Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Silver Cross stand at Cologne Nursery Fair

I couldn't get into the Silver Cross booth, but did manage to grab a sneak view of some things that might interest people, but it really didn't grab my attention as it was all just a refresh and not using any original ideas.

They're doing the mixed colour chassis on 3D so part black part silver, like M&P do. The fabrics are all looking like plain colour block options, the more classic look of Pistachio has gone. There is a plum and purple model, a black with white or silver highlight piping. A light blue model, a charcoal with lime green bits, grey and orange too.

Dazzle is still there I'm afraid, and it looks like they've just refreshed and simplified the fabrics, so that the metal work isn't as hidden as before. A pale blue, a black a red and pink, then a purple.

On Surf they've updated the fabrics slightly, they seem to have added a printed hood lining and co-ordinate, its very much how M&P do the Sola and Luna. There is also a woven/printed fabric too, cream with a leaf design in it and a baby pink hood lining, this looks nice, but its nothing new really.

Then the Pop is still there in different guises as before, so a Sport the same as it is now but in different colours, and the Vogue looks the same as before. But it was really hard to see those.

There is a renamed Pop, well it looks like it started as a Pop chassis, it looks to me as if its replacing Fizz as I can't see Fizz. The new product is called Zest, fabrics are prints, very in your face, looks as cheap and nasty as something you'd see on Jive from Mothercare or a Cosatto product, really not my cup of tea to be frank.

And that was about it, as the only thing that was really new was the Nursery Furniture that looked just like every other cot wardrobe to me.

Cologne Show 2010

Well I tried to post while at the Cologne fair on the weekend but couldn't really find the time to do it or a good enough connection I'm afraid. Overall though the show was not full of the newness we've seen in previous years.

All the newness we'd seen before the show online, things such as the Bugaboo Donkey, and the Maxi Cosi Elea.

But anyway, I'll do my best over the coming days to try and put up the things that I did see and grab a photo of for the blog.

Friday, 30 July 2010

A bit of a lull

I keep wondering what to write about, what people might find interesting.
I know its not really product reviews as there are lots of sites that offer these, and from the parenting side too, which really I could never do, as I’m always so critical in terms of quality, standards and product design.
In terms of inside information, I don’t ever want to come across as anti certain brands or products, I like to try and stake objective, no matter who I am working for at the time and who I have worked for in the past. I like to be critical in the same way towards everyones products, as that for me is what makes me enjoy my job, and I think makes me good at what I do.
Also in terms of inside information, its not really very forth coming at the moment, as we’re nearing trade shows rather than coming out of one, and also we’re all pretty much busy within our companies preparing products for launch at the shows and making the final adjustments to get samples ready and the start of production.
The real fun bits I think are about to come, starting strategy for the new season of Spring Summer 2012, looking at the complete range, looking at the competitors and what they are doing, looking at the sales and trends, although all of this I know already. Its just a good thing to do this as a team, and get everyone looking at opportunities where we can improve, where we can offer our customers something new and exciting.
For me even before the Koln show, I know that the focus is still reversible products, light and compact, and comfort for the child. The things that I am glad to see back on the users, mind and influencing her purchasing decisions. Its far better to make a product that you can feel helps development of future generations than trying to just make something cheap and easy to use.
Then the other thing that I shall be looking at is who has continued to develop product, as we all know the financial climate has had an effect on everything. With some companies making staff redundant, cutting back on investment, which is bound to have had an effect of not only the type of products developed but if they actually continued to invest in new products.
For me I think its a real mistake for a company to not develop new items, as they are what are going to stimulate interest in your company, and drive sales for the business. But not everyone sees it the same way as I do, and will have made serious cuts. Cuts that will affect the future success of companies in my view.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

new Maclaren hinge started to appear

Spilling The Beans Blog | Baby Gear, Toys, Strollers, Nursery Furniture

Interesting news for those that were wondering how long it would take maclaren to remove the old finger slicing design from their range.

Friday, 23 July 2010

New Quinny Zapp launches end of the year - exclusive

I know I say it every time I write and new blog but I do keep thinking about the next post, how much I’ve got to write about and share, but then life and the job gets in the way, and both of which I love lots.

Anyway, this week I thought I’d make a bit of time and effort so I could share the new Quinny Zapp with everyone.

Retailing at a rumoured £225, with a reversible seat unit and finally a recline on the seat.

But having not seen it in the flesh yet the rest I’ll have to assume.

From birth would be my guess, as why else would you have a full recline? But will this require some kind of fabric wedge thing to achieve EN1888 I am not sure.

Then my other main concern is how stable is this going to be?

As I have to confess I have tested the standard Zapp before when developing products similar to it, and always found that the Quinney only marginally passes the 12 degree tilt table test. To you this might be fine, it passes the standards, but to me its not, as I’ve always developed to meet how people might use a product as well as to exceed the standard requirement.
And by adding the new seat this goes further forwards, over the front wheels, and possibly making it even more unstable than the current standard product. This is before even worrying about the recline, as this too will affect the forward facing stability.
I supposed I’d best stop the guess work until I get to see it, hopefully at the Koln show in September. But what I would say is that this is long overdue!

Not just for Dorel or Quinney, but the market, the last two companies I’ve been with I’ve tried to convince them to allow me to develop a rearward facing, small, compact stroller with a full lieflat. Yes its annoying that someone else has beaten me to market, but on the other hand when they see how successful this will be maybe I’ll get let loose to create something that competes and does better, so well done Dorel!

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Was the Surf worth the wait?

Well, I've been trying to write this one for some time now, but life and work has got in the way.

Harrogate was the offical launch in the UK of the new Silver Cross Surf. But it's been kicking about longer than most know, as it was shown in a closed area at not just Cologne 2009 but also in 2008. With it having started it's life as an idea, as a thought in the minds of the design team way back in 2006. The idea to create something that meets all the needs of a parent today and to offer an alternative to Bugaboo.

The reason that i was told for the 1 year delay is that it was felt it would missed or less impactful to launch a year ago when it was supposedly ready with the Halo. But from what I have heard there was planned to be a new infant carrier car seat to go with it, which hasn't materialised and the Surf is using Maxi Cosi at present and Britax also soon.

But anyway, it's here at last, the new all singing all dancing modular pushchair system, their top of the range offering, the Surf. Well ok, only just here, as per usual stock is late, how come? Who knows?

But all the waiting as far as I'm concerned has taken away the excitement and anticipation I had for this product. As since it was heard of and since the news of it coming we've seen the market move, the economy change, and of course others beat Silver Cross to market with products very much like this. But maybe it's just me, as I've got so excited about this as a fan of their styling, but then let down by the time to market and the amount of actual real innovation in the final artical?

Moving on to the actual product itself. It has all the features you would expect, swivel wheels, height adjustable handle, all round suspension, reversible seat, detachable bumper bar etc etc... What's it's selling point though? Why choose this over say Concord, M&P or even Graco? As those are the guys that got to market before Silver Cross with something similar.

Well as normal the brand is what Silver Cross is hoping stands for something. Then attention to detail, and as usual this is there in abundance, just as the final overal visual appeal of the product is as you would expect from Silver Cross.

But as we've seen before this sometimes isn't enough to sell a product, and I had hoped that maybe there might have been some real content in terms of some of the Silver Cross that we saw on Sleepover, 3D where the product was not just about brand and design, but where someone had sat and thought what are users wanting, how are they using products and how can we make life easier for them? As this innovation can work far better than any flash advert as if there is something unique about a product that people want or need then they buy that product.

But I just don't see this on the Surf, yes it's suspension is different in how it operates, yes it's chassis construction is different, but how many customers come into a retailer and say that they want this, that this is what will influence their choice of purchase, that will make their life easier?

The things that do stand out looking at this as a potential customer is a small pointless basket, the secondary basket that costs more is again pretty useless as it won't hold all the things that are needed in an average parent/childs day. A seat unit that will be too small for an average sized 2 yr old, as their head will stick over the top of the seat hitting the hood or the seat tubing. Simple things to spot, well they are if you think about function, or have experience of how people use products. But it seems that the Surf is designed to look fantastic but no-one is leading the development and the designers of beautiful things are as most know, unable to think about function.

Will it be successful, well I guess there will be the fans of the brand buying it, those that have to have latest product buying. But in terms of those that have to watch the pennies, no, they'll be buying the Graco Symbio, in terms of those wanting a product that makes life easier then the M&P Mylo wins with it's true one hand fold.

Would I buy it? I'm not sure, as much as I love the brand, the styling of the product I just can't help but think I've been robbed from the product I had wished this was going to be or that it had the potential to be, the product that rewrote the rules, the product that changed the market.

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Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Britax at Harrogate

Just been so busy of late, but kept meaning to write about a few other items I saw the other week.

Well let's start with Britax, I've already gone over the stroller range, and given my thoughts on them. But there is also a new Infant Carrier too, which might make the strollers more appealing.

Very simliar to the current model, in the sense that the shell itself is the same. But the new features come from a redesigned handle.

Now when I first realised this I thought that's a bit of a cop out, and wondered are there budget cuts at Britax? Did they spend too much money on the stand, or are they still suffering the loss of revenue they were supposed to make on the 'bath' or Safety Carrycot as they call it?

But when you look at what this update has given the old product you have to thunk twice and take the product a bit more seriously!

Not only is there an improved single handed release from the stroller, but there is also now a single handed pivot button. Although I have to say to tooling finish is pretty poor and I hope they think a bit more about the design and injection of it before launch.

But then the most important addition is side impact protection. By means of a half moon that clips up from the lower part of the handle on either side for use in the car, giving further cushioning to the seat in the event of a side impact. The test results are that this simple addition gives 25% better protection than any other infant carrier, and that in my book would make this the only infant carrier worth considering buying!

Design of the product is not stunning, but for me, safety will always come before anything else on a car seat.

There is also good news with regards to compatiblity on strollers, as it will be fitting on the new Silver Cross Surf, also soon on some Mothercare products like the Spin. So I'm not the only person that thinks this carseat is important.

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Monday, 29 March 2010

Harrogate Trade show 2010

Well I've spent the day walking the show, looking at product after product, and I first thought they all just merged into one, as I couldn't find any innovation, no new products, just the same as the last show/stand.

That was until I came across the new Baby Jogger City Select.

Priced roughly £450 for the stand alone stroller, and then if you want to you can buy a second seat unit, or a carrycot coversion kit, or a buggyboard, or adaptors to fit the Maxi Cosi Cabrio.

It's a very versatile stroller, allowing you to have any combination of seats/carrycots/carseats attatched in any position, so allowing you to have either 2 newborns, a newborn and toddler seated on the product, and with them facing either way.

The other great feature is the incorporation of the Baby Jogger fold, simply unclip the secondary lock, then lift up the chassis at it main pivot point and it folds. No messing about with clips and catches all over the product, just as easy as the original mini jogger.

It's bound to be a hit with all parents with more than one child or those that are planning more than one!

The product was constantly been expertly demonstrated by David, with a crowd of people watching, so I'd expect it to be in most independant retailers soon.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Trade shows

Well with Harrogate this weekend I'm in two minds if to attend?

Yes, Harrogate is the best UK show from my experience, but is it more of a social experience for everyone than an actual business one? I say this as the big Sunday night party is very well attended, everyone is always located nearby, and all new products from the big boys have been seen before last September in Koln.

So from someone in my position or past positions it's not a fair for launches, but maybe for the UK indi retailers it's a more important show, they get to choose and place their orders.

Which I suppose answers my own question, in a way. But then it could be a chance to have some social fun, find a few new contacts, and also blog a few things of products no end user has seen.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


Thought I'd try and test photo uploading on the blog with my phone before I decide if to go to the show this weekend.

So there is the test.

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Monday, 22 March 2010

Trunki Boostapak - pointless product

 Ok, I know its not a stroller, but its still a travel item, so I thought I'd share my thoughts on this ridiculous item, the Trunki Boostapak.

I'd seen this product before the weekend, and had dismissed it as a pointless item, but then the weekend it appeared on the BBC show 'Something for the weekend' in their gadget spot, and I have to say that really wound me up, as its no gadget, and its not a useful item either!

Firstly, lets look at the Unique Selling Point, its a car boost cushion, that is also a rucksack?

"BoostApak is the ideal solution, a spacious, hand-luggage approved rucksack which doubles as a booster seat, perfect for car-pooling and family holidays."

How many parents actually take the booster cushion out of the car? Its one of the most easy items to put in the boot, so there isn't any need to take it out of the car. How hard is it to move a booster cushion from vehicle to vehicle if you are wanting to use it in various cars? Very. So there is no problem to solve, and that is the point that makes this pointless in my opinion.

How many kids actually want to be carrying a rucksack, and if they do, I'm sure its with their favourite character on it if they of the younger age, or by their favourite sports brand or team if they're a bit older, not in something with day glow colours on it, or with ears, so again, fail! I remember been a kid myself, yes it wasn't all that long ago, and I remember the punishment that I used to give my rucksack or bag, it was a portable football, not a car seat, it got kicked, dropped, punished, so how much punishment will this get, and after such punishment will it still perform as a booster cushion? How much has this been tested I wonder?

I'm sorry if this seems like a rant, but I just don't like products that don't have a point, products that say they are there to solve a problem that doesn't exist, products that are over priced, and products which are not as good as items already on the market.

Booster cushions do a basic job, but are not what I would ever choose to use in a car as a parent, as there is no side impact protection, which is where my professional thoughts kick in on this product. As under the draft standard that is in work ECE R44.05 which hopefully soon will be enforced, side impact protection is a must, and will finally remove booster cushions from the market. So why is a company launching a product that will soon be obsolete? Surely they should be aware of up and coming standards as a company, but it seems not, as they wouldn't have invested in a product that is not aimed at new regulations, which then gets me thinking how much do they actually know and understand the car safety market? Would I want to use a product from a company that isn't an expert in car safety? No.

And I also know that my thoughts in relation to booster cushions are those shared by the biggest car seat producing companies, and why they are soon to stop producing these items under their brands due to the fact that they do not offer enough protection to the using child. But Trunki seem to not be thinking about this.

Maybe the section of the BBC show 'Something for the weekend' should be renamed as pointless gimmick items?

I just hope that the new Mission Commander that Trunki is looking to recruit has some experience in developing products that have a point, and that meet current and future standards and regulations.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Now on Twitter

Finally got myself a Twitter page too, with the hope to get a few blog readers and followers.

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New Britax Display in Mothercare

I've been meaning to post this for a number of weeks now, wrote it all and lost it a few times, so here we go again.

Anyway, there is a dedicated display area in Mothercare for the new stroller range they have launched.

First there is the B-Mobile, a 3 or 4 wheeled product, the 4 wheeler been the new addition. But I'm not totally sure what this product is aiming itself at in the market place, or who? As it isn't a bargain, it doesn't do anything new, and the only things I can see it trying to target is either the M&P Aria, or the Quinny Zapp or the Petite Star Zia. And if this is the case then it fails, as its too BIG!! Its awkward to fold compared to them and again too BIG when folded too!

Then there is the B-Smart, which is essentially a copy of the Vigour +, but don't go thinking it is the award winning Vigour +, its a totally new product, but with no new features, which if I had been spending the time and money on developing a replacement for the Vigour I'd have ensured that it was a move on, a step up the ladder, so that it had something new to offer to the market, or even was keeping up with the market. But no, its just a copy, and the reason for this, basically to try and avoid paying the license payment that Britax were paying on selling the Vigour product, as it wasn't their design. So I guess they'll be expecting the lawyer letter any day soon rather than an uplift in sales on this one.

Then there is a new product called the B-Dual, a Phil & Ted style tandem product, but there is a point of difference, in that both seat units can be used for newborn children unlike the P&T products. Essentially though this product is developed by the Australian arm of Britax, and based on the Strider single pushchair, that was seen briefly over here in Argos, and can now be purchased under the Brio brand. Its a very robust product, so yes that also means heavy, but I'd be confident in the quality of this one, as the Australian arm of Britax is very experienced in strollers unlike the European team. My only concern would be the swivel wheel locks that are positioned in a great place that will be the first thing to hit that door as Mum bashes into it to open it.

But one thing that I did notice when looking at these in Mothercare was that there was a slight difference in colour between the pushchairs and the infant carrier, which most would not spot, but its that kind of attention to detail that is not going to give them a premium brand image on wheels this year, and maybe the Italian fabric house that used to design and select the fabrics might not be the ideal people to use this year?