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Hands-on Gear Review
Phil and Teds Lobster ReviewPrice: $90.00 List | $76.51 at Amazon - 15% off
Pros: Very portable, easy to place, 4-point shoulder harness, crotch panel
Cons: Poor table compatability, not enough room for baby, tray could fit better, expensive
Bottom line: Though nice details, execution needs improvement
The Phil and Teds Lobster is a durable Hook-On of high quality. It includes a dining tray and folds down into a small package which fits nicely into its included carry bag. This ensemble can then fit into a large purse or diaper bag. However, it is a much less versatile Hook-On than the Editors' Choice, the Inglesina Fast Table Chair, and at $20 more than the comfortable, sturdy Inglesina, it is no contest. What the true deal breaker for babies, toddlers, and parents is the following: the seat is very deep and the space between dining surface and kiddo too tight. The result: reduced comfort and contentment as there's virtually no wiggle room.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
Founded in 1994 by a father-son team and later purchased in 1998 by current CEO Campbell Gower, Phil and Teds is a super quirky, fresh, and innovative company whose mantra is "adapt and survive." Their About page also has one of their employees coining the phrase "living dynamically with kids in tow." This New Zealand-based company, most known for its in-line, tandem strollers, has freshened up the baby industry in the US infusing it with contemporary inspiration and spry competition.
The Lobster though well-made turns out to be an average Hook-On in performance in our comparative review. Its strengths lie in Safety, Quality, Portability, and Ease of Cleaning.
We theorize that the inspiration of the Lobster (below left) originated due to an August 2011 recall of 46,000 Phil and Teds MeToo (below right) Hook-On high chairs. Though a repair kit is available for the MeToo, it is no longer available in the US. The Lobster has Clip On Claws eliminating the old MeToo model which had metal clamps and a horizontal metal bar in front of baby. It emulates the MeToo, however, with a 4-point harness that we love and exceeds it with an even smaller fold and an in included carry bag.
The Lobster is marketed as suitable for 6 months+ to 37 pounds. However, we had a 25 pound tester who pushed its space limits and was just downright irritable in it. Sadly, the Lobster just isn't as comfortable as the MeToo with a seat that is too deep and closely positioned to the eating surface.
Ease Of Use
The Lobster earned a 5 of 10 in Ease of Use, placing it smack dab in the middle of the chairs reviewed. The seat itself is simple to setup: fold it open, slide it onto the table and twist it tight Voila. There are also limitations as to the type of surfaces it can affix to, namely only straight edges without skirts or lips. This can cause difficulties for families hoping to use the chair at restaurants.
Placing the baby inside and strapping him in is not a walk in the park either. As you can see below, the seat is rather close to the edge of the table, and if you have a wiggly toddler, getting him into the space can be challenging. Once there, you have a small space to hook him in and tighten the straps was became extremely frustrating very quickly. Included are padded straps which are pretty large so if they get in the way or bother baby, they can be removed.
Safety and Quality
Scoring a 9 of 10, the Lobster shines in both safety and quality with nice fit and finishes. The Clip-On claw-like arms are bomber and sturdy with non-slip, rubberized gripping. The included tray is also not one of its shining traits as, in our opinion, it is small, flimsy-ish, easily removable and overall lacking,The 4-point harness with removable pad is stellar and the separate attached crotch panel is fantastic. The seat back is nicely supportive and high but the distance from seat pad and dining surface is a whopping 8.5" which seems quite deep for a 6 month+ diner. The seat fabric itself is soft polyester with nice cushioning, likely to satisfy your baby's bum.
The Lobster earned an 8 of 10 for portability. At 3.7 pounds, it is easy to carry and the lightest hook on in tested in our review. When folded, it is the smallest chair we tested. The chair and tray fit snugly into an included carry bag with tote handles. Then, the whole kit and kaboodle can fit into a large diaper bag. When it's time to set the chair up, you don't have to sort through and jigsaw together multiple pieces. You just pop it open and provided the correct surface is handy, twist it on tightly.
Ease Of Cleaning
The Lobster scored a 7 of 10 for ease of cleaning. Though a quick wet cloth wipedown should be sufficient after most meals, the polyester seat fabric is removable for a more thorough periodic hand washing, air drying. The included tray is top rack dishwasher friendly, but we suggest hand washing it in the sink to minimize plastic degradation and potential chemical leaching into baby's food.
This is a great portable high chair for travel and on the go with baby though it may take occasional finagling to find the right surface to attach it to. Before taking it around the world with you, however, we recommend a trial phase to make sure your child doesn't go ballistic in it due to lack of space. While some kids may not mind its tight quarters, other little tikes may find this chair a no go.
At $90 a pop, this is the most expensive portable high chair in our review. And at $30 less, the Inglesina Fast Table Chair quite simply performs better though a bit heavier with a larger fold and a carry bag that isn't as fantastic. The Inglesina does, however, sport a sweet little storage pocket which is handy for small eating accessories.
The Phil and Teds Lobster Hook-On with some strong shining features: safety, quality, and portability. We can not recommend it, however, as it just isn't that comfortable for little ones and it is difficult to get them harnessed. Your best bet is the Inglesina Fast Table Chair.
Other Versions and Accessories
Although Phil and Teds makes a number of other high chairs, the Lobster is the only portable seat they offer.
A brief whimsical look at Phil and Ted's concept behind the Lobster.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD and Jackie Boeheim
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