer and we expect to start pre-order sales in August with deliveries in Q4 2021.
The P40 switch track is currently in tooling. Due to its complexity and number of components, its production will likely start in Q3 2021 and we expect to start pre-order sales in Q4 2021 with deliveries hopefully starting in Q4 2021 or Q1 2022 latest.
The motor bogie and other electrical accessories such as the track power feeder and speed controller are currently in detailed design. We are already prototyping some components of these products; however, until we engage our manufacturing partners with final production-ready design assets, we cannot comment on production and availability of these products at this time. Rest assurred we are doing everything we can to expedite the development of these products and make them available for you folks as soon as we can!
We know the motor bogie and metal wheels are key elements to taking the Fx Track system to its full potential. We want to make sure that our motor and power system products are engineered to the exceptionally high standard that not only you expect from us but that we also demand from ourselves.
We are excited to announce that we gave the go-ahead to produce our first production batch of track elements! We will be producing 3000x units of the S32 straight track immediately and this will be followed by the R72 curve track. We've spent a great of time designing premium quality packaging which is based on 100% recyclable materials (paper based) with FSC environmental certification.
When we've received the production batches into our Hong Kong office we will then make the track available for sale on our webstore (announcements will follow). Initially, all orders will be dispatched from our Hong Kong location for shipping worldwide. Over time, we hope to redistrute some inventory to our Canadian location for distribution in North America. Also, we are in discussion with fulfilment partners for the European Union to hopefully have EU based inventory and distribution.
Our product release plan is as follows:
1. S32 straight track - available Dec 2020
2. R72 curve track - available early 2021
3. R88 curve track - available Q2 2021
4. S8 straight track - available Q2 2021
We hope that revenue from these items will allow us to commit early production on the remaining track items:
5. R56 curve track
6. S16 straight track
7. R104, R120 curve tracks
In parallel, we have obtained costs for the P40 switch production. Predictably, it is expensive! However, we are still committed to making it. The schedule will more or less depend on the sales performance of the standard track elements.
Many folks have noticed the depleted inventory of speaker bricks. Since running out of our production batches of 3D printed speaker enclosures, we made the decision to invest in injection molded speaker bricks. Despite COVID-19, we were able to get expedited manufacturing and production of the new XL Speaker Brick!
It includes an improved speaker cone and optimized sound box design. Most importantly, it looks and sounds amazing! We hope to receive initial production batches any day now and look forward to putting it back into the store very soon.
touchLAB PFx Brick Accessory
A new accessory product that will soon be released is the touchLAB. The touchLAB allow you to connect any LEGO® NXT 2.0 or EV3 touch sensor or your own push button to the PFx Brick. This button can then be used to trigger actions on the PFx Brick. You will be able to configure actions that trigger on any of the following events:
- button down
- button up
- button normal press
- button long press
The touchLAB is designed to be inserted into the lighting connector or anywhere within the lighting accessory connection chain. The touchLAB does not affect any of the 8x lighting channels and operates transparently.
New LDraw Models
We have recently updated our LDraw models of the PFx Brick and accessories for use with your favorite LEGO CAD software. Integrating the PFx Brick into instruction books or digital models can be achieved with ease with our high quality detailed LDraw 3D models.
Download the new models from our GitHub repository.
PFx Brick Scripting
Did you know that the PFx Brick has the ability to run script files? Scripts allow the PFx Brick to perform customized sequences of actions and behaviours. The scripting language follows a very simple syntax and can be edited with your favourite text editor. In fact, we've made it even easier for you by making a Visual Studio Code language extension for the PFx Brick! Check it out from our GitHub repository!
The scope and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented and will be felt by all of us in the coming weeks and months. I want to reach out personally on behalf of Fx Bricks to reassure all of our customers and friends that Fx Bricks will continue to fulfill orders and keep developing exciting new products.
1. PFx Brick Pre-orders
- - All electronics assembly is completed for more than 1000 units
- - 100x units are currently in the final assembly and test pipeline
- - New product packaging has been ordered and received
- - The tooling of the brick enclosure mold was completed before the Chinese Lunar New Year, however the Covid-19 situation prevented our manufacturer from starting production
- - Last week, our manufacturer completed a pre-production batch of the brick enclosures (shown below) prior to authorizing the final production quantity of 3000 units
- - Once we approve the pre-production parts, full production of 3000 units should only take 2-3 weeks to complete and again, we will keep everyone informed of our progress
2. Accessory orders
3. Fx Track System
- - S8 straight track
- - S32 straight track
- - R72 curved track
- - R88 curved track
We are really excited to share some exciting news about our new inventory of PFx Bricks! We know you have been waiting patiently for them to arrive and we thank you for your understanding.
Initially, our goal was to have them available in December 2019. However, production was delayed because the plastic injection molded brick enclosures were causing mechanical performance issues with the clutch to other LEGO® elements as well as clearance issues with the underside Power Functions connector. We reviewed the issues with our manufacturer and are pleased to report that they are remaking the mold to fix them. The electronics manufacturing for 1000 PFx Bricks is complete and as soon as we sign off on the injection molded brick enclosure, we will re-open the web store for pre-orders in 2 weeks!
To stay in touch and be the first to know about the new and improved PFx Brick, please sign up for our Newsletter here.
We are super excited after receiving pre-production samples of the new plastic injection-molded PFx Brick enclosures. The new enclosures are molded in a slick two-tone light and dark bluish grey colour scheme and include some awesome new mechanical features. This molded enclosure will be standard across all PFx Bricks and replaces the 3D printed enclosures which served us well for our production debut.
The new enclosures elevate the both the quality and functional performance of the PFx Brick and some of its key features are as follows:
- Technic Pin Holes - side mounted Technic pin holes allow more robust attachment options for integrating the PFx Brick into Technic models as well as conventional brick built models.
- Bottom Anti-Studs - the underside of the enclosure is both functionally and aesthetically more compatible with the Lego system stud / anti-stud connection and now permits some interconnection schemes at half-stud intervals.
- Durability - the lid now includes mechanical reinforcement features around the the speaker and IR connector ports to resist excessive bending or twisting forces on the connector. The Power Functions compatible input and output connectors include additional bracing and precision mechanical guidance for the gold-plated pins.
As always, the enclosure will continue to be secured by 4x stainless steel machine screws for optimal strength, durability, and mechanical precision. Also, all connectors on the PFx Brick use gold-plated electrical contacts for maximum reliability and performance.
As of Sep 2019, a production run of 1000 new PFx Bricks has been started by our manufacturing partners in China. This involves the assembly of electronic printed circuit boards and the precision robot-guided insertion of the Power Functions compatible connector electrical pins. These pins are automotive and aerospace grade electrical pins designed for supreme reliability with solder-less contact fastening directly into the PCB.
We expect to receive the assembled electronics in Nov 2019. After we receive the electronics, we then hand assemble the Bluetooth radios (if required for non-IR models) and the high precision lighting dock connector. After each panel of 16x PFx Bricks has finished final assembly, each PFx Brick is electrically tested and its bootloader firmware is installed. Finally, the PFx Brick PCBs are clipped out of the production panel and installed into the new plastic injection molded enclosures. Each PFx Brick then goes through an extensive automated factory test procedure before being packaged and ready for shipment.
Since final assembly and test is relatively quick, we expect to be able to offer rapid shipping turn around on all future PFx Brick orders. Once we have a clearer picture of our production schedule, we will open up our webstore for pre-order of new PFx Bricks. As of Oct 2019, we estimate the schedule will be as follows:
- Oct 2019 : Electronics assembly / Injection molding starts
- Nov 2019 : Receive electronics, start final assembly and test. / Receive enclosures / Open store for pre-orders
- Dec 2019 / Jan 2020 : Start shipping pre-orders / Open store for general orders