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.
Since the exciting launch of our Fx Track system on Mar 1, we have been truly blown away by the response and support of our customers. We have nearly sold out of our first production batch of S32 straight tracks in both our Canadian and EU inventories in less than 3 days! We expected a positive response, but we did not expect such a rapid sell out--thank you so much! There are still some small remaining quantities in both the Canadian and EU stores, so if you're still on the fence about placing an order, time is running out before our inventories our completely depleted.
We are already getting our next production runs setup with our manufacturers for much larger production batches of not only the S32 straight track, but also the R72 curve track. We are also going to try to expedite the introduction of the R88 curve and S8 straight track into the product catalog.
For those of you have bought the S32 straight tracks, we have confirmed that they have shipped from Hong Kong to both our inventory locations in Canada and Germany. Once those shipments have cleared customs and have been delivered, we will do our best to get orders packed and shipped as soon as possible. We will ask for some patience since it will take some time to process the large volume of orders.
Once again, thank you so much for your confidence and support of Fx Bricks and our new Fx Track metal track system. We are so proud of the product and can't wait for you folks to get it into your hands into your layouts! In the meantime, we are doing are best to make more tracks and get them to our stores as soon as we can!
On Mar 1, 2021, Fx Bricks will debut the Fx Track System--a new system of L-Gauge metal tracks compatible with 9V and RC LEGO® train track. Fx Track restores all of the key advantages of running LEGO model trains on metal rails, including limitless power, reliable smooth running and more options for control.
The first element available will be the S32 double length straight track, followed by the R72 curve track. More elements such as the R88 curve track and S8 straight track will follow later in the year.
Retail pricing will be as follows:
8832 - S32 Straight Track, 8 pcs : $69.95 USD, €57.95, $87.95 CAD
8872 - R72 Curve Track, 8 pcs: $69.95 USD, €57.95, $87.95 CAD
The S32 straight track offers 9V LEGO® train fans a straight track 33% cheaper than used track from Bricklink!
Great news for European Union Customers: we have partnered with our friends at JB Spielwaren to offer the full Fx Track system product line available directly from their shop! JB Spielwaren is a store for LEGO fans run by LEGO fans--a perfect home for EU customers to check out our new Fx Track system. JB Spielwaren offers fixed flat rate shipping for nearly the entire EU and allows our EU customers to shop with confidence and not worry about unpredictable import fees and shipping delays.
We'll have more news about the timing of our future product releases and availability, in the meantime, stay tuned as we start this exciting new chapter in bringing LEGO train fans a better way to play trains!
Happy new year from Fx Bricks! We wish everyone a happy and healthy 2021, especially given the unprecedented challenges of 2020. We are overdue for an update on what's happening at Fx Bricks, so here's what's happening:
1. Fx Track
We have not added the Fx Track products to the store yet, but we are very very close.
The S32 track elements are in production and we have received partial quantities but not the entire production order. Our supplier for the track elements experienced a partial COVID shutdown in December and is slowly trying to resume its production capacity but is challenged by not having enough available staff. We have cautioned them to not compromise product quality at the expense of schedule (which happens in China) and have said that we would rather wait for quality rather than faster.
We have received all of the retail packaging. As both the product and the packaging arrive in our Hong Kong office, it is inspected and packed into retail boxes. When we have enough cartons of retail packaging for distribution, approximately half will be shipped to Canada.
Our plan is to start distribution from both our Canada and Hong Kong office. Orders will be dispatched from either location depending on the costs of shipping and logistics. Based on the distribution of sales and demand, we will have a better idea of how to distribute inventory. Furthermore, our decision to invest in an EU distributor will depend on sales performance. We expect the EU to be a strong market and we will likely have an EU distributor established as soon as we can.
We are really excited to announce that the P40 switch is going ahead! We've already started the process with our manufacturing partners. It is difficult to appreciate the level of complexity and investment required to make a product of this calibre. Each P40 switch consists of at least 36 components in both ABS plastic and metal. Furthermore, it requires a skilled assembly team to put them together into its final form. We don't want to make firm schedule commitments given the current world situation, but we're aiming to have at least pre-production prototypes to show for summer 2021. The resulting track switch is an item of beauty and mechanical elegance!
Motors, Power Feeders, Etc.
It might be stating the obvious, but releasing a metal track system does not make sense unless we can "complete the circuit" with elements which can both deliver and pickup power! Therefore, we've already started on the product design for both a power feeder element and metal wheel motor bogie. Our current plan is as follows:
- Motor Bogie - this is clearly a priority. It will be designed in the same "plug and play" form factor as the LEGO 9V and Power Functions motor bogie. It will be easily configured to operate "JUMPERED" (power pickup connected directly to the motor) or "SEPARATED" (power pickup and motor terminals electrically isolated and available at one or more connectors). JUMPERED mode is offers the same plug and play operation as the retired LEGO 9V motor bogie and supports simple voltage speed control. "SEPARATED" allows users to pickup power to energize a third party controller such as PFx Brick, SBrick, etc. or NMRA DCC decoder and have the motor controlled by the external controller. We also plan to make a power accessory that picks up power from the track and simultaneously energizes a PFx Brick and recharges an optional on board battery. This way, you have the best of both worlds! A train which can get power from the track for recharging or operation AND be capable of operating on non-energized plastic track! Furthermore, the battery will act like a UPS (uninterruptable power supply) and instantly switch over due to momentary power interruptions or dirty track.
- Metal Wheelsets - We definitely intend on offering standalone metal wheels both for power pickup and as replacement wheelsets for plastic. This will happen after the motor bogie, since we believe that is a priority.
- Power Feeder - We will either provide an element similar to the retired LEGO 9V feeder and/or a dedicated wired track element (based on the S8 straight) to deliver power. The dedicated track element will also be designed to be an switchable "Isolating" element for use in sidings or partitioning power "districts" on your layout.
- Speed Regulator - Last on the list will be a dedicated speed regulator element similar in form factor to the retired LEGO 9V speed regulator but with advanced technology features such as: continuously variable speed control, 12V/9V operation, 3A current rating, overload protection, fixed voltage outputs for accessories, and much more. We also also see this as basis to make "docking" control elements to build your own "control panels" similar to the retired LEGO 12V system. We're still brainstorming the details on this concept, but feel free to let us know what you think or if you have any suggestions or ideas!
2. Current Orders
Sorry we're not getting orders shipped faster. We are working hard to process them as fast as we can. We have had a recent surge in orders during the Holiday Season and we've also been very busy preparing for the release of the Fx Track products. As you can imagine, our resources are being stretched very thin. We are looking into hiring additional help, but even looking for people takes time! We thank you for your support and will indulge in your continued patience as we get through the backlog.
3. Firmware and Software Updates
We're just about to release a new version of our programming guide (Interface Control Document) to v.3.38. This will coincide with both a firmware update to the PFx Brick and an update to the desktop PFx App. Some of the new features in this release include:
- upgraded sound effects, in particular for the gated playback modes
- support for the new push button "touchLAB" accessory (to connect NXT, EV3 and DIY pushbuttons) to trigger actions
- new scripting language features such as variables, loops, motor acceleration, and more
- future support for RGB LED accessories, including the ability to specify colour for any of the existing lighting effects per channel!
We've also prepared a PFx scripting language "cheatsheet" document available from our site. This will help folks build their own customized scripted behaviours, store them on the PFx Brick, and activate at any time.
Stay tuned to our site! In the meantime, visit our documentation resources page for links to developer documentation and other items.
4. M Speaker
The first production batches of both the M and XL Speakers were 3D printed. We have sold out of both these speakers. We decided to invest in injection molded speaker enclosures for future versions of the speaker bricks starting with the XL speaker. The new injection molded XL Speaker is now in the store.
We will eventually manufacture the M speaker with injection molding, but we are not ready to commit to when it will be available. We were planning for later in 2021, but we have received so many inquiries and requests for the M Speaker, that we may have to expedite its manufacturing and release. The CAD models are already prepared and the molding is ready to go to manufacturing. It is simply a matter of priorities and costs.
Thanks again to all of our customers--we really appreciate your support. We can't tell you how much we appreciate and marvel at all the cool models and creations you've shared with us which use a PFx Brick! Please keep sending us your creations--we'd love to put a showcase gallery on our site to share your amazing work! We look forward to a busy but very productive 2021 and also wish you both a happy and creative year!
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!