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Publication numberUS20050142984 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/017,275
Publication dateJun 30, 2005
Filing dateDec 20, 2004
Priority dateDec 25, 2003
Publication number017275, 11017275, US 2005/0142984 A1, US 2005/142984 A1, US 20050142984 A1, US 20050142984A1, US 2005142984 A1, US 2005142984A1, US-A1-20050142984, US-A1-2005142984, US2005/0142984A1, US2005/142984A1, US20050142984 A1, US20050142984A1, US2005142984 A1, US2005142984A1
InventorsHirofumi Kiyosue
Original AssigneeHirofumi Kiyosue
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Toy actuation device
US 20050142984 A1
Abstract
A toy actuation device is disclosed which has a device body comprising a holding unit that holds a toy such as a stuffed toy. The holding unit including first detecting unit for detecting that the toy is held in the holding unit; and movable engagement members that are engageable with outer parts of the toy. An actuation mechanism actuates the engagement members. A user-holdable member is detachably disposed at the device body and includes a second detecting unit for sensing that the user is holding the user-holdable member in association with the toy; and a control unit that actuates the actuation mechanism on the basis of the detection results of the first detecting unit and the second detecting unit.
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Claims(20)
1. A toy actuation device having a device body, the device body comprising:
a holding unit for holding a toy, said holding unit including first detecting means for detecting that said toy is being held in said holding unit;
movable engagement members that are engageable with parts of said toy;
an actuation mechanism that actuates said engagement members;
at least one user-holdable member associated with said toy, said member being detachably disposed at the device body and including second detecting means for sensing that the user is holding said member and operating said holding member in association with said toy; and
a control unit that actuates said actuation mechanism on the basis of the detection results of said first detecting means and said second detecting means.
2. The toy actuation device according to claim 1, wherein said device body further comprises a sound effect output unit for outputting sound effects associated with said user-holdable member, said control unit actuating said sound effect output unit on the basis of the detection result of said second detecting means.
3. The toy actuation device according to claim 1, wherein said first detecting means is configured by a light sensor.
4. The toy actuation device according to claim 1, wherein said movable engagement members are configured by two seesaw panels, legs of said toy engaging with top surfaces of said seesaw panels when said toy is seated in a chair.
5. The toy actuation device according to claim 1, wherein said second detecting means are configured to be able to input detecting signals via signal lines to said control unit controlling a motor.
6. A toy actuation device for a passive toy figure comprising:
a housing having a holding unit of a configuration to operatively mount a toy figure simulating a living animal;
a movable engagement member on the housing for engagement with the toy figure to provide movement to one or more parts of the toy figure when mounted on the holding unit;
a sound unit on the housing for providing a sound characteristic of the toy figure;
a control unit in the housing for activating the movable engagement member and sound unit; and
an operator remote controller for sending operational signals to the control unit, whereby a toy figure of a passive configuration can be animated when removably mounted in the holding unit.
7. The toy actuation device of claim 6 further including a first sensor unit for indicating to the control unit the mounting of a toy figure.
8. The toy actuation device of claim 7 further including a second sensor unit for indicating to the control unit that a user has picked up the operator remote controller whereby the control unit is enabled.
9. The toy actuation device of claim 8 wherein the operator control unit has an exterior housing simulating an article appropriate for interaction with the toy figure.
10. The toy actuation device of claim 9 wherein a plurality of operator remote controllers are provided.
11. The toy actuation device of claim 10 wherein one of the plurality of operator remote controllers simulates a bottle with a nipple for feeding the passive toy figure.
12. The toy actuation device of claim 10 wherein one of the plurality of operator remote controllers simulates a food container for feeding the passive toy figure.
13. The toy actuator device of claim 12 wherein the food container further includes a utensil that simulates food on the utensil that can be fed in a simulated manner to the passive toy figure.
14. The toy actuator device of claim 13 wherein the utensil has a hollow handle and a simulated food member can be retractively moved into the hollow handle to provide a simulated appearance of a feeding interface with the passive toy figure.
15. The toy actuator device of claim 14 wherein the food container has a guide member that causes the simulated food member to be extended from the handle when inserted in the guide member.
16. The toy actuation device of claim 8 wherein the moveable engagement member is configured to activate the appendages of a passive toy figure configured like a humanoid.
17. The toy actuation device of claim 10 wherein one of the plurality of operator remote controllers simulates a rattle to provide sound effects.
18. A combination toy assembly comprising:
a humanoid stuffed toy figure having a head and appendages;
a housing having a holding unit of a configuration to operatively mount the toy figure;
a movable engagement member on the housing for engagement with the toy figure to provide movement to one or more parts of the toy figure when mounted on the holding unit;
a sound unit on the housing for providing a sound characteristic of the toy figure;
a control unit in the housing for activating the movable engagement member and sound unit; and
an operator remote controller, configured to simulate and object that could interact with the toy figure, the toy figure of a passive configuration can be animated when removably mounted in the holding unit.
19. The toy actuation device of claim 18 further including a first sensor unit for indicating to the control unit the mounting of a toy figure.
20. The toy actuation device of claim 19 further including a second sensor unit for indicating to the control unit that a user has picked up the operator remote controller whereby the control unit is enabled.
Description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to a toy actuation device, and, more particularly, to a toy actuation device that causes a toy such as a stuffed toy not having an actuation mechanism to move as if it were provided with an actuation mechanism.

2. Description of the Related Art

Conventionally, toys such as stuffed figures and stuffed animals that speak and move have been well known. These toys are configured so that an audio device that causes the toy to speak or an actuation device that causes the toy to move is disposed inside the body of the toy and the toy speaks or moves due to the audio device or the actuation device being actuated (e.g., Japanese Utility Model Application No. 5-82490).

However, because the various actuation devices, audio devices and batteries are housed inside the bodies of the toys, there have been problems in that, when the bodies of the toys are touched, the cases housing the operational devices, audio devices and batteries feel unnatural, and the manufacturing costs of the toys themselves rise.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is an object of the present invention to solve these problems by providing a toy actuation device that can actuate a stuffed toy not including an actuation device as if it were provided with an actuation device and with which the manufacturing costs of the stuffed toy can be reduced.

In order to achieve the above object, a major aspect of the invention provides a toy actuation device having a device body, the device body comprising a holding unit that holds a toy such as a stuffed toy, the holding unit including first detecting means for detecting that the toy is held in the holding unit; movable engagement members that are engageable with parts of the toy; an actuation mechanism that actuates the engagement members; at least one user-holdable figurative member associated with the toy, the figurative member being detachably disposed at the device body and including second detecting means for sensing that the user is holding the figurative member and operating the holdable member in association with the toy; and a control unit that actuates the actuation mechanism on the basis of the detection results of the first detecting means and the second detecting means.

The device body may further comprise a sound effect output unit for outputting sound effects associated with the figurative member, with the control unit actuating the sound effect output unit on the basis of the detection result of the second detecting means.

According to the first aspect of the invention, parts of a toy such as a stuffed toy held in the device body by the holding unit are actuated when the actuation mechanism is actuated, so that even a stuffed toy that is not internally provided with an actuation mechanism can be caused to move as if it were internally provided with an actuation mechanism. Thus, toys that the user already owns can be actuated so that the user can play with them in a new way.

Moreover, because the actuation mechanism is not actuated as long as the toy is not held in the holding unit, the toy actuation device is not unnaturally actuated.

Also, because it is not necessary to house a mechanism in the stuffed toy, the stuffed toy can be easily cleaned when it is dirty so that one can play with the clean stuffed toy, thus greatly improving hygiene, and the manufacturing costs of the toy can be reduced.

According to the second aspect of the invention, the sound effect output unit outputs sound effects associated with the figurative member when the second detecting means disposed at the figurative member is actuated. Thus, when the user holds the figurative member in his/her hand and operates the user-holdable member in association with the toy, the sound effects can be outputted so that the toy becomes more fun to play with.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The above and other objects, aspects, features and advantages of the present invention will become more apparent from the following detailed description when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view showing an example of a toy actuation device according to the invention;

FIG. 2 is a side perspective view of the toy actuation device;

FIG. 3 is an exploded perspective view of an actuation mechanism;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view describing examples of figurative members;

FIG. 5 is an exploded perspective view describing the configuration of one of the figurative members;

FIG. 6 is a block diagram describing the electrical configuration of the toy actuation device;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view describing a state of use of the toy actuation device; and

FIG. 8 is a block diagram showing another electrical configuration of the toy actuation device.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

A toy actuation device according to the present invention has a device body including: a holding unit that holds a toy such as a stuffed toy, with the holding unit including first detecting means for detecting that the toy is held in the holding unit; movable engagement members that are engageable with outer parts of the toy; an actuation mechanism that actuates the engagement members; at least one user-holdable figurative member associated with the toy, the figurative member being detachably disposed at the device body and including second detecting means for sensing that the user is holding the figurative member and operating the user-holdable member in association with the toy; and a control unit for actuating the actuation mechanism on the basis of the detection results of the first detecting means and the second detecting means.

An embodiment of the invention will be described below with reference to the drawings. In FIGS. 1 and 2, reference numeral 1 represents a toy actuation device (referred to below as “the actuation device”) that actuates a toy such as a stuffed toy. The actuation device 1 is formed in imitation of a chair that seats an infant and includes a holding unit 2 comprising a seat back 3, arm rests 4 and a table 5. First detecting means 7, which detects whether or not a toy such as a stuffed figure or stuffed animal is held in the holding unit 2, is disposed in a seat 6.

The first detecting means 7 is configured by a light sensor. When a stuffed toy A is held in the holding unit 2 and thus the input of light to the light sensor is blocked off, a later-described control unit 35 can verify that the holding unit 2 holds the stuffed toy A.

It should be noted that the first detecting means 7 may also be configured by a magnetic sensor. In this case, a magnet is disposed by an appropriate method in the bottom portion of the stuffed toy A.

An actuation mechanism 10 is disposed below the seat 6. As shown in FIG. 3, the actuation mechanism 10 is provided with engagement members 12 that alternately pivot up and down using a motor 11 as a driving force. The engagement members 12 are configured by two seesaw panels 13 and 14 and formed so that the legs of the stuffed toy A engage with top surfaces of the seesaw panels 13 and 14 when the stuffed toy A is seated in the chair (the actuation device) 1.

It should be noted that the seesaw panels 13 and 14 are formed to be level with a top surface of a base 8 when they pivot downward so that one is not visually aware of the actuation device even when the stuffed toy A is not seated in the chair (the actuation device) 1.

The actuation device 1 is also provided with figurative members B that the user can hold in his/her hand and which are associated with the stuffed toy. The figurative members B are configured by a toy jar 15 formed in imitation of a honey jar, a toy baby bottle 16 formed in imitation of a baby bottle, and a toy rattle 17 formed in imitation of a castanet rattle.

The actuation mechanism 10 causes the engagement members 12 to alternately move up and down using the motor 11 as a driving force. A reduction gear 22 meshes with a pinion gear 21 fixed to an output shaft 20 of the motor 11, a friction cam 25 formed with a substantially triangular engagement protrusion 24 that projects from one side of the friction cam 25 is fixed to a rotating shaft 23 of the reduction gear 22, and a free drive cam 26 is disposed at the rotating shaft 23 facing the one side of the friction cam 25. An engagement recess 27 is formed at a position in the surface of the drive cam 26 facing the friction cam 25 where the engagement protrusion 24 can engage with the engagement recess 27. Drive pins 28 a and 28 b that project from mutually different sides of the drive cam 26 and periodically engage with rear ends 13 a and 14 a of the seesaw panels 13 and 14 are formed at opposing positions with respect to the rotating shaft 23. The drive cam 26 is urged, by a spring 29 including an end fixed to the rotating shaft 23, so as to always push against the friction cam 25. The seesaw panels 13 and 14 pushed down by the drive pins 28 a and 28 b pivot up and down around a shaft 30. It should be noted that, when a load is applied to the seesaw panels 13 and 14, the engagement between the engagement protrusion 24 and the engagement recess 27 is released so that the affect of the load does not extend to the actuation mechanism 10.

Second detecting means 31 (31 a, 31 b and 31 c) are respectively disposed at the figurative members B (the toy jar 15, the toy baby bottle 16 and the toy rattle 17). The second detecting means 31 a, 31 b and 31 c are configured to be able to input detection signals via signal lines 36, 37 and 38 to the control unit 35 controlling the motor 11.

The second detecting means 31 a is configured by an ON/OFF switch such as a push-button switch or a leaf switch disposed inside the toy jar 15 formed in imitation of a honey jar containing honey. When the end of a toy spoon 40 is inserted through an opening 15 a in the top surface of the toy jar 15, the toy spoon 40 pushes the switch 31 a ON, and the control unit 35 is programmed to actuate, for a set amount of time, the motor 11 on the condition that the first detecting means 7 detects the fact that the stuffed toy A is held in the holding unit 2.

As shown in FIGS. 4 and 5, the toy spoon 40 includes a slider 42 that is slidably disposed in a spoon body 41 so that a front portion 42 a of the slider 42 emerges from and slides back into the spoon body 41. The front portion 42 a of the slider 42 is formed in imitation of the contents (honey) of the toy jar 15. The slider 42 is urged by a spring 43 so that it is always disposed inside the spoon body 41; however, when the toy spoon 40 is inserted inside or pulled out from the toy jar 15, one of protruding engagement pieces 45 that are formed on both sides of the slider 42 and are exposed through guide grooves 44 formed in the top and bottom surfaces of the spoon body 41 engages with a protruding engagement portion 47 formed at an inner wall surface of a guide tube 46 disposed so as to be continuous with the opening 15 a of the toy jar 15, and the slider 42 slides outward so that the contents appear on the toy spoon 40 as if the contents had been scooped up by the toy spoon 40.

The slider 42 that has slid outward is maintained in a state where a locking protrusion 48 formed in a side surface of the slider 42 locks with and projects into a locking recess 49 formed in an inner wall surface of the spoon body 41; however, when the front portion 42 a of the slider 42 projecting from the end of the spoon body 41 is pushed into a mouth portion of the stuffed toy A, an opening 50 flexes so that the locked state resulting from the locking recess 49 is released and the slider 42 is urged by the spring 43 back inside the spoon body 41, so that it appears as if the stuffed toy has eaten the contents of the toy spoon 40.

The second detecting means 31 b is configured by an ON/OFF switch such as a micro-switch or a leaf switch disposed inside the toy baby bottle 16 formed in imitation of a baby bottle. The switch 31 b is turned ON when a nipple portion 16 a at the tip of the toy baby bottle 16 is pushed into the mouth portion in the stuffed toy A so that the nipple portion 16 a is drawn inside the toy baby bottle 16, whereby the motor 11 is controlled by the control unit 35 so that the motor 11 is actuated for a set amount of time.

The second detecting means 31 c is configured by an ON/OFF switch such as a vibration switch or a pendulum switch disposed inside the toy rattle 17 formed in imitation of a rattle and whose inside is hollow. When the toy rattle 17 is shaken as if to pacify the stuffed toy A, plural balls 51 housed inside the toy rattle 17 hit each other and produce a rattling sound and the switch 31 c is turned ON, whereby the motor 11 is controlled by the control unit 35 so that the motor 11 is actuated for a set amount of time.

As shown in FIG. 6, the control unit 35 controls a sound effect output unit 55. The sound effect output unit 55 is configured by an electronic speech circuit 56 and a speaker 57. When the switches 31 a, 31 b and 31 c are switched ON, the sound effect output unit 55 outputs, from sound effect data prestored in the electronic speech circuit 56 and on the basis of an instruction from the control unit 35, sound effect data that differs for each switch so that the sound effect data is outputted from the speaker 57 as sound effects.

The sound effect data is set so that when the switch 31 a of the toy jar 15 is ON, the sound effect of “I'm hungry, give me something to eat!”, where a bear demands honey, is outputted. When the switch 31 b of the toy baby bottle 16 is ON for a short amount of time, the gulping sound effect of “gulp, gulp” is continuously outputted once or twice followed by “Give me some more” in correspondence to the amount of time that the switch 31 b is ON. When the switch 31 b of the toy baby bottle is ON for a long amount of time, the gulping sound effect of “gulp, gulp” is continuously outputted three or more times followed by “I'm full” in correspondence to the amount of time that the switch 31 b is ON. When the switch 31 c of the toy rattle 17 is ON, a laughing voice is outputted. It should be noted that, in FIG. 6, reference numeral 58 represents a power switch, reference numeral 59 represents a power battery and reference numeral 60 represents a drive circuit of the motor 11.

According to the actuation device of the above-described configuration, the stuffed toy A formed in imitation of a bear cub is seated in the body of the actuation device (chair) 1 and both legs of the stuffed toy A are held in the holding unit 2 so that they are respectively placed on the seesaw panels 13 and 14. When the power switch 58 is turned ON in this state, the first detecting means 7 detects the fact that the stuffed toy A is held in the holding unit 2, the detection signal is inputted to the control unit 35, and the control unit 35 verifies that the stuffed toy A is held in the holding unit 2.

In this state, for example, as shown in FIG. 7, the nipple portion 16 a of the toy baby bottle 16 is pushed into the mouth portion of the stuffed toy A. When the nipple portion 16 a is pushed into the mouth portion, the switch 22 is switched ON, but because the first detecting means 7 has already verified that the stuffed toy A is held in the holding unit A, the control unit 35 causes the motor 11 to rotate and causes the drive cam 26 to rotate via the reduction gear 22 and the friction cam 25. When the drive cam 26 rotates, the drive pins 28 a and 28 b alternately engage with the rear ends 13 a and 14 a of the seesaw panels 13 and 14 to cause the seesaw panels 13 and 14 to alternately pivot upward.

When the engagement between the drive pins 28 a and 28 b and the seesaw panels 13 and 14 is released, the seesaw panels 13 and 14 fall by their own weight, the seesaw panels 13 and 14 alternately move upward in accompaniment with the rotation of the drive cam 26 and alternately engage with the feet of the stuffed toy A to alternately push the feet upward and cause the feet to move as if the feet were kicking.

The control unit 35 instructs the electronic speech circuit 56 to output sound effects at this time, and the sound effects are outputted from the speaker 57. When the amount of time that the switch 31 b of the toy baby bottle 16 is ON is short, the gulping sound effect of “gulp, gulp” is continuously outputted once or twice followed by “Give me some more”. When the amount of time that the switch 31 b of the toy baby bottle 16 is ON is long, the gulping sound effect of “gulp, gulp” is continuously outputted three or more times followed by “I'm full”. Thus, the stuffed toy A can be made to move so that the stuffed toy A appears as if it is kicking its legs while drinking milk and gives an animate display of whether it wants something else or is satisfied.

When the end of the toy spoon 40 is inserted through the opening 15 a in the top surface of the toy jar 15, the toy spoon 40 pushes the switch 31 a ON, whereby the control unit 35 causes the sound effect of “I'm hungry, give me something to eat!”, where a bear demands honey, to be outputted from the speaker 57, and the first detecting means 7 detects the fact that the stuffed toy A is held in the holding unit 2. Thus, the seesaw panels 13 and 14 are caused to alternately pivot up and down to cause the feet of the stuffed toy A to move up and down, so that a state can be created where it appears as if the stuffed toy A is kicking its feet due to its wanting something.

When the toy spoon 40 is inserted into the toy jar 15, the end of the slider 42 projects from the end of the spoon body 41 and the locking protrusion 48 is locked in the locking recess 49 so that the honey at the end is exposed. When the honey is pushed into the mouth portion of the stuffed toy A, the lock is released and the slider 42 is urged by the spring 43 back into the spoon body 41, so that it can appear as if the stuffed toy A has eaten the honey.

When the toy rattle 17 is shaken, the switch 31 c is switched ON, whereby the control unit 35 causes a delighted sound effect (laughing voice) to be outputted from the speaker 57 and the first detecting means 7 detects the fact that the stuffed toy A is held in the holding unit 2. Thus, the seesaw panels 13 and 14 are caused to alternately pivot up and down to cause the feet of the stuffed toy A to move up and down, so that a state can be created where it appears as if the stuffed toy A is kicking its feet in delight.

As described above, a stuffed toy that does not include an actuation mechanism is seated in a chair, and changes in the state thereof are detected by a detecting means, whereby the stuffed toy can be made to move as if a sound effect output unit causing the stuffed toy to speak and an actuation mechanism causing the body of the stuffed toy to move were present inside the stuffed toy. Moreover, because it is not necessary to house, inside the stuffed toy, a device for causing the stuffed toy to move, the soft feeling that a stuffed toy usually has can be obtained and thus any unnatural feeling can be eliminated.

Also, by causing a stuffed toy that one likes to be held in the device body, it appears as if life has been breathed into a mere stuffed toy, an attachment with respect to the toy is created and thus the toy becomes more fun to play with. Additionally, because a mechanism is not housed inside the stuffed toy, the stuffed toy can be easily cleaned so that the stuffed toy can always be used in a clean state, thus greatly improving hygiene.

As shown in FIG. 8, the invention can also be configured by disposing a voice switching switch 61 in the electronic speech circuit 56 so that the voice switching switch 61 is switched depending on the type of stuffed toy (boy, girl, animal, etc.), whereby the voice can be selected in correspondence to the type of the stuffed toy.

The invention can also be configured by disposing, in the device body, detecting means comprising a sound sensor such as a condenser microphone that detects sound so that the actuation mechanism is actuated in response to a sound to cause the stuffed toy to move.

Moreover, although the detection results of the detecting means were inputted to the control unit via lead wires in the aforementioned actuation device, transmitters may be disposed in the detecting means and a receiver may be disposed in the control unit. In this case, the results of detection by the detecting means are transmitted by the transmitters and received by the receiver disposed in the control means, whereby the actuation device can be remotely actuated to cause a toy such as a stuffed toy to move.

While the illustrative and presently preferred embodiment of the present invention has been described in detail herein, it is to be understood that the inventive concepts may be otherwise variously embodied and employed and that the appended claims are intended to be construed to include such variations except insofar as limited by the prior art.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US8092271Dec 20, 2007Jan 10, 2012Hallmark Cards, IncorporatedInteractive toy with positional sensor
US20120067772 *Sep 22, 2010Mar 22, 2012Disney Enterprises, Inc.,Display packaging for plush toys
Classifications
U.S. Classification446/296
International ClassificationA63H3/33, A63H3/52, A63H33/26
Cooperative ClassificationA63H33/26
European ClassificationA63H33/26
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Feb 23, 2007ASAssignment
Owner name: TOMY COMPANY, LTD., JAPAN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:TAKARA CO., LTD.;REEL/FRAME:018963/0332
Effective date: 20060301
Dec 20, 2004ASAssignment
Owner name: TAKARA CO., LTD., JAPAN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:KIYOSUE, HIROFUMI;REEL/FRAME:016111/0628
Effective date: 20041210