March 14, 2007

Holy Smokes, Why Is This $300 Sunshine Carseat Only $170??


The Sunshine Radian 80 carseat is probably the strongest car seat on the market. It's made from steel like an aircraft seat, not from plastic like a Happy Meal toy. It's also narrower on the outside while providing comparable sitroom on the inside to Britax Regent.

Plus, it folds up.
Plus, it's weight-rated to 80 pounds.
Plus, it's convertible. It can be used as a rear-facing car seat up to 33 pounds.

In short, it's an engineering marvel. And it's worth $280 if it's worth a dime [update: see comments below]. Why Amazon is selling it for $170 totally confounds me, but DT reader Chris snagged one yesterday, and the price is still there right now. Go shop, then go figure.

Sunshine Kids Radian 80 convertible car seat, $170 []

update: go figure indeed. Since posting this, several people, including a couple in the comments below have emailed with complaints about the Sunshine seats:

1) the steel makes them heavy, and so they don't travel well [our Maxi-Cosi Priori is too heavy to cart around for plane trips, too, so I guess I'm less surprised by this.], and
2) they have rounded bottoms that don't sit well in cars, which sounds like a huge dealbreaker, if it's generally the case [as opposed to being limited to a few, rare models of cars, but still.]

Either way, it seems the world may not, in fact, have a perfect, only-one-you'll-ever-need car seat after all. Shocker, and apologies.

4/14 update: As of this week, a full 25% of the Radian 80's that have been purchased here from Amazon have been returned. That's a really high ratio, higher than any other product that gets bought through these affiliate links, and I thought it best to mention that.

If you have a Radian 80 and want to comment on it, or if you bought one, tried it, and sent it back, I think it'd be useful to other folks to hear your experiences.


I'm sure they had to lower the price because it wasn't selling. I mean, why buy the "Manhattan" version, when you can have the "SuperCool" version?

Unless you're some kind of hipster parent...

[who want the Brooklyn anyway. -ed.]

I don't think the Radian80 is selling as well as the Radian 65. The reason is, the shells are the same size and it would take one short, fat kid to fit in there until 80lbs.
They are also changing covers, apparently. So this would be a 2006 cover option. i also see that they have the Radian 65 on for a smokin' $129.

[Good point. EliteCarSeats lists the seat width at just 10", vs the Regent's 14". For the Radian 65, it seems like there's more seat space than the comparable Britax, especially considering the exterior dimensions. The main thing, though, is that $129 is a damn sweet price for the 65. Nice catch. -ed.]

I bought the original Radian for trans-Pacific flying nearly two years ago and found it to be a poorly designed product. It was too big for rear facing in normal coach seats, and just didn't work with seatbelt when facing forward. Same goes for older/smaller US cars. Plus, the thing weights a ton. $129? I would pay someone that to get rid of my Radian.

[interesting. the need for rearfacing is much less/absent on a plane, of course, but not working with a seat belt facing forward sounds like a dealbreaker. And I think you're right about the weight, too. Kind of offsets the benefits of folding. -ed.]

My question is, why is metal being used in the production of these seats? Most likely it is to provide longevity to the folding seat. A plastic hinge wouldn't survive the constant abuse a car seat does.

Also, does the metal shell actually offer an more protection to a child than a plastic shell?

I bought the radian 65 instead of getting another marathon for our 2nd car, thinking it was going to be fabulous. No such luck - it's not a horrible seat, but it has a weird rounded bottom so it can't sit up on its own and I've found it's almost impossible to get it installed super snugly when forward facing. That has to do with the rounded bottom too - there's nothing for the car seat to grab onto when you're trying to get it snug. The LATCH system is also inferior, IMHO, to the britax, because it only tightens from one side of the seat. Thinking of selling on ebay and coughing up the extra money for another Marathon.

I have a buddy who is expecting his first (well, his wife is) in about six weeks and when we talked this morning I recommended this deal to him, but after reading a few of your comments I think I want to call him back and tell him to spend the extra to get either the Marathon, which we have in my wife's car, or the Recaro that I keep in mine. Both cost more but we've been very happy with them (especially the excellent Recaro).

short time reader, first time commenter -

thanks for all the comments telling me not to buy this, but do upright seats work well for newborns? it doesn't seem like it unless you can flip them onto their back (the carseat, that is).


We replaced our Britax Wizard with a Radian almost a year ago when we were in a car accident and never looked back. For me it traveled well as a single parent on a trip with my daughter to Chicago involving two flights. It fits well in both of our Hondas. It's easier for dd to get in and out of than the Wizard ever was. I can't imagine how it would work as a rear-facing seat though. But as a front facing one, I wouldn't trade it for the world.

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