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Publication numberUS20050148276 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/963,388
Publication dateJul 7, 2005
Filing dateOct 12, 2004
Priority dateMar 25, 2003
Publication number10963388, 963388, US 2005/0148276 A1, US 2005/148276 A1, US 20050148276 A1, US 20050148276A1, US 2005148276 A1, US 2005148276A1, US-A1-20050148276, US-A1-2005148276, US2005/0148276A1, US2005/148276A1, US20050148276 A1, US20050148276A1, US2005148276 A1, US2005148276A1
InventorsJohn LaFata, Richard LaFata
Original AssigneeLafata John E., Lafata Richard J.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Toy for producing fog filled bubbles
US 20050148276 A1
Abstract
A toy for producing bubbles including a nozzle connected to the housing. The nozzle is adapted to receive and at least temporarily hold a bubble solution. The toy also includes a vapor generator mounted in the housing, where the vapor generator is positioned adjacent to the nozzle and an air mover mounted in the housing, where the air mover is positioned adjacent to the vapor generator. The toy further includes at least one activator movably connected to the housing. The activator being in communication with the vapor generator and the air mover. Upon the activation of the activator by a user, the activator causes the vapor generator to generate vapor and causes the air mover to move an amount of air through the vapor generator and the bubble solution on the nozzle to produce at least one vapor-filled bubble.
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Claims(36)
1. A toy for producing bubbles comprising:
a housing;
a nozzle connected to said housing, said nozzle adapted to receive and at least temporarily hold a bubble solution;
a vapor generator mounted in said housing, said vapor generator positioned adjacent to said nozzle;
an air mover mounted in said housing, said air mover positioned adjacent to said vapor generator; and
at least one activator movably connected to said housing, said activator in communication with the vapor generator and the air mover, wherein upon the activation of the activator, the activator causes said vapor generator to generate vapor and causes the air mover to move an amount of air through the vapor generator and the bubble solution on the nozzle to produce at least one vapor-filled bubble.
2. The toy of claim 1, wherein the air mover includes:
a housing;
an impeller rotatably mounted in said housing; and
a gear assembly mounted in said housing, said gear assembly coupled to said impeller and said activator, wherein upon the activation of the activator, the gear assembly causes the impeller to rotate and move air through the vapor generator and the bubble solution on the nozzle.
3. The toy of claim 2, wherein the gear assembly includes at least one gear coupled to said impeller and said activator.
4. The toy of claim 1, wherein the vapor generator includes a heater.
5. The toy of claim 4, which includes a container in communication with said vapor generator, said container adapted to receive a solution and transfer at least a portion of said solution to said vapor generator upon the activation of the activator, wherein the portion of the solution contacts the heater to generate the vapor.
6. The toy of claim 1, wherein the air mover includes a mechanically operated fan.
7. The toy of claim 1, wherein the air mover includes a battery operated fan.
8. The toy of claim 1, wherein the air mover includes an electrically operated fan.
9. The toy of claim 1, wherein the activator includes a trigger.
10. The toy of claim 1, wherein the bubble solution includes at least one color to produce at least one bubble including said at least one color.
11. The toy of claim 1, wherein the vapor includes at least one color.
12. A device for producing bubbles, comprising:
means for producing smoke;
means for producing a first bubble, said first bubble adapted to substantially surround at least a portion of said smoke;
means for producing a second bubble, said second bubble adapted to surround said first bubble.
13. The device of claim 12, which includes a third bubble adapted to substantially surround at least a portion of said smoke.
14. The device of claim 13, wherein said second bubble is adapted to surround said third bubble.
15. The device of claim 12, wherein said means for producing said first bubble includes a fan.
16. The device of claim 12, wherein said means for producing said smoke includes a liquid smoke solution adapted to turn into a gas when heated.
17. The device of claim 16, which includes a tank to hold said liquid smoke solution.
18. The device of claim 12, wherein said means for producing said second bubble includes an electric powered fan.
19. A toy for producing bubbles comprising:
a housing;
a first nozzle connected to said housing, said first nozzle adapted to receive and at least temporarily hold a bubble solution;
a second nozzle positioned adjacent to said first nozzle, said second nozzle adapted to receive and at least temporarily hold said bubble solution;
a vapor generator mounted in said housing;
an air mover mounted in said housing;
a first communication line, wherein one end of said first communication line is connected to said air mover, and a second opposite end of said first communication line is connected to said vapor generator, said second end directing air through said vapor generator and the bubble solution on the first nozzle;
a second communication line, wherein one end of said second communication line is connected to said air mover, said second end is positioned adjacent to said second nozzle;
an activator movably connected to said housing, said activator in communication with the vapor generator and the air mover, wherein upon the activation of the activator, the activator causes the air mover to direct air through second communication line and into the bubble solution on the second nozzle to produce a first bubble and causes said air mover to direct air through the first communication line and the vapor generator to direct vapor generated by the vapor generator into the bubble solution on said second nozzle to produce a vapor-filled second bubble, wherein said first bubble substantially encloses at least a portion of said second bubble.
20. The toy of claim 19, wherein said vapor generator includes a fog generator.
21. The toy of claim 19, wherein said vapor generator includes a smoke generator.
22. The toy of claim 19, wherein the air mover includes:
a housing;
an impeller rotatably mounted in said housing; and
a gear assembly mounted in said housing, said gear assembly coupled to said impeller and said activator, wherein upon the activation of the activator, the gear assembly causes the impeller to rotate and move air through the vapor generator and the bubble solution on the nozzle.
23. The toy of claim 22, wherein the gear assembly includes at least one gear coupled to said impeller and said activator.
24. The toy of claim 19, wherein the vapor generator includes a heater.
25. The toy of claim 24, which includes a container in communication with said vapor generator, said container adapted to receive a solution and transfer at least a portion of said solution to said vapor generator upon the activation of the activator, wherein the portion of the solution contacts the heater to generate the vapor.
26. The toy of claim 19, wherein the air mover includes a battery operated fan.
27. The toy of claim 19, wherein the air mover includes an electrically operated fan.
28. The toy of claim 19, wherein the activator includes a trigger.
29. The toy of claim 19, wherein the bubble solution includes at least one color to produce at least one bubble including said at least one color.
30. The toy of claim 19, wherein the vapor includes at least one color.
31. A method of producing bubbles comprising:
producing a visible gas;
forming a first bubble such that at least a portion of said visible gas is contained within said first bubble; and
forming a second bubble such that said first bubble is contained within said second bubble.
32. The method of claim 31, wherein said visible gas includes at least one color.
33. The method of claim 31, which includes forming a third bubble such that at least a portion of said visible gas is contained within said third bubble.
34. The method of claim 33, wherein said third bubble is contained within said second bubble.
35. The method of claim 31, wherein said first and second bubbles are substantially transparent.
36. The method of claim 31, forming at least one of said first bubble and said second bubble includes forming at least one of said first bubble and said second bubble including at least one color.
Description
PRIORITY CLAIM

This application is a continuation-in-part of and claims priority to and the benefit of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/810,329, filed Mar. 25, 2004, the entire contents of which are incorporated herein, and which is a continuation of and claims priority to and the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/457,111, filed Mar. 25, 2003.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Toys provide excitement and enjoyment for children. Toys come in several different sizes, shapes, configurations and perform many different functions.

A variety of devices including a variety of toys have been designed for producing one or more bubbles, either simultaneously or in succession. Examples range from simple mechanical rings which are dipped into a soapy liquid, then passed through the air to generate a succession of bubbles, to complicated automatic bubble-making devices for automatically producing hundreds of bubbles.

Additionally, various devices have been developed which include a smoke-generating device. Examples include toy trains and toy boats wherein a small amount of smoke is generated within a smoke stack of the toy for producing the illusion of self-propulsion. The following paragraphs provide other examples of such devices.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,205,771 is directed to a device that pumps gas through a conduit to inflate film into a bubble. A smoke-generator is also connected to the conduit and fills the conduit with smoke while the film is being inflated, so that the smoke fills the resulting bubble or balloon.

U.S. Pat. No. 2,912,790 is directed to a bubble producing toy that blows bubbles in such a manner so that when a bubble bursts, smoke is given off. This is accomplished using a heating element to heat up a conventional smoke solution, thereby vaporizing the smoke solution. Air is then blown through the toy and picks up the smoke, which is then blown across a soap film on a ring, forming the bubbles with the smoke entrained therein.

Moreover, attempts have been made to create bubbles within a bubble as evidenced by U.S. Pat. No. 2,527,935 which is directed to a bubble blowing device including a wand having a pair of spaced loops of different diameter located in spaced parallel planes. The device must be generally vertically immersed into a reservoir of bubble blowing solution so that a meniscus of solution is formed across each of the rings. When the device is properly waved through the air, the bubble created from the smaller of the two loops will be positioned interiorly of the bubble produced from the larger loop.

Additionally, U.S. Pat. No. 4,180,938 is directed to a bubble blowing wand having spaced loops disposed in a common plane. The loops are provided with serrations such that a greater quantity of bubble blowing fluid will be retained on the loops therefore rendering the device more capable of creating the desired bubbles within a bubble. A spill proof container having an elastomeric top is provided with the wand and includes a slit therein for reception of the wand. The slitted spill roof container is provided to minimize spillage of bubble blowing solution and its construction necessitates the use of a wand which is relatively thin in cross-section. The construction of the wand therefore precludes use of a wand where the loops or rings are disposed in spaced planes as described above.

None of the conventional devices produce variable sized bubbles that can be dispensed at a various rates. Additionally, none of the conventional devices have chambers or reservoirs for the smoke solution that can be inverted without spilling the solution. Also, toys have a limited number of functions or uses and therefore tend to quickly lose childrens' interest.

Accordingly, there is need for toys with multiple functions and different uses to enhance childrens' excitement, enjoyment and interest with the toys.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to a bubble generator or bubble device and more specifically to a toy for producing vapor filled bubbles.

In one embodiment of the present invention, the bubble generator or bubble toy includes a housing and a nozzle connected to the housing, where the nozzle is adapted to receive and at least temporarily hold a bubble solution. The bubble solution may be any suitable solution such as a soap and water mixture or any other suitable bubble producing solution or mixture. The toy also includes a vapor generator mounted in the housing, where the vapor generator is positioned adjacent to the nozzle and an air mover mounted in the housing, where the air mover is positioned adjacent to the vapor generator. The toy also includes at least one activator movably connected to the housing, where the activator is in communication with the vapor generator and the air mover. In operation, upon the activation of the activator, the activator causes the vapor generator to generate vapor and causes the air mover to move an amount of air through the vapor generator and the bubble solution on the nozzle to produce at least one vapor-filled bubble.

In an embodiment, the air mover includes a housing, an impeller rotatably mounted in the housing, and a gear assembly mounted in the housing. The gear assembly being coupled to the impeller and the activator, where upon the activation of the activator, the gear assembly causes the impeller to rotate and move air through the vapor generator and the bubble solution on the nozzle.

In an embodiment, the gear assembly includes at least one gear coupled to the impeller and the activator.

In an embodiment, the vapor generator includes a heater.

In another embodiment, the toy includes a container in communication with the vapor generator. The container being adapted to receive a solution such as a vapor solution, fog solution or smoke solution, and transfer at least a portion of the solution to the vapor generator upon the activation of the activator, where the portion of the solution contacts the heater to generate the vapor.

In an embodiment, the air mover includes a mechanically operated fan. In another embodiment, the air mover includes a battery operated fan. In another embodiment, the air mover includes an electrically operated fan.

In an embodiment, the activator includes a trigger.

In an embodiment, the bubble solution includes at least one color to produce at least one bubble including the at least one color.

In an embodiment, the vapor includes at least one color.

In another embodiment, the present invention provides a device for producing bubbles including means for producing smoke, means for producing a first bubble, where the first bubble is adapted to substantially surround at least a portion of the smoke, and means for producing a second bubble, where the second bubble adapted to surround the first bubble.

In an embodiment, the device includes a third bubble adapted to substantially surround at least a portion of the smoke.

In another embodiment, the second bubble is adapted to surround the third bubble.

In an embodiment, the means for producing the first bubble includes a fan.

In another embodiment, the means for producing the smoke includes a liquid smoke solution adapted to turn into a gas when heated.

In another embodiment, the device includes a tank to hold the liquid smoke solution.

In an embodiment, the means for producing the second bubble includes an electric powered fan.

In a further embodiment, the present invention provides a toy for producing bubbles including a housing, a first nozzle connected to the housing, and a second nozzle connected to the housing. The first nozzle is adapted to receive and at least temporarily hold a bubble solution. The second nozzle is positioned adjacent to the first nozzle, and is adapted to receive and at least temporarily hold the bubble solution. The toy also includes a vapor generator mounted in the housing, an air mover mounted in the housing and a first communication line, where one end of the first communication line is connected to the air mover, and a second opposite end of the first communication line is connected to the vapor generator. The second end of the first communication line directs air through the vapor generator and the bubble solution on the first nozzle. The toy includes a second communication line, where one end of the second communication line is connected to the air mover and the second end is positioned adjacent to the second nozzle. The toy further includes an activator movably connected to the housing, where the activator is, in communication with the vapor generator and the air mover. In operation, upon the activation of the activator, the activator causes the air mover to direct air through second communication line and into the bubble solution on the second nozzle to produce a first bubble and causes the air mover to direct air through the first communication line and the vapor generator to direct vapor generated by the vapor generator into the bubble solution on the second nozzle to produce a vapor-filled second bubble, wherein the first bubble substantially encloses at least a portion of the second bubble.

In an embodiment, the vapor generator includes a fog generator.

In an embodiment, the vapor generator includes a smoke generator.

In an embodiment, the air mover includes a housing, an impeller rotatably mounted in the housing; and a gear assembly mounted in the housing. In this embodiment, the gear assembly is coupled to the impeller and the activator, where upon the activation of the activator, the gear assembly causes the impeller to rotate and move air through the vapor generator and the bubble solution on the nozzle.

In an embodiment, the gear assembly includes at least one gear coupled to the impeller and the activator.

In an embodiment, the vapor generator includes a heater.

In another embodiment, the toy includes a container in communication with the vapor generator, where the container is adapted to receive a solution and transfer at least a portion of the solution to the vapor generator upon the activation of the activator, where the portion of the solution contacts the heater to generate the vapor.

In an embodiment, the air mover includes a battery operated fan.

In an embodiment, the air mover includes an electrically operated fan.

In an embodiment, the activator includes a trigger.

In an embodiment, the bubble solution includes at least one color to produce at least one bubble including the at least one color.

In an embodiment, the vapor includes at least one color.

In a further embodiment, the present invention provides a method of producing bubbles including producing a visible gas, forming a first bubble such that at least a portion of the visible gas is contained within the first bubble, and forming a second bubble such that the first bubble is contained within the second bubble.

In an embodiment, the visible gas includes at least one color.

In an embodiment, the method includes forming a third bubble such that at least a portion of the visible gas is contained within the third bubble.

In another embodiment, the third bubble is contained within the second bubble.

In an embodiment, the first and second bubbles are substantially transparent.

In another embodiment, the method includes forming at least one of the first bubble and the second bubble includes forming at least one of the first bubble and the second bubble including at least one color.

It is an object of the present invention to provide a toy for producing various sized bubbles.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide a toy for producing a stream of relatively small vapor filled bubbles or a few relatively large vapor filled bubbles.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a toy for producing smoke that can be encased within a bubble or emitted from the toy in any other manner desired.

It is yet a further object of the present invention to provide a toy for producing vapor or smoke filled bubbles having a system that does not allow significant spillage of a smoke solution, even when the toy is completely inverted.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a device for producing at least one vapor-filled bubble.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide a device for producing at least one vapor-filled bubble including a mechanically operated fan assembly.

The objects of the present invention are obtained by a smoke producing toy, including a compressible chamber adapted to receive a liquid and having an opening therein, a heating element at least partially received in the opening, a member adjacent to the compressible chamber, and an activating device coupled to the member. Whereby when the toy is activated using the activating device, the member moves and compresses the chamber, thereby forcing the liquid through the opening and past the heating element, which in turn heats the liquid and turns the liquid to vapor.

The objects of the present invention are further obtained by a toy for producing bubbles, including a reservoir adapted to hold a fluid and having an opening therein. A heating element is adjacent the opening and is adapted to heat the fluid and thereby turn the fluid into a vapor. A bubble forming mechanism is adapted to be substantially covered by a film, and a fan is adapted to move the vapor though the bubble forming mechanism at a first velocity or a second velocity.

Additional features and advantages of the present invention are described in, and will be apparent from, the following Detailed Description of the Invention and the figures.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

FIG. 1 is a top perspective view of a toy bubble gun in accordance with the preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is an elevational side view of the toy bubble gun of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is an elevational side view of the toy bubble gun of FIG. 2, with a portion of the housing cover removed;

FIG. 4 is an elevational side view of the heating element used in the toy bubble gun of FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is an elevational front view of the toy bubble gun of FIG. 1 with the bubble ring positioned down and in contact with the bubble film;

FIG. 6 is an elevational front view of the toy bubble gun of FIG. 5 with the bubble ring positioned for producing bubbles;

FIG. 7 is bottom rear perspective view of the toy bubble gun of FIG. 1;

FIG. 8 is a bottom side perspective view of the toy bubble gun of FIG. 1; and

FIG. 9 is a schematic of a second embodiment showing the operation of the vapor generating system.

FIG. 10 is a side perspective view of another embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 11 is a side perspective view illustrating one side of the housing of the bubble device of FIG. 10.

FIG. 12 is an enlarged perspective view of a top portion of the bubble device illustrated in FIG. 11.

FIG. 13 is an enlarged perspective view of another portion of the bubble device illustrated in FIG. 11.

FIG. 14 is an enlarged perspective view of a lower portion of the bubble device illustrated in FIG. 11.

FIG. 15 is a top perspective view of the bubble device of the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 10.

FIG. 16 is a rear-perspective view of the bubble device of the embodiment of FIG. 10.

FIGS. 17A to 17F are different schematic views illustrating the housing assembly of the bubble device of FIG. 10.

FIG. 18 is a side perspective view of the storage container, the heater assembly, the pump, the second activator, the switch and the light of the bubble device of the bubble device illustrated in FIGS. 10 and 11.

FIG. 19A is an enlarged perspective view of one embodiment of the storage container of the bubble device illustrated in FIGS. 10 and 11.

FIGS. 19B to 19E are different schematic views of different parts of the storage container illustrated in FIG. 19A.

FIG. 20A is an enlarged perspective view of one embodiment of the pump of the bubble device illustrated in FIG. 10.

FIG. 20B is a schematic view of one embodiment of the bulb included in the pump illustrated in FIG. 20A.

FIGS. 21A and 21B are schematic views of one embodiment of the heater housing included in the heater assembly illustrated in FIG. 11.

FIGS. 21C to 21F are different perspective views of the heater assembly of the bubble device illustrated in FIGS. 10 and 11.

FIGS. 21G and 21H are different schematic views of the connectors of the heater assembly illustrated in FIGS. 21A to 21F.

FIGS. 22A to 22E are perspective views of different components of the fan assembly of the bubble device illustrated in FIGS. 10 and 11.

FIG. 22F are different schematic views of the top fan support of the fan assembly illustrated in FIGS. 10 and 11.

FIG. 22G are different schematic views of the bottom fan support of the fan assembly illustrated in FIGS. 10 and 11.

FIG. 22H are different schematic views of the impeller of the fan assembly illustrated in FIGS. 10 and 11.

FIG. 22I are different schematic views of the fan cover of the fan assembly illustrated in FIGS. 10 and 11.

FIG. 22J are different schematic views of one of the gears of the fan assembly illustrated in FIGS. 10 and 11.

FIG. 22K are different schematic views of the sun gear of the fan assembly illustrated in FIGS. 10 and 11.

FIG. 23 are different schematic views of one section of the first activator of the embodiment of the bubble device illustrated in FIGS. 10 and 11 illustrated in FIGS. 10 and 11.

FIG. 24 are different schematic views of one embodiment of a solution tray of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

FIGS. 1-3 illustrate a toy bubble gun 10 according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention. The gun 10 preferably has a plastic housing 12 that is formed of a first half or portion 14 and a second half or portion 16. The two halves 14 and 16 preferably encase at least a portion of the bubble and smoke or vapor making mechanisms and are coupled together using screws. The gun 10 includes a base 18, a handle 20 and a barrel section 22. The barrel section 22 has a main portion 24 and a pivotal portion 26. However, it is noted that the gun can have any shape or configuration desirable and can be formed from any suitable material.

As shown in FIGS. 3, 7 and 8, the base portion has a substantially flat surface 28, with a door 30 that allows access to battery compartment 32. Substantially flat surface 28 is relatively wide, with respect to the handle 20 and long enough to provide a stable base for the gun 10. In other words, the base allows the gun 10 to be placed on a surface (not shown), such as a table or the ground, in an upright position without falling over. Extending through the housing 12 at the rear portion 38 of the base portion is a switch 35. Switch 35 can be any type of switch desired. For example, as shown in the preferred embodiment, switch 35 is a slide switch; however the switch 35 can be any suitable switch, such as a button or toggle or any other suitable switch. Additionally, switch 35 can be located on any portion of the base or on any other area of toy gun 10 and do not necessarily need to be positioned on the base.

As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, handle 20 is sized and configured to be held in the palm of one hand and grip portion 34 can be textured for improved feel, if desired. Beginning at end 36, handle 20 extends from the rear portion 38 of the base 18 at preferably an angle slightly less than perpendicular. End 40 of handle 20 is coupled to the barrel section 22. However, handle 20 can be any configuration desired and does not necessarily need to extend from the base at an acute angle.

Main portion 24 is preferably generally elliptical in shape and has a trigger or activating device 42 extending therefrom. The trigger or lever arm 42 is generally slidable from a first position 44 (FIG. 1) to a second position 46 (FIG. 2). As shown in FIG. 1, main portion 24 is coupled to pivoting portion 26. Pivoting portion 26 is generally circular or spherical in shape and has bubble mechanism 48 coupled thereto. However, pivoting portion 26 and main portion 24 can be any configuration or shape desired.

As shown in FIGS. 5 and 6, pivoting portion 26 has a slot or opening 50 that extends along the portion 52 of pivoting portion that faces away from the main portion 24 to a portion 54 that faces down in the direction toward the base. Bubble mechanism 48 is positioned within slot 50 and is adapted to pivot from a first position 56 adjacent portion 52 to a second position 58 adjacent portion 54.

As shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, bubble mechanism 48 preferably has three struts 60 a, 60 b and 60 c extending through slot 50 to bubble forming mechanism 62. Struts 60 a-c and bubble forming mechanism are preferably formed from plastic, but can be any suitable material. Bubble forming mechanism 62 is preferably substantially ring-shaped having opening 64 therein (FIG. 6). Opening 64 is defined by an inner surface 66 having a first or inner diameter 68. Mechanism 62 also has an outer surface 70 with a second or outer diameter 72. Second diameter 72 is preferably greater than first diameter 68. It is noted that the bubble forming mechanism can be any shape or configuration suitable.

As shown in FIGS. 1 and 6, main portion 24 has a basin or receptacle 74 hingedly connected thereto by support arm 76. Support device 76 is preferably a plastic arm that extends from the main portion to the receptacle 74. Receptacle 74 is preferably a plastic substantially cylindrical or circular cup having an inner wall 78 and an outer wall 80 and a bottom 82. If desired receptacle 74 can have a lid (not shown) that can be removably attached to at least one of walls 78 and 80. The lid would significantly reduce inadvertent spilling of any fluid therein, while allowing the bubble producing mechanism 62 access to the fluid held within receptacle 74. Support device 76 and receptacle 74 are preferably sized and configured to position the receptacle underneath of pivoting portion 22. Support device 76 is adapted to move from a first position 84 (FIG. 5), wherein the bubble producing mechanism 62 is positioned within the receptacle 74 to a second position 86 (FIG. 6), where the bubble producing mechanism 62 is positioned away from the receptacle 74. Support device 76 can be protected by a plastic cover 85, as shown in FIG. 2; however cover 85 is not necessary.

As shown in FIG. 3, battery pack or compartment 32 is generally rectangular and is positioned within the base portion 18. Electrical wires 88 extend from battery pack 32 to electrical switch 35.

Handle 20 houses reservoir tank or chamber 90, lever arm 92 and heating element 94. Reservoir tank or receptacle 90 is preferably formed of a flexible or compressible plastic or rubber material and is generally elliptical in shape. However, reservoir 90 can be formed of any suitable material and have any configuration desired. Reservoir 90 is preferably positioned within handle 20 such that end 94 of lever arm 92 is adjacent the area of the reservoir having the largest diameter. This allows nozzle 96 to extend through the housing, allowing access into reservoir 90. Nozzle 96 preferably defines a channel or opening 97 into reservoir 90 for filling reservoir 90 with a suitable fluid. Nozzle 96 preferably has a cap or stopper 98 plugging the opening 97, thereby effectively closing or sealing the reservoir from the external atmosphere. It is noted that the reservoir 90 does not necessarily need to be positioned in the handle 20 as specifically described and can be positioned in any suitable manner. For example, the reservoir 90 does not necessarily need to be positioned with the lever arm 92 at the portion with the largest diameter, and can be positioned relative to the lever arm in any suitable manner.

At end 100 of reservoir 90, heating member or element 94 extends into reservoir 90 through an opening 102. As shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, heating element 94 is formed from a metal outer tube 104 substantially radially enclosing a glass element 106. Metal tube 104 is preferably a substantially cylindrical hollow tube with a length and an inner diameter and an outer diameter. Glass element 106 preferably is substantially cylindrical and encases a coiled metal resistance wire 108. The resistance wire is coiled around a middle portion 110 that is encased by a top portion 112 and a bottom portion 114. The heating element has a first mounting member 116 and a second mounting member 118 that are adapted to position the heating element in the reservoir 90.

The glass element has an outer diameter that is less than the inner diameter of tube 104. More specifically, an outer diameter of the glass element is configured such that a space exists between at least a portion of the glass element outer surface and the metal tube inner surface. Additionally the glass element has a length that is greater that the metal tube.

Heating element 94 has a first electrical wire 120 and a second electrical wire 122 coupled thereto. The first electrical wire 120 is coupled to the end distal to the opening 102, and the second wire 122 is coupled to the end proximal or adjacent the opening 102. Wire 120 and 122 are electrically coupled to a power source, preferably the battery compartment 32; however, the wires 120 and 122 can be electrically coupled to any power source desired.

Positioned behind disk 138 is a variable fan (not shown). The fan is electrically coupled to the battery compartment 32, or any other electrical source, and can vary its rotational velocity. The fan is adapted to blow air, smoke, fog, vapor or any combination thereof or any other fluid though tube 139, into tube 141 and past bubble forming mechanism 62. By varying the speed or velocity of the fan, the velocity of any fluid that passes through the fan can be varied, and thus the size of the bubbles and rate at which bubbles can be produced can be varied. The fan can be coupled to any type of device, such as a trigger or switch that would allow the user to vary the speed of the fan motor.

As shown in FIGS. 1-3, there are a series of levers, linkages and rotatable discs that function together to operate gun 10. Preferably, trigger or lever arm 42 extends from an internal portion of the gun 10 through opening or slot 124 in the housing 12. If desired a particle trapping device, such as a series of bristles (not shown) can be positioned within opening 124. Such bristles would prevent smoke or vapor from escaping from the gun 10, and also trap dirt and dust, while allowing air to enter the internal portion of the housing and simultaneously allowing lever arm 42 to move from first position 44 to second position 46.

Lever arm 42 rotates around pivot point 126. End 128 of lever arm 42 abuts end 130 of linkage 132. Linkage 132 is adapted to pivot around pivot point 136. Linkage 134 is then connected to disk 138 and end 140. Disk 138 is adapted to rotate about center point 142. Approximately 180 degrees from end 140, linkage 144 is coupled to disk 138 at end 146. Linkage 144 is coupled to disk 148 at end 150, and disk 148 is adapted to rotate about center point 152. Bubble mechanism 48 is then connected to disk 148.

Additionally, disk 138 has a protrusion or an abutment 154 extending therefrom. Abutment 154 is adapted to contact lever arm 156, which in turn causes cam 158 to rotate about pivot point 160. Pivoting cam 158 rotates arm 162, which contacts arm 164, which is connected to linkage system 165. Linkage system is coupled to receptacle 74 and is adapted to move the receptacle toward and away from bubble mechanism 48.

Furthermore, cam 158 has lever arm 166 extending therefrom, which is adapted to contact lever arm 168. Lever arm 168 is adapted to pivot about pivot point 170, thereby moving lever arm 92 and end 94. As described above, end 94 is preferably adjacent or abutting reservoir 90.

LED 174 is visible though the main portion of housing 12 and is electrically connected to battery compartment 32. LED 174 is preferably lit when the switch 35 is in the on position.

As illustrated in FIGS. 1-8, toy bubble gun ten operates in the following manner. Stopper 98 for reservoir 90 is removed allowing access to reservoir 90. A fluid 91 capable of producing smoke or vapor when heated is preferably inserted or poured into reservoir 90. For example, FOG JUICE or any other suitable product could be used, which can vary in color and/or scent (e.g., the smoke can appear as any color in the visible spectrum). The stopper 98 is then replaced to form a closed system.

The battery door 30 is removed to expose the inside portion of battery compartment 32. Preferably batteries are positioned therein; however, the power source for the gun 10 can be any suitable power supply. Switch 35 is then moved into the on position, at which time the heating element heats up. The powering up of the toy also includes starting of the fan.

It is noted that to preserve energy and/or battery life, the gun can have an energy on demand system. This system can be electrical (i.e., controlled by a microprocessor or other electrical system) or mechanical (i.e., perform certain functions in response to lever arm actions). In any configuration, the system would have stages of operation. For example, upon turning the gun on, the heating element would begin to heat up. At this time, the fan would not be in operation. Once the heating element was sufficiently hot to turn the liquid into vapor, the fan could be activated.

Generally, to begin the process, the lever 42 is in the first position 44, which through the linkage system and lever arms positions the bubble mechanism 62 within the receptacle 74. Since receptacle 74 is preferably bowl shaped, a liquid can be held therein. Preferably any bubble producing liquid can be used. For example, general liquid soap can be used. The liquid preferably forms a film across the opening 64 of the bubble mechanism 62, as is generally known in the bubble producing art.

As lever arm 42 is moved toward the second position, two things happen, substantially simultaneously. First lever arm causes the series of linkages and lever arms to bias or move the lever arm 92 in the direction of reservoir 90. Since reservoir 90 is flexible, lever arm 92 compresses the reservoir 90, thereby decreasing the interior volume thereof. This decrease in volume forces fluid 91 up through the heating element 94 (i.e., between the metal tube and the glass element). Since the glass element has been heated, this causes the fluid to turn to smoke or vapor.

The second action that occurs is that the series of lever arms and linkages causes disk 148 to rotate in a clockwise direction (as shown in FIG. 3). This rotation brings the bubble mechanism up parallel to the base 18. Also, the series of linkages and lever arms move the receptacle 74 in a downward direction, away from the pivoting portion 26.

The fan begins to suck or draw the smoke from the handle into the blades of the fan, and tube 141 and tube 139 align to form a single passageway. The fan then pushes the smoke through tubes 139 and 141. It is noted that air from the gun preferably enters the interior of the housing through the opening 124 or simply through the open portions of the housing. This air helps cool portions of the gun, such as the heating element and the fan and also mixes with the smoke to produce an air/smoke combination.

The smoke or air/smoke combination travels through the bubble mechanism 48 forming bubbles having smoke and/or air trapped or encased therein. As discussed above, the fan can have a variable speed motor, which would allow varying sized bubbles and various rates at which bubbles are produced. For example, the fan could operate between speeds that would allow only one large bubble to be produced or a stream of bubbles to be produced.

Any direction (such as up, down, left, right, clockwise, counterclockwise, etc.) described herein is used solely for exemplary purposes and is not meant to limit the invention.

FIG. 9 illustrates a second embodiment 200 of the reservoir for the smoke fluid and the heating element. Specifically, the embodiment of FIG. 9 has a fog solution reservoir tank or receptacle 210 that is in fluid communication with bellows 212. The smoke or fog solution 91 is initially introduced into the receptacle 210 through as nozzle (not shown), similar to nozzle 96. Reservoir 210 has a first opening or air inlet 214, a second opening 216 and a third opening 217. The second opening has a first conduit or pipe 218 inserted therein that extends into reservoir 210, such that fluid can enter the conduit 218.

Conduit 218 preferably has a one way check valve 220 that only allows fluid to travel in the direction of arrow 222. End 224 of conduit 218 enters first opening 226 of bellows 212. Bellows 212 has a second opening 228 with a second conduit or pipe 230 extending therefrom. End 232 of conduit 230 extends into bellows 212 in such a manner as to allow fluid to enter conduit 230. Conduit 230 has a one way check valve 231 that only allows fluid to travel in the direction of arrow 232.

Conduit 230 extends to and is in fluid communication with a chamber 234 that houses heating element 236. Heating element 236 is preferably a MICA tube having a resistance wire 238 coiled therearound. The resistance wire is prefereably electrically connected to a power source such as the battery compartment 32.

Chamber 234 also has an opening 239 that is in fluid communication with fan 240 and an opening 242 that is in fluid communication with reservoir 210 through conduit 244 that extends through opening 217. Conduit 244 has a one way check valve 246 that only allows fluid to travel in the direction of arrow 248.

Additionally, fan housing 250 can have a drain valve 252 therein to allow any condensation to drain from the housing.

In operation, when lever arm 42 is moved to first position 44, lever arm 254 moves in the direction of arrow 256. This movement expands baffles 214, which draws or sucks fluid from reservoir 212 into the baffles. Then as the lever arm 42 is moved from the first position to the second position, the lever arm 254 contracts or compresses baffles 214. This compression forces the fluid through conduit 230 and into the chamber 234. The fluid contacts the heating element 236, which in turn heats the fluid causing the fluid to turn to smoke, The smoke in then drawn into the fan 240. Any excess fluid returns to reservoir 212 via conduit 244.

This embodiment is simply used in place of reservoir 90 and heating element 94, and any other description of the gun or operation thereof is applicable to this embodiment.

Referring now to FIGS. 10 through 24, another embodiment of the bubble device or toy bubble gun of the present invention is illustrated where the bubble device or bubble gun 300 produces varying sizes and/or shapes of vapor-filled, fog-filled, or smoke-filled bubbles.

Referring to FIGS. 10 through 17F, the bubble device or toy bubble gun 300 includes a housing 302 having a first side, first half or portion 303 a and a second side, second half or portion 303 b. In one embodiment, the housing 302 is made with a suitable, durable plastic. It should be appreciated that the housing may be made of any suitable material or materials. In one embodiment, the left side 303 b of the housing 302 includes all of the components or parts of the bubble device. The other side 303 a of the bubble device is configured to mate with the left side 303 b to enclose all of the components. It should be appreciated that the left side, the right side or both sides 303 a and 303 b of the housing 302 may include one or more of the components of the bubble device. Specifically, the housing 302 includes a barrel section 304, a handle or grip section 306 and a base or bottom section 308 which integrally form the housing. A nozzle mouth or nozzle connector 310 illustrated in FIG. 17E is connected to the front portion the housing 302. A ring connector 360 including concentric inner and outer rings 362 and 364 is connected to the nozzle connector 310 and is adapted to receive and connect with a nozzle or wand 312. The ring connector 360 includes arms 366 which connect the inner ring 364 to the outer ring 362. The nozzle or wand 312 is configured to produce a particular size or shape bubble from the bubble device. It should be appreciated that the nozzle 312 may be any suitable size or shape or having any suitable configuration. The housing 302 further includes at least one vent 314 connected to one or both sides of the housing to release any heat generated by the internal components of the bubble device as well as enable air to circulate within the inside of the housing.

In one embodiment, the bubble device 300 includes a battery or battery pack 320 which provides power to one or more of the components inside of the housing 302 of the bubble device. As illustrated in FIGS. 17C and D, the battery pack includes a housing 320 having a plurality of sections or compartments for receiving one or more batteries 321. In one embodiment, the bubble device 300 includes a battery pack having a housing 320 including six compartments for receiving six batteries 321 as illustrated in FIG. 17C. It should be appreciated that any suitable number of batteries or types of batteries may be employed by the bubble device to supply power to the bubble device.

Referring to FIGS. 10 through 16, in one embodiment, the bubble device 300 includes a storage container or reservoir 326 which stores a lubricant, lubricating solution, oil solution or oil which is transferred to heater assembly 322 which heats the oil to produce a vapor, fog or smoke. The bubble device 300 also includes a fan assembly 324 which generates air that is directed through the heater assembly 322 and through the nozzle or wand 312 (which has a thin portion of bubble solution extending across one surface of the nozzle) to produce a vapor-filled, fog-filled or smoked-filled bubble from the bubble device when a user activates the first and/or second activators 316 and 328 of the bubble device.

Referring to FIGS. 10, 11, 13, 14, 18 and 19A through 19E, one embodiment of the storage container or storage reservoir 326 is illustrated. The storage container or storage reservoir 326 includes a container housing 368 which defines a first opening 369 a and a second opening 369 b. The housing 368 may be made of any suitable material such as a durable plastic and includes a base or bottom and upwardly extending walls which form a receptacle or container for receiving the lubricant or oil solution described above. The housing 368 may be any suitable size or shape which fits within the bubble device. A container top or top member 370 is connected to the top or top portion of the housing 368 to seal the housing and prevent the oil or oil solution from spilling or leaking outside of the storage container and into the inside of the bubble device. The top member lid or container top 370 may be integrally formed with the housing 368 or manufactured as a separate component which is connected to the top of the housing.

In one embodiment, an access cover or sealer 372 is configured to seal the openings 369 a and 369 b of the housing 368. The access cover 372 is made of a resilient material such as a durable rubber and includes a lock plug 374 and a seal plug 376 which are integrally formed with the access cover. The lock plug 374 is configured to frictionally fit within the opening 369 b to seal the opening 369 b and attach the access cover 372 to the housing 368. The seal plug 376 is configured and sized to frictionally fit within the opening 369 a to seal the opening 369 a. As illustrated in FIG. 16, at least a portion of the housing 368 and the access cover 372 are accessible from the exterior of the bubble device to enable a user to access the storage container 326 to fill or remove the lubricant or oil solution from inside of the storage container 326. In operation, a user grabs or holds the top portion of the access cover 372 and pulls the top portion of the access cover 372 away from the housing 368 to remove the seal plug 376 from the opening 369 a. This exposes the opening 369 a and enables a user to fill the lubricant or oil solution into the housing 368 of the storage container. Similarly, the oil solution or lubricant can be removed from the storage container by tilting or angling the bubble device such that gravity causes the oil solution or lubricant to drip from or otherwise pour out of the storage container.

In one embodiment, the top member or housing cover 370 includes a seal receptacle 378 adapted to receive a seal member or seal 380 as shown in FIGS. 19D and 19E, and three openings 381, 382 and 383. Specifically, the seal receptacle 378 includes at least one wall which is integrally formed with the container top 370 and extends a designated distance from the bottom surface. A transfer opening or first opening 381 is defined by the container top and is positioned inside of the seal receptacle. The transfer opening is sized and adapted to receive a communication line or tube for transferring or delivering the oil solution or lubricant from the inside of the housing 368 to the heater assembly 322 via the pump 330. A second opening or vent opening 382 is defined by the container top and is adapted to receive a different communication line or tube to vent the inside of the housing 368. The vent opening 382 enables the pressure to be equalized or controlled within the housing 368. A third opening or drain opening 383 is defined by the container top and is adapted to receive a communication line or tube connected to the heater assembly. In particular, the drain line from the heater assembly, which is described in more detail below, is connected to the opening 383 to drain excess lubricant or oil solution not heated by the heater assembly from the housing of the heater assembly.

Referring now to FIGS. 10 through 16, 20A and 20B, one embodiment of a pump 330 of the bubble device of the present invention is illustrated where the pump facilitates the delivery or transfer of the lubricant or oil solution from the storage container 326 to the heater assembly 322. In one embodiment, the pump 330 includes a first valve 384, a second valve 385 and a bulb 386. As illustrated in FIG. 20A, the first valve 384 and second valve 385 are connected to a lid or cover which is secured and/or connected to the bulb 386. The first valve and second valve 384 and 385 are manufactured of a durable material such as a durable plastic. It should be appreciated that any suitable material may be used to form the first and second valves 384 and 385. The first and second valves 384 and 385 each include resilient members or springs as illustrated in FIG. 28. The spring in the second valve 385 compresses when the bulb 386 is at least partially compressed to enable at least a portion of the lubricant or oil solution to flow into and through the communication line 355. When the bulb 386 expands back to its initial state, the spring also expands to an initial state to seal the end of the communication line 355 and prevent the lubricant or oil solution in this line from moving back into the bulb 386. Similarly, first valve 384 compresses when the bulb is compressed to allow the lubricant or oil solution to enter the bulb from the storage container. When the bulb expands back to an initial position, the spring expands to its initial position to close off the valve. It should be appreciated that the first and second valves 384 and 385 may be any suitable valves such as check valves or other suitable valves.

In one embodiment, the bulb 386 is formed of a durable plastic or durable rubber which is resilient and able to expand and contract due to pressure applied to the bulb. As described above, the bulb 386 receives at least a portion of the lubricant, oil or oil solution stored in the storage container. When the bulb 386 is compressed or squeezed, at least a portion of the lubricant or oil solution inside of the bulb 386 is directed out of the second valve 355 through the communication line 355 and to the heater assembly 322. In another embodiment, the pump 330 includes an electrically-powered or battery-powered pump which receives and delivers the lubricant or oil solution to the heater assembly. It should be appreciated that any suitable pump or pumping device may be employed by the bubble device of the present invention to receive and deliver the lubricant oil solution to the heater assembly.

Referring to FIGS. 10 through 16, 18, and 21A through 21G, one embodiment of the heater assembly 322 is illustrated where the heater assembly 322 heats at least a portion or a designated amount of the lubricant or oil solution contained in the storage container to create or produce a vapor such as a fog or smoke that is emitted from the bubble device 300. In this embodiment, the heater assembly 322 includes a upper housing 388 and a lower housing 390 which are configured to matingly connect with each other to enclose the internal component such as the heating components of the heater assembly. The upper housing 388 includes protruding members or supports which secure and hold the heating element or heater 394. Specifically, at least two contacts or electrically connectors 392 are connected to the supports and are spaced apart at designated length or distance. The heating element or heater 394 is secured to each of the contacts. Each contact 392 is in electrical communication with or are electrically connected to the batteries 321 and the battery housing 320 via suitable connectors or wiring 342. The electrical current or electricity generated by the battery is supplied to at least one of the contacts 392 to generate a current such as an electrical current across the heating element or heater 394. The heating element heater 394 is made of a suitable material such a suitable electrically conductive material which heats up as the electricity or electric current passes through or across the heating element or heater 394. The heat generated by the heating element 394 heats at least a portion of the lubricant or oil solution transferred or delivered to the heater assembly. The heated oil or lubricant transforms into a vapor, fog or smoke when the oil solution or lubricant contacts the heater or heater element 394.

In one embodiment, the temperature of the heating element or heater 394 is determined based on the suitable temperature necessary to produce a desired vapor, fog or smoke. In this embodiment, the upper housing 388 defines at least two openings. One of the openings is adapted to receive and secure the communication line or tube connected to the pump 330. This communication line or tube delivers the oil solution or lubricant to the heater assembly. The heater assembly is positioned in the bubble device such that the oil solution or lubricant delivered from the pump drips onto or contacts the heater 394 in small droplets or drips due to gravity. It should be appreciated that a suitable sprayer or spraying device may be employed to deliver the oil solution or lubricant into contact with the heater 394.

The second or other opening defined by the upper housing 388 of the heater assembly is configured and adapted to receive another communication line or tube 351 which is connected to the storage container. The communication line or tube is a drain line or tube which transfers or delivers any unused or excess lubricant or oil solution, which was not heated by the heating elements, back to the storage container to conserve the lubricants or oil solution.

In one embodiment, the heater assembly 322 includes a first tube connector 396 and a second tube connector 398 which are connected to opposing ends of the connected upper and lower housings 388 and 390. The first connector illustrated in FIG. 21G includes semicircular flanges or flange members which are configured to secure the connector to the connected upper and lower housing 388 and 390. The first tube connector 396 is connected to the fan assembly 324. The second tube connector 398 includes at least one outwardly extending flange and is secured to the upper and lower housing 388 and 390, opposite to the first connector. The second connector 398 is in a position adjacent to the bubble emitting opening of the bubble device and is sized to connect with the adaptor 399 as illustrated in FIG. 18. It should be appreciated that the first and second connectors 396 and 398 may be any suitable size or shape or any suitable type of connector.

Referring to FIGS. 10 through 16, and 22A through 22K, one embodiment of the fan assembly 324 is illustrated where the fan assembly generates air which is directed into the heater assembly 322 and into the bubble solution on the nozzle or wand 312 on the bubble device to produce one or a plurality of bubbles from the bubble device. The fan assembly 324 includes a top fan support 344 a and a bottom fan support 344 b. The bottom fan support 344 b is positioned adjacent to the inside surface of the left side 303 b of the housing 302 of the bubble device. The bottom fan support 344 b is sized and configured to receive at least a portion of the gears 402. Specifically, one of the gears 402 (i.e., the lower gear) illustrated in FIG. 22J, is moveably or rotatably connected to the rear surface of the top fan support 344 a by inserting a shaft connected to the gear into an opening defined by the surface. The other gear 402 (i.e., the upper gear) which includes a shaft connected to the gear and a smaller sun gear integrally formed with the gear is inserted into the fan support and positioned adjacent to the lower gear 402. The gears 402 are positioned such that the inner teeth of the upper gear 402 mesh with the outer teeth of the lower gear 402 to cause the upper gear to move or rotate when the lower gear moves or rotates. Furthermore, the outer teeth of the upper gear mesh with the teeth of the sun gear 406 which is moveably connected to the fan support 344 a. Specifically, one end of a shaft 404 is connected to the sun gear 406 and the other end of the shaft extends through the fan support and is connected to the fan or impeller 340. Therefore, when the sun gear 406 moves or rotates, the fan or impeller 340 moves or rotates in the same or similar direction.

In this embodiment, a gear member 346 or elongated planar gear 346 including a plurality of teeth is connected to the first activator or trigger 316. In one embodiment, the gear member 346 is integrally formed with the first activator or trigger 316. In another embodiment, the gear member 346 is manufactured as a separate component which is connected to suitable attached to the trigger 316. The teeth on the gear member 346 are sized and positioned to mesh with the outer teeth of the lower gear 402. Accordingly, as the trigger 316 is pulled inward or activated, the gear member 346 also moves inward which causes the meshing teeth of the gear member 346 and the lower gear 402 to move the lower gear 402 in the same direction or counterclockwise direction. The movement of the lower gear in the counterclockwise direction causes the upper gear to rotate in a clockwise direction. In turn, the clockwise movement of the upper gear 402 causes the sun gear 406 to move in a counterclockwise direction and similarly causes the impeller to move in the counterclockwise direction. It should be appreciated that the gears may move in any suitable direction or directions. The movement of the fan or impeller 340 moves the air within the fan assembly as the fan blades on the impeller 340 force or push the air in the fan assembly as the fan blades rotate. The lower gear 402 is a slip gear or ratchet gear which only moves in one direction. Therefore, when the first activator or trigger 316 is released and the gear member 346 moves in the opposite direction, the lower gear 402 slips or does not move with the gear member. Therefore, the impeller or fan 340 only moves in one direction and continued to spin for a period of time until the friction of the air against the fan blades slows the fan or impeller 340 to a stop.

In one embodiment, a fan cover 400 is manufactured and configured to matingly engage the top fan support 344 a. In particularly, the top fan support 344 a includes a wall integrally formed with the fan support to frictionally engage a corresponding wall or walls of the fan cover 400. Suitable connectors such as one or more of the screws 318 illustrated in FIG. 10 are used to secure the fan cover to the top and bottom fan supports and to the housing 302. It should be appreciated that any suitable connectors may be used to secure any of the components or parts of the bubble device.

In the illustrated embodiment, the fan assembly 324 described above includes a centrifugal fan which is mechanically powered by the activation of the activator or trigger 316 by a user. The mechanically-powered or activated fan, therefore, conserves power such as battery power or electricity to enable the batteries to last longer and provide longer lasting enjoyment for users during the life of the batteries.

Referring now to FIGS. 10 through 16 and 23, one embodiment of the first activator or trigger 316 is illustrated where the trigger includes a first part and a second part 408 a and 408 b which are manually engaged to form a trigger 316. The first part or half 408 a includes receptacles which mate with the protruding member of the second part 408 b as illustrated in FIG. 23. The first and second parts 408 a and 408 b of the trigger 316 are connected together and also connect about an extending member of the gear member 346 which connects the trigger 316 to the gear member 346. This enables the gear member 346 to move when the trigger is activated or pushed inward. The trigger 316 is moveably connected to the housing 302 such that the trigger moves a predetermined distance within the housing 302. Specifically, the trigger is moveably connected to the housing 302 such that the inner portion of a trigger contacts the pump 330 when the trigger is fully compressed, activated or pushed inward into the housing 302. The contact of the trigger 316 with the pump 330 causes the pump to dispense or deliver at least a portion of the oil solution or lubricant to the heater assembly as described above. Therefore, each time the trigger 316 is activated, the pump delivers at least a portion of the oil solution or lubricant to the heater assembly. It should be appreciated that the trigger 316 may be connected to the housing 302 to move within the housing any designed or predetermined distance to dispense or deliver any suitable amount of oil solution or lubricant to the heater assembly.

Referring to FIGS. 10, 11, 13, 14 and 16, one embodiment of a second activator or trigger 328 is illustrated where the second activator or trigger is electrically connected to the heater assembly and the battery to supply electricity or electrical current to the heater assembly from the battery when the second trigger 328 is activated or pushed inward by a user. Specifically, a user grasps the handle portion of the housing 302 to push the second activator 328 inward or activate the second activator. As illustrated in FIG. 14, the inward movement of the second activator 328 causes a first contact positioned adjacent to the inside surface of the second activator to contact or engage a second contact. The engagement of the first and second contacts connects the circuit between the battery and the heater assembly to deliver the electrically current from the battery to the heater assembly to heat the heater or heater element in the heater assembly. When the second activator or trigger 328 is released or is moved outward, the first and second contacts separate or disconnect to interrupt the flow of the electricity from the battery to the heater assembly, thereby turning off the heater in the heater assembly. It should be appreciated that the bubble device of the present invention may produce or generate bubbles without vapor, fog or smoke inside of the bubbles. In this embodiment, the user simply does not activate the second activator while activating the first activator. This causes the fan assembly to mover air through the nozzle or wand to produce bubbles but does not activate the heater assembly to produce the vapor, fog or smoke that fills the bubbles. It should be appreciated that any suitable activator or trigger such as a suitable input, switch or button may be used as the second activator or trigger 328 in the present invention.

Referring to FIGS. 11, 12, 15 and 18, one embodiment of a switch mechanism or switch 332 is illustrated where the switch 332 is a slide switch or switch which is moveably connected to the housing 302. As illustrated in FIG. 15, the switch 332 may be moved from one position to a second position such as an “on” position and an “of” position. The switch may be any suitable switch such as a slide switch, toggle switch or any other suitable switch. In this embodiment the switch 332 is initially in the off position which prevents electrical current or electricity delivered from the battery from being supplied to the heater assembly 322. When the switch is moved to the on position as illustrated in FIG. 15, the switch connects the electrically current from the battery to the heater assembly to enable the electrical current to pass from the battery to the heater assembly to heat the heater in the heater assembly. It should be appreciated that the switch may be a moveable switch, a input or button or any other suitable switch or button.

Referring to FIGS. 15 and 18, a light, such as a light emitting diode (L.E.D.) 334 is connected to the housing 302 and is visible by a user from the outside of the house. The LED 334 is electrically connected to the switch 332 using suitable wiring or connectors. The LED illuminates when the switch 332 is in the on position to indicate or show the user that the bubble device is turned on. The light illuminating from or emitted by the LED is off or not illuminated when the switch is in the off position or in the position which disconnects the electrical current from the battery to the heater assembly. The light or LED 334, therefore, indicates to a user when the bubble device is powered on or powered off. It should be appreciated that any suitable light, such as an LED or other suitable light source may be employed by the bubble device of the present invention.

Referring now to FIG. 24, a separate and portable reservoir or bubble solution tray 500 is illustrated which is configured to hold a designated amount of bubble solution such as soap, a soap water mixture or other suitable bubble solution. The container, reservoir or tray 500 is sized to receive at least a portion of the nozzle or wand 312. A user pours a designated amount of the bubble solution into the tray 500. The user then inserts at least a portion of the nozzle or wand 312 into the bubble solution in the tray 500 to temporarily secure or hold a fine layer of the bubble solution (i.e., a meniscus of the bubble solution) across the outer surface nozzle or wand 312. It should be appreciated that the bubble solution tray or container 500 may be any suitable size or shape to correspond to any suitable size or shape of the nozzle or wand 312.

In operation, a user grasps or holds the bubble device 300 at the handle section of the housing 302 and inserts the nozzle or wand 312 in the bubble solution tray 500 and specifically, into the bubble solution held by the tray 500 to hold a thin film of the bubble solution on the outer surface of the nozzle or wand 312. The user then simultaneously or successively activates the first and second triggers 316 and 328, respectively. The activation of the second trigger 328 causes electricity to flow from the batteries 321 in the battery housing 320 through the wiring to the heater assembly 322. The electrical current flows through the contacts 392 and the heating element or heater 394 to cause the heating element 394 to heat up or produce heat. The activation of the first trigger 316 compresses the pump 330 to cause the pump to transfer the oil solution or lubricant from the storage container 326 through the pump 330 to the heater assembly 322. The oil solution or lubricant drips onto or contacts the heated heater or heating element 394 to produce a vapor, fog or smoke. The activation of the first trigger 316 also causes the gear member 346 to mesh with the lower gear 402 of the fan assembly 324 which in turn causes the gears 402 and 406 to rotate. Likewise, the fan 340 rotates to move air through the vapor, fog or smoke in the heater assembly 322 and out through the opening of the nozzle connector 310. The air, smoke mixture is directed into the bubble solution on the outside surface of the nozzle or wand 312 which forms a smoke-filled bubble or bubbles. The user can then activate the first and/or second triggers 316 and 328 continuously or intermittingly to produce one or more vapor-filled, fog-filled or smoke-filled bubbles from the bubble device.

In an alternative embodiment, the bubble device, bubble generator or bubble toy of the present invention produces at least one vapor-filled bubble that is substantially enclosed in another bubble produced by the bubble toy. In this embodiment, the bubble may be any suitable size or shape. Additionally, the vapor may be one color or a plurality of colors. Similarly, at least one or a plurality of the bubbles may include one color or a plurality of colors.

In one alternative embodiment, the present invention is directed to a bubble device or bubble toy including a housing, a first nozzle or wand connected to the housing, and a second nozzle or wand connected to the housing. In one embodiment, the first nozzle and second nozzle are integrally formed such that the first nozzle and second nozzle are concentrically arranged. In another embodiment, the first nozzle and the second nozzle are separate nozzles positioned adjacent to each other. It should be appreciated that any suitable number of nozzles or wands including any suitable size and shape may be employed by the present invention. In this embodiment, the first nozzle is adapted to receive and at least temporarily hold a bubble solution. The second nozzle is positioned adjacent to the first nozzle, and is adapted to receive and at least temporarily hold the bubble solution. The toy also includes a vapor generator mounted in the housing and an air mover mounted in the housing.

The toy further includes a first communication line, where one end of the first communication line is connected to the air mover, and a second opposite end of the first communication line is connected to the vapor generator. The second end directs air through the vapor generator and the bubble solution on the first nozzle. The toy includes a second communication line, where one end of the second communication line is connected to the air mover and is positioned adjacent to the second nozzle. An activator is movably connected to the housing. The activator is in communication with the vapor generator and the air mover. In operation, upon the activation of the activator, the activator causes the air mover to direct air through second communication line and into the bubble solution on the second nozzle to produce a first bubble and causes the air mover to direct air through the first communication line and the vapor generator to direct vapor generated by the vapor generator into the bubble solution on the second nozzle to produce a vapor-filled second bubble, where the first bubble substantially encloses at least a portion of the second bubble.

It should be understood that various changes and modifications to the presently preferred embodiments described herein will be apparent to those skilled in the art. Such changes and modifications can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention and without diminishing its intended advantages. It is therefore intended that such changes and modifications be covered by the appended claims.

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Referenced by
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US7086920 *Apr 9, 2004Aug 8, 2006Fusco Michael TFog filled bubble blower
US9050544 *Mar 15, 2013Jun 9, 2015Bo ChenWater and bubble toy
US20040259458 *Apr 9, 2004Dec 23, 2004Fusco Michael T.Fog filled bubble blower
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US20120208426 *Aug 16, 2012Wen-Chuan KuoBubble Shooter Toy
US20140273708 *Mar 15, 2013Sep 18, 2014Bo ChenWater and Bubble Toy
Classifications
U.S. Classification446/18
International ClassificationA63H31/08, A63H33/26, A63H33/28
Cooperative ClassificationA63H31/08, A63H33/26, A63H33/28
European ClassificationA63H31/08, A63H33/26, A63H33/28