Dear AOAM Supporters,
First of all, I want to thank all of you who have either backed our Kickstarter campaign or pre-ordered the RGB Critter from our website. Your support has been essential in bringing this incredible product to life. It means so much to me that you have been willing to invest your hard-earned money into this project. I take the responsibility of delivering the world's Best color changing flashlight to you very seriously.
If you're not familiar with the RGB Critter product, you can find it on our website here: https://antsonamelon.com/products/rgb-critter-flashlight
We are still on-track to deliver everything promised in terms of functionality and quality, but our production timeline has been hit with multiple delays due to Covid-19. This letter will outline the causes for the delays and then share where we are at in the production timeline.
The first delays in our production timeline started around the Chinese New Year (January 25). This is the point at which the Chinese Government enacted mandatory closures of our manufacturing partner's factories. The closures lasted 2-4 weeks (some areas were shut down longer than others). Once the factories resumed work, some were short staffed and overworked. This caused a series of unexpected delays for the final production prototype of the RGB Critter. More recently, we are facing delays in shipping times. I have been told there is a priority in shipments for medical supplies and there are fewer planes with cargo room for manufactured goods.
As you may know, our warehouse is located in Oregon, USA. On March 23, our local State Government enacted mandatory closures of all non-essential businesses. Understandably, Toy Making is not considered an essential business, and while we have nearly all of the parts needed for assembling the many RGB Critter accessories, we have not been able to assemble these accessories as planned. These recent delays have made it clear that we will no longer be able to fulfill the release date of June 2020.
Don't worry, I have a lot of good news for you.
During these delays my Electrical Engineer (EE) has been working with the PCBA (electronics). Over the past 2 months he hand-assembled all of the prototype boards. Our final design easily passed all load and thermal tests as well as any other potential area of concern. My EE has used this extra time to finalize the firmware updates (color modes and features programming). He also upgraded the microcontroller to allow for microUSB firmware updates as well as new features that have yet to be announced.
Just yesterday, my EE received all of the production prototype aluminum and plastic parts. As I type this letter to you, he is testing the PCBAs within the housing and looking for any temperature issues within our final design. Another focus is the portions of the updated design that allow for an easily replaceable 18650 battery. Once my EE completes this testing, he will send me the PCBAs and we will work to validate all functionality of the final production prototypes and begin stress and durability testing. Once the production prototype is completely validated, we will place the order for all of the required molds and tooling for our aluminum, plastic, and silicone parts.
As I mentioned above, we have almost all of the materials needed for the accessory parts. This includes, Sol Saber tubes, fiber optic bundles, Orb balls, and the aluminum fittings that the accessories rest within. The aluminum parts took much longer than expected to be completed, but it's a relief to have them now as we will start assembling the accessories once the Oregon Government allows us to return to work.
As I've said, I take this responsibility very seriously. I've poured all of my energy into this project for almost five years now. I know that we're past the biggest hurdles and the RGB Critter is incredibly close to being ready. I'd love to give you a specific shipment date for your order, but in an effort to prevent stringing you along with best-case scenario guesses, I won't be able to share an updated release date at this time. As a rough guess, I would expect these delays to postpone the release until late summer 2020. I hope there is an estimate for non-essential businesses re-opening in Oregon soon. I will also know a lot more about our timeline once we have the production prototypes in our hands in the next week or two.
We are still close to releasing the RGB Critter, but we will have to be a little patient for now. From this point on, I will share updates every few weeks via email and social media. I hope to share the updated release date with you in 3-4 weeks. I will be sure to include all necessary information within these updates. Please be patient- I am always thinking about you, but I will be waiting to post an update until I have solid information I can relay to you.
I want to thank you again for believing in me as a Toy Maker. It's because of you that I am able to fulfill my goal of establishing Ants on a Melon as a top-tier producer of hand-held lighting products. With my talented team and manufacturers in place, this is only the beginning for us. I will always remember your important role in making all of this possible. *Thank You*
We will continue to host our 20% off pre-sale for the RGB Critter and select accessories until a few weeks before product release. If you have any questions or concerns about your order, please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for reading!
Joel, Master Toy Maker