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ABC Kids Update – What’s New & Improved from Harmony Juvenile Products

At ABC we finally had the opportunity to meet with Michael and the rest of the FIVE-IIHS-BEST-BET-RATED-BOOSTERS Harmony Juvenile Team to check out their newest offerings and eat their stash of complimentary chocolate.  Actually, I think I was the only blog team member to indulge in the free chocolate loot but it was exactly what I needed at that moment – and the next day too when I conveniently needed to stop by again for more pics and measurements.   ;-)

Many of our readers are already familiar with the fabulous little Harmony LiteRider booster (aka, Harmony Youth Booster Seat) that was rated a “Best Bet” by the IIHS and is currently available exclusively at Walmart.  New cover options are Pink Leopard & Camo.  This particular model was absent from the Harmony lineup at ABC because…. well, it’s a wally world exclusive. However, we did get a look at the other IIHS “Best Bet” Harmony boosters, as well as a brand new booster design. First up was the Olympian, a tweaked version of the Secure Comfort Deluxe booster that was originally available at  Toys R Us.  I reviewed the original Secure Comfort Deluxe model last year and found it to be very effective in positioning the seatbelts properly on both of my boys in our minivan’s captains chairs.  However, the IIHS had some issues with that original design in their previous 2009 round of booster fit testing, so to their credit, Harmony went back and tweaked it.  The result of that tweaking is an IIHS “Best Bet” rating for this model which has been renamed the “Olympian“.     

We also saw the Dreamtime highback booster that I reviewed previously on the blog and the please-stop-calling-it-Baby Armor multi-adjustable highback .  All were covered in the nice, padded fabrics that we’ve come to expect from this manufacturer.  Last but not least, a new dual highback design called the V6 along with its backless little sibling – the Carpooler!  They claim you can fit 3 backless Carpooler models across the back of many vehicles but that isn’t a guarantee, obviously.  Much will depend on how much room you have to work with and how your backseat is contoured.  You’re more likely to have 3-across success with the Carpooler if your vehicle backseat cushion is lower (i.e., scooped out) in the outboard positions but more elevated and flat in the center.       

Britax Convertible Lockoff Tips and Guidance

We’re not done with the ABC Kids Expo yet!  Probably a few more blogs to come with some other tidbits from companies we didn’t mention, including some details on the new product from Peg Perego.  I imagine a photo dump is forthcoming as well.  Also, one thing I forgot to mention from Britax is that the Chaperone will have some minor revisions, including a slightly redesigned base that is a little shorter than before.  There are also a couple new fabrics and possibly another tweak or two.

Back to the topic of this blog.  Britax has made a very minor change to the built-in lockoff design on their new convertibles. This includes the Britax Roundabout 55Britax Marathon 70, Britax Boulevard 70, Britax Boulevard 70 CS, and Britax Advocate 70 CS.  The change is essentially a small rubber strip on the side of the lockoff area.  All of the new convertibles made after July 30th, 2010 should have this update.  Owners of models made before this date can request a kit from Britax to do the update.  This is considered a convenience feature change.  This change works in conjunction with the updated owner’s manuals that are being published online.  The new guidance from Britax is that you may use only one built-in lockoff, rather than two.  This removes a conflict with tabs built into certain vehicle seatbelt systems.  It may also makes it simpler to tighten the belt through a single closed lockoff, rather than two of them.  Though Britax recommends that one lockoff closest to the seatbelt buckle be used, they also offer an option not to use any lockoffs in vehicles where the seatbelt system can be locked with the retractor or latchplate.

Britax also has a suggestion on closing the lockoffs.  With the new lockoffs, you are supposed to leave the belt slightly loose when you close the lockoff, then pull slack through the closed lockoff to tighten it.  This is different than how the lockoffs worked on previous Britax convertibles, so it can take some time to get used to the change.  Compounding the problem is the natural inclination to push on the tab at the bottom of the lockoff to close it.  It turns out that this takes more force than if you push on the tab just a little higher, especially when a belt with any tension is being clamped.  Britax will add a bridge on the plastic to give a better indication of where to push.  Kecia demonstrates below:

Guest Blog: The ABCs of ABC Kids. ++Giveaways!

The sea of exhibits and exhibitors in the Las Vegas Convention Center this past few days for the 2010 ABC Kids show might have been overwhelming at first, but I found my inner child and began at the beginning…of the alphabet. This is the A-to-Z of ABC.

More ABC Kids: Kiddy and Evenflo

Kiddy is coming!  They’ll be introducing an infant seat and their booster seat with energy absorbing shield around May 2011.  They didn’t have a prototype of the infant seat to look at, so we focused on the sport’n move stroller.  It’s a nice stroller with shocks, a single paddle brake for both back wheels (I’m sure there’s a technical term for this and that’s why we have a stroller team covering strollers ;)), a reversible seat, a carry cot, and a small light on the handle for night-time visibility.  There’s also an adapter bar for Peg Perego and Maxi Cosi infant seats and they’re working on other adapters as well.  $349  The lights are also available aftermarket for other uses, but I forgot to ask how much they are.

The Comfort and ComfortPro boosters have the energy absorbing shields on them that can be used with LATCH (to vehicle weight limit–40 or 48 lbs.; they’re still working on weight limits) or the seatbelt.  20-40 lbs. with shield, 40-110 lbs. bpb and again available around May 2011.  Pricepoint will be around $269-$289.  The fashions range from very luxurious to kid-friendly Capt’n Sharky.  The purple pattern will lose the additional white applique before it’s released here in the US.   

       

       

   

Evenflo is improving the Symphony again.  They’ve beefed up the headwings by increasing the size, adding their E3 side impact system to the seat, adding an aircraft aluminum bar in the base for energy absorption, and some seats designated for independent retailers will have the TruTether, which has a red/green indicator on the casing of tether strap latchplate.  They also have higher end fashions.

     

The Serenade has been brought back with a stroller as a travel system and rebranded the Secure Ride 35.  There will be versions with and without the E3 side impact system.

 

The Tribute is also now available at Wal-Mart.  We also saw some concept Amps with very artistic covers and painted bases–very hip and cool looking.  They also had a hybrid Amp/Big Kid booster on display to get feedback.  Unfortunately, we were asked not to take photos of these concept seats because they might not make it to market.  I have to say the Amps were impressive-looking and I hope they move forward with the idea.

We do have more photos, but Kecia has them this time ;).  Really, it’s not as though I never take pictures–I do!  It’s just that my assignment was to write, lol.  (I feel as if I have to explain myself!)  And Kecia will write lots more too as she was dictating her notes!

ETA: Kecia’s photos – sorry about the cell phone quality but the flash on my camera wasn’t working properly!