JopieK

Kickstarter: ME Models Tracks for both metal and ABS only track pieces

522 posts in this topic

Way to put a downer on the whole thing, and write a massive rant that makes people not want to back the project.

I've used Kickstarter extensively, ranging from quite low pledges to really quite large ones. There's always an element of deciding whether the project is going to succeed or not, but really, ME's is a very low risk. Sure, there may be a time delay, but in terms of actually getting the product, it's pretty much guaranteed.

1) Established company that is already active in the field, and has demonstrated previous prototypes before KS

2) Clearly thought out manufacturing and logistics, to the point they already have several injection moulds completed and shown on the KS page

3) The money asked for is proportional to the aims. The failed KS projects can be spotted a mile off, as they don't ask enough money for what they're trying to do - your linked video game being a prime example.

4) Product is very clearly shown, with real physical objects already existing. Not just concept work.

Yes, the money is to continue purchasing equipment that will be used to produce track. Yes, you're backing the company and receiving a gift in return. However, in this case, the risk is very very low and it is pretty much money goes in, track comes out.

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BrickStorm is correct. KickStarter is a crowd-funding source for start-up projects, but our intent with it was a bit different.

First, for the metal rails, the fixtures for both straight and curves are complete and have been fully tested. All we have to do is pay the balance pick them up. The extrusion die for the aluminum was bought and fully paid for 3 years.

Second, for the plastic. The mold for our universal connector was bought and paid for 3 years ago. We are again going to the same company that made that mold and using the same manufacturer for the actual molding process. With that, we know what we're getting and exactly what it will cost.

Taking all of that into account, we came up with a number that would satisfy all tooling requirements, cover the cost of materials for each reward offered, and finally leave some leftover to invest in carrying an inventory as well as R&D for the next project...and that number doesn't come close to what was already self-invested.

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Personally, I'm using my backing less as a donation to the project, and more of me voting with my dollars. I'm showing my eager willingness to spend money on new track geometry, to show there truly is a market out there for it.

And the chance to actually get that new geometry - bonus!

--Tony

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Regarding the rails, can you describe the underside? How grippy are they on they sleeper plates, how do they stay properly aligned and spaced on the plates?

Last thing I want would be the sleeper plates to easily fall off/slide.

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Regarding the rails, can you describe the underside? How grippy are they on they sleeper plates, how do they stay properly aligned and spaced on the plates?

Last thing I want would be the sleeper plates to easily fall off/slide.

When we first released the straights a couple years back, they were almost too tight and began to "shave" plastic from the plates. We have corrected that problem by actually using a microscopic slope to the inside of the holes on the metal products in order to give that needed clutch power. This is also why we decided to start making our own 2X8 plates so that your original LEGO ones wouldn't be damaged if you were using rails in a cooler environment where the metal would contract more than the plastic.

The bottom line though is that we're still mating metal to plastic. We've spent a lot of time with various options and believe that we have found the best solution.

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I went and backed a metal R56 loop, if I manage to scrounge up some cash I'll either snag a second loop or some straights. Really hope this one comes out on top!

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Thanks HoMa!

20 days to go...still about $60,000 to go to be funded.

Please help us spread the word to everyone who may be interested in this project!

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I feel this is an important campaign so I'm bumping this back up to the top. If us fans in the LEGO train community want to see a larger variety of track then it's going to be up to us to make it happen. We can't wait for the LEGO company to do this for us. Right now LEGO feels that the market is just not big enough to warrant investing in new track. We need to take the initiative and show them that there really is a market out there for more track options. It's really up to us to grow the hobby and and ensure the long term future of this crazy little obsession we have. And so I'm supporting this campaign with my money and I hope many of you will too.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to talk to the ME models group at Philly Brick Fest. They are good group and are excited about making this project a success. They have already poured a significant amount of time and their own money into bringing the project this far. All they are asking is that we do what we can to bring the campaign home to a successful end. ME Models has been around a several years now and I've talked with them at many AFOL events in the past. If you are on the fence because of fears that ME will not deliver if funded I hope you will take my word that this is a reputable group and if successfully funded they will deliver what is promised.

I have some of the original run of ME metal track produced a few years ago. Those of you who have seen my club's train layouts may have noticed them. I've used them for my twin Pennsylvania RR Deck Plate Girder Bridges. They really provide a nice look and were perfect for getting the see through effect down between the track and ties that I wanted. The electrical conductivity had a few issues but ME has been working to resolve this and for those of you going for the plastic track options then that is a non issue.

8389764293_fef9ff3096_s.jpgIMG_4673 by Cale Leiphart, on Flickr

With the new track I hope to include more unique features in PennLUG layouts such as these track pans.

5521397775_104ecc3aeb_s.jpgTrack Pans by Cale Leiphart, on Flickr

And while I'm talking about ME's track some one asked me in another group about the need for such large curves in strictly ABS. Here are my thoughts. I know a lot of AFOL's are still stuck on the 9v system and the need for metal track but in my opinion the sad truth is that 9v is a dying system. With LEGO no longer making track, motors, or controllers the parts that are out there are only going up in price and there is only so much to go around. Even if you solve the metal track problem, which would include make metal straight rail, curved rail, and switches at a bare minimum, it's only a bandage on the much bigger problem. You still have the motor and controller problem. Sure the old LEGO train guard may be firmly entrenched in 9v and have a stock of spares stashed away but for the new train fan entering the LEGO hobby the 9v system is an expensive, limited, and archaic option. Those new fans are most likely going to start out with a Power Functions train set bought at the toy store. And it's those new train fans that we need to help grow the LEGO train hobby. So for them when they start looking to expand their train layout the metal track isn't going to be a necessity. A cheaper to produce, and cheaper to buy plastic track option will be perfectly viable and match up well with what they already have. And keeping costs low for those new fans will keep them around longer and help them grow in the hobby.

And for us more established LEGO train fans who have embraced change and have learned to build to the new Power Functions system's strengths while working around it's weaknesses plastic track is also a great option. If I can get a wider variety of curves and other track component by going to plastic then bring it on.

And remember this is only the first step. If this campaign is successful then it will only open the door to more metal tack options in the future. So please support the Kickstarter and please spread the word to every LEGO train fan you know.

Cale

Edited by Cale

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Echoing Cale, email all of your lego train buddies and tell them about this opportunity.

The huge sweeping curves on the PennLug layout are incredible, but even at that radius the fact that the curves are built out of straight track segments still creates a lot of drag. The constant radius curves like ME Models are proposing are the best way to go (sure PennLug is twice as wide as ME, but if ME gets off the ground now, they might get to insanely large radii curves in the future).

I think Lego might be right that hyper-detailed train AFOLs are a niche market and our demand will never compete with Hero Factory, Chima, etc, but our demand is large enough to support specialized suppliers like ME Models... as long as we are willing to vote with our wallets.

This is a great opportunity to get wider variety of track elements (both PF and 9v).

As per my own effort with custom wide radius curves, I am building R88 curves and they make a huge difference, e.g., the exact same train:

before (R40)

ex01b.jpg_thumb.jpg

after (R88)

ex01f.jpg_thumb.jpg

The wider radius curves also wind up saving straight track, e.g., R88 will save 6 segments of straight track for each 90° curve, while R104 will save 8 segments.

Even if you are happy with the tight radius lego curves, another reason to support this effort by ME Models is simply the straight track. You can get a better selection of lengths, probably at a lower price than lego (PF or 9v).

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Just backed as well, for me its all about the 9V metal rails but fully understand why some want the PF only option. Wish I could add more... Great work guys

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Upped my pledge, and I'll probably continue to add to it.

Cale is completely right. We need this to be funded - both as a source of metal, 9V compatible, tracks for the old guard, but also as a source for those of us (relatively) new to the train system. I bought my first train back in 2006 with 7897, which pushed me in to the RC and now PF systems - so I'm buying ABS track.

As a question for ME, if this KS fails (booooo!) would you open another for a more limited goal? Say, just funding R56 and straights? Perhaps you can do it in stages, rather than all at once?

Edited by cei

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I have backed this for as much (little) as I can. Is it relevant enough to make the front page here? Someone who can push for that? That might add some backers.

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I haven't even built my first train layout yet and I'm surprised at the low number of supporters. I would have thought that there would be hundreds Only about 800 supporters are needed at $100 each to make this work. I went in for $160 on the 4th day and things have really slowed down. I'm rather disappointed. Being new to LEGO and to LEGO trains, I don't know where else to advertise this. I hope this works as we newbies need a good and more varied supply of track just like the old-timers do. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that there may be a hoard of late supporters.

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Just backed for a reasonable amount but it's not looking good; after half the time only a fifth of the amount has been received...

I hope this isn't going to prove Big Bens point that there just isn't a market for an injection moulding solution. There aren't that many train builders and among those builders there won't be a high demand. I can think of 3 people in Ireland who might invest in this and each would buy a few loops at most. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see the project succeed. I'm just not very confident it will...

I'm with Cale on the support for the ABS option. I think existing 9V gear can be maintained for some time to come but PF is the future.

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I honestly think he set the bar too high by trying to offer so many sizes, colors and options. Just offer 1 or 2 radii and maybe 9v straights. Everything else is superfluous. Throw the 9v straights on ebay and he could sell 200-500/week at $4 each.

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I honestly think he set the bar too high by trying to offer so many sizes, colors and options. Just offer 1 or 2 radii and maybe 9v straights. Everything else is superfluous. Throw the 9v straights on ebay and he could sell 200-500/week at $4 each.

Agreed. I was rather overwhelmed at the veritable array of options presented for a Kickstarter project.

I've added my support for what it's worth, and I'm glad to see a link posted on reddit, though it's sad to see the rather harsh criticism and skepticism this has met there.

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First, thank you all for your words of encouragement and support of this project going forward. We are as eager to move this into the next phase as you are.

I honestly think he set the bar too high by trying to offer so many sizes, colors and options. Just offer 1 or 2 radii and maybe 9v straights. Everything else is superfluous. Throw the 9v straights on ebay and he could sell 200-500/week at $4 each.

We wanted to offer everyone everything in a single shot so-to-speak. With a project like this, you have to start somewhere, and we decided that "going big" was where we should start...should it become necessary to "scale back", that is an option, but we felt our best effort on this project would be to offer it all.

In terms of costs, you can take color out of the equation. Black ABS, white ABS, brown ABS, at the end of the day, it's all the same in terms of cost. The real costs are in the metal fixtures (which are basically paid for anyway) and the molds for the ABS. The mold design that we are going with has some interchangeable tooling to help reduce the cost and allow for future expansion.

Even if we decided to scale back on the radii of ABS, the cost savings wouldn't be as much as one would figure.

Edited by Eric J. Olson

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Reddit tends to be harsh on Kickstarter projects (know from experience). It's essentially the "I can say whatever I want and be protected by the anonymity the interwebs provide" concept. Most "constructive" comments from reddit read: "why would I give you money to start your business when I can spend $5 and do it myself". But most of these haters lack the experience, knowledge, fortitude, creativity, work ethic, and courage to start a small business.

MEModels has the experience, the knowledge, and the connections to get this job done! And the value for backing is great!

I supported last week, but will probably up my contribution.

Also, don't dismay, most Kickstarter projects soar in the last few days. Mine tripled in value in the last 24 hours. Most people think, oh, I will donate soon. Nothing like that last deadline to get people motivated!

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Just backed for a reasonable amount but it's not looking good; after half the time only a fifth of the amount has been received...

I hope this isn't going to prove Big Bens point that there just isn't a market for an injection moulding solution. There aren't that many train builders and among those builders there won't be a high demand. I can think of 3 people in Ireland who might invest in this and each would buy a few loops at most. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see the project succeed. I'm just not very confident it will...

I'm with Cale on the support for the ABS option. I think existing 9V gear can be maintained for some time to come but PF is the future.

I know there are enough LEGO train fans out there to make this happen. The question is whether all those fans will put forth the effort. It's put up or shut up time for them. LEGO is not going to make bigger curves for us, and certainly not metal ones.This is our best and maybe only chance to get what we all have been dying for. I just hope that others will see that and lend their support.

Cale

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