We decided to divide and conquer this year with 2 teams: a carseat team and a stroller team, as we’ve been touting.  We’re very excited to be offering this to our readers this year because we know that strollers are a natural progression from carseats for the gear obsessed and if you’ve got a kid, you’ve likely got a stroller or want one.  Our stroller team will be filing their own reports as we go through the show, hopefully showcasing the awesome strollers that we’ve been seeing as we’ve been strolling around.

Apparently, just like last year, all the pictures are on Darren’s camera, so he’ll have to fill those in for me later.  Sorry!

Since Darren has talked about the big Britax news, I’ll talk about the other manufacturers we talked with today.  After Britax, we visited Cybex (Regal/Lager).  We had to walk past the loads of Atons they had to get to the Solution X-Fix, so we just stopped at the Aton, of course ;).  If the Aton sounds familiar, KetchupQueen wrote about it not too long ago for us in her KIM report for us.  When it comes (they’re aiming for 1st quarter 2011), it’s rated for 4-30 lbs.  It has a clip on the back of the seat for Euro shoulder belt routing when used baseless and the handle can be up in the vehicle.  The carrier itself weighs only 7.5 lbs. and part of that is because the release mechanism is on the base itself–they’ve scaled back what’s on the seat to make it lightweight.  It looks small and the base is narrow, so it should fit in smaller vehicles very well.  But the base is drool-worthy.  The thing practically installs itself: you buckle the seatbelt and press down on the seatbelt tensioner.  Very innovative.  The X-Fix has been updated and the shoulder belt guides are 1″ taller and molded/smoother, the seat pan is deeper, and the back is upholstered as well, so no plastic is seen (sorry, no pics allowed here).

On to Sunshine Kids next to see what was new there.  They have some new fabrics for the Radian, including plush polka dots (Heather’s favorite), blue (Kecia’s favorite, though it’s mesh and Kecia doesn’t like mesh because it snags and is hard to clean crumbs out of), and leather.  Did you know that the Monterey and Santa Fe (backless Monterey) have 2 pull straps for the LATCH connectors?  Neither did we, but we do now.  One pull strap for each side.  It’s a legal thing about a center pull LATCH strap.

We stopped at Combi to see what was new there.  They had the most incredible strollers on display in authentic kimono fabrics–simply beautiful.  The Shuttle 33 will soon be known as the Shuttle as soon as the next round of production gets started.  It will also be rated to 35 lbs. with no changes.  We inquired about new fabric choices for the Coccoro and were informed that there are no new cover options coming anytime soon but there will be a few discontinuations. Cool Mint, Strawberry Shake & Hazelnut are all going bye-bye.  So if you really want a Coccoro in any one of those covers – better scoop it up while you still can.       

Dorel has a few new products and changes to current products.  Changes to current products include new grippy harness pads on the harness straps that must be used on the AO/AOE/All-in-One line.  These are also on the Complete Air products as well.  One important thing to be aware of as you use these harness pads is that they are looped around the metal harness adjuster bar on the back of the seat.  As that bar gets moved up and down, the harness pad loop may get caught underneath the metal bar, between the bar and the slot that the bar is supposed to fit into, so the bar won’t click into place.  While Kecia found this on the display models at BRU that have been . . . uh . . . extensively tested, this may or may not happen on your seat.  Just check to make sure that as you raise or lower your harness  height, the bar is clicking into place.

The Essential Air was known for a long time pre-release as the Rumi.  It’s a combo seat, 22-65 lbs. harnessed, 40-100 lbs. bpb, and is entirely encased in plastic which gives Dorel lots of design possibilities.  For those of you wondering already, you access the splitter plate from the bottom of the seat.  Release date around April 2011 for $179.  For the more heavily designed seats, they’re looking at mid-2011 at $229.  They also have a new, lower pricepoint infant seat called the Comfy Carry branded under both Cosco (rear-adjust only) and Safety 1st (rear- and front-adjust models).  It’s a very lightweight seat–just under 6 lbs. IIRC–with a basic base.  The front-adjust will retail for $79 and the rear-adjust will retail for $59.  Very, very reasonable for these seats and the fashions were nice too.

We did also stop in at Harmony and see their vast selection of boosters, plus a possible convertible on the horizon.  However, by that point, I was pretty tired and my brain was mush–as it is right now.  To say anything else besides mentioning the new Carpooler narrow backless booster (3-across!) would be a disservice.  So, I’ll let Kecia fill you in on Harmony.