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Publication numberUS20050191940 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/041,032
Publication dateSep 1, 2005
Filing dateJan 21, 2005
Priority dateJan 23, 2004
Publication number041032, 11041032, US 2005/0191940 A1, US 2005/191940 A1, US 20050191940 A1, US 20050191940A1, US 2005191940 A1, US 2005191940A1, US-A1-20050191940, US-A1-2005191940, US2005/0191940A1, US2005/191940A1, US20050191940 A1, US20050191940A1, US2005191940 A1, US2005191940A1
InventorsDavid Sheltman, Joe Pohlman, Michael Finizza, Mark Mayer, Mike Andrews, Nelson Tam
Original AssigneeSheltman David A., Pohlman Joe K., Michael Finizza, Mark Mayer, Mike Andrews, Nelson Tam
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Bellows actuated stunt device for toy vehicle trackset
US 20050191940 A1
Abstract
A plurality of stunt devices are used within a toy vehicle trackset. Each of the devices includes a movable portion within the toy vehicle travel path. Each movable portion is moved by a pneumatic actuator. A manually operated air bellows is coupled to each pneumatic actuator by a hollow tube. When a particular air bellows is compressed, the corresponding actuator moves the movable portion diverting the toy vehicle on the stunt device.
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Claims(4)
1. A pneumatic stunt device for use in combination with a toy vehicle and toy vehicle trackset, said pneumatic stunt device comprising:
a support frame;
a movable stunt element having a toy vehicle receiving portion movable between a first position and a second position;
a pneumatic actuator coupled to said support frame and said movable stunt element; and
a collapsible air bellows coupled to said pneumatic actuator,
said air bellows, when compressed, causing said pneumatic actuator to move said movable stunt element from said first position to said second position such that a toy vehicle on said toy vehicle receiving portion is thrown into the air.
2. The pneumatic stunt device set forth in claim 1 wherein said movable stunt element includes a pivotally supported launch ramp having a generally horizontal first position and an upwardly inclined second position.
3. The pneumatic stunt device set forth in claim 1 wherein said movable stunt element includes a generally horizontal turntable pivotable between said first and second positions.
4. The pneumatic stunt device set forth in claim 1 wherein said movable stunt element includes a bridge having first section having one end pivotally secured to said support frame and a remaining end and a second section pivotally coupled to said remaining end, said bridge being generally horizontal in its relaxed state and forming an inverted V when said pneumatic actuator is operated.
Description
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority of Provisional Application 60/598,852 entitled BELLOWS ACTUATED STUNT DEVICE FOR TOY VEHICLE TRACKSET filed Jan. 23, 2004 on behalf of the applicants of the present invention.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates generally to toy vehicle tracksets and particularly to actuated stunt mechanisms utilized therein.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Practitioners in the art have for many years attempted to improve the amusement value of toy vehicle tracksets by adding a variety of so-called stunt devices. Stunt devices have included such apparatus as loops, jumps, collision intersections and the like. The objective is to provide activity which improves the basic operation and amusement value of the toy vehicle trackset. One of the more recent trends in such toy vehicle tracksets is the inclusion of stunt devices which are actuated or operated under the control of the user. This participation further enhances the entertainment value of the trackset. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 6,322,417 issued to Bass sets forth an AIR-DRIVEN HOPPING TOY having a toy frame supported by a pair of pivotable legs and an extendable air cylinder. The extendible air cylinder is coupled to a compressible air bellows. Actuation of the air bellows forces extension of the air cylinder driving the toy and its supporting frame forwardly in an upwardly directed leap. A toy figure is supported upon the frame and appears to be the “pilot” of the hopping toy.

U.S. Pat. No. 3,858,875 issued to Nemeth et al. sets forth a GAP JUMPING TOY VEHICLE GAME which includes a vehicle track and a toy vehicle adapted to move along the track. A vertical jump defined by a pair of ramps is positioned within the track. The ramps are independent of one another and are aligned in space relationship to each other to define a gap therebetween. At least one of the ramps is movable with respect to the track and the other ramp to permit adjustment of the gap distance to be jumped.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,383,688 issued to Prehaodka sets forth an OBSTACLE FOR TOY VEHICLE including a pivotable vane positioned between two lanes of a multiple lane trackset. The vain is actuated by a toy vehicle to obstruct one of the lanes after the toy vehicle has passed. As a result, pursuing vehicles may encounter an obstructed lane and must be diverted to other lanes to avoid colliding with the obstacle.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,513,966 issued to Mucaro et al. sets forth a VEHICLE JUMP FOR A TOY VEHICLE GAME having a track intersection within which a plurality of upwardly directed ramps are positioned. Toy vehicles traversing the intersection may collide or avoid colliding with other toy vehicles depending upon the timing between toy vehicles.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,519,789 issued to Halford et al. sets forth a COMBINED JUMP MEANS AND TOY VEHICLE WITH SIMULATED STUNT HOOP in which a toy vehicle track defines a launch ramp and a receiving ramp spaced by a predetermined distance. Between the launch ramp and receiving ramp, a simulated flaming stunt hoop is suspended. The objective is to drive the toy vehicle so as to jump from the launch ramp to the receiving ramp while passing untouched through the simulated flaming stunt loop.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,038,685 issued to Yoneda et al. sets forth a TRACK APPARATUS FOR A TOY RACING CAR having a car entry track portion, a car exit car portion and a pivotal arm mounted between the two track portions. The pivotal arm is operative to carry a car from one portion to the other.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,715,843 issued to Ostendorffet al. and U.S. Pat. No. 3,621,602 issued to Barcus et al. set forth further examples of jumping stunt toy vehicle trackset apparatus.

In addition to stunt sets, several types of toy vehicle launchers have been provided by practitioners in the art. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 5,254,030 issued to Ostendorff et al. sets forth a RAPID ACTION TOY VEHICLE LAUNCHER having a base supporting a launch station which is coupled to a track portion. A pair of feed ramps are positioned on each side of the launch station and secured to the base. The launch mechanism within the launch station alternates in receiving a toy vehicle from each of the feed ramps and thereafter launching it onto the trackway. The mechanism is operative in a rapid manner to provide a rapid launch action.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,475,303 issued to Ribas et al. sets forth a PAD FOR LAUNCHING TOY VEHICLES ONTO A TRACK having a plate provided with an annular runway on which vehicles are placed. The launcher further includes a turnstile having arms which separate the toy vehicles and provide a stop for them. As the turnstile rotates, successive toy vehicles are launched onto the track.

U.S. Pat. No. 2,546,917 issued to Bergen and U.S. Pat. No. 4,267,661 issued to Hanson set forth further examples of turnstile type launching devices.

U.S. Pat. No. 3,908,989 issued to Meyer sets forth a SKILL GAME UTILIZING TRACKS AND VEHICLES in which a continuously operating self-propelled playing piece is utilized in a three dimensional obstacle course having simulated hazards thereon. A travel path is defined which must be successfully traversed or completed by the playing piece from a starting point to a completion point. A substantial number of prior art tracksets have been provided which utilize a bridge within a track set constructed to lift and carry a toy vehicle upwardly and forwardly to traverse the bridge span. Examples of such bridge lifting toys are found in U.S. Pat. No. 3,613,306 issued to Toshikatsu; U.S. Pat. No. 3,589,064 issued to Takayuki and U.S. Pat. No. 4,221,076 issued to Ozawa. Similar climbing vehicle toy tracksets are shown in U.S. Pat. No. 4,068,402 issued to Tanaka and U.S. Pat. No. 4,254,576 issued to Matsumoto et al.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,185,409 issued to Cheng and U.S. Pat. No. 3,359,920 issued to Iammatteo set forth examples of toy vehicle track apparatus which utilize a “teeter-tatter” or “see-saw” track segment supported in a pivotal fashion upon a fixed base.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,979,926 issued to Bisceglia; U.S. Pat. No. 4,109,412 issued to Saito; U.S. Pat. No. 4,661,080 issued to Goldstein et al. and U.S. Pat. No. 1,661,429 issued to Jade set forth examples of toy vehicle tracksets having a stunt device which includes a movable bridge.

While the foregoing described prior art devices have to some extent improved the art and have in some instances have enjoyed commercial success, there remains nonetheless a continuing need in the art for ever more interesting and amusing toy vehicle trackset stunt devices.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Accordingly, it is a general object of the present invention to provide an improved toy vehicle trackset. It is a more particular object of the present invention to provide an improved toy vehicle trackset having pneumatically actuated stunt devices.

The present invention provides a toy vehicle trackset having articulated or movable stunt elements which are moved by pneumatic actuating devices. Typical pneumatic actuating devices include an expandable cylinder and piston combination having a piston rod coupled to the movable device. In the present invention, a simple compressible air bellows is utilized as an air source and is coupled to the pneumatically activated devices by a flexible hollow tube. As a result, the user is able to activate a chosen stunt device by simply compressing the bellows coupled thereto. As the user compresses the bellows, the stunt device is actuated.

In accordance with the present invention, there is provided a pneumatic stunt device for use in combination with a toy vehicle and toy vehicle trackset, the pneumatic stunt device comprising: a support frame; a movable stunt element having a toy vehicle receiving portion movable between a first position and a second position; a pneumatic actuator coupled to the support frame and the movable stunt element; and a collapsible air bellows coupled to the pneumatic actuator, the air bellows, when compressed, causing the pneumatic actuator to move the movable stunt element from the first position to the second position such that a toy vehicle on the toy vehicle receiving portion is thrown into the air.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The features of the present invention, which are believed to be novel, are set forth with particularity in the appended claims. The invention, together with further objects and advantages thereof, may best be understood by reference to the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in the several figures of which like reference numerals identify like elements and in which:

FIG. 1 sets forth a perspective view of an exemplary toy vehicle trackset;

FIG. 2 sets forth a perspective view of a further example of a toy vehicle trackset;

FIG. 3 sets forth a perspective view of a bellows actuated stunt device constructed in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 4 sets forth a perspective view of an alternative bellows actuated stunt device constructed in accordance with the present invention; and

FIG. 5 sets forth a perspective view of a still further alternate bellows actuated stunt device constructed in accordance with the present invention.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION

By way of overview, the present invention bellows actuated stunt device utilizes a support frame upon which a toy vehicle track is joined. A stunt device including one or more movable components for altering the travel path of a toy vehicle traversing the coupled track is actuated by an air unit such s an expandable air cylinder and piston combination. The air unit is further coupled to an elongated flexible hollow tube which in turn is coupled to a collapsible air bellows. The user is able to actuate the stunt unit by compressing the air bellows. Examples are shown of different types of air driven units constructed in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 1 sets forth a perspective view of a toy vehicle trackset constructed in accordance with the present invention and generally referenced by numeral 10. Toy vehicle 10 includes a scaffold-type support generally referenced by numeral 11. Support 11 includes a number of base elements such as base 12 which utilizes a plurality of support rods such as rod 13. Trackset 10 further includes an intersection 30 supported by scaffold support 11. Intersection 30 includes an outer ring 31 pivotally supported upon support 11 and an inner ring 32. Inner ring 32 is small enough in diameter to fit within the interior of outer ring 31. Inner ring 32 is pivotally secured to outer ring 31. As a result, both outer ring 31 and inner ring 32 are pivotable both with respect to each other and with respect to support 11. Outer ring 32 is coupled to a pair of track portions formed by track loop 22 and track ramp 23. Similarly, inner ring 32 is coupled to one end of track loop 22 and to track segment 21. Because the end portion of track loop 22 are spaced from ramp 23 and track segment 21 respectively, a gap or “jump” is formed across outer ring 31 and inner ring 32. The angle between the jump paths thus formed within intersection 30 is determined by the pivotal positions of outer ring 31 and inner ring 32.

Trackset 10 further includes a booster 15 fabricated in accordance with conventional fabrication techniques which accelerates a toy vehicle passing downwardly upon ramp 23. Trackset 10 further includes a flexible multiple apertured panel 16 which in turn is supported by an adjustable support 17. The remainder of trackset 10 is coupled by a track segment 19 coupled to panel 16 and forming a U-Shaped portion together with a straight track segment 20. Track segment 20 is coupled to track segment 21.

Track segment 21, loop portion 22 and ramp 23 are fabricated to provide a trackway which is highly flexible in use and readily adjustable to a variety of curves, loops and twists. Thus, for example, ramp 23 is formed of a track segment 18 comprising an elongated frame 33 supporting a plurality of guide rail posts such as posts 34 and 35. Posts 34 and 35 are supported along each side of frame 33. A pair of flexible generally rod-like rails such as rails 36 and 37 are secured within posts 34 and 35 as well as the remaining posts along frame 33. The utilization of frame 33 together with supporting posts such as posts 34 and 35 are flexible guide rails such s guide rails 36 and 37 provides a track structure which facilitates bending the resulting track into a variety of curves, loops, twists and the like which are maintained in shape due to the secure attachment of guide rails 36 and 37 on each side of the track frame. In the preferred fabrication of the track segments, the fit and attachment of the guide rails utilizes an extremely tight snap-fit attachment for secure holding of guide rails. Conversely, the positioning of the guide rails after the track frame has been shaped as desired allows the snapped in guide rails to maintain the curvature or twist or other shaping of the track segment.

FIG. 2 sets forth a perspective view of a toy vehicle trackset constructed in accordance with the present invention and generally referenced by numeral 40. Trackset 40 differs from trackset 10 in its utilization in a different arrangement of components and a different combination of components but functions basically the same. Accordingly, trackset 40 includes a loop segment 41 supported by a support structure 42 together with a loop segment 44. Loop segment 44 is coupled between a curved panel 43 having a support 45 and a booster 15. Booster 15 is fabricated in accordance with conventional fabrication techniques and is used to accelerate a toy vehicle passing through the booster stage. An intersection 30 fabricated in the manner described above in FIG. 1, is positioned with an outer ring 31 and an inner ring 32 in a flat or coplanar relationship. Thus, outer ring 31 is coupled to track loop 41 and booster 15 while inner ring 32 is coupled to the remaining end of loop 41 and curved panel 43.

Loop portion 41 and loop portion 44 of trackset 40 are fabricated in the above-described manner in which a track frame supports a plurality of posts which in turn are secured to a pair of flexible guide rails. It will be noted by examination of FIGS. 1 and 2 that this track structure provides substantial flexibility and variability in shaping the contours of the trackset.

In the horizontal configuration of intersection 30 shown in FIG. 2, the jump portions formed by the respective track segments are generally coplanar and generally horizontal. This allows intersection 30 to provide a more conventional toy vehicle intersecting jump.

FIG. 3 sets forth a perspective view of a draw bridge embodiment of the present invention generally referenced by numeral 80. Draw bridge stunt device 80 includes a track portion 85 coupled to a bridge support 83. An expandable air cylinder 88 is coupled between frame 83 and a movable draw bridge 84. As cylinder 88 expands, draw bridge 84 is moved to the raised position in FIG. 3. Expandable cylinder 88 is coupled to a bellows 81 by a flexible tube 82.

In operation, as a toy vehicle speeds down track segment 85 toward stunt device 80, the user attempts to time the compression of bellows 81 by pressing downwardly on bellows 81 in the direction indicated by arrow 87. The resulting air compression as bellows 81 is compressed is coupled by tube 82 to air cylinder 88. Air cylinder 88 expands drawing bridge element 84 to the raised position shown in FIG. 3. Thereafter, toy vehicle 86 having encountered raised bridge 84 is launched in the manner shown in FIG. 3.

FIG. 4 sets forth a perspective view of an alternate embodiment of the present invention stunt device generally referenced by numeral 90. Stunt device 90 includes a supporting frame 91 having an air cylinder 92 supported thereon. A track segment 93 is also coupled to stunt device 90. A movable rotating table 94 is coupled to an expandable air cylinder 92. A flexible hollow tube 95 is coupled to bellows 81 (seen in FIG. 3). As a toy vehicle travels down track segment 93, it moves onto turntable disk 94. Concurrently, the user attempts to actuate expandable cylinder 92 causing turntable 94 to spin and produce the illustrated spinout of the toy vehicle.

FIG. 5 sets forth a perspective view of a still alternate embodiment of the present invention stunt device generally referenced by numeral 100. Stunt device 100 includes a frame 101 supporting an expandable air cylinder 103 which is coupled to a bellows (not shown) by a hollow tube 102. A launch ramp 104 is actuated by cylinder 103 to cause a toy vehicle traversing the launch ramp to be thrown into the air.

While particular embodiments of the invention have been shown and described, it will be obvious to those skilled in the art that changes and modifications may be made without departing from the invention in its broader aspects. Therefore, the aim in the appended claims is to cover all such changes and modifications as fall within the true spirit and scope of the invention.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7628674May 4, 2007Dec 8, 2009Mattel, Inc.Folding track assemblies
US7637796Nov 6, 2006Dec 29, 2009Mattel, Inc.Playset with obstacles and lane switches
US7766720 *Sep 14, 2007Aug 3, 2010Mattel Inc.Play set for toy vehicles
US7819720May 4, 2007Oct 26, 2010Mattel, Inc.Indexing stunt selector for vehicle track set
US7892068May 4, 2007Feb 22, 2011Mattel, Inc.Foldable vehicle playsets with moving components
US7901266May 4, 2007Mar 8, 2011Mattel, Inc.Toy vehicle collision set
US8267738May 2, 2011Sep 18, 2012Mattel, Inc.Toy
US8323069Oct 1, 2010Dec 4, 2012Mattel, Inc.Toy vehicle track set with rotatable element
US8449344Jan 17, 2011May 28, 2013Mattle, Inc.Foldable vehicle playsets with moving components
US8574023Aug 29, 2011Nov 5, 2013Mattel, Inc.Toy vehicle track set
US8814628May 27, 2011Aug 26, 2014Mattel, Inc.Toy vehicle track set
US8870623 *Apr 25, 2012Oct 28, 2014Mattel, Inc.Toy track set
US20120309263 *Aug 29, 2011Dec 6, 2012Berrigan LennonToy vehicle play set
US20130109271 *Apr 25, 2012May 2, 2013Gustavo FerreyraToy Track Set
Classifications
U.S. Classification446/437
International ClassificationA63H18/02, A63H17/00
Cooperative ClassificationA63H18/028, A63H18/023
European ClassificationA63H18/02F, A63H18/02C
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
May 5, 2005ASAssignment
Owner name: MATTEL, INC., CALIFORNIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:SHELTMAN, DAVID;POHLMAN, JOE;FINIZZA, MICHAEL;AND OTHERS;REEL/FRAME:015975/0342
Effective date: 20050504