I give props to Baby Trend. They were perhaps the biggest surprise of the show right out of the gate. Darren, Heather and I were at the New Products Showcase Reception the evening before the expo started when something caught our eye.  At first we thought it was the trendZ EuroSport combo seat that is currently available at Target.  But upon closer inspection we noticed the rigid LATCH attachments and we were like… WTH?!  What is this???

This was the trendZ FastBack 3-in-1.  It’s not a true 3-in-1 in the sense that it can’t be used rear-facing.  But it’s similar to the Graco Nautilus in that it’s a forward-facing only harnessed seat that converts to a highback booster and eventually to a backless booster as well.  We had a chance to play with it a bit at the BT booth a few days later.  This is what we learned:

Will be BRU exclusive initially, $199, rigid latch, epp foam, insert can be used up to 30 lbs, harness 22-70 lbs, hbb 30-100 lbs, lbb 40-120 lbs, rigid latch can be used in booster mode, 20″ to shoulder belt guide in tallest booster setting, 17″ top harness slots, 17.5″ wide outside, 11.5″ inside, 12″ depth. The rep said they purposely left the word “Baby” out of the model names on their combo seats because they understand big kids don’t want to sit in a seat that has the word “baby” written anywhere on it. They definitely get brownie points for that!

We also had the opportunity to look over the less expensive trendZ EuroSport combination seat that is currently available at Target.  This seat doesn’t have the features or the weight/height range of the more expensive trendz FastBack (we measured only 17.5″ to the bottom of the shoulderbelt guide in booster mode) but it does have some innovative components.  And regardless of the seat’s shortcomings, we think innovation is always worth mentioning.  Due to the design of the harness adjustment mechanism which limits the ability to move the chest clip down, the wide harness strap covers and the “smart safety buckle” with belt-minder technology, this seat could be an excellent option for little Houdinis and children with special needs who frequently unbuckle themselves when the vehicle is moving.

We also noted in our conversation with the BT rep that the EuroSport apparently does better in testing when the long belt path routing is used to install the seat.

 

Infant seats:

Latch-Loc with rigid LATCH attachments is coming back to the US market!  BRU 2012.

   

New Flex-Loc 2 coming in mid 2012, rated to 32 lbs.

EZ Flex-Loc for Canadians and new Fisher-Price branded seats. Meets new Canadian rebound standards. Unique latch storage under recline foot, 5-30 in US,  5-22 in Canada, soft moisture-wicking fabric, available as travel system or stand alone.  Some of the FP fashions seem to have a funky 80’s retro thing going on. Not sure what’s up with that.

          

Also worth mentioning – we noted in our conversations with the BT rep that *infant seat handles can be left up*, but BT prefers handle down.

2012 model snap-n-go (single and double) will be designed to accommodate ANY infant seat made, $69 single, $99 double.