Aprica, one of two giants in the Japanese Baby Zaibatsu, has launched its flagship car seat (and I don't use the term lightly) in Europe. The Aprica Euro-Turn is the EU version of the J-Turn, or as it's officially known in the home market, the Marshmallow J-Turn Neo-Thermo G1155.
These Japanese car seats totally break with the Western paradigm. When I first saw them last year, they freaked me out. Now, the Aprica-EU site has a lot of clear, English explanation for the Euro-Turn's myriad of features, and I can appreciate them more, but they still freak me out.
Some key points and functions: The car seat allows kids to lie down, since, according to Aprica scientists, newborns and infants should really be lying down, at an optimal angle of 170 degrees.
It pivots for forward- and rear-facing mode, allowing you to use one car seat all the way through 18kg. [Which is good, since they're around $1,000 in Japan. I'll let you idle on that for a second...]
The Euro-Turn is so large, it extends over the edge of most cars' seats, requiring a t-shaped kickstand brace underneath. [A lot of Japanese car seats are like this. It's also due to the short rear seats in compact Japanese cars. There's a fairly short list of compatible and semi-compatible car models. Caveat emptor.]
The materials, fit, and finish of these things is incredible. Some of the sweetest padding and fabric I've ever seen on a baby product [which makes sense, I guess, since it's 5-10x as expensive as anything else].
In Japan, they use these as infant bassinet/beds, too. That's partly why I freaked out, because they looked like Hannibal Lecter-style infant incapacitators. Swaddling ain't got nothing on the Marshmallow J-turn.
These things weigh as much as a car, but if you're interested, there's a list of European retailers on the site. Have at it.
Aprica Euro-Turn Reclining Car Seat [aprica-eu.com, via dt reader jacqueline]
Aprica Japan Baby Bed/Car Seats [aprica.jp]
Previously: Marshmallow Baby Rack