Many eager fans have been waiting for the iCandy Strawberry to arrive with great anticipation and we are lucky enough to have a prototype at Pushchair Expert HQ. So put your feet up for a moment and read our review....
iCandy fans everywhere have been keen to see the arrival of the latest addition to the iCandy range – the Strawberry, and I don't think anyone will be disappointed. Not as expensive, and not as heavy as other iCandy pushchairs, the Strawberry lacks none of the usual stylish practicality associated with their products.
One of the most attractive features on the iCandy Strawberry are the curves that run throughout the design; a curve on the top of the basket, a curve in the frame of the seat and the rim of the carrycot. I don't know why, but it just adds a little something extra and shows that the designer was not prepared to simply leave it straight. These curves also add some ergonomic shape to bring depth to the basket and body form to the seat – beautiful.
What's in the box
The RRP of the iCandy Strawberry is £450
I do think that iCandy are a little bit naughty because you are unlikely to use your pushchair in the form that you buy it in. You have to add a flavour pack to add comfort and colour, so the minimum you are really likely to have to pay is £525. A Bugaboo Cameleon, which comes with a carrycot but you also have to buy a fabric pack, would set you back at least £770, whereas the Strawberry with flavour pack and a carrycot comes to £620. Expensive? Yes, but competitively priced for a comparable solution.
Pushing the iCandy Strawberry is fluid and easy; it has a low centre of gravity and a short wheelbase that makes it smooth to manoeuvre. The rear wheels are 23cm, low profile and puncture proof and the front are 16.5cm, with built-in suspension. The basket that spans the wheelbase is not that deep but with the curve of the bottom of the basket, it makes it effective enough for two or even three bags of shopping. The rim of the basket, which matches the contours of the lower frame, can be squished to make the basket a tray and to compact it for folding.
The brake sits in the centre of the back axle and the pedal works effortlessly, as easy to flick up as it is to push down. The arched frame above it is an integral part of the fold...more later.
The elegant arch of the aluminium frame extends up into the handle shafts and is adorned with the ubiquitous iCandy logo on the side. A chunky foam grip handle can be extended from 95-106cms to accommodate the stature of both parents. Squeeze the button in the centre of the handle to adjust it to suit you.
Now, the fold is easy...when you know how! Read your instructions and pay attention to your demonstration or you will be cursing, when in actual fact it's a doddle. But this is where the Strawberry really shows off....Press the button under the handle at the same time as squeezing the button on the handle then push the handle into the shafts of the frame keeping hold of the buttons as you do. Put your foot on the arched part of the frame and press down and it will flip the wheelbase up into the standing position. Close the frame lock to ensure it doesn't come apart. It is better to have a practice first then, when you get the hang of it, try it with the chair in place. Yes... it folds with the seat unit on board...but there's more...
Most pushchairs that fold with the seat unit in place insist on having the seat in the upright, forward facing position before they will collapse properly, not the case for the Strawberry. You can have the seat either forward or rear facing and at any angle when you fold and better still, it will remember the angle setting when the pushchair is re-opened. With the seat on or off, the fold is really neat, the contours of the frame matching the contours of the seat perfectly.
To open, undo the frame lock, hold onto the handle and throw the frame out in front of you. The definitive click tells you it's ready to go.
The carrycot drops onto the frame - locating the sockets with the attachment mechanism on the frame is childsplay, it homes into place almost magnetically and ‘clicks' an acknowledgement when it gets there. We have the Pomegranate flavour pack for our carrycot and seat unit. For the carrycot, this consists of the canopy and the apron. Both are super-soft and have an almost woollen feel to them – stunning, and really cosy. The canopy can be folded back by holding the aluminium edge and pushing it down, be sure to listen for the lovely ratcheting noise it makes as it moves – I love it, it sounds like quality and also means that the canopy can be opened to any position and it will hold.
The foam covered bumper bar is predominantly used for manoeuvring the carrycot around and supporting it whilst putting it on, or taking it off the frame; it can be removed by pressing the release switches and removing it from the sockets.
One of the key complaints about iCandy seat units is that they are too small, this is not actually the case. Without the seat liner, the seat is roomy at 30cms wide and 23cms deep, the liner obviously decreases this size to 28cms wide by 22cms deep.
The Flavour pack for the seat contains the canopy and the seat liner. This time, instead of the woollen feel to the carrycot fabric, it has a cotton touch with a soft sheen. Against the gloss of the aluminium frame it is refined and clean looking - it's stunning. Like the carrycot canopy, the seat canopy makes the same clicking noise as you open or shut it and for some reason it gives it the sound of quality. It is quite large and can be unzipped at the rear to follow the sun. The liner is well padded with three holes allowing you to alter the shoulder height of the five point harness. A zip that runs across the rear of the seat allows you access to the plastic washers that secure the straps. Angle the washer flat and poke it through the hole in the seat and the liner to enable it to be re-threaded into a higher or lower location.
The seat drops onto the frame in the same way as the carrycot; the sockets dropping into place on the brackets on the frame. The controls to alter the angle of recline are just above the attachment sockets; pull the two triggers either side of the seat, and using the bumper bar to aid you, select one of the three possible angles. (Watch out for a clever party trick after the fold....).
The bumper bar unfortunately matches that of the carrycot, by that I mean it doesn't include a gate opening mechanism, so you either have to remove it or slide your child in behind it when loading.
One thing I begrudge is to surrender some of my valuable basket space to store a raincover or car seat adapters. The Strawberry has overcome this niggle by introducing a handy storage pocket in the void under the chair. A zip gives you access from the right side of the seat and makes excellent use of a space that normally goes to waste. Plus it ensures you are never going to get caught out in a shower because you chose basket space over pessimistic planning.
This is my favourite iCandy product. Why? Because they have taken some of their best ideas and refined them even further to develop a very finished article. From a practical perspective it has fabulous manoeuvrability, great functionality, it's lightweight and it's so uncomplicated (when you get to know it). The fold will only baffle you initially, once you get the hang of it you are going to look as slick as Fred Astaire in Sainsburys car park, when you flick your pushchair shut and throw it in the back of your car.
Aesthetically it is a real beauty. The aluminium surround of any of the iCandy products keep them looking fresh and clean but the curviness of the Strawberry gives it design appeal that makes it very easy on the eye.
iCandy fabrics are always top quality, but the choices for the Strawberry, especially in the carrycot are truly beautiful. The wool finish just makes you want to jump in and get cosy..especially at this time of year, and the dense rich colours of the flavour packs supremely compliment the black base colour.
The only niggles I can complain about, are the fixed bumper bar and the manual frame lock, both of these features have had more sophisticated solutions developed and should have been applied to this near perfect product. Even the price isn't offensive!
If you did not already know, we are currently looking for people to test the iCandy Strawberry. The deadline for applications is the 24th of December. Click the banner below to learn more.
We give the iCandy Strawberry
5 out of 5 stars
Open size: 70.5 x 60 x 95-106cms
Closed size: 98 x 60 x 32.5 - with wheels
Closed size: 98 x 49 x 29 - without wheels