zephyr1934

A review of the first elements from the FX Track system

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Great news.

I hope you have made enough to go around!

And I hope R120 or bigger is on your radar - it's my missing link...

Edited by cptkent
R120

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This is great news! Glad to see these finally making their way into train fans in the next couple of weeks.

While looking at that price puts me off a little. I'll have to do some calculations in the morning, and I'll need to remind myself that you essentially get 16 standard Lego pieces. However, I am not sure it is really 33% cheaper than used rails. Doing some quick calculations $70 for 16 regular single length tracks, means you pay $4.375 per straight track. However, the average price of track actually sold on Bricklink is $4.22 in the last 6 months. Meaning that these tracks are 3.67% more than the used tracks, not 33% less as stated in the blog. If you look at the current average price of track on Bricklink that are listed but not sold at $5.43. That means Fx Tracks are still only ~19.43% cheaper than current listings, however, I prefer to look at sold listings as those are what people actually pay. For more reference a pack of 8 straight rails from Lego at $12.99 (MSRP) in 1991 would cost $24.95 today with inflation meaning 16 straight track would cost $50 if they were still sold today from Lego

Looking at the review by @zephyr1934 has written these look to be high quality parts and I understand that these are not produced at a mass scale so the price will be a little higher. However, unless I am missing something I do not see these being 33% cheaper as claimed in the blog post. I am in no way trying to bash this product as I haven't gotten my hands on it yet. Just making an observation and giving some food for thought.

I am still very excited about these tracks and would love to pick some up, but I might have to wait a little while before convincing myself that I can spend $70 on track. I am very excited to learn more about another 9V motor bogie coming out and more track options to add more flexibility in the geometry.

Also, great quality and professional video @michaelgale!

Thanks,

-RailCo

 

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I, for one, welcome our 9V Overlords. It is pretty pricey indeed, but I'd rather have Michael getting rich by fulfilling our dreams than having to fill bankruptcy before bringing out switches and wider curves. And also he knows that in case of success, there will be other parties bringing 9V Tracks. It took a while for plastic tracks, but we meanwhile have 3 (BrickTracks, Trixbrix, BlueBrixx) companies producing >R40 molded curves; FxBricks will have a limited window of maybe a few years to refinance it's development costs.

Go FxBricks! :excited:

Now lets hope my wife will give me a pocket money raise.

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Wow, 58 euro for 8x S32, whereas 10x injected molded S32 comes for 23 euro at Trixbrix. I will be hard to convert non-9V users, I guess.

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35 minutes ago, TuxTown said:

Wow, 58 euro for 8x S32, whereas 10x injected molded S32 comes for 23 euro at Trixbrix. I will be hard to convert non-9V users, I guess.

Only the best is good enough :wink:

For the bargain hunters there is always BlueBrixx which is approx. 40% cheaper than TrixBrix :grin:

Edited by dtomsen

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8 hours ago, Rail Co said:

Doing some quick calculations $70 for 16 regular single length tracks, means you pay $4.375 per straight track. However, the average price of track actually sold on Bricklink is $4.22 in the last 6 months. 

Ordinarily sold price is a good measure of cost, but in this case I would take the low end of current prices. In quantity S16 tracks start around $7.50 new and $4.50 used on Bricklink. While the Fx S32 are $8.75 ea (or $4.40 per 16 studs). So the S32 are on the order of the cost for used S16.

I believe set 4515 (8x straight rails) was $16 ($20.50 today) when it was discontinued in 2007, but brickset has it listed as $13 ($16.75 today). Which puts the price for new S16 from Lego between $2.10 and $2.60. So the Fx are about twice the price of what Lego sold the rails for. Now keep in mind that Lego was losing money on the metal track when it was discontinued, so Michael has recreated an expensive production system on a much smaller scale and is still able to retail for a fair price. Of course what is fair and what one is willing to pay is a personal matter that varies by individual.

I am planning on closing the review with the following insight, but I will go ahead and give an advanced preview. After running the long train tests I rebuilt my layout back to its original double track, only now using the 9v Fx R72 and plastic ME R88 (as place holders for 9v Fx R88 when they become available). The switch to the wider radii on my two track mainline left me with a surplus of 40x 9v S16.

 

8 hours ago, Black Knight said:

I, for one, welcome our 9V Overlords. It is pretty pricey indeed, but I'd rather have Michael getting rich by fulfilling our dreams than having to fill bankruptcy before bringing out switches and wider curves. And also he knows that in case of success, there will be other parties bringing 9V Tracks. It took a while for plastic tracks, but we meanwhile have 3 (BrickTracks, Trixbrix, BlueBrixx) companies producing >R40 molded curves; FxBricks will have a limited window of maybe a few years to refinance it's development costs.

Go FxBricks! :excited:

Now lets hope my wife will give me a pocket money raise.

 

I don't think Michael will get rich, as noted above, Lego was losing money on the metal track when it was discontinued, so Michael has recreated an expensive production system on a much smaller scale and is still able to retail for a fair price. I just hope he winds up making at least minimum wage for all the effort he put into it and the massive up-front investment. If we're lucky, maybe he'll make enough that he could quit his day job and focus on lego trains exclusively (grin)

 

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Hello folks, thanks for the great comments!

Let me say a few words about the retail price:

1. Comparing Fx Track to all-plastic track products simply does not work.  There are two components of the product which we have to pay for beyond the plastic mold:  the metal stampings (even more expensive for curves, since we need 2x) and the labour to assemble the plastic and metal together.  Metal track will easily be 2.0x+ the cost of plastic track.

2. Extrapolating LEGO's 9V track price in 1991 to today for comparison misses one key aspect.  LEGO's production runs for track were likely in lots of 10000x or more.  Our first batches have been in lots of 1000x.  They could also amortize the cost of the track production since much of the track was bundled inside higher margin train sets.  

3. When we compared our price to the Bricklink market, we analyzed both what's available now and what has sold.  We also weighted the average prices against both new and used and those elements in old gray and dark bluish gray.  This allowed us to establish a "window" of price.  We set our price at approx -33% below.  Independent of how one chooses to compare, there will always be some variation, suffice to say, we offer a new-in-box product which we believe is a quality standard at or above 1990's LEGO track.

4. The lovely box and the environmental FSC status costs money.  We shouldn't admit this, but the box alone is almost $5 USD each!  We could have chosen inexpensive plastic packaging or generic cardboard boxes but we felt it:  1. did not match the quality of the product and 2. we feel that protecting the environment with responsible packaging is important and we are basically insisting that you the customer share some of the responsibility for this.  Besides, did you know the box's inner dimensions are a multiple of LEGO studs and can be used as useful storage! :)

5. Our retail prices today are not cast in stone.  They are subject to change based on many factors such as our costs from manufacturers, sales volume, etc.  Also, we have to leave margin in our price for wholesale/retailer margin and for future discount schemes for LUGs and train clubs.

We realize that we're going to benefit from the generous support of existing 9V train fans in the beginning (Thank you!).  Convincing established plastic track users to switch would be silly of us to expect until we can offer the complete solution with motors and metal wheel sets.

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33 minutes ago, michaelgale said:

Hello folks, thanks for the great comments!

Let me say a few words about the retail price:

1. Comparing Fx Track to all-plastic track products simply does not work.  There are two components of the product which we have to pay for beyond the plastic mold:  the metal stampings (even more expensive for curves, since we need 2x) and the labour to assemble the plastic and metal together.  Metal track will easily be 2.0x+ the cost of plastic track.

2. Extrapolating LEGO's 9V track price in 1991 to today for comparison misses one key aspect.  LEGO's production runs for track were likely in lots of 10000x or more.  Our first batches have been in lots of 1000x.  They could also amortize the cost of the track production since much of the track was bundled inside higher margin train sets.  

3. When we compared our price to the Bricklink market, we analyzed both what's available now and what has sold.  We also weighted the average prices against both new and used and those elements in old gray and dark bluish gray.  This allowed us to establish a "window" of price.  We set our price at approx -33% below.  Independent of how one chooses to compare, there will always be some variation, suffice to say, we offer a new-in-box product which we believe is a quality standard at or above 1990's LEGO track.

4. The lovely box and the environmental FSC status costs money.  We shouldn't admit this, but the box alone is almost $5 USD each!  We could have chosen inexpensive plastic packaging or generic cardboard boxes but we felt it:  1. did not match the quality of the product and 2. we feel that protecting the environment with responsible packaging is important and we are basically insisting that you the customer share some of the responsibility for this.  Besides, did you know the box's inner dimensions are a multiple of LEGO studs and can be used as useful storage! :)

5. Our retail prices today are not cast in stone.  They are subject to change based on many factors such as our costs from manufacturers, sales volume, etc.  Also, we have to leave margin in our price for wholesale/retailer margin and for future discount schemes for LUGs and train clubs.

We realize that we're going to benefit from the generous support of existing 9V train fans in the beginning (Thank you!).  Convincing established plastic track users to switch would be silly of us to expect until we can offer the complete solution with motors and metal wheel sets.

It has been mentioned but more than one motor will be the crux for many to even consider switching. 

One of the big sells of PF and its vast acceptance is the fact that the motors are multiples sizes and can be fit into many MOCs so getting power from the rails to the motors, with or without a PFx (or other controller) will be a big deal. 

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image.png.351f2db231f845f8f54a6b0003c56379.png

Hi Michael 

Can you say anymore about this power pick up?  I was quit exited when I saw that back in 2019. But I havent heard or seen anymore about it since then. Are you going to produce it in the near future?

Its really great to hear about the european co work. 

 

Leg godt
Christoffer

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@Stoffer70 Yes, we still do intend on offering a standalone power pickup wheel set.  However, we have prioritized the development of the motor bogie first.  We think it is better to offer folks a "plug and play" solution first.  The development of the motor bogie will contribute two components which we believe can be simply re-used for the power pickup wheel set:  1. a metal wheel and 2. pickup metal tabs.  

What we are not fully decided about is how to electrically terminate the pickup wheel set.  We have considered all options including:  LEGO-style 9V, PF, our own proprietary stud-based contacts, etc.   Everyone will likely have a different preference, and that will oblige us to offer "adaptor cables" etc.  This will impact the cost and therefore you can see the dilemma we face when designing these products.  Furthermore, any decision we make on the electrical termination will impact more products than the pick up wheel set.  It impacts our power feeder, motor bogie termination, power/speed regulator output terminations, etc.  Therefore, we have to consider our design very carefully since we will have to live with the consequences of a bad decision!

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@michaelgale I appreciate your in depth reply. You are 100% right that you are producing this on a much smaller scale than Lego so your production costs will be higher. I did fail to take into account the very high quality box that can be used as storage for the tracks (an I assume sticking two S16 Lego tracks RC or 9V will also work in these for safe keeping when switching back from RC to 9V), so that is for sure a plus that I failed to remember. Which in that case puts the cost of one Fx S32 track at ~$4 which is a little better.

Also @zephyr1934 you make a very good point of fair market price vs. what someone is willing to pay. I do think this is a fair price, regardless of whether I am willing to pay it at this time or not. However, what I don't want to see happen is see all Michael's countless hours of hard work go to waste and go in the direction that ME Models faced if not enough people will adopt these rails. I agree that I think the biggest hump is getting enough traction to convince the plastic track users to use 9V again. As you do have to have 9V motors to be able to run your trains on these rails and if you don't already have them getting them is pretty pricey and only rising.

I agree with Michael that prioritizing the metal pickups first, should be done as that will allow people (hopefully) to use their PF and PUP motors directly with 9V track whether it is the official track or by Fx bricks. This would be greatly appreciated as while I think PF has it's advantages I much prefer running on metal rails as they mean no batteries! This will not only allow everyday users of 9V rails to easily convert over their PF trains, but open the door for people who only use PF trains to convert their models over if they want to adopt the metal rails.

This post got a little longer than I expected so sorry for the long read. Just throwing my thoughts out

-RailCo

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Michael,

I wish you and Fx Bricks a ton of success! I for one am a huge fan of 9V Lego trains simply for the ease of use and realistic look. Keep up the good work!

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https://www.eurobricks.com/forum/index.php?/profile/90121-michaelgale/

The chosen European supplier website is not very UK friendly at present, any attempt to use the English version throws up a 404 error. Also the shipping details are only in German and relevant to EU customers. I have emailed them for more info directly and will update here with any news.

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@Nosnibor56 Ah, I almost forgot to mention:  JB Spielwaren are adding English to the site currently with French and Spanish in the pipeline.  The errors you're seeing are just the result of the fact that they are in middle of adding these new multi-lingual shopping tools to their site.

When complete, JBS will be a multilingual site with flat rate shipping for all of the EU!

 

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1 hour ago, michaelgale said:

@Nosnibor56 Ah, I almost forgot to mention:  JB Spielwaren are adding English to the site currently with French and Spanish in the pipeline.  The errors you're seeing are just the result of the fact that they are in middle of adding these new multi-lingual shopping tools to their site.

When complete, JBS will be a multilingual site with flat rate shipping for all of the EU!

 

That’s good to hear, thanks Michael.

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So in the US we're just going to be able to buy from the FX bricks website, right?

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@SD100 Yes, customers in Canada and the USA can buy direct from our website since we will have inventory based in Canada.  Shipping rates to the USA are not unreasonable and we're looking at about $20 CAD ($16 USD) for tracked shipping to the USA for shipments under 3 kg.  

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This review thread has kind of morphed into an "everything Fx Track" thread. I'm okay with that, but do know that my review is independent of Fx. Though in full disclosure I'm super hyped about having wide radius 9v curves.

 

17 hours ago, Rail Co said:

Also @zephyr1934 you make a very good point of fair market price vs. what someone is willing to pay. I do think this is a fair price, regardless of whether I am willing to pay it at this time or not. However, what I don't want to see happen is see all Michael's countless hours of hard work go to waste and go in the direction that ME Models faced if not enough people will adopt these rails. I agree that I think the biggest hump is getting enough traction to convince the plastic track users to use 9V again. As you do have to have 9V motors to be able to run your trains on these rails and if you don't already have them getting them is pretty pricey and only rising.

I suspect Michael is well aware of the chicken/egg (motor/track) problem with 9v and that this first round is primarily targeted at existing 9v users with the recognition that if there is sufficient demand, it will also serve as the foundation for people making the conversion once motors and pickups are available. I also suspect that he will not be in the black until motors and pickups become available.

ME did things differently, they jumped in and promised too many things to a small market and over extended. They should have focused on fewer things and should not have jumped in to metal track without first making sure their design worked. So they lost money (including that of the kickstarter backers). But what they did do is demonstrate that there is a demand for wider radius track. That was a huge benefit for the community and I think all of the subsequent track manufacturers have learned from the ME lesson.

In this case Michael worked out how to get 9v right (borrowing from Lego's great design that got it right in the first place) before coming to market, and he is only introducing a couple of parts at a time. So the future release of new parts will depend on the success of the current parts.

 

16 hours ago, michaelgale said:

When complete, JBS will be a multilingual site with flat rate shipping for all of the EU!

Including countries formerly in the EU like the UK?

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1 hour ago, zephyr1934 said:

Including countries formerly in the EU like the UK?

That’s the bit I was wondering too....

But anyway amazing work @michaelgale!  Can’t wait for future products to become available.  I’m completely RC, so I sort of need some extra stuff to start....

Might try and persuade an old friend to hand over his copy of 4559, but haven’t spoken to him in years....

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@zephyr1934 @Vilhelm22 I can't say if the UK will be eligible for flat rate shipping from JB Spielwaren or indeed if any duties etc. will be payable.  UK customers can compare shopping from us directly vs. JB Spielwaren.  Shipping from Canada will be quite expensive.  In terms of duties, Canada and the EU have a free-trade agreement (CETA) which the UK no longer qualifies for due to Brexit.  The variables of duties, shipping costs, and currency exchange rates makes it difficult for us to recommend which shop UK customers should use.  I suspect it will still be preferable to use JBS.  We're looking at the relative merits of a UK based reseller, but it its early days yet and we need to focus on getting our primary sales channels running first.  

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@michaelgale : First of all, I am happy, that you offer a new track system, which makes a Lego Train System with metal tracks, motors and power from the grid without annoying batteries possible again. I respect the work, you put in.

But I have one question: According to a picture of the package you offer a a lot of radiuses, but why the hell just not the original Lego radius R40? Also a picture of a point shows, that the points have not the same geometry as the original Lego points.

It is great, that with big radiuses it is possible to make a more realistic model train, but without R40 you are forced to use the bigger radiuses without the ability just to replace the current Lego tracks 1:1 by tracks with metal. The advantage of R40 is also, that it takes less space.

Why not produce different radiuses including R40. So a customer has the freedom to choice between keeping original Lego geometry with using less space or using bigger radiuses for a more realistic model train using more space or just combining it.

I personally dont need this bigger radiuses. I just love the Lego train tracks mostly as it is, I just dont want use batteries and I just want freshly produced tracks (instead of used ones from the old Lego 9V system bought on ebay or bricklink). So people like me are sad, that you don't offer R40. If you offer R40 in combination with the bigger Radiuses R52 until R152, then both people like me and other people, which like more realistic "not toy like" model trains might be happy.

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@fhurlbrink Thank you for your comments.  From our perspective, producing the R40 curve would really be commercial suicide.  Let's look at the economics of producing a R40 curve product:

Capital Costs:

  • - Mold tooling:  $10k USD
  • - Inner rail metal tooling: $4k USD
  • - Outer rail metal tooling: $4k USD
  • Sub-total:  $18k USD

Production Costs:

  • - Per unit production costs:  $1.50 USD
  • - MOQ production run:  5000x units
  • Sub-total: $7.5k USD

TOTAL:  $25.5k USD

Number of product SKUs (8 units per box SKU):  625

Breakeven retail price:  $40.80 USD 

Note that these numbers are representative estimates and actual costs will vary; however, even errors of 50% won't change the outcome.

The BREAKEVEN retail price for a box of 8x R40 curves would be about $40 USD.  Even with a thin retail margin of 25%, there is no way anyone would pay $50 USD for a box of 8x R40 curve tracks--or more to the point, there is definitely not 625x customers who would pay $50 USD per box ($6.25 per unit).  Remember, we're competing with a plentiful supply R40 curves on Bricklink which sell for $1-$2 ea.

We have a limited amount of time and money to invest in making products.  Therefore, we have to make choices based on what people want and what we think will recover enough revenue to not only pay back its capital investment but also fund future investment.  Choosing the which products to make and what order to make them is a very strategic decision.  The wrong strategy will kill us.  The product release plan we have announced to date has the simple goal of building enough momentum in revenue to help sustain on-going product development.

The ONLY circumstance where we would make a R40 curve track product if if someone else commissioned us to do so.  We have CAD models for EVERY possible track element in the system already developed.  Thus it is theoretically possible for us to make the ENTIRE Fx Track system of 19x elements TODAY if we had the money.  It really would be like turning on a light switch with money!

 

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4 hours ago, fhurlbrink said:

@michaelgale : First of all, I am happy, that you offer a new track system, which makes a Lego Train System with metal tracks, motors and power from the grid without annoying batteries possible again. I respect the work, you put in.

But I have one question: According to a picture of the package you offer a a lot of radiuses, but why the hell just not the original Lego radius R40? Also a picture of a point shows, that the points have not the same geometry as the original Lego points.

It is great, that with big radiuses it is possible to make a more realistic model train, but without R40 you are forced to use the bigger radiuses without the ability just to replace the current Lego tracks 1:1 by tracks with metal. The advantage of R40 is also, that it takes less space.

Why not produce different radiuses including R40. So a customer has the freedom to choice between keeping original Lego geometry with using less space or using bigger radiuses for a more realistic model train using more space or just combining it.

I personally dont need this bigger radiuses. I just love the Lego train tracks mostly as it is, I just dont want use batteries and I just want freshly produced tracks (instead of used ones from the old Lego 9V system bought on ebay or bricklink). So people like me are sad, that you don't offer R40. If you offer R40 in combination with the bigger Radiuses R52 until R152, then both people like me and other people, which like more realistic "not toy like" model trains might be happy.

If you can’t find anything on Bricklink, PM me, I have a box full of r40 curves.

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