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Publication numberUS20020182974 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 09/872,981
Publication dateDec 5, 2002
Filing dateJun 1, 2001
Priority dateJun 1, 2001
Publication number09872981, 872981, US 2002/0182974 A1, US 2002/182974 A1, US 20020182974 A1, US 20020182974A1, US 2002182974 A1, US 2002182974A1, US-A1-20020182974, US-A1-2002182974, US2002/0182974A1, US2002/182974A1, US20020182974 A1, US20020182974A1, US2002182974 A1, US2002182974A1
InventorsChristopher Grabianski
Original AssigneeGrabianski Christopher J.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Adjustable toy launch vehicle
US 20020182974 A1
Abstract
A toy vehicle is adapted to be launched by an actuator. The toy vehicle includes a chassis, a biasing member and a device. The chassis has a cavity. The biasing member is disposed within the cavity. The device is removably engaged to the chassis for biasing the biasing member.
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Claims(37)
What is claimed is:
1. A toy vehicle adapted to be launched by an actuator, the toy vehicle comprising:
a chassis having a cavity;
a biasing member disposed within the cavity; and
a device removably engaged to the chassis for biasing the biasing member.
2. The toy vehicle of claim 1, wherein the device is a toy engine.
3. The toy vehicle of claim 2, wherein the toy engine is a first toy engine sized to bias the biasing member a first predetermined amount.
4. The toy vehicle of claim 2, wherein the toy engine is a second toy engine sized to bias the biasing member a second predetermined amount.
5. The toy vehicle of claim 1, wherein the biasing member is a spring.
6. The toy vehicle of claim 1, wherein the actuator is removably engaged to the chassis for further biasing the biasing member.
7. A toy vehicle adapted for receiving a removable device and for being launched by an actuator, the toy vehicle comprising;
a biasing member; and
a chassis having a first cavity for receiving the removable device and a second cavity, the biasing member substantially disposed within the second cavity, the removable device adapted to bias the biasing member.
8. The toy vehicle of claim 7, wherein the device is a toy engine.
9. The toy vehicle of claim 8, wherein the toy engine is a first toy engine sized to bias the biasing member a first predetermined amount.
10. The toy vehicle of claim 8, wherein the toy engine is a second toy engine sized to bias the biasing member a second predetermined amount.
11. The toy vehicle of claim 7, wherein the biasing member is a spring.
12. The toy vehicle of claim 7, wherein the actuator is removably engaged to the chassis for further biasing the biasing member.
13. An adjustable toy launch vehicle comprising:
a chassis having a longitudinally extending passage, the passage having first and second openings;
a biasing member substantially disposed within the passage, the biasing member having first and second ends; and
a biasing member loading device removably coupled to the chassis adjacent to the first opening of the passage, the loading device having a biasing member contact portion operably engaged to the first end of the biasing member, the loading device adjustably sized to displace the first end of the biasing member within the passage to one of at least two predefined distances.
14. The vehicle of claim 13 further comprising an actuator having an insertable portion and a base portion, the actuator releasably coupled to the chassis such that a predetermined length of the insertable portion removably extends through the second opening of the passage and releasably bears against the second end of the biasing member.
15. The vehicle of claim 13 wherein the loading device includes one of at least first and second interchangeable objects, wherein the first object when coupled to the chassis displaces the first end of the biasing member within the passage to a first predetermined distance, and wherein the second object when coupled to the chassis displaces the first end of the biasing member within the passage to a second predetermined distance.
16. The vehicle of claim 15 wherein the first and second objects are toy engines.
17. The vehicle of claim 13 wherein the loading device comprises an expandable single object positionable between at least a first position, in which the object has a first major dimension, and a second position, in which the object has a second major dimension greater than the first major dimension.
18. The vehicle of claim 13 wherein the biasing member comprises a helical spring.
19. The vehicle of claim 14, wherein the actuator is in the shape of a key.
20. The vehicle of claim 14, wherein the actuator has one of a detent and a resilient projection and wherein the chassis has the other of the detent and the resilient projection.
21. The vehicle of claim 13, wherein the vehicle is selected from the group consisting of an automobile and a motorcycle.
22. A toy launch vehicle comprising:
a chassis having a longitudinally extending passage, the passage having first and second openings;
a biasing member generally disposed within the passage, the biasing member having first and second ends;
one of at least first and second interchangeable objects removably coupled to the chassis, the first and second objects having first and second projections, respectively, for contacting the first end of the biasing member, the first projection displacing the first end of the biasing member to a first predetermined distance from the second opening of the passage, the second projection displacing the first end of the biasing member to a second predetermined distance from the second opening of the passage; and
an actuator releasably coupled to the chassis at the second opening of the passage, the actuator bearing against the second end of the biasing member.
23. The vehicle of claim 22 wherein the actuator comprises an insertable portion and a launch base portion, wherein the insertable portion is removably inserted into the passage to a third predetermined distance from the second opening, and wherein the insertable portion releasably bears against the second end of the biasing member.
24. The vehicle of claim 22 wherein the first and second interchangeable objects are toy engines.
25. The vehicle of claim 22 wherein the biasing member comprises a helical spring.
26. The vehicle of claim 22, wherein the actuator is in the shape of a key.
27. The vehicle of claim 22, wherein the actuator has one of a detent and a resilient projection and wherein the chassis has the other of the detent and the resilient projection.
28. The vehicle of claim 22, wherein the vehicle is selected from the group consisting of an automobile and a motorcycle.
29. A toy launch vehicle system comprising:
a vehicle including:
a chassis having a longitudinally extending passage, the passage having first and second openings;
a biasing member generally disposed within the passage, the biasing member having first and second ends; and
first and second toy engines interchangeably and removably coupled to the chassis, the first and second toy engines configured to contact and position the first end of the biasing member to first and second distances from the second opening of the passage, respectively;
an actuator configured to be releasably coupled to the chassis at the second opening of the passage and to bear against the second end of the biasing member; and
a storage container having at least two compartments, the storage container configured to selectably and removably retain the vehicle, the actuator and at least one of the first and second interchangeable toy engines.
30. The toy launch vehicle system of claim 29 wherein the storage container is configured to resemble a tool box.
31. The toy launch vehicle system of claim 29 further comprising a chain coupled to the storage container at one end and having a connector at the other end.
32. The toy launch vehicle system of claim 29 wherein the biasing member is a helical spring.
33. The toy launch vehicle system of claim 29 wherein the actuator is in the shape of a key and includes a plug portion and a launch base portion.
34. A tool shaped candy kit comprising:
a tool box having at least one storage compartment; and
a plurality of tool shaped pieces of candy disposed within the tool box.
35. The kit of claim 34 wherein the tool shaped pieces of candy are formed in a shape selected from the group consisting of a hammer, a screw driver, a wrench, a set of pliers and combinations thereof.
36. The kit of claim 34, further comprising at least one drawer slidably coupled to the tool box.
37. The kit of claim 34, wherein the tool box is formed in the shape of a conventional multi-drawer tool box.
Description
FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates generally to the field of toy vehicles. More particularly, the invention relates to an adjustable toy launch vehicle.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] Children enjoy playing with vehicles and, in particular, racing toy vehicles and engaging in role play with vehicles, including as maintaining, adjusting or repairing vehicles. Toy launch vehicles are well-known and attractive to children, in part, because they enable a child to propel, launch or race the vehicle. Such vehicles typically include a launch device, which is releasably engaged to the vehicle, and spring housed within either the vehicle or the launch device for providing motive force to the vehicle. Toy launch vehicles are typically actuated by depressing a button or a lever to release the vehicle from the launch device thereby enabling the expansion of the spring to propel the vehicle. Toy vehicles configured for at least partial assembly and disassembly by a child are also well-known.

[0003] Existing toy launch vehicles have a number of drawbacks. Many toy launch vehicles include elaborate and/or cumbersome launch devices which can be difficult to operate or store. Moreover, existing toy launch vehicles are typically not configured to be easily transported from one play area to another. Further, existing toy launch vehicles typically repeatedly employ the same approximate force when propelling the vehicle. As a result of this invariability, children can quickly lose interest in the toy vehicle after a few uses. Existing toy vehicles configured for disassembly and assembly are not typically also configured for use as a launch vehicle.

[0004] Thus, there is a need for a toy launch vehicle that is easy to operate and is configured to be easily stored and transported by the user. What is needed is a toy launch vehicle which can be quickly and easily adjusted by the user. There is a need for a toy vehicle which combines the features of a launch vehicle and a vehicle configured for at least partial assembly or disassembly by a user.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0005] The present invention provides a toy vehicle adapted to be launched by an actuator. The toy vehicle includes a chassis, a biasing member and a device. The chassis has a cavity. The biasing member is disposed within the cavity. The device is removably engaged to the chassis for biasing the biasing member.

[0006] According to a principal aspect of the invention, a toy vehicle is adapted for receiving a removable device and for being launched by an actuator. The toy vehicle includes a biasing member and a chassis. The chassis has a first cavity for receiving the removable device and a second cavity. The biasing member is substantially disposed within the second cavity. The removable device is adapted to bias the biasing member.

[0007] According to a principal aspect of the invention, an adjustable toy launch vehicle includes a chassis, a biasing member and a biasing member loading device. The chassis has a longitudinally extending passage. The passage has first and second openings. The biasing member is substantially disposed within the passage. The biasing member has first and second ends. The biasing member loading device is removably coupled to the chassis adjacent to the first opening of the passage. The loading device has a biasing member contact portion operably engaged to the first end of the biasing member. The loading device is adjustably sized to displace the first end of the biasing member within the passage to one of at least two predefined distances.

[0008] According to a principal aspect of the invention, a toy launch vehicle includes a chassis, a biasing member, one of at least first and second interchangeable objects, and an actuator. The chassis has a longitudinally extending passage. The passage has first and second openings. The biasing member is generally disposed within the passage. The biasing member has first and second ends. The first or second interchangeable object is removably coupled to the chassis. The first and second objects have first and second projections, respectively, for contacting the first end of the biasing member. The first projection displaces the first end of the biasing member to a first predetermined distance from the second opening of the passage. The second projection displace the first end of the biasing member to a second predetermined distance from the second opening of the passage. The actuator releasably couples to the chassis at the second opening of the passage. The actuator bears against the second end of the biasing member.

[0009] According to a another aspect of the invention, a toy launch vehicle system includes a chassis, a biasing member, first and second toy engines, an actuator, and a storage container. The chassis has a longitudinally extending passage. The biasing member is generally disposed within the passage. The biasing member has first and second ends. The first and second toy engines are interchangeably and removably coupled to the chassis. The first and second toy engines are configured to contact and position the first end of the biasing member to first and second distances from the second opening of the passage, respectively. The actuator is configured to be releasably coupled to the chassis at the second opening of the passage and to bear against the second end of the biasing member. The storage container has at least two compartments. The storage container is configured to selectably and removably retain the vehicle, the actuator and at least one of the first and second interchangeable toy engines.

[0010] According to a another aspect of the invention, a tool shaped candy kit includes a tool box and a plurality of tool shaped pieces of candy. The tool box has at least one storage compartment. The plurality of tool shaped pieces of candy are disposed within the tool box.

[0011] This invention will become more fully understood from the following detailed description, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings described herein below, and wherein like reference numerals refer to like parts.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0012]FIG. 1 is a side perspective view of an adjustable toy launch vehicle system in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0013]FIG. 2 is an exploded view of an automobile, an actuator, and first and second toy engines of the adjustable toy launch vehicle system of FIG. 1.

[0014]FIG. 3 is a longitudinal cross-sectional view of the automobile, the actuator and the first toy engine of the adjustable toy launch vehicle system of FIG. 1.

[0015]FIG. 4 is a longitudinal cross-sectional view of the automobile, the actuator and the first toy engine of the system of FIG. 1 in a first launch position.

[0016]FIG. 5 is a longitudinal cross-sectional view of the automobile, the actuator and the second toy engine of the system of FIG. 1 in a second launch position.

[0017]FIG. 6 is a sectional view of a chassis of the automobile taken along line 6-6 of FIG. 4.

[0018]FIG. 7 is a sectional view of a portion of the chassis and the actuator of FIG. 4 illustrating the release of the automobile from the actuator.

[0019]FIG. 8 is a longitudinal cross-sectional view of the automobile and the actuator of FIG. 4 illustrating the release of the automobile from the actuator.

[0020]FIG. 9 is an exploded perspective view of an adjustable toy launch vehicle system in accordance with an alternative preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0021]FIG. 10 is a side perspective view of a motorcycle and the first toy motorcycle engine of the system of FIG. 9.

[0022]FIG. 11 is a side perspective view of a motorcycle including the motorcycle body and the first toy motorcycle engine of the system of FIG. 9.

[0023]FIG. 12 is a side view of the motorcycle, the first motorcycle engine and the actuator of the system of FIG. 9.

[0024]FIG. 13 is a longitudinal, sectional view of the motorcycle and the actuator of FIG. 9 illustrating the release of the motorcycle from the actuator.

[0025]FIG. 14 is a side view of the motorcycle and the actuator of FIG. 9 illustrating the release of the motorcycle from the actuator.

[0026]FIG. 15 is a front view of a case of the adjustable toy launch vehicle system of FIG. 1.

[0027]FIG. 16 is a side view of a case of the adjustable toy launch vehicle system of FIG. 1.

[0028]FIG. 17 is a rear view of a case of the adjustable toy launch vehicle system of FIG. 1.

[0029]FIG. 18 is a perspective view of a tool shaped candy kit in accordance with an alternative preferred embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0030] Referring to FIG. 1, a preferred embodiment of a toy launch vehicle system, indicated as 10, is illustrated. The system 10 includes a toy automobile 12, a key-shaped actuator 14, first and second toy engines 16, 18, and a storage case 20. The toy automobile 12 is a vehicle resembling a race car or an existing conventional car model. The automobile 12 is configured for removable storage in the case 20. The automobile 12 is made of metallic and thermoplastic materials. Alternatively, the automobile 12 can be made of other materials, such as, for example, wood, glass, ceramics, metal, thermoplastic materials or combinations thereof. In alternative preferred embodiments, the automobile 12 can be formed in the shape of another type of vehicle such as, for example, a motorcycle, a bicycle, a truck, a bus, an airplane, a boat, go-cart, allterrain vehicle, a personal watercraft, a ship, a construction vehicle, a military vehicle and a train.

[0031] Referring to FIGS. 1 and 15-17, the case 20 is storage structure preferably shaped to resemble a tool box. The case 20 is configured to removably store the automobile 12, the actuator 14, the first and second toy engines 16, 18, and other objects (not shown). The case 20 is made of a lightweight, durable material, preferably a thermoplastic material. Alternatively, the case 20 can be made of other materials, such as, for example, metal, wood, or glass. The case 20 is preferably nontransparent. In an alternative embodiment, the case 20 can be made of a transparent or a semi-transparent material.

[0032] The case 20 includes a lower wall 22, at least one side wall 24, a cover 26, at least one drawer 28, a connector 30, and preferably at least one internal support member 32. The case 20 preferably includes two drawers 28. The lower wall 22 of the case 20 is preferably configured for removable placement onto a generally horizontal surface 34. The at least one side wall 24 preferably comprises four panels forming a rectangular structure. The side wall 24 preferably has at least one forwardly positioned slot 36 and the case 20 preferably includes at least first and second storage areas 38, 40. The first storage area 38, formed by the support member 32 and the side wall 24, is configured to removably receive the automobile 12. The second storage area 40 is formed by the lower wall 22, the side wall 24, and the support member 32. The first storage area 38 and the slot 36 are configured to slidably receive the two drawers 28. Each drawer 28 preferably includes a handle 44 to facilitate movement of the drawer 28 with respect to the case 20. In alternative preferred embodiments, the case 20 can include one, three or more drawers 28.

[0033] The cover 26 of the case 20 is coupled to a portion of the side wall 24. Preferably, the cover 26 is hingeably connected to the side wall 24 and is configured to releasably enclose the first storage area 38 and to retain the automobile 12 or other objects stored within the case 20. The cover 26 preferably includes a latch 46 which releasably connects the cover 26 to the side wall 24.

[0034] The connector 30 of the case 20 is a releasable fastener coupled to the case 20. In a preferred embodiment, the connector 30 includes a chain 48 and a clip 49. The connector 30 enables the case 20 to be suspended or transported from a support device such as a belt loop. Alternatively, the connector 30 can be a quick disconnect connector, a conventional belt clip, a Velcro fastener or other conventional connector.

[0035] Referring to FIGS. 2 and 3, the automobile 12, the first and second toy engines 16 and 18, and the actuator 14 are shown in greater detail. The automobile 12 includes a chassis 50, a body 52, a spring 54, and a set of wheels 56. The chassis 50 is a generally rectangular shaped frame. The chassis 50 provides a lightweight, durable structure for supporting the spring 54, the body 52, the wheels 56, and either the first or second engine 16 and 18, and for releasably engaging the actuator 14. The chassis 50 has a longitudinally extending internal passage 58 for receiving the spring 54, a front cavity 60 interconnected to the passage 58 at the forward end of the chassis 50 and a rear slot 62 also interconnected with the passage 58 at the rear end of the chassis 50. The front cavity 60 and the passage 58 are configured for receiving at least a portion of either the first engine 16 or the second engine 18. The rear slot 62 and the passage 58 are configured for receiving a portion of the actuator 14. The chassis 50 removably connects to the body 52 and is operably coupled to the wheels 56, preferably through a pair of axles (not shown). The rear portion of the chassis 50 further includes a catch 66 for releasably engaging the actuator 14.

[0036] The body 52 of the automobile 12 is an outer toy vehicle shell. Preferably, the body 52 is die cast and formed of a metal or a thermoplastic material. The body 52 can be formed in a large variety of different styles wherein each style resembles a different existing vehicle. The body 52 can be produced in a variety of different colors or color combinations. The outer surfaces of the body 52 further can include decals or other indicia for aesthetic appeal.

[0037] The spring 54 of the automobile 12 is a biasing member substantially disposed within the passage 58. In a preferred embodiment, the spring 54 is a conventional helical spring. In alternative preferred embodiments, the spring 54 can be other types of biasing members such as, for example, an elastic resilient member, a sponge, or other types of conventional springs. The spring 54 has a first end generally positioned toward the front cavity 60 of the chassis 50 and a second end generally positioned toward the rear slot 62 of the chassis 50. Referring to FIG. 3, when the automobile 12 is apart from the actuator 14, the spring 54 is preferably configured to contact or bear against the chassis 50 at the rear slot 62. In a preferred embodiment, the spring 54 is disposed within the passage 58 and, when uncompressed, expands to substantially cover the length of the passage 58. Preferably, in operation, the spring 54 bears against, but is not connected to, the actuator 14 and one of the first and second engines 16 and 18. In alternative preferred embodiments, the spring 54 can be connected to one or more of the actuator 14, the first and second toy engines 16 and 18, and the chassis 50. The spring 54 provides the means for propelling or launching the automobile 12. The spring 54 is made of durable, lightweight material, preferably metal. Alternatively, other materials such as, for example, thermoplastics can be used.

[0038] The first and second toy engines 16 and 18 are spring loading or compressing devices. The engines 16 and 18 are shaped to resemble an actual automobile engine and transmission assembly. Each of the toy engines 16 and 18 includes first and second engine portions 68 and 70 and first and second transmission portions 72 and 74, respectively. The first engine portion 68 is connected to, and preferably integrally formed with, the first transmission portion 72 and the second engine portion 70 is connected to, and preferably integrally formed with, the second transmission portion 74. In a preferred embodiment, the first engine portion 68 is larger than the second engine portion 70 and the first transmission portion 72 outwardly extends from the first engine portion 68 a greater distance than the second transmission portion 74 from the second engine portion 70 such that the total length of the first toy engine 16 is longer than the total length of the second toy engine 18. The first and second toy engines 16 and 18 are selectably, interchangeably and removably positioned within the chassis 50 at the front cavity 60.

[0039] Referring to FIG. 4, when the first toy engine 16 is positioned in the chassis 50 a portion of the first transmission portion 72 extends into the passage 58 a first predetermined distance, thereby loading or compressing the spring 54 a first predetermined amount within the passage 58. Similarly, referring to FIG. 5, when the second toy engine 18 is positioned in the chassis 50 a portion of the second transmission portion 74 extends into the passage 58 a second predetermined distance thereby loading or compressing the spring 54 a second predetermined amount within the passage 58. Referring to FIGS. 4 and 5, the remaining portions of the first and second toy engines 16 and 18 generally fill the front cavity 60. The distal end of each of the first and second toy engines 16 and 18 is configured to bear against first end of the spring 54. In a preferred embodiment, the first and second toy engines 16 and 18 are press-fit within the chassis 50. In alternative preferred embodiments, other fastening means can be used for securing the first or second engine 16 and 18 to the chassis 50, such as for example, a fastener, magnetic coupling, hook and loop connectors, and snap-fit connections. The first and second toy engines 16 and 18 are made of a lightweight, durable material, preferably a thermoplastic material. Alternatively, other materials can be used such as metal, glass, wood or combinations thereof. The first and second engines 16 and 18 enable a user to engage in role playing by replacing engines in the toy automobile 12. As described below in more detail, when installed, each of the first and second toy engines 16 and 18 contributes to a unique operational affect of the automobile 12. In alternative preferred embodiments, additional toy engines can be used each having different shapes and different predetermined total lengths for loading or compressing the spring 54. In another alternative embodiment, each toy engine can be made of one or more individual pieces. In another alternative embodiment, the toy engine is replaced with a loading device having a shape other than that of an engine.

[0040] Referring to FIG. 2, the actuator 14 is a relatively small, lightweight, easy to grasp, vehicle launching device shaped to resemble an automobile key. The actuator 14 releasably connects to the chassis 50 the vehicle. The actuator 14 is configured to further load or compress the spring 54 and to enable a user to quickly and easily release the actuator 14 from engagement with the chassis 50, thereby enabling the expansion of the spring 54 to propel the automobile 12 away from the actuator 14. The actuator 14 is made a lightweight durable material, preferably a thermoplastic material. Alternatively, the actuator 14 can be made of other materials, such as, for example, metal or rubber. In alternative preferred embodiments, the actuator 14 can formed in other shapes which do not resemble a key.

[0041] Referring to FIGS. 2 and 3, the actuator 14 includes a base portion 78, an insertable portion 80, and a latch portion 82. The base portion 78 is a launch pad. The base portion 78 is preferably generally rectangular and includes an outwardly extending rim 79 having a thickness greater than the thickness of the insertable portion 80 of the actuator 14. In a preferred embodiment, the rim 79 outwardly extends from the outer periphery of first side 84 of the base portion 78. The rim 79 has sufficient thickness to enable at least a portion of the rim 79 to contact the generally horizontal support surface 34 while the insertable portion 80 extends from the base portion 78 at a position generally parallel to the surface 34 and generally aligned with the rear slot 62 of the chassis 50. This enables the user to apply a generally downward force onto the latch portion 82 to actuate (or release) the actuator 14 from the automobile 12 without negatively affecting the rear end of the automobile 12 or creating a downward force on the rear end of the automobile 12.

[0042] The insertable portion 80 outwardly and preferably integrally extends from the base portion 78. The insertable portion is a generally flat member configured to removably fit within the rear slot 62 of the chassis 50. When installed within the chassis 50, the distal end of the insertable portion 80 preferably forwardly extends beyond a vertical plane formed by a rear axle of the automobile 12. The insertable portion 80 can further include serrations 86 or other indentations to enable the actuator 14 to further resemble a key. During operation, the distal end of the insertable portion 80 bears against the second end of the spring 54 to further load or compress the spring 54.

[0043] In a preferred embodiment, the actuator 14 includes a U-shaped channel 88 positioned at the junction the base portion 78 and the insertable portion 80. The latch portion 82 defines the inner edge of the U-shaped channel 88. The latch portion 82 is a resilient cantilever extending from the base portion 78 toward the insertable portion 80. The latch portion 82 includes a tab 90 and a pad 92. The tab 90 upwardly projects from the distal end of the latch portion and is configured to releasably engage with the catch 66 of the chassis 50. The pad 92 upwardly projects from the latch portion 82. The pad 92 provides a location for a user to depress, when the actuator 14 is fully installed in the automobile 12, to release the tab 90 from engagement with the chassis 50.

[0044] Referring to FIG. 3, the toy launch vehicle system 10 is shown in an unassembled state with the automobile 12 apart from the first toy engine 16 and the actuator 14. In this condition, the spring 54, disposed within automobile 12, takes an unloaded or extended position within the passage 58 of the chassis 50. During operation, a user, such as a child, selects one of the two first and second toy engines 16 and 18 for use with the automobile 12. Once selected, the user can install the toy engine, such as the first toy engine 16, into the front cavity 60 of the chassis 50, which contacts and bears against the first end of the spring 54. The spring 54 is also preferably sized of sufficient length such that installation of the first or second engines 16 or 18 initially compresses the spring 54. Specifically, when the first or second toy engine 16 or 18 are installed into the chassis 50, the first or second engine 16 or 18 contacts the first end of the spring 54 and rearwardly displaces the spring 54 toward the chassis 50 at the slot 62. This displacement preferably causes the second end of the spring 54 to contact the chassis 50 at the slot 62 and to initially load or compress the spring 54. The user can then install the actuator 14 through the rear slot 62 of the chassis 50 to further load or compress the spring 54. Alternatively, the user can elect to install the actuator 14 first followed by one of the first and second toy engines 16 and 18.

[0045] Referring to FIG. 4, the toy launch vehicle system 10 is shown in a first fully loaded position with the actuator 14 and the first toy engine 16 inserted into the chassis 50 of the automobile 12. During assembly, the first toy engine 16 is inserted into the front cavity 60 of the chassis 50 and the first transmission portion 72 of the first toy engine 16 extends into the passage 58 bearing against and compressing the first end of the spring 54. Additionally, as shown in FIGS. 4 and 6, the insertable portion 80 of the actuator 14 extends through the rear slot 62 and into the passage 58 bearing against and compressing the second end of the spring 54. When the latch portion 82 of the actuator 14 reaches the rear end of the chassis 50, the tab 90 contacts the chassis 50, resiliently deflects downward as the actuator 14 extends into the chassis 50, and engages the catch 66 of the chassis 50. In this condition, the spring 54 is loaded to the first fully loaded position. The amount of compression or loading of the spring 54 is dependent upon the distance of the first transmission portion 72 and the actuator 14 within the passage 58.

[0046] Referring to FIG. 5, the toy launch vehicle system 10 is shown in a second fully loaded position with the actuator 14 and the second toy engine 18 inserted into the chassis 50 of the automobile 12. During assembly, the second toy engine 18 is inserted into the front cavity 60 of the chassis 50 and the second transmission portion 74 of the second toy engine 18 extends into the passage 58 bearing against and compressing the first end of the spring 54. Additionally, the actuator 14 extends through the rear slot 62 and into the passage 58 bearing against and compressing the second end of the spring 54. In the second fully loaded position, the amount of compression or loading of the spring 54 is dependent upon the distance of the second transmission portion 74 and the actuator 14 within the passage 58. The amount of compression or loading of the spring 54 when the system 10 is in the first fully loaded position is different than when the system 10 is in the second fully loaded position.

[0047] As shown in FIGS. 4 and 5, the user can select between the first and second fully loaded positions of the system 10 by selecting and removably installing the first or second toy engines 16 and 18. This enables the user to decide what size engine 16 and 18 to be used with the automobile 12 and enables the user to obtain a different performance response of the automobile 12 depending upon the selection of the toy engine 16 and 18. Further, the user can engage in role playing such as that of an automobile mechanic, automobile driver or racer, and crew chief with the system 10 by selecting the equipment (the engine) to be used with the automobile, then installing the engine into the vehicle, followed by racing or operating the automobile 12. The toy launch vehicle system 10 combines the ability to replace key components of the automobile 12 with the adjustable operation of the automobile 12 to maximize the user's enjoyment.

[0048] Referring to FIG. 7, the actuator 14 and the chassis 50 of the automobile 12 are shown in greater detail. The user releases the actuator 14 from the chassis 50 by simply depressing the pad 92, which causes the latch portion 82 of the actuator 14 to resiliently and downwardly deflect until the tab 90 of the actuator 14 disengages from the catch 66 of the chassis 50. Depression of the pad 92 does not create a downward force onto the rear end of the automobile 12.

[0049] Referring to FIG. 8, the automobile 12 is shown released from the actuator 14. The release of the actuator 14 from the chassis 50 enables the spring 54 to expand within the passage 58 and to push against the actuator 14 during expansion to propel the automobile 12 away from the actuator 14. The amount of force associated with the automobile's propulsion from the actuator 14 is dependent upon the physical properties of the spring 54, such as the spring constant and the spring's size, and the amount of deflection or compression of the spring 54 caused by the insertable portion 80 of the actuator 14 and one of the first or second toy engines 16 and 18.

[0050] The user can vary or adjust the propulsion force of the automobile 12 from the actuator 14 by selecting between the first and second toy engines 16 and 18. Installation of the first toy engine 16 results in a greater propulsion force of the automobile 12 from the actuator 14 upon release of the actuator 14 from the automobile 12 than the installation of the second toy engine 18 because the first toy engine 16 compresses the spring 54 a greater amount than the second toy engine 18. The characteristics of the spring 54, such as size, length, spring constant, largely determine the amount of propulsion force which can be achieved during the operation of the automobile 12 with either the first or second toy engines 16 or 18. In an alternative preferred embodiment, three or more toy engines can be used with each toy engine resulting in a unique compression level of the spring 54 within the automobile 12 and, therefore, a unique propulsion force upon release of the automobile 12 from the actuator 14. In another alternative embodiment, each engine or loading member is a multi-piece loading member.

[0051] Referring to FIG. 9, an alternative preferred embodiment of a toy launch vehicle system, indicated as 100, is illustrated. The system 100 is constructed and operates in a manner similar to the system 10. The system 100 includes a toy motorcycle 112, a key-shaped motorcycle actuator 114, first and second toy motorcycle engines 116 and 118, a fastener 120, a wrench 122, and the case 20 (see FIG. 1). The toy motorcycle 112 is a vehicle resembling a conventional motorcycle. The motorcycle 112 is configured to be removably stored within the case 20 along with the motorcycle actuator 114, the first and second toy motorcycle engines 116 and 118, the fastener 120, and the wrench 122. The motorcycle 112 is preferably made of metallic or thermoplastic materials. Alternatively, the motorcycle 112 can be made of other materials such as, for example, wood, ceramics, metals, rubber, plastics, or combinations thereof.

[0052] Referring to FIGS. 9-11, the motorcycle 112 is shown in greater detail. The motorcycle 112 includes a motorcycle chassis 126, a motorcycle body 128, a spring 130, and a pair of motorcycle wheels 132. The motorcycle chassis 126 resembles a conventional motorcycle chassis. The motorcycle chassis 126 provides a lightweight, durable structure for supporting the spring 130, the motorcycle body 128, the motorcycle wheels 132 and one of either the first or second toy motorcycle engines 116 and 118. The motorcycle chassis 126 includes a longitudinally extending channel 134 and an engine compartment 136. The channel 134 is configured to receive the spring 130 and a portion of the actuator 114. The engine compartment 136 is interconnected with a forward end of the channel 134 and is configured to receive either the first or second motorcycle toy engines 116 and 118. The motorcycle chassis 126 removably connects to the motorcycle body 128. A rear opening 138 is formed into the motorcycle chassis 126 at the rear end of the channel 134.

[0053] The motorcycle body 128 is an outer toy vehicle shell similar to the body 52 of the automobile 12. The motorcycle body 128 is preferably formed of a metal or a thermoplastic material. Alternatively, other materials can be used such as, for example, wood, glass or rubber. The motorcycle body 128 can be produced in a number of different colors and can also include decals or other indicia.

[0054] The spring 130 is a biasing member substantially disposed within the channel 134. In a preferred embodiment, the spring 130 is a helical spring. Alternatively, the spring 130 can be other conventional biasing members. The spring 130 has a forward end generally positioned toward the engine compartment 136 of the motorcycle chassis 126. A rear end of the spring 130 is generally positioned toward the rear opening 138 of the motorcycle chassis 126. When disassembled, the spring 130 expands within the channel 134 and the rear end of the spring 130 bears against the rear opening 138 of the motorcycle chassis 126. The spring 130 is made of a durable lightweight material, preferably metal. Alternatively, other materials, such as, for example, thermoplastics can be used.

[0055] The first and second toy motorcycle engines 116 and 118, similar to the first and second toy engines 16 and 18, are spring loading or compressing devices. The first and second toy motorcycle engines 116 and 118 are configured to resemble actual motorcycle engines. Each of the first and second toy motorcycle engines 116 and 118 includes a first and second hole 144 and 146 for receiving the fastener 120 and first and second spring bearing surfaces 148 and 150, respectively. In a preferred embodiment, the first motorcycle toy engine 116 is larger than the second motorcycle toy engine 118. When installed the first bearing surface 148 bears against the forward end of the spring 130 and extends further rearward than the second bearing surface 150. When the first motorcycle toy engine 116 is installed to the chassis 50, the spring 130 is loaded or compressed a third predetermined amount and when the second toy motorcycle engine 118 is installed to the chassis 50, the second spring is loaded or compressed a fourth predetermined amount.

[0056] Referring to FIG. 9, the motorcycle actuator 114, similar to the actuator 14 of the automobile 12, is a vehicle launching device shaped to resemble an automobile key. The motorcycle actuator 114 releasably connects to the motorcycle chassis 126. The motorcycle actuator 114 is configured to further load or compress the spring 130 and to enable a user to quickly and easily release the actuator 114 form engagement with the motorcycle chassis 126, thereby enabling the expansion of the spring 130 to propel the motorcycle 112 away from the motorcycle actuator 114. The motorcycle actuator 114 is made of a lightweight durable material, preferably a thermoplastic material. Alternatively, other materials can be used, such as, for example, metal, wood or rubber.

[0057] The motorcycle actuator 114 includes a base region 152, an insertable region 154 and a latch region 156. The base region 152 is configured for grasping by the user during operation. The insertable region 154 outwardly and preferably integrally extends from the base region 152. The insertable region 154 is configured to removably insert into the channel of the motorcycle chassis 126 through the rear opening 138. When installed to the motorcycle chassis 126, the distal end of the insertable region 154 is configured to bear against the rear end of the spring 130 to compress or load the spring 130 and preferably extends beyond the vertical plane extending through a rear axle of the motorcycle 112. The latch region 156 is generally positioned between the base region 152 and the insertable region 154. The latch region 156 is preferably integrally formed to the base region 152 and can also be integrally formed to the insertable region 154. The latch region 156 is configured to releasably engage the motorcycle chassis 126.

[0058] The fastener 120 is a conventional fastening device. In a preferred embodiment, the fastener 120 includes a threaded shaft and a polygonal head matching with the wrench 122. Other types of conventional fasteners can also be used. The fastener 120 extends through one of the first and second holes of the first and second toy motorcycle engines 116 and 118, respectively and threadedly connects to the motorcycle chassis 126. The fastener 120 enables the user to quickly and easily remove and replace either of the first and second motorcycle engines 116 and 118. The fastener 120 retains one of the first and second motorcycle toy engines 116 and 118 in a secured position with respect to the motorcycle chassis 126. The wrench 122 is used to assembling or disassembling either of the first and second motorcycle toy engines 116 and 118 to the motorcycle chassis 126. The wrench 122 is configured to mate with the fastener 120 and enable the user to connect or disconnect either of the first and second motorcycle toy engines 116 and 118 to the motorcycle chassis 126 using the fastener 120. The wrench 122 preferably includes a socket portion for mating with the head of the fastener 120 and a handle portion for grasping by the user. In alternative preferred embodiments, the wrench 122 can be an open wrench, a closed wrench, a Crescent wrench, a conventional socket wrench or other tool, such as a screwdriver.

[0059] Referring to FIG. 12, the toy launch vehicle system 100 is shown in a first motorcycle launch position with the actuator 114 and the first toy motorcycle engine 116 installed in the motorcycle chassis 126. In the first motorcycle launch position, the first bearing surface 148 of the first toy motorcycle engine 116 bears against the forward end of the spring 130 limiting the forward travel of the spring 130. The insertable region of the motorcycle actuator 114 extends into the channel 134 of the motorcycle chassis 126 further compressing or loading the spring 130. The toy launch vehicle system 100 attains a second motorcycle launch position when the second toy motorcycle engine 118 is connected to the motorcycle chassis 126 in place of the first toy motorcycle engine 116. The second bearing surface 150 of the second toy motorcycle engine 118 limits the forward travel of the forward end of the spring 130 by an amount different than that of the first toy motorcycle engine, thereby resulting in a different amount of loading or compression of the spring 130. Accordingly, the user can adjust the loading of the spring 130 of the motorcycle 112 by selectably and removably installing either of the first and second toy motorcycle engines 116 and 118. This enables the user to decide what size engine 116 and 118 is to be used with the motorcycle 112 and enables the user to obtain a different performance response of the motorcycle 112 depending upon the toy engine 116 and 118 selected.

[0060] As shown in FIGS. 12 and 13, the latch region of the motorcycle actuator 114 includes a protrusion 160 and a release pad 162. The protrusion 160 outwardly projects from the top side of the distal end of the latch region and is configured to releasably engage a detent 164 in the motorcycle chassis 126. The release pad 162 outwardly projects from the top side of the latch region. The release pad 162 is configured for depressing by the user for releasing the protrusion 160 from engagement with the detent 164. During installation of the motorcycle actuator 114 within the motorcycle chassis 126, the user inserts the insertable region into the channel such that the distal end of the insertable region bears against the rear end of the spring 130 compressing or loading the spring. As the insertable region extends into the channel (preferably forward of a vertical plane extending through a rear axle of the motorcycle 112), the latch region of the motorcycle actuator 114 contacts the motorcycle chassis 125 causing the distal end of the latch region to resiliently deflect downward until the protrusion 160 clears and releasably engages the detent 164.

[0061] In operation, the user releases the latch region from the motorcycle chassis 126 by depressing the release pad 162. Depression of the release pad 162 causes the latch region of the actuator 114 to resiliently and downwardly deflect until the protrusion 160 of the actuator 14 disengages from the detent 164 of the chassis 126.

[0062] Referring to FIG. 14, the motorcycle 112 is shown released from the actuator 114. The release of the actuator 114 from the chassis 126 enables the spring 130 to expand within the channel and to push against the actuator 114 during expansion to propel the motorcycle 112 away from the actuator 114. The amount of force associated with the motorcycle's propulsion from the actuator 114 is dependent upon the physical properties of the spring 130, such as the spring constant and the spring's size, and the amount of deflection or compression of the spring caused by the insertable region of the actuator 114 and the size of one of the first or second toy motorcycle engines 116 and 118.

[0063] Referring to FIG. 15, in an alternative preferred embodiment of the present invention, the storage case 20 is part of a tool shaped candy kit. The kit includes the storage case 20 and a plurality of tool-shaped pieces of candy 200. The candy 200 is formed to resemble conventional tools, such as, for example, a hammer, a screwdriver, a wrench, a pair of pliers, a socket wrench, a ruler or other hand-operated tools. The candy 200 can be formed in the shape of a single tool or a variety of different tools. The candy 200 can be conventional hard candy, chocolate or chewy-type candy. The candy 200 is configured for removable placement within the first and second storage areas 38 and 40 of the storage case 20. Alternatively, the candy 200 can be stored in the case 20 with one or more of the other components of the toy launch vehicle system 10 or 100. The candy 200 can be single or multi-colored and can vary in size.

[0064] While preferred embodiments of the present invention have been described and illustrated, numerous departures therefrom can be contemplated by persons skilled in the art, for example, the spring can be disposed in either the actuator or in one of the toy engine instead of within the vehicle itself. Therefore, the present invention is not limited to the foregoing description but only by the scope and spirit of the appended claims.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US6913507 *Sep 30, 2002Jul 5, 2005Radioshack CorporationAssembly for retaining a toy
US6945840Sep 30, 2002Sep 20, 2005Radioshack CorporationWheel assembly for a toy
US6957996Sep 30, 2002Oct 25, 2005Radioshack CorporationToy car kit
US7025656 *May 31, 2004Apr 11, 2006Robert J BaileyToy tube vehicle racer apparatus
US7285034Dec 30, 2004Oct 23, 2007Mattel, Inc.Toy play set
US7288917 *Sep 30, 2002Oct 30, 2007Radio Shack CorporationTransmitter for radio-controlled toy
US7527542Jan 30, 2006May 5, 2009Mattel, Inc.Toy play set
US7618302Jan 30, 2006Nov 17, 2009Mattel, Inc.Toy play set
US7651097Jul 15, 2005Jan 26, 2010Carterbench Product Development, Ltd.Toy play set
US7654531Jul 15, 2005Feb 2, 2010Mattel, Inc.Travel game
US8216020Apr 15, 2010Jul 10, 2012Red Blue LimitedFoldable vehicles
US8353516Dec 7, 2009Jan 15, 2013Mattel, Inc.Travel game
Classifications
U.S. Classification446/93
International ClassificationA63H17/00
Cooperative ClassificationA63H17/008
European ClassificationA63H17/00F
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Aug 20, 2001ASAssignment
Owner name: A-HA TOYS, INC., ILLINOIS
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:GRABIANSKI, CHRISTOPHER J.;REEL/FRAME:012098/0017
Effective date: 20010701