iCandy World Headquarters – 2016 Collection
This year, iCandy World unusually released all their new products to both the trade, and to the public, much earlier than usual, at the nursery show in Kind und Jugend. So, Best Buggy was delighted to be invited to iCandy World HQ to view the new 2016 collection.
We had a very, very warm welcome from the iCandy team. It was great to see them again.
Our day began in the iCandy University. This room is iCandy heaven!
The room is lined with iCandy pushchairs, bags, blankets and other beautiful products. We couldn’t wait to get started.
The iCandy Peach has been given a new look for 2016. The Peach is purposely called the 2016, because there is no change to the Blossom kit. There have been three different Blossom kits to date, hence the Peach 1, 2 and 3. However, this year the changes are mainly aesthetic, rather than changes to the function.
The new colours are striking. iCandy have purposely tried to produce a colour palette that has a range of gender neutral colours along with a pink and some blues. The blues are very suitable for a girl as well as a boy. The Royal in particular is absolutely stunning, and we predict that this will be the best seller of the range. It is certainly the colour which we would have loved to have taken home with us. There really is a colour for everyone, whether it be the classic Black Magic or Royal; or the bright Bubblegum or Honeycomb; or the more subtle Butterscotch or Olive.
There are ten colourways in total: Bubblegum, Royal, Claret, Butterscotch, Truffle, Black Magic, Primrose, Olive, Peacock and Honeycomb. There are also three chassis colours: the iconic chrome, matt black and Space Grey. However, it is worth noting that the colour combinations are set – they are not a mix and match. So the Peacock for example only comes on the Space Grey chassis. The Black Magic has the polished chrome chassis, and the Primrose comes on the matt black chassis. The iCandy Peach for 2016 also has a leatherette handlebar and bumper bar. Again, the colour of this leatherette is set according to the chosen colourway. All the 2016 Peaches have black leatherette apart from the Royal and Butterscotch which have a classic tan colour leatherette.
One of the designers showed us the changes to the fabrics. When the first Peaches came onto the market, they were sold with the seat liner. The Peach liners have been sold as an accessory for some time now, and they now no longer zip into the seat. The designer has made a really beautiful line of piping run vertically down the side seams of the seat. This is best seen in the photos of the Royal pushchair where the pwhite/offwhite contrasts perfectly with the dark navy blue. The piping on the hood is just 4mm thick. The designer was pedantic about getting this the correct thickness to give the perfect detail to the hood. It is this kind of attention to detail which makes an iCandy product extra special.
The Peach and Peach All Terrain pushchairs have a new round buckle and harness for 2016. We at Best Buggy, after signing the official secrets act, have been testing this buckle and harness for some months now.
iCandy sought our opinion because we are known not to be fans of 5 point, easy breakaway harnesses. The harness has 5 points – there is the crotch strap with the buckle on; then the two waist straps which come in from either side; and then the two pieces join the waist straps from each shoulder. The shoulder pieces slide onto the waist straps. Thus, they can be taken fairly easily off the waist harness. However, iCandy have been very clever. They knew how annoying it can be to chase harness parts around a wriggling child, especially when it is cold and wet, so they spent a long time considering how to make the harness break easily into 5 pieces but without it simply falling into 5 pieces in your hand. As a result the top of the waist straps are what we can only describe as a teardrop shaped piece. The shape is important to note, because no matter how you play with this attachment, it will only thread through the shoulder harness piece hole when the teardrop is in one particular position. It is easy to split the harness into 5 pieces, but yet does not simply fall apart in your hand. We have used this harness a lot, and it really does do the job as intended. The buckle, as the harness and other components, is colour coordinated to the pushchair and has ‘iCandy’ across the centre. This buckle is made solely from a piece of plastic with a central release spring. Pressing firmly in the centre will release the harness from each side. Each side can also be inserted independently into the buckle.
You probably think we are a little obsessive to spend a whole paragraph on a harness and buckle, but it is this attention to detail which really makes iCandy stand out. We know from speaking to the iCandy designers, that creating the perfect buckle and harness has been tricky, but as a result they have produced a work of art!
We know that we won’t be the only ones who will be pleased to never have their hands pinched again by the old style buckles!!
Before we move away from the Peach, we had a fantastic meeting with iCandy’s technical team. The two men we met had two different, but complimentary roles. One was responsible for ensuring that iCandy products are safe to use, and meet the necessary safety requirements at the design stage. The other evaluates customer complaints and feedback, and looks at how products can be improved and made better. So for example, the first gentleman told us about the huge lengths that iCandy go to, to ensure their products stand up to the test of time. i
The technical team then told us how iCandy go above and beyond statutory safety testing. They are exceedingly proud that the iCandy Peach has just completed testing on a rolling road (like a treadmill with lumps and bumps on it) for 1500 miles, which is the distance from iCandy HQ to Moscow! This is NINE times longer than a pushchair is required to be. This was weighted with 5 kgs in the basket and 15 kgs in the seat unit. iCandy have tested their new buckle over 15,000 times which is the equivalent of 5 years use! They also subject every single metal component to a minimum of 24 hours in a salt bath to test for rusting. After issues with the gloss black World and London chassis’, iCandy now test all pushchairs for UV resistance and weathering. Pushchairs only need to be tested for use up to 19-21 degrees. However, iCandy have not just had their pushchairs passed at high temperatures, but they have also put their pushchairs into a refrigerator and left them in at temperatures up to minus 25 degrees Celsius, to ensure that the chassis won’t bend, that the leatherette survives, and that the materials don’t delaminate. This attention to detail is really awesome.
We discussed about use of the carrycot for overnight sleeping. We have known for a long time that there are no specific UK safety regulations with regards to overnight sleeping. However, for a carrycot to be regarded as suitable for overnight sleeping it has to have solid sides and a certain height to these sides. Bugaboo carrycots are not suitable for overnight sleeping because Bugaboo prefer to have easy to remove, washable fabrics, instead of solid sides. The iCandy carrycot has to be used either on the pushchair chassis, or placed on the floor on a solid surface. It should not be placed on a stand. When inside, the hood should be down, and the apron removed to allow air circulation. The room temperature should be suitable for a young baby (18 degrees C is usually ideal) with layers of clothes and blankets which can be easily removed. iCandy recommend that if your baby has any health concerns, then you should seek advice from your midwife or paediatrician, about whether you can leave your child unattended safely in their carrycot.
iCandy sell pushchairs into several countries outside the UK. Their products are sold in Australia, Taiwan, China, Israel, Russia, Korea and in Europe. iCandy have to factor in all the different safety standards and ensure that their products get the appropriate certification for each country. Some products necessarily have to be adapted for certain countries. Australia for example demand a red brake and a tether wrist strap.
What came through very loud and clear was that iCandy really care. They care about their customers. They care about the experience they have, from the first time they open the box, to the push, feel, aesthetics, comfort and quality. iCandy also care after the product has been sold. We spent a long time with the very lovely Vanessa from Customer Services. She told us how iCandy try to do everything reasonable to help resolve a customer’s issue. We learnt that it is not always necessary for a customer to return to a retailer for post sales support, however, the retailer has to be aware that the customer needs help before iCandy can step in. This is because the contract of sale is between the customer and the retailer. We were aware of a few cases where relationships had become difficult with the retailer, and we discussed these with iCandy and how they can be resolved. On hearing about one example, Vanessa immediately said that she was going to take the case up and resolve it. We were grateful to her for looking into it for the customer. Vanessa did stress that if a customer has any particular worry, however small, that they should ask their retailer to check their pushchair over. She said they were concerned when customers told them that something had happened 3 or 4 times previously but that they had not reported it. Ultimately, an iCandy pushchair is carrying the most precious thing of all – a child. Safety should not be compromised, and it is better to have a pushchair checked out, than an accident happen. Vanessa stressed that if there is any issue at all, then these should definitely be looked at as soon as possible. Sensible advice!
Leading on from this, we discussed how iCandy record every customer service call so that the history of an incident can be traced. Customer service can also trace where a pushchair was originally sold because all bar codes are logged and registered to a retailer. As expected, iCandy get a fair number of phone calls where the dog ate the receipt, or the family have moved 500 miles away from the shop, or great granny who paid for it now has dementia and can’t remember where she bought it from. iCandy are not daft! They have heard it all! For anyone who genuinely has had their receipt eaten by the dog, the bar code will trace the pushchair back to the retailer. Oh, and if the bar code is missing from the chassis, there are other ways to find the serial number
Customer service will also not accept pushchairs which have been altered e.g. new stickers added, or which have been vinyled. Again, they aren’t daft!
We were then taken on a tour of iCandy Headquarters where we saw the huge warehouse, the repairs section and the place where the Gold, Silver and Bronze services happen. There were three rubber topped work benches in this area, although this will be expanded soon, and redone. All pushchairs are photographed in the box upon arrival. They are photographed as they are removed from the box, and any notable marks or scratches are also photographed. This is to prevent any claim that damage was done upon arrival at iCandy HQ. iCandy have been surprised at how well the service packages have taken off, and they plan to add another option to the service package at some point. What we did not realise is that if you have your pushchair serviced using the lowest priced Bronze package, iCandy give you another additional 2 years warranty on your pushchair. This means that with the standard warranty, plus the additional year for registering your product asap, it is possible to have up to 5 years warranty. There is one exception, and this is if the pushchair was bought through John Lewis. Then there is no additional 2 years warranty given with a Bronze Service.
We were shown the outside of the warehouse, the cling film wrapper (apparently no one has yet wrapped up an employee!), the chill out room, and then the main offices. We saw where the creative team sit, where the IT man sits, where Customer Services and PR sit. We saw the desks of the sales reps who were at Olympia on that day. We even dared to peek through the closed blinds of the design team’s special office! We can report there were various items on the floor, but nothing that we can give away about anything! We were amazed how the inner sanctum of the design team is such a secret. Most of the office were apparently amazed when the MiPeach, toy pushchair was produced. They had no idea it was being built!
The MiPeach is something that Best Buggy have been sworn to secrecy about for some time, but can now tell you about. We were told back in March, that iCandy had planned to build a toy pushchair. The idea was to recreate a mini Peach – a Peach for a child that was of high quality. This was not going to be your average pushchair copy like you see on the High Street. The result is the beautiful MiPeach which is due out this Christmas. We will be honest and say, first of all that the photos do not really do the MiPeach justice, and really, there is no way for the average reader to see the quality that exists in the real life MiPeach. However, let us try and point out a few details.
First of all, the shape of the chassis. iCandy have tried to recreate the curved shape of the Peach chassis – look at the rear axle and wheels. It is the classic shape of the Peach back axle. Look now at the front wheels – these are classic Peach shape too. What is more interesting is the detail. The wheels look like Peach wheels, and are EVA with a soft touch feel, so that they squidge when you press them, just like real Peach wheels. They even have the dimples on the wheels, like their bigger siblings do. The front wheels swivel. The fabrics are the same, and have the same contrasting piping. The chassis is metal tubing and is solid. We have seen real pushchairs with metal which is of poorer quality than the MiPeach!
Look at the detailing of the round joints in the centre of the pushchair. Also the release button for the seat / carrycot. They are all classic Peach details. The hood even has the same ratchet system as the big Peaches. However, iCandy have not just simply tried to copy a proper Peach, they have also put the MiPeach through pushchair safety testing, like a standard pushchair would! They could not do all the tests, however for example, the foam covered bumper bar and handlebars have passed the ‘bite’ test and are safe for a toddler to use. The bumper bar is fixed to prevent children climbing into the seat. The pushchair itself has been onto the same rolling road as the full sized Peaches and has passed the durability testing! Wow! iCandy said that they have had some MiPeach prototypes out for testing, and not even them have come back broken. These pushchairs are weighty and are made to last, and in our opinion are worth the larger than the average £180 price tag. These are absolutely NOT your standard toy pushchair and we recommend you see one in person to see the quality.
The MiPeach comes in a cardboard box. On one side is a colour in drawing, and on the other side is the information a customer needs to know when purchasing the toy. iCandy have put the packaging through transit testing to ensure that their toy pushchairs all arrive in tip top condition. The MiPeach does need constructing upon purchase. However, the design is very simple to build, with no need for tools. The seat unit also forms the carrycot with a fixed foam bumper bar / carrycot handle. There are a series of press studs in the inside of the pushchair, which can be released or done up depending on which mode the child would like the pushchair in. The seat unit / carrycot lifts off using two round buttons – one on either side – and can be used in either child or world facing mode like the big Peach. There is a simple to do up harness for a doll or teddy. The large storage basket will hold lots of toys and games. The basket has loops which fit onto button type fittings on the chassis.
There are two handle positions. These need to be adjusted using a special key which comes in the box. This is seen in one of our photos on an iCandy lanyard. The key has been made to be exactly the correct measurement to alter the handle. This prevents the adjuster part sliding inside the frame and getting lost. The MiPeach can not fold without this special key, thus protecting your child. Once again, it is this type of attention to detail which scores highly with us. The classic iCandy branding runs down the arms of the chassis.
We were absolutely enamored by the MiPeach pushchair. When you see the MiPeach next to the bigger Peach pushchair, it is easy to see how well iCandy have achieved their aim of producing a mini Peach for a child to use.
Little Miss BB is exceedingly fortunate to be getting one of the first MiPeach pushchairs to test drive. We will ask her to write her review when she has given it a thorough try out! We tried to persuade Little Miss BB to have the more unisex Royal coloured MiPeach to share with her brother: however Little Miss BB is insistent that she would like the Bubblegum colourway…..and that her brother “won’t care that it is pink” and he will still use it! We think she is actually right, so watch this space for Master BB pushing his very unisex pink Bubblegum MiPeach soon!
We still have three more new products to discuss!
First of all, let us quickly tell you about the Peach All Terrain. There are two new colourways for the All Terrain. First of all the stunning all black “Eclipse”. We must say that having the All Terrain with a black chassis, and black fabrics totally transforms the All Terrain. It looks incredibly smart in its new livery. Next to it, was the new colourway, Pace. This dark grey All Terrain, with its red lining and piping, is absolutely stunning. These two are definitely our favourite colourways for the Peach All Terrain. They are both striking and we love them!
One of the other new products launched at Kind und Jugend, was the new iCandy MiChair. Once again, Best Buggy have known about this product for some time, but were sworn to secrecy. However, the end result is once again, a product that you MUST see in person. The only way you will really see the attention to detail is to get up close and hands on with the iCandy MiChair.
iCandy wanted to create a piece of furniture which could evolve and grow with the child.
There are three parts to the iCandy MiChair. The first is the main highchair has an RRP of £250. For that you get the highchair, which can transform to become the low chair, or the rocking chair. All the parts required to create these three seats are included. The second part is the newborn Pod for 0-6 month old babies. This is the large spaceship like padded grey circular object! This stands up to form a 2 positional rocker on the ground, or the feet lock into a static position. The 2 positions are known as ‘rest’ and ‘play’ modes. The Pod comes with a toy bar, so that toys can be added. What is amazing about the Pod is that it docks quickly and easily onto the iCandy MiChair, so that a newborn baby can be included at the dining table for family meals. Having seen the Pod on the iCandy MiChair, it really is awesome how the Pod attaches and detaches. The third part of the iCandy MiChair is the seat pad and reducer. These are optional items, costing £50, but are recommended for small children. What is really clever is how the seat pad works. It attaches really easily using poppers, but as the child grows, the reducer can be altered to give more space to the child, simply by folding and attaching it differently. The reducer is waterproof but washable, which should keep it looking good for years.
The iCandy MiChair itself has a metal tubular frame, like the Peach with beechwood ply, which is shaped into a beautiful curved seat back. It is the attention to detail which really makes the iCandy MiChair special. For example, there are no visible screws or rivets anywhere on the main highchair. There are just two visible screws underneath on the tray. The large bolts which hold the iCandy MiChair together are beautifully finished with ‘iCandy’ detailing on the heads. The footrest has two positions which can be easily done with no additional parts. iCandy are very proud of their special joints which their technical team created so that nothing was visible from outside. However, at the same time, iCandy have made the iCandy MiChair extremely easy to assemble.
The tray is solid – it is not like any other highchair tray! It is heavy and does not flex at all. It is also a good size without being large. The tray intentionally and unusually locks in place vertically, from the top down. This is to prevent a child from getting caught by the fitting of the tray. Best of all, it is dishwasher proof! There are both passive and active restraints on the iCandy MiChair. The design team were adamant that there should be a support between the legs of the child to stop them sliding forwards so added on the active restraint. This is really sensible for putting the child in, and removing them. We liked that the harness was similar to the new Peach buckle.
We knew that there had been some interest in how wide the MiChair was. So we measured the width of the MiChair from outside each leg as being 54.5cm wide which is much narrower than a standard highchair, with no impact on safety. The low chair and rocker are narrower at the base because the frame funnels inwards as you move up the legs.
All round, the iCandy MiChair is so stylish and it is a beautiful piece of furniture. There is something about it that makes you get up and run your hands over the beautifully curved wood, or explore the engraved bolts or run your fingers over the ‘iCandy’ name that is stamped into the wood. It is a stunning highchair which will look great in any home, but there are also the low chair and rocking chair options too. There was definitely a time when Master BB really needed a low chair, and Little Miss BB would have absolutely loved the rocking chair – it was probably a good job that she wasn’t with us, because she would not have wanted to leave it behind!! The rocking chair is designed to be used by a child up to approximately the age of 6- 8.
Would we have wanted an iCandy MiChair – absolutely!
The final new item which iCandy launched this year, is their Newborn Gift Set. There are two versions of the Newborn Gift Set. Both come in the cutest tiny cream suitcases with a handle and a little latch to open them. Inside the box wrapped in a tape measure made from ribbon are a tiny hat, mittens and bootees. There is also a soft velour toy which attaches to a pushchair or cot using a fruit shaped clip. These gift sets are really traditional presents for a new baby, but with a modern feel.
The two sets are designed to echo two of the iCandy blankets. There is the ‘Cool Cotton’ set and the ‘Cosy Cable Knit’ set. They are not meant to be seasonal, but are simply two different patterns. We especially loved the tiny deerstalker Cosy Cable hat with tiny iCandy buttons. The clothing are all lined with the softest pima cotton which has a silky feel. All the items are labelled with tiny iCandy tags.
The toy is designed to stimulate the imagination of both the parent and the child under the theme of ‘Play, Imagine, Dream’. iCandy researched what young babies could see and settled on a bold silhouette character for babies to learn to focus on and for the parent to bring to life. It is easy to see how the toy could become a rabbit, a person or even a spaceship. The ‘arms’ of the toy crinkle and rattle, to stimulate the senses.
We had a debate on the way home about the price. These gift sets have an RRP of £50, which we felt was on the expensive side. However, it was felt that for a special gift people would stretch for it – maybe work colleagues who wanted something different. When we asked our supermummy of the Best Buggy Focus group, who was has just had Baby No 10, what she thought – her answer was “It is iCandy! Of course I would pay it!”
So there you go!
The iCandy Newborn Gift Set will be out early in 2016.
We had an amazing day at iCandy HQ. We were delighted to see familiar faces, and to meet new ones. Thank you very much to iCandy for having us. Thank you for your time. We really appreciate it, and we learnt a lot!
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