February 25, 2005

Snap Judgments From Rotterdam

Stopped by a babystore and an easyinternet cafe en route from the conference to dinner. Here's my immediate reaction to the following:

Quinny: overall, both Buzz and Zapp could benefit from a stern paring down. If Bugaboo's upholsterers ever did moonlighting for Quinny, watch out. We both wanted to like the Quinnys more than we did, though.

Buzz: Nice, but complicated. The frame's a bunch of intersecting arcs that get kind of complicated underneath. Extendable handle is good. You want to run with the sun visor off, but you never will. Nice handling. Finish feels cheap compared to the Bugaboo, but guess what? It IS cheaper compared to the Bugaboo, maybe even EUR200 cheaper. The wheelbase is also 3" wider than Bugaboo's. Stable? Yes. Impossible to fit in a Korean deli? Yes.

Zapp: Very cool. Not light. Not one-hand foldable at all, so the idea that you'll fold and unfold anywhere, with ease, is wrong. I think the Volo or Quest still win this race. That said, the folding mechanism is very cool: the handles fold forward, then the base and frame come together like a sideways umbrella. [My wife said it was the love child of an Xplory and a Volo.]

Bugaboo Gecko and Cameleon: you know, it's the little differences. Tons of little re-engineered elements, too many to list without boring even myself, but they're both interesting. The stripped down Gecko confuses me slightly, and the sales staff had NO idea about either one, (they've only been on sale 10 days). Tilting mechanism on the seat? RTFM, I guess.

Cameleon: two things: the fleece fabric feels great. The extendable handle feels GREAT. Makes a world of difference for tall people, at least, and I thought the Frog was fine before. The new front suspension is amazing; it turns on...what's smaller than a dime? and smooth. Both are still solidly above the rest in terms of smooth ride/handling.

Mutsy Urban Rider: Only saw it in bassinet form, but it is HUGE. Wheelbase is easily 2-3" wider than Bugaboo. Clean design, solid stable base with 4 gigantic tires makes the whole thing feel like an SUV. But the lockable pivoting rear axle? Very cool. [The front wheels are fixed, and the rear axle unlocks to allow you to turn at all. In a VERY wide turning circle, I imagine. Not for tight spaces.]

Tummy Tub: Seriously small-looking. Is it like ballet, where if you don't start them at birth, it's too late? There's no way my kid would give up her big watery playground just to be folded into a bucket. Hey, if I'm wrong, tell me.

So far, no improvements on the Diaper Genie, whose stock is dropping in our house, by the way. It's starting to smell even without diapers in it. And the whole mechanism's pissing me off.

Car seats: oy. The Maxi-Cosi Cabrio is still the greatest, and there are some seriously warped euro car seats, it turns out. But the Priori, the next size up? MASSIVE. Japanese stage 2 models were even bigger. I'm wondering if the whole Britax/Graco thing's not that bad after all, but we'll see. Is there NOTHING better out there?

McDonald's: (#*$&%(ing disaster. They got rid of the old-school apple pies, the fried ones with the bubbly crust, throughout the whole country!. "Europe: come for the pie, stay for the baby gear" was always my motto. Now, I may never come back.

26 Comments

if you're tired of the diaper genie, try the diaper champ. much cooler. much easier. much cheaper (uses any bag). and the whole piston mechanism is just too cool. but I bet my boy will enjoy putting his toys in it all too soon.

Hrm, all very interesting. Coupla questions:

Does the extendable handle on the cameleon wiggle around? I played around with a Buzz here in the UK (at a John Lewis), and thought it felt kinda chintzy - lots of clicky-clicky noises from the aluminium bars that slide within each other.

Oh, and how's the size increase of the chassis on the Cameleon? Noticeably chunkier than the Frog? Or hardly noticeable? I like the solid feel and small size of the Frog; curious to know if any of the changes compromise either feature? (And the new Gecko is just the old Frog chassis, right?)

Thanks. And sorry bout the apple pie. I think Germany may still offer oldschool McRibs, if that's any consolation.

You say the Cameleon is on sale there!?! When is it going on sale in the US? Maybe I can paypal you to bring me one back. :)

#2 is due in a few weeks and I'd much rather get my hands on some of those "old-school" apple pies than worry about searching for a new stroller...was disappointed the first choice for #1 and don't imagine finding the right double will be much better...help?!

I heard today that our Cameleon has already arrived in the shop in Amsterdam. We're just waiting for the carry-bag and nappy bag to arrive, then the whole package can be parcelled up and sent off to California.

Once the package arrives, I'll take some photos and post them to our site. We probably won't have it until the end of March, though.

There's no Diaper Genie in our household. We use a step-on trash can (step on the lever, lid goes up... step off, lid goes down). We put a deodorizer on the bottom and then line the can with a plastic bag. We use a plastic can because our first metal one experienced moisture condensation.

Of course, we're not dumping much poop. We use Wonderoos (a spiffy resuable, resizeable diaper that grows with my kid). Add a flushable biodegradable diaper liner and the poop goes in the toilet.

A step-on can might work for landfill diapers though. We use a step-on can to store a week's worth of cat poop from two cats next to their litter box. We don't experience any odor problems.

How about Cameleon seat size? I'm a bit scared of the current Frog as it is a little small. I am 6'4"; if the little (possibly tall) dude can't fit after 18 months, it would certainly signal the end of years of glorious guy-gear purchases.

Sad to hear the Buzz is not up to par. I was admiring them online today. While cheaper, it also comes w/o a few features of the Bug. And heavier, etc... Shoot. I was all ready to sign up.

I second the Diaper Champ recommendation. Much better than the Genie - and less chance of having your hand bitten off by the scary Genie mechanism. Fabulous odour control (as much as you get when you're jamming it full of human waste products), though, like AJ, we dump most poop down the toilet first. Best of all - no need to buy special bags. S'all good.

Ian,

How did you order the Chameleon from California? I would love to get my hands on it and live in Southern Germany (they haven't been released over the border yet) so if you can send me an address or a phone number that we can call and order one of those I would really be happy.

Email jason AT jrsofty DOT stinkbugonline DOT com

thanks.

BTW Greg sorry to hear about the lack of Old School Apple pies. Next time I'm in a MCD here in Munich we'll order one and I'll let you know if it is old school ;)

Hey Jason,

I gave the following shop a call:

Baby Anco Plaza,
Ceintuurbaan 326-328
1072 GM Amsterdam
+31 (020) 671 22 67

They don't normally do mail-order, but this shop was my neighbourhood baby shop when I lived in Amsterdam, so it was the obvious place to call for me.

That said, they'll be happy to help you out and send the stuff to you. When I called, they told me they had sent orders to the UK and the US before.

One thing that you should be aware of is that they won't accept a credit card payment for these special, "one-off" mail-orders. You'll need a way to transfer the money to their bank account. I'll be using a simple transfer from my own Dutch bank account.

Like I said, I'm still waiting for a couple of accessories to arrive before I have them batch up the entire order and send it to California. I expect the postage to be hefty, but this will be somewhat offset by escaping the BTW (Dutch VAT). Then again, given the current state of the dollar, it's going to be an expensive order, regardless.

Ian,

Thanks for the information. I'm pretty sure we can do an international transfer from our German Bank account. Since I'm paid in Euros it won't be too bad. I might have to pay German VAT on it though eek. ;)

Hi there,

I apologise in advance for any typing mistakes or strange phrases: not used to type in English as I'm Dutch.
We've ordered our Cameleon right after it was out here in the Netherlands.
I've asked yesterday what the estimated time of delivery is. Too bad to hear that Bugaboo can't cope with the demand and that it still may take a while. (Lucky me: I will be needing it end of May)

Some accessories like nappy bag are still not in the shops...

Borgopio: the Quinny Buzz is indeed noisy when it comes to the bars. One of the reasons we didn't order it.
Bugaboo handle is now adjustable (with the Frog is wasn't) but not any noise.


And, because the handle of the Cameleon can be adjusted, the whole thing folds up smaller than the Frog, but is just as small as the Buzz.

The Gecko and Cameleon chassis are different in height. I never liked the Frog because it was too low for me (you know all Dutch are tall) but now the chassis is higher, the choise was easy.

Nothing can be compared with the Bugaboo. Buzz comes near, but they should have thought about the fact that the hydraulic 'tube' may fold out automatically when you have put it inside your car. Their solution: a small strap to connect tube and handle. I don't like straps. Especially when it's raining, your kid is yelling in the car and you are fighting to strap this thing. And trust me: it's not a handy strap, it a bit short.

Just one question: somebody asked if Bugaboos are cheaper in Holland then in the US. Here the Cameleon costs 789 euro (around 605 USD) without any accessories, but with the buggy-seat.
What do they cost in the US?

actually, that would be $1,035, or as we like to say here in the US, (*#@&$)@*%!!!! $1,035!!!!

Given the exchange rate-related differences between UK and EU, I'm sure that Bugaboo will adjust the US price a bit to the market. [update: and DT reader Robert reminded me that this includes 19% VAT, which would be refunded on export. I'm chill now.]

Monique,

Thanks for the reply. The Frog is generally $729 dollars (555 euro) in the US, and 499 pounds (about $950) in the UK.

The Cameleon hasn't been released in the US or the UK, yet.

Buzz is cool looking and the unfolding bit may be excessive at first, but now other strollers seem difficult to me.

In all the analysis here, I hate to add a lame sounding, dilettante-ish comment but I got the Buzz on looks as well as function. The arcs and frame as well as the 3 wheel design give it a distinctive look (ala the Stokke, but the Stokke was too hard to deal with).

We've got the Buzz for our Murray Hill to everywhere in Manhattan walks and the Triumph when our little friends starts traveling longer distances with us. We'll see if it is a good combo.

Go Champ! Die, fetid Genie, die!
As everyone discovers, a Diaper Genie older than a year is teh suck -- or maybe "teh stink" is more accurate.
Despite the Genie's ability to trap Harmful Poop Vapors Monday through Friday, when you "change the sausage" [sorry if anyone's work filters that for sounding dirty!] all of that captive stink poisons the house. The Champ, however, can be changed in tens of seconds, and you whisk the smaller bag right out to the trash can in the garage.
The bags in the Champ are probably cheaper, too (especially if you just use the ones you bring home from the store full of formula and books, etc.) than those sausuage refill packs, and they won't phase them out on you like they did with the original Genie.

Hoi Monique,

That seems to be true about the nappy bag. Our entire Cameleon order has arrived in the shop, except for the nappy bag. We're just waiting for that one item now, so that everything can be shipped to the US.

Hi, I'm really sorry to intrude - as I'm not a guy - but I'm in the UK and just got my Buzz today. The thing is I'm not as thrilled with it as I thought I'd be.........wish I'd thought a bit more about it to be honest but nevermind! If I decide it's not for me I'll sell it on ebay, but I have a question for those who have one.

Is it meant to be difficult to fold down or am I just doing it wrong? It also makes a horrible loud clicking/cracking sound when I do fold it down. Sure unfolding it is great, but I can't seem to fold it without a lot of trouble and that nasty noise sounding like I've broken it and giving me a heartattack!

Other than that it's pretty cool.....we went out with it today, not sure I can take the staring though! I live in the back of beyond and I don't think anyone has ever seen one, I mean, our town is so small I've only ever seen one Bugaboo about and that's my friends' stroller. Hmmmmm not sure I'm that much of a trend setter......

If anyone can help that would be great though...

Just ordered the Buzz (and carrycot, and maxi cosi..) from Babycare. What fantstic people over there! They certainly understand customer service.

will post (yet another) review once my retail therapy arrives.

Just to throw my two cents into the buzz/bugaboo debate...

We live in southern Germany (still home to the original McDonald's apple pie) and have looked at every stroller known to man. We eventually decided on the bugaboo (but purchased it on a visit to the US in January because it's must cheaper in $). The buzz has interesting styling, but is definitely lower quality materials. The only benefit we found in it, was that the shoulder harness seemed much more comfortable/higher quality than bugaboos. Otherwise, the bugabooo excelled in every respect. We originally had high hopes for the Mutsy, but it is indeed enormous. I was intrigued by the xplory, but it doesn't offer the suspension we need for cobblestones (it's all a hard plastic with small hard wheels). So, the bugaboo it is.

I'm surprised to hear that there was a EUR200 difference between the buzz and the bugaboo in Rotterdam, because here the difference was only EUR20 making our bugaboo purchased in $ cheaper than the buzz would have been here.

Just returned from Paris where checked out a baby store and saw several strollers: Mutsy, Zapp and Bugaboo. Overall comments: Mutsy was larger than we thought and too big for our needs. Zapp seemed hard to fold and less stable than the four wheeled strollers. Light and fun design, but no storage. Bugaboo seemed to be heavier than Zapp, but more stable and it did have storage. Would vote for the Bugaboo. However, won't buy it in Europe (or at least this store in Paris), as it was about Euro 700. Ouch. In the US it is closer to US$750-800.

Received our Cameleon 2 weeks ago - we asked friends in Holland to buy one for us and shipped it to the UK. The 1st thing is that the seat/basket frame is noticably bigger than the Frog - I always thought that kids looked stuffed into the Frog seat, but this will absolutely solve this. New suspension is great and the adjustable handle is the icing on the cake (I'm 6'2"). Actually not a big fan of the fleece, but can live with it.

After careful (and quick lol) consideration on my Buzz it went on ebay, where most of my buggies seem to end up. All in all I was disappointed, it just hadn't lived up to my expectations, and while I do still think the Buzz is quite cool I just wasn't happy with it. To be honest I would much prefer a Bugaboo but they are out of my price range, though thinking of how much I have spent on a silly number of pushchairs (7) so far this year I could have bought one and then some!

I have just got a Quinny Speedi SX and love it, much better suited to me and my needs and it still ticks the cool box without being weird. While this one might get a few glances come its way there's definitely none of the staring going on like there was with the Buzz! I suspect it would have been a different matter if I'd lived in a city where unusual prams were the norm. Anyway the speedi might not be mentioned here much but it's great, lovely to push, easy to steer, adjustable handle, etc. and can take the all important Maxicosi Cabrio carseat.

It's a good thing I'm happy with it as I've promised this is my last pushchair til the end of August! However will I cope? lol
The sad answer to that is I'm already planning my next pushchair purchase for when the ban lifts, and while I'm likely to change my mind in the meantime, I'm heading for a Mamas and Papas freestyler (in Baroque for those in the know lol)

I probably need help but hey...there are worse things to be addicted to...

Have owned the Quinny Zapp for 3 months now and have to disagree with your assessment. The first time I folded/unfolded it, it seemed difficult, but by the time I had done the maneuver two more times, it was easy. Super light, easy to push, navigates bumpy sidewalks like a dream...I'm very pleased. No storage, but if you need to lug four two grocery bags full of crap everywhere you go, the Zapp isn't for you anyway.

Hello there,
I have read all your comments on the Bugaboo's and I have long known I NEED one, and now I need a Cameleon.

We have friends in Holland who could potentially bring this over to us, to The UK, but I am wondering, does anyone know of any shops I could contact in Amsterdam, so I could pay, and then our friend could pick up and bring here?!?!?

Now, I know the Cameleon is 599 in The Uk, so is it really cheaper in The Netherlands, or is it a matter of a few pounds?

I really hope somebody can help me, as we need to get cracking soon, as baby is due in March.
Many thanks, if anyone can help.
Stina

Quinny Buzz 1 year on.

We got a buzz delivered in March 2005 for our son, wasn't allowed to spend bugaboo money, but when you add the dreami carrycot to the price it wasn't that much cheaper.

Good points. Love the fold and unfold, you don't realise how spoilt you are until you try and use someone elses pushchair. Worked really well with the maxi-cosi cabrio car seat, really well proved it's worth there alone. As we live out in the sticks abit, it gets used off the pavement, on bridleways and the like and copes great. It's also really neat to be able to choose if baby is going to look out or watch daddy push. Also the new shopping bag that hangs underneath addressed a real weakness too.

Bad points? It's just not made well enough. I'm 6ft 2 and therefore have always used the handle on it's most extended setting. This has caused the handle to droop just on the right and I'm constantly having to lift it to get it to click back into place. The front wheel is prone to getting stuck too, it needs much more cleaning than it should. The brake would also sometimes refuse to engage too.

Having said all that, we still use it daily, but baby just a year old and over 11kg we are looking at getting another pushchair, smaller, lighter and more portable for the car. Something that doesn't require dismantling to stop it filling all the boot.

But no matter what we get (Mutsy Spider, ziko frankie maybe) the Buzz will still the the number one choice for going over fields and down dales. Just not for going around M&S on a Saturday.

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