While the Japanese have dominated the US automobile market, we haven’t found that so much for the baby automobiles (or strollers as you might say). Aprica, the top-selling stroller brand in Japan exited the US market in 2001 and we’ve heard very little about them since. Well that is about to change!
Graco has purchased the Japanese company Aprica and is relaunching in the US with stroller designs and colors cherry picked for the US market. While Graco has a lower-end but utilitarian reputation in the US, Aprica is being launched as a more sophisticated line for urban on-the-go parents who want a functional, but light, lightweight stroller.
While Quinny momentarily won over the lightweight market a couple of years ago with their sleek Zapp stroller, we’ve found these days that Baby Jogger City Minis, UPPABaby G-Luxe and G-lites and Maclarens seem to have the corner on most parents light-weight searches. Stand-outs like the Valco Ion, brand new Cybex line, and Peg Perego Si have a tough time gaining momentum in this ultra-competitive market.
So how will Aprica fare as it readies for it’s 2010 release? We’re guessing pretty well! Why?
Aprica invited us to an exclusive San Francisco launch to debut their ready-for-US line and we were impressed. I have to admit, I knew Aprica from pre-2002 days and I didn’t think it would fare well in the US so I was skeptical. Let me say, these were not the same Aprica’s. Both lightweights they showed had solid, sturdy frames with fun eye-catching colors. They were well thought-out introductions to gaining US parents trust and love.
Here’s what we liked:
1) The seat is 4 inches higher than the Maclarens and UPPA’s of this world. This give tons more basket room and easier to load and unload babies
2) The weights are 14lbs and 12 lbs respectively for the two models – definitely within the weight limits parents like to consider for their lightweights
3) Both models can be folded without bending down – wonderful for those in rainy or snowy climates who don’t want to get gross just to fold their stroller or any with back issues
4) They both stand folded, nice for standing in public transit or just loading up your car
5) Really nice removable padding (yes washable, we asked!)
6) Awesome harness buckles – big and very easy to clip on and off or adjust sizing on
7) Cool factor: they have a heat reflective element on the seat back so that the heat from the sidewalk gets reflected away from the seat, keeping your little one from baking in their stroller on hotter days.
8) Canopy and recline are decent, 130-140 degrees. I’m hoping they revamp the recline system though which is a big clunky
Also worth noting: Aprica has the deep pockets of Graco (and it’s parent company Newell-Rubbermaid) standing behind it and investing in brand development, recognition and customer service/warranty. This is huge! It’s hard to love a stroller if you haven’t even heard about it or don’t trust the brand. Aprica wants you to know who they are.
On a side note (pun intended), Aprica also debuted a side hip carrier. It is simple and streamlined. We loved everything about it except for the price. At $60, I might just keep using my pouch sling from the newborn stage rather than investing in a separate hip carrier. It was cute though!
So when are they out? Well depends where you are. Aprica is launching in NY and CA in January 2010 with their 14 lb-er and hip carrier. Their wider distribution and 12 lbs stroller will debut in July 2010. We’ll definitely have them in January though!
P.S. These aren’t coming to the US but in case you wanted to spend $100 for infant shoes to help your baby walk faster – head to Japan!
So the question is what do YOU think? Does this new line sound attractive to you?