70$ for a power cube? That's the price in Israel...

Hey All,
Just wanted to bring to your attention to the absurd situation Israeli (and probably other international) teams are facing this year - because of the volume of the power cubes importing them to Israel costs about 70$ per cube.
Our local options for “milk crates” are not the right size and weight so that’s not an option for us.

This isn’t the first time that *FIRST *doesn’t take international teams into consideration when designing the game- in 2015 the recycle bins weren’t available for Israeli teams at all (and weren’t even sold at AndyMark), in 2017 the fuel (whiffle balls) cost over 3 times the usual price because of their volume and the amount you needed to compete (and weren’t available locally…).

The way *FIRST *treats international teams stunts team growth internationally.

3 years ago FIRST changed their name from *FIRST *US to *FIRST *Inspires - The name changed but the attitude didn’t.

This attitude needs to change if they really want to be able to become a real international organization.

This is just me venting…

Ra’anan de Haas
Lead mentor of team #5951 (2017-)
Team #2212 Alumni and Mentor (2007-2014)
Team #4406 Mentor (2013)
FRC program manager for *FIRST *Israel (2014-2017)

Wow that’s a ton of money,
Is there any option to make wooden crate substitutes?

An Australian team made a couple of plywood laser cut cubes this week, but Ra’anan raises a really important point.

For example, I still haven’t found a vendor for crates or the 600D nylon covers in Chile. Additionally, we still haven’t received our Kit of Parts and, as rookies, this has really set back our schedule (customs in Chile is really messed up, so this isn’t FIRST fault). Just today, I heard that the new Paraguayan team is in the same situation.

FIRST tends to offer great help whenever international teams get in trouble, however I strongly believe they should act towards preventive measures instead of responsive ones, specially during build season.

Hope First helps you out, that’s a lot of money per crate and I can see your points. Thanks for making us aware , some of the things we take for granted being local.

I would call this venting absolutely justified. FIRST has the information on what game pieces are ahead of time, they are able to secure enough for all the competitions they host. It isn’t like they are getting exotic items for game pieces, they re-purpose everyday items for games because it is cheaper. I was always kind of surprised they didn’t try and make it so that you could “opt in” to extra game pieces with your KOP. We got a lot of window motors in our KOP but that isn’t exactly what we are stressing about. For now all I can do is wish you luck, but I will keep an eye open in case I can find a way to help.

Did you opt-in to the gamepiece option for international teams through FIRST Choice/TIMS?

Opting in got teams one extra game piece at a cost of 200 FIRST Choice credits. Frustrating since Power Cubes are now going for 10 credits a piece on FIRST Choice. I understand that international teams are paying more for the opportunity to get an extra game piece at kickoff, but a 2000% mark up seems excessive. That being said, considering the Power Cubes cost $70 in Israel (compared to $17 in the US), 200 FIRST Choice credits doesn’t sound nearly as bad.

Hey Raanan, we found some milk crates that are basically the same size. If you want, I can ask where we got them. You know how to contact me…

Last year’s main game piece was an entirely custom made part that they gave one supplier a monopoly on. I’d say they’re actually getting worse at this, especially since it seems that they’re sacrificing availability for more “unique” game pieces.

Yeah, they should just deduct the cost of the game piece itself (and maybe a little extra) if they’re going to only send one out for that much. I wonder if it would be possible to set up a “group order” system between teams to have a bunch of game pieces show up at foreign Kickoffs and split the shipping cost between the teams.

I consider an exchange rate of 1 credit = $1 to be a good tradeoff. 200 credits over $70 is a pretty poor deal.

Agreed. I was just saying it was less awful than 200 credits exchanged for $17 of product.

Not that hard to make a “reasonable analogue” of the the game piece from other readily available materials.

A lot of problems for teams outside of North America is the distance. It takes longer to get your parts (including FIRST Choice or if your Kit is shipped directly to you) and costs more. One of the problems we have had in China with this year is the size that the cubes take up. Compound that with air shipping if you want a hope of receiving it that inside of a week.

In one city we have found a local manufacturer that is creating a few covers for us. The crates we were able to find pretty easily since it is a standardly made part.

And once again I am reminded about why I visit this site, cause even if I missed it what are the odds EVERYONE else did…

And here I had been thinking that it was cool that the GDC had come up with an inexpensive ubiquitous, reusable, game piece. Heck, I used milk crates as furniture at university.

Thank you for sharing… it makes sense in retrospect, but I had no idea that they would present such a challenge overseas. I have some sympathy for the GDC walking into this with the same blissful ignorance that I shared up until a minute ago, but greater sympathy for those who now have to figure out what to do about it.

It might be a good suggestion for the GDC to include some overseas representatives to bounce ideas off. It would have been equally easy to specify the game piece as being made of a cube of baltic birch plywood… and if there was a Swedish representative they’d make them out of particleboard with knock down fasteners, pack them flat offer a range of textiles for the covers and sell them as furniture at Ikea.


We have this same problem in Poland. You can buy cubes from Amazon it’s 9 dollars but shipping time is long. You also don’t have cover;(


This is my first season as a mentor, having never had contact with FIRST prior.
I’ve been frustrated by a lot of the same issues.
The costs are astronomical for international teams. Its not like loading up the bot in a rental van and driving a few hours to a regional. Our nearest event is Hawaii (8 hours… might as well go to LA). At a cost of $2000 per head on top of registration, freight service, having to borrow batteries, etc.
Heck, its an international flight, so everyone gets two suitcases. We can get more shipped done by filling one each with robot parts. 50Kg X 6 kids, 2 parents and one mentor… that’s a lot of robot parts. hmmmmmm…

The shipping costs of the KOP is crazy, and then it comes WEEKS after kickoff.

I think the best thing FIRST can do for international teams is to trust the teams will follow the rules when you put a seal on the crate saying “Do not open till christmas” and just ship the things out to us a few weeks earlier than the stateside teams. Then they might at least be only a few days late. :wink: