LittleLion Studio has always been about designing for the
little absorbent minds but becoming a parent made us realize how
gigantic a task parenting can be and how every little help really
counts, be it from a soothing koala wall decal or a wonderfully
functional hook-on chair. With the singular perspective of baby products
provider and now consumer, we thought we would share some of our
purchasing experiences with you and I guess there is nothing better than
to start with a positive one.
Recently, our son, Enzo, turned 9 months old, so we thought half a life inside the womb and the other half outside should be properly celebrated and we decided to do so by giving him a Radio Flyer Classic Walker Wagon and here is our take on it:
- Packing: we read several reviews on Amazon before placing our order and some of them had complaints about some parts arriving dented or even missing. Our experience couldn’t be farther from this: the package was an extra thick cardboard box and all parts were thoughtfully arranged to avoid rattling inside the package and individually wrapped in bubble wrap. Nothing was missing, dented or scratched.
- Assembly: quick and simple sums it up. The instructions are visual and to the point, with little text, when necessary. If you can put Ikea furniture together, you can assemble this wagon with your hands tied.
- Materials: Time will tell but I am very satisfied with the quality of the wood and paint used. Clearly, this product is the result of several iterations in which customer feedback was seriously considered. Noteworthy is the fact that all parts structurally important such as the front axle rod, rear wheel axels and cart walls connections are all metal on metal. They used a metal cam inside the wood (again, much like Ikea) to achieve durability and longevity. The plastic wheels seem to be properly hardened and not a single part gives away a cheap vibe.
- Functionality: I will have to speak for Enzo on this one… Both myself and my wife were expecting some learning curve, but we were rather surprised, not to say shocked, when we handled the wagon to Enzo and saw him *instantly* standing up and push-walking his way throughout the playroom! We could not believe our eyes! Again, some customers on Amazon complained about the rear wheel rubber clicker which functions as a restrainer against movement due to its lack of adjustability and annoying noise. I can totally see where the lack of adjustability might become an issue, especially when using the wagon on low grip surfaces such as tiles or engineered vinyl floors where babies could potentially pickup more speed than they can muster, especially heavier or taller babies, but we used it on carpet and later the same day, outdoors, in short mowed grass so it worked wonderfully. As for the allegedly annoying noise, we did not find it so at all. Actually, we believe it gives both, the baby and parent in charge, great audio feedback about pace and speed. A parent can easily tell when things are about to go awry just by listening.
- Price and availability: We bought ours from Amazon.com as we could not justify Amazon.ca price tag of CAD$190.99 compared to the first’s USD$67.99, which, based on xe.com, amounts to CAD$89.35 as of this writing. The tricky part of buying in the US is the whole Customs/Import fees which bring the product to CAD$170.98 – cheaper than Amazon.ca but still considerably more expensive than what our friends South of the Border would have to pay. Fortunately, we live 5 minutes from the border, so we could have our Radio Flyer shipped to a warehouse in the US and have it picked up paying a USD$5.00 fee + importation taxes for a more palatable total of CAD$103.07. We understand that we are more geographically privileged than most Canadians so a careful consideration of actual value should be exercised by those in a limited budget. We believe the walker might accelerate Enzo’s path to learning how to walk but he will eventually learn with or without the wagon and so will your baby.
- Verdict: Our overall satisfaction with the Radio Flyer Classic Walker Wagon is sky high! The manufacturer genuinely seems to take pride on their work, and it shows. We have no gripes but a couple of suggestions for improvement: 1) different sizes/rigidity of the wheel clicker/stopper should be offered so that the exact amount of resistance could be achieved for each floor type and baby weight/height. 2) by concept, the length of the wagon in front of the baby provides the leverage required to prevent tipping forward (think Trellis weight distribution: hands/rear wheels/front wheels) but what happens if baby stops, for instance, to observe something that caught his attention (Enzo does that all the time while push-walking outdoors!) and then takes a step back or looses balance while holding on to the wagon? It flips backward and lands to the side or on top of baby! I understand that there is no single cure to this malady without creating yet another Trellis in the opposite direction and redesigning the whole product. That said, maybe a pair of 2” curved plastic or leaf like deterrence attached to the trailing edge, working as an anti-wheelie device would do the trick. Of course, it would not prevent all tip-overs but it would prevent some while providing physical feedback to baby and visual feedback to parent.
All in all, a great product which we believe will expedite our son’s path to independent walking. Also, in a time of baby toys using extremely bright and high contrast colors, it is really nice to find a company fending for those of us who prefer things to look cool and minimalist.