Previews Archive

Graco’s New Toy

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Back in February, I had the opportunity to join a number of child passenger safety advocates to preview Graco’s new, state-of-the-art crash testing facility that officially opened March 1st, 2011.  The new facility in Atlanta replaces their previous facility.  It’s based on a nearly identical system operated by MGA, the same company that does many standard certification tests for the NHTSA.  In this manner, Graco can verify almost exactly any results done at MGA’s facilities, whether by the government or other party.

Here is some information provided by Graco:

Newell Rubbermaid’s Morgan Falls facility is a state-of-the-art space for engineering, innovation, product design and testing, and quality assurance. A hub of activity in 15 specialized areas, Newell Rubbermaid tests and develops new products for leading brands like Calphalon, Goody, Levolor and Graco.

Graco specifically uses the space for structural, experimental, developmental, and compliance testing of car seats (including NCAP, Canadian testing and a proprietary side-impact test), temperature testing, durability and tip testing, usability and more.

Graco’s crash testing facility is one of leading in the country for child restraint systems and is helping set the standard for other facilities.

Test Facility Fun Facts

•In the Baby & Parenting Essentials crash testing facility, the R&D team conducts nearly 3,000 crash simulations per year.
•The Décor GBU conducts 800 “pull” cycles per day per person per blind to test the durability and lifespan of its blinds
•Microscopes in the Beauty & Style lab can show if your hair has ever been colored (even once!) in your life
•An estimated 300 tons of concrete and 15 tons of steel reinforcement was used to construct the crash sled
•In the environmental testing chamber, temperatures can range from -92° to 302°F
•During a crash test, the total crash impact occurs in only a quarter of a second

One of the interesting things about this type of facility is that it runs in reverse of other types of crash test sleds.  Normally, you would picture a sled with a carseat being launched down a track and coming to an abrupt stop, with the data being taken as the sled suddenly decelerated as it hit the bumper at the end of the track.  In this type of sled, it is actually forcefully accelerated by a sudden release of extremely high air pressure and then the sled comes to a gradual stop.  It’s that momentary jerk at the initial launch that simulates a sudden stop, only in reverse. It can take a little while to wrap your mind around that when you see it.  A background as a test engineer helps, sometimes!

Here’s a photo of Stephanie Tombrello (SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A.) and I on the sled.  Stephanie had the honor of pressing the “launch” button for the first run down the sled!

Thank you again to Graco Children’s Products for travel expenses and the tour of their facility and also for sponsoring our April anniversary giveaways at Car-Seat.Organd here at CarseatBlog.com.  Congratulations to all the winners of carseats, gear, mousepads and other prizes!

Unboxings: Chevy Volt, Britax B-Safe. Reviews coming soon!

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Here are a couple previews of things to come at CarseatBlog later this month!

The Britax B-Safe infant seat (arriving at stores in June) looks very nice at first glance; smaller, lighter and less expensive than the Chaperone.  Plus, with bottom harness slots around 5″ torso height, it appears to fit the 4-pound Huggable Images premature infant doll, even without an insert!

The Chevrolet Volt is oh-so-sweet.  Everyone takes a second look as you silently approach, then cruise away!  I’ll be driving in style for a week, but will also be sad when it has to go.  As usual, I surprised Jon with it when I picked him up from kindergarden…

*And no I didn’t take my eyes off the road, I just turned the camera around with the hand that wasn’t on the wheel. (Blogging and Drving performed by an expert driver on a familiar course.  Please don’t try this at home!)

Britax B-Safe and Frontier 85 SICT Preview!!!

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Have you ever gone looking for something and instead of finding whatever it was that you were looking for, you stumble across something even better?  That’s what happened today at CarseatBlog!  

Behold the new Frontier 85 SICT (Side Impact Cushion Technology) available at Amazon.com for as low as $240 on sale.

From the Britax website:

How does Side Impact Cushion Technology work?

Side Impact Cushion Technology is comprised of patented energy-management cushions on either side of the child seat. During a side impact crash, the energy-management cushions compress to absorb the incoming crash forces safely expelling the air through strategically placed vents.

These robust air chambers require up to 10 times more force to compress than competing technologies, which results in the transfer of significantly more crash force energy AWAY from your child. This is important because the amount of force required to compress the cushions is directly related to the amount of energy diverted away from your child. It is important to note that the cushions do NOT deploy upon impact, like vehicle airbags do.

In addition, Side Impact Cushion Technology is the first and only technology to offer protection by:

  • Absorbing side impact crash forces before they reach your child, resulting in fewer head injuries.
    This is important because head injury is the leading cause of death for children in vehicle crashes, and the amount of crash forces reaching the child’s head determines the severity of a head injury.
  • Providing an energy-absorbing surface area along the full length of the seat, protecting your child’s head, neck, and torso.
    This is important because incoming crash forces are not limited to the head area.
  • Offering a soft, protective surface for the adjacent passenger in a side impact crash.
    This is important because adjacent passengers are vulnerable to injury from contact with child seats in a side impact crash.

 

Now, if you have your heart set on a Frontier 85 but the SICT model doesn’t work for your situation (or your budget), don’t be alarmed. The current Frontier 85 model without the side-impact cushions probably isn’t going anywhere. The SICT model is presumably an addition to the current Britax lineup, not a replacement for the current Frontier model.

The only other differences between this new model and the current Frontier 85 model appear to be cover related. The SICT models will feature an Easy-Remove cover which will allow for “easy cleaning without disassembling or uninstalling the car seat”.  And last but not least, it looks like none of the initial fabrics are mesh! 

Cardinal (Red), Onyx (Black) and Portobello (Gray) all appear to be meshless (yes, I just made up that word), which I’m sure will make a lot of people happy!  Thank you, Britax!

(now hurry up and get busy on those Livia, Maui Blue & Cowmoo SICT covers, k?)  😉  

We promise to share details on price and estimated availability as soon as we have the info.  In the mean time, check out our full review of the current Frontier 85 model HERE.

There’s also some information on the upcoming Britax B-Safe Infant Seat, courtesy of Rated By Mom.  It appears that it will be less expensive than the Chaperone, omitting some features like the anti-rebound bar and True Side Impact protection.  It also appears to be shorter and lighter, too!

Product Weight (lbs): 16 (car seat only 9.8)

Product Dimensions (in): 17.5W x 24.5H x 27.5D (handle up)

Product Dimensions (in): 17.5W x 15.5H x 27.5D (handle down)

Seat Back Compartment Height (in): 20

Seat Area Depth/Width (in): 13/19

Shoulder Width (in): 10

Harness Slot Heights (in): 5, 7, 9, 12

Buckle Strap Depth (in): 3.5, 5.5

Check out the preview at Rated By Mom.  Stay tuned for our full review!

The Kiddy World Plus & Kiddy Cruiser Fix Booster Preview ~ let the drooling commence!

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This video from Lifesavers Phoenix covers most of the important features and specs of these two new-to-us, Kiddy Child Restraints.  Keep in mind, both of these seats were prototypes so changes should be expected before the final products reach store shelves.  Heather was camerawoman extraordinaire and, as usual, I played the part of “the mouth” of CarseatBlog.com!  Disregard the racket in the background – it was the end of day 2 and everyone was literally breaking down camp around us!    

I am copying and pasting info from Heather’s Lifesavers Manufacturers Update blog and adding a few extra notes: 

Kiddy is a well-known German CR Manufacturer with several German award-winning CR models. They are known for their emphasis on and utilization of energy-absorbing impact shield technology.  The Kiddy World Plus combination seat & Kiddy Cruiser Fix Pro booster will be the first Kiddy CRs available in the US. 

The Kiddy World Plus is expected to be available in June. MSRP will be approx $269.  Features include:

 

The Kiddy Cruiser Fix Pro is expected to be available in May. MSRP should be under $250 but they didn’t have an exact price point to give us yet. Features include:

  • honeycomb in head and shoulder area
  • shock absorber technology in area of lap belt guide
  • Rated up to 110 lbs
  • Several unique features (check out the video – we don’t want to spoil the surprises!) 

 

After watching the video back, I realized that I was off in my projections of height and depth measurements.  Forgive me – we had taken measurements earlier and I wasn’t spot-on in my recollection of the actual numbers. 

Kiddy World Plus (KWP):

  • top height in booster mode (measured to bottom of belt guide) 22.5″  
  • Seat depth (leg support) 15.25″

Kiddy Cruiser Fix Pro (KCFP):

  • top height in booster mode (measured to bottom of belt guide) 20.5″  
  • Seat depth (leg support) – 3 positions. Range from 13.75″ – 16.5″ fully extended