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Publication numberUS20060211331 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/376,677
Publication dateSep 21, 2006
Filing dateMar 14, 2006
Priority dateMar 16, 2005
Also published asWO2006101980A2, WO2006101980A3
Publication number11376677, 376677, US 2006/0211331 A1, US 2006/211331 A1, US 20060211331 A1, US 20060211331A1, US 2006211331 A1, US 2006211331A1, US-A1-20060211331, US-A1-2006211331, US2006/0211331A1, US2006/211331A1, US20060211331 A1, US20060211331A1, US2006211331 A1, US2006211331A1
InventorsMark Trageser
Original AssigneeMattel, Inc.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Toy wheel launcher
US 20060211331 A1
Abstract
A movable assembly such as a wheel, top, or axle, a launcher, a drive mechanism that is used to spin all or a portion of the movable assembly. The launcher may include two arms that are adapted to engage the movable assembly on opposite sides. Other examples may include a handle that may extend along a longitudinal axis that may be substantially transverse to an axis of rotation of the movable assembly.
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Claims(25)
1. A toy comprising:
a movable assembly including a wheel assembly and having opposite sides;
a launcher including two arms adapted to extend along the movable assembly sides;
a drive mechanism mounted relative to the launcher, the drive mechanism being adapted to be operated selectively by a user to apply a force to the movable assembly; and
a release mechanism including at least one of the movable assembly, the launcher and the drive mechanism, the release mechanism being configured to be changed between a support state, where the launcher supports the movable assembly, and a release state, where the movable assembly is released from the launcher.
2. The toy of claim 1,
wherein the launcher includes a yoke having the two arms;
wherein the movable assembly includes an axle having two ends that each extend from a side of the movable assembly, each axle end being adapted to be engaged by a respective arm; and
wherein the at wheel assembly includes the opposite sides of the movable assembly from which the axle ends extend, the wheel assembly being rotatable relative to the launcher when supported by the launcher in the support state.
3. The toy of claim 2,
wherein the axle extends along a rotational axis about which the wheel assembly rotates; and
wherein the launcher further includes a handle that is adapted to be grasped by a user's first hand, the handle extending along a longitudinal axis that is substantially transverse to the rotational axis when the launcher supports the movable assembly.
4. The toy of claim 3, wherein the longitudinal axis of the handle and the rotational axis do not intersect.
5. The toy of claim 3, wherein the longitudinal axis of the handle and the rotational axis are orthogonal.
6. The toy of claim 2, wherein the drive mechanism includes:
a gear drivingly coupled to the wheel assembly and having a plurality of gear teeth; and
a pull element that includes:
a pull handle adapted to be grasped and pulled by a user′ s second hand, and
an elongated rack coupled to the pull handle, the rack having a plurality of rack teeth that are adapted to engage the gear teeth and rotate the gear, and thereby the wheel assembly, when the pull element is pulled by the user.
7. The toy of claim 6,
wherein the yoke arms each include a slot that is adapted to engage one end of the axle, the slots being oriented such that, when the launcher is held in a launching position, the slots open substantially downwardly.
8. The toy of claim 7,
wherein the launcher includes a guide mounted on at least one arm of the yoke, the guide being adapted to receive the pull element with the rack teeth engaging the gear teeth and supporting the movable assembly with the ends of the axle retained within the slots when the release mechanism is in the support state, and
wherein, when the pull element is pulled to a position where the rack is pulled beyond the gear, the ends of the axle are allowed to drop free from the slots when the release mechanism is in the release state.
9. The toy of claim 2, wherein the launcher further includes:
a pivot that is adapted to couple the yoke arms to each other such that the arms rotate between a support position, where the arms are substantially parallel to each other when the release mechanism is in the support state, and a release position, where the arms are rotated away from each other when the release mechanism is in the release state, and
a bias element that is adapted to urge the yoke arms one of toward the support position and toward the release position.
10. The toy of claim 9,
wherein the bias element is adapted to urge the yoke arms toward the release position; and
wherein the release mechanism further includes a latch that is adapted to oppose the bias element when the release mechanism is in the support state.
11. The toy of claim 9,
wherein the bias element is adapted to urge the yoke arms toward the support position; and
wherein the release mechanism includes a trigger that is adapted, when actuated, to urge the arms of the yoke toward the release position.
12. The toy of claim 11,
wherein the yoke arms define an opening and a channel; and
wherein the trigger includes:
a separating member that is disposed within the opening and that is adapted to be forced into the channel to urge the arms of the yoke toward the release position.
13. The toy of claim 2, wherein the wheel assembly includes a rim and a tire, wherein the tire is removably attached to the rim, and wherein the rim is selectable from a plurality of rims and the tire is selectable from a plurality of tires.
14. The toy of claim 1, further including a ramp assembly including an incline that is adapted to be positioned on a work surface and that is adapted to project the movable assembly into the air when the movable assembly is released by the launcher and propelled across the work surface and onto the ramp assembly.
15. The toy of claim 14, wherein the ramp assembly includes first and second inclines that both increase in height toward an open channel that separates the inclines.
16. The toy of claim 14, wherein the incline has a surface and the ramp assembly includes an obstacle positioned adjacent to the incline opposite the surface, the obstacle being adapted to be positioned at different heights above the incline.
17. The toy of claim 1, further including an inclined curve assembly that is adapted to be positioned on a work surface, and that is adapted to redirect the movable assembly along the work surface, when the movable assembly is released by the launcher and propelled across the work surface and onto the inclined curve assembly.
18. The toy of claim 1, further including a target game assembly that is adapted to be positioned on a work surface, the target game assembly including a surface and one or more targets that are adapted to be positioned on the surface and to be knocked down by the movable assembly, when the movable assembly is released by the launcher and propelled across the work surface and onto the target game assembly surface.
19. An assembly comprising:
two of the toys of claim 1, each toy having an associated movable assembly and drive mechanism; and
further including a drag race game assembly that includes a surface and a lane associated with each toy, the lanes being adapted to permit the respective movable assemblies to move along the associated lanes.
20. The assembly of claim 19, wherein the launchers are mounted side-by-side on the surface, wherein each lane extends away from the associated launcher.
21. A toy, comprising:
an axle having an axis;
at least one wheel assembly that is coupled to the axle and is rotatable about the axis;
a drive mechanism that is adapted to apply a force to the wheel assembly, including:
a gear drivingly coupled to the wheel assembly and having a plurality of gear teeth; and
a pull element that includes a pull handle that is adapted to be grasped and pulled by a user′ s second hand, and an elongated rack coupled to the pull handle, the rack having a plurality of rack teeth that are adapted to engage the gear teeth and rotate the gear and thereby the wheel assembly when the pull element is pulled by the user;
a support that is adapted to engage the axle; and
a handle that is mounted relative to the support and that is adapted to be grasped by a first hand of a user, the handle extending along a longitudinal axis that is substantially transverse to the axis of the axle when the support engages the axle.
22. The toy of claim 21, wherein the longitudinal axis of the handle and the axis of the axle do not intersect.
23. The toy of claim 22, wherein the longitudinal axis of the handle and the axis of the axle are orthogonal.
24. The toy of claim 21,
wherein the wheel assembly has opposite sides;
wherein the axle has two ends that extend from a corresponding side of the wheel assembly; and
wherein the support includes a yoke having two arms that are each adapted to engage one end of the axle.
25. The toy of claim 21,
wherein the axle and the wheel assembly collectively form a movable assembly;
wherein the support and the handle collectively form a launcher; and
wherein the toy further comprises a release mechanism including at least one of the launcher, the drive mechanism, and the movable assembly that is adapted to be selectively switched between a support state where the movable assembly is retained to the launcher and a release state where the movable assembly is released from the launcher.
Description
RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/663,407, filed on Mar. 16, 2005, the complete disclosure of which is hereby incorporated by reference herein in its entirety and for all purposes.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present disclosure relates generally to amusement devices, and more particularly to amusement devices that include a rotatable wheel assembly, a drive mechanism, and a release mechanism.

BACKGROUND OF THE DISCLOSURE

A toy may include a movable assembly, such as a wheel, top, axle, or other device, as well as a launcher, and a drive mechanism. The drive mechanism may be used to spin all or a portion of the movable assembly. Various toys including launchers are disclosed in the following patents and references, which are incorporated by reference herein for all purposes:

U.S. Pat. No. 175,345; U.S. Pat. No. 233,084; U.S. Pat. No. 649,673; U.S. Pat. No. 661,052; U.S. Pat. No. 942,952; U.S. Pat. No. 1,255,575;
U.S. Pat. No. 1,784,684; U.S. Pat. No. 2,937,472; U.S. Pat. No. 3,216,529; U.S. Pat. No. 3,621,607; U.S. Pat. No. 3,701,216;
U.S. Pat. No. 3,733,742; U.S. Pat. No. 3,798,832; U.S. Pat. No. 3,815,911; U.S. Pat. No. 3,895,458; U.S. Pat. No. 3,919,804;
U.S. Pat. No. 3,932,957; U.S. Pat. No. 3,984,939; U.S. Pat. No. 4,043,556; U.S. Pat. No. 4,483,096; U.S. Pat. No. 4,501,567;
U.S. Pat. No. 4,526,554; U.S. Pat. No. 4,571,212; U.S. Pat. No. 4,659,320; U.S. Pat. No. 4,732,569; U.S. Pat. No. 4,740,001;
U.S. Pat. No. 4,946,417; U.S. Pat. No. 4,959,035; U.S. Pat. No. 5,330,381; U.S. Pat. No. 5,643,036; U.S. Pat. No. 6,475,059;
U.S. Pat. No. 6,676,476; U.S. Pat. No. 6,666,743; U.S. Pat. No. D296,803; U.S. Pat. No. D296,804; U.S. Pat. No. D296,805;
U.S. Pat. No. D296,806; EP 332,407; GB 2,191,416; GB 2,252,055; and GB 2,262,705.

SUMMARY OF THE DISCLOSURE

A movable assembly such as a wheel, top, or axle may be used in conjunction with a launcher and/or a drive mechanism that is used to spin all or a portion of the movable assembly. The launcher may include two arms that are adapted to engage the movable assembly on opposite sides. Other examples of a launcher may include a handle that may extend along a longitudinal axis that may be substantially transverse to an axis of rotation of the movable assembly.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a toy including a launcher, a drive mechanism, and a rotatable assembly.

FIG. 2 is side plan view of a portion of the toy of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a front plan view of a second toy including a launcher with a release mechanism.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a third toy including a launcher with a release mechanism, shown in a support state and a release state.

FIG. 5 is a side plan view of a number of rim and tire combinations that are suitable as rotatable assemblies for use with the toys of FIGS. 3-4.

FIGS. 6-9 are perspective views of four accessories adapted for use with a toy launcher.

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of a fifth accessory with built-in launchers adapted for use with one or more rotatable assemblies.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DISCLOSURE

An illustrative example of a toy is illustrated in FIG. 1 and indicated generally at 20. Toy 20 may include a support 22, a drive mechanism 24, and a movable assembly 26. In this example, support 22 may be adapted to support or engage movable assembly 26. Support 22 and movable assembly 26 may cooperate to allow movement of a portion or all of movable assembly 26 relative to a work surface 28 and/or relative to support 22. Support 22 may be adapted to be self-standing or to be held or supported, such as by another device or by a user.

Drive mechanism 24 may be adapted to apply a force on all or a portion of movable assembly 26. The drive mechanism may be an energy converter that changes one form of energy to movement of all or a portion of the movable assembly. The drive mechanism may use a source of power, such as an electrical battery or power supply, or mechanical source, such as a spring, and/or may use a converter to convert electrical energy. The force applied may be partially or completely relative to support 22, and may produce motion relative to support 22 and/or to work surface 28. Any motion produced may be in the form of cyclic movement, such as reciprocating or rotating, such as a spinning top. Support 22 and movable assembly 26 may be adapted for the movable assembly to be continuously attached to or supported by support 22. Optionally, support 22 and movable assembly 26 may be adapted for the movable assembly to be removable from the support. Removal of the movable assembly from the support may occur as a result of operation of the toy and/or as a result of an action of a user.

As a first example, toy 20 may include a support 22 in the form of a launcher 32, a drive mechanism 24 in the form of a rotator 34, and a movable assembly in the form of a spinning assembly 36. As a further example, launcher 32 may include a handle 38 and a yoke 40. Rotator 34 may include an elongate pull element 42 and a shaft 44. As particularly shown in FIGS. 1-2, rotator 34 may include a guide 46 mounted on yoke 40, pull element 42 may include a rip cord 48 including a pull handle 50 and an elongated rack 52. Handle 38 may be adapted to be grasped by a first hand of a user of toy 20, while the second hand grasps pull handle 50. Rack 52 may be flexible or rigid. Shaft 44 may include a pinion or gear 54. Rack 52 may have teeth 56 and gear 54 may have teeth 58 sized to mesh with teeth 56. When a user pulls handle 38, rack teeth 56 may engage gear teeth 58 and rotate the gear, and thereby the wheel assembly.

Spinning assembly 36 may include a wheel assembly 60 having opposite sides, a hub or rim 62, and a tire 64. Wheel assembly 60 may be a single element or multiple elements, with tire 64 removably attached to rim 62. The wheel assembly may be fixed to an axle 66 for rotation about rotational axis 67 as a unit with the axle, or wheel assembly 60 may rotate relative to axle 66 on one or more bearing members 68. Gear 54 may be attached to one side of wheel assembly 60 for rotation with wheel assembly 60, or gear 54 may be mounted for rotation on yoke 40. In this latter example, gear 54 may frictionally or mechanically engage wheel assembly 60 while yoke 40 supports wheel assembly 60, or may be otherwise drivingly coupled to the wheel assembly.

Yoke 40 may secure or support spinning assembly 36 by frictionally or mechanically engaging both ends 69 of axle 66 in slots, such as slot 70, in distal ends of arms 72 and 74 of the yoke that extend from a base 76. Slots 70, as shown, may open in a direction that is substantially downwardly toward work surface 28 when launcher 32 is held in a launching position. Alternatively, the yoke arms may be biased toward each other for clamping wheel assembly 60 in place. In such an example, a bearing element, not shown, may be disposed between each arm and a side of the wheel assembly. The bearing element may allow rotation of the wheel assembly relative to the yoke, and may be mounted to the yoke or to the wheel assembly.

Handle 38 may extend along a longitudinal axis 77 that may be transverse or orthogonal to rotational axis 67 when movable assembly 26, or, more particularly, spinning assembly 36, is supported on launcher 32. For a first line and a second line that do not intersect, the first line may be considered transverse to the second (or vice versa) if the lines intersect when viewed normal to a plane containing one axis and parallel to the other axis. The first line may be considered orthogonal to the second (or vice versa) if the lines intersect at a right angle when viewed in the same way, as exists with axes 67 and 77 in FIGS. 1-4. In other examples, longitudinal axis 77 may intersect rotational axis 67, or may otherwise not be either transverse or orthogonal.

Toy 20 may also include a release mechanism 78 adapted to release spinning assembly 36 from yoke 40. Release mechanism 78 may include at least one of movable assembly 26, launcher 32, and drive mechanism 24, and may actively or passively release the spinning assembly. For example, an element may force the spinning assembly from yoke 40. Optionally, release mechanism 78 may be changed from a support state, in which the yoke supports the spinning assembly, to a release state in which the yoke no longer supports the spinning assembly. Rack 52, as shown in FIG. 2, may support spinning assembly 36 when rack teeth 56 engage gear teeth 58, but may allow axle 66 to drop out of slots 70 when rack 52 is pulled beyond gear 54. In other embodiments, yoke 40 may be adapted to be switched from a support position, in which arms 72 and 74 are substantially parallel to each other, to a release position, in which the arms are rotated away from each other, or otherwise separated from each other.

For example, as shown in FIG. 3, a yoke 40′ of a second launcher 32′ may be made of resilient material or include resilient or movable portions that may be manipulated to separate the yoke arms, disengaging the spinning assembly from the yoke. Optionally, other configurations, such as a mechanical linkage assembly, may be used that can be manipulated to open or close the yoke arms by moving one or both of the arms. In this example, arms 72′ and 74′ may be joined at a pivot 80. A bias element 82, such as a spring, may bias the arms toward or away from each other. If biased away from each other, a latch 84, such as a bar, retaining pin, or other element, may oppose the bias element to hold the arms together in the support state. Release of the latch, such as by retracting the bar or pin, then may allow the arms to separate, rotating about pivot 80 and releasing the spinning assembly. The spinning assembly may thus be released onto the work surface by simply dropping it from the yoke due to gravitational forces acting on the spinning assembly once support is removed.

If the yoke arms are biased toward each other, then a device may be used that separates the arms. Such an example is illustrated in FIG. 4, which shows a yoke 40″ having arms 72″ and 74″ one or both of which pivot about a pivot 80′. The lower ends of the arms have holes 85 sized to receive ends 69 of axle 66 when wheel assembly 60 is supported by launcher 32″. The upper ends of arms 72″ and 74″ may be configured to form between them an opening 86 and a straight or tapered channel 88. A separating member or wedge 90 disposed in the opening may be configured to separate arms 72″ and 74″ when it is directed into the channel to urge the arms of the yoke toward the release position. Wedge 90 may be connected to a trigger 92 that is mounted to handle 38″ extending along longitudinal axis 77′. The wedge and trigger may pivot about a pivot 94. The trigger may be pulled toward handle 38″ to force wedge 90 into channel 80.

During use, for example to spin a wheel assembly, a movable assembly, such as a spinning assembly 36 including a wheel assembly 60, is secured to a support 22, such as to a yoke 40, as has been described. Moving a ripcord 48 through a guide 46 (not shown) rotates wheel assembly 60, when the wheel assembly is supported by the arms 72 and 74. The direction of wheel rotation may depend on the direction of movement of the ripcord, unless support 22 includes a clutch mechanism that provides for engagement between teeth 56 and 58 (described previously) only during movement of the ripcord in one direction. The position of the guide relative to the axis 67 of rotation of the wheel assembly, as represented by axle 66, may determine the direction of rotation of the wheel assembly when the ripcord is pulled or pushed. Optionally, gear 54 may be part of a gear train that may change the direction of wheel rotation and/or change the ratio of rack movement to wheel rotation. In the simple example shown in FIG. 2, by positioning the guide below the gear, the ripcord may be inserted with the handle 50 next to handle 38.

In this configuration, pulling on the ripcord by a user produces a rotation on the wheel assembly in which the top of the wheel assembly moves away from the handle and a user holding the toy. When the ripcord is pulled out of the guide, the wheel assembly is driven into rotation, and, in the example shown in FIG. 2, the wheel assembly falls out of the slots of the yoke. In other examples, such as those illustrated in FIGS. 3-4, the user may activate release mechanism 78, such as by moving trigger 92 toward handle 38′ or 38″, thereby releasing the spinning assembly from the yoke. When the spinning assembly is released, the wheel assembly may roll away from the user after it lands on work surface 28. Other appropriate configurations for providing support, movement and/or release of a movable assembly, such as mechanisms disclosed in the references identified above, may also be used.

FIG. 5 shows a number of configurations for a wheel assembly 60, which may be assembled from one rim 62 selected from a plurality of rims and one tire 64 selected from a plurality of tires. Rims 62 may be available in a number of sizes and with a number of appearances, including variations in diameters, number and/or pattern of spokes, and the like. Examples 62 a, 62 b, and 62 n are shown, where n is a number corresponding to the number of styles available. Similarly, tires 64 may be available in a number of sizes and with a number of appearances, including variations in diameters, tread patterns, and the like. Examples 64 a, 64 b, and 64 n are shown. The inner diameter of each tire 64 may correspond to the outer diameter of any subset of rims 62, such that any particular tire may or may not fit on any particular rim. Additionally or alternatively, the available number of rims 62 may be different than the available number tires 64. Accordingly, the configuration of wheel assemblies 60 may be customizable and flexible.

Various accessories 110 that may be used with a toy 20 are illustrated in FIGS. 6-10. FIG. 6 is an illustration of a ramp assembly 112 that may include a ramp 114 adapted to be placed on work surface 28. Ramp 114 includes a ramp surface 116 that extends upwardly from the work surface. Ramp surface 116 may be straight and/or curved, and defines an incline 118 that projects a wheel assembly 60 traveling up the incline into the air. Incline 118 may be configured to be gradual or steep, with the direction and distance that the wheel assembly travels beyond the ramp dependent on the incline configuration and speed and direction of travel of the wheel assembly up the incline.

Ramp assembly 112 may also include a barrier or obstacle 120 mounted relative to the ramp 116, such as behind, above, or adjacent to the incline. In the configuration illustrated, obstruction 120 may have the appearance of or be a scale version of a common object, such as a football goal post, or a high-jump or pole-vaulting bar. The obstruction may be fixed in position relative to the ramp, or it may be adjustable. The ramp and obstruction may be configured to allow wheel assemblies that have sufficient speed to fly over it when they ascend the incline, as indicated by the dashed arrow.

FIGS. 7-9 illustrates three additional accessories 110 that may be used in conjunction with a toy 20. One accessory is a double ramp 122 having first and second inclines 124 and 126 that increase in height toward an open channel 128 that separates the inclines. A challenge for a player may be to propel a wheel assembly 60 across work surface 28 at an appropriate speed that the wheel assembly rises on one incline and then rolls down the other incline without falling into the channel.

FIG. 8 illustrates an inclined curve assembly 130 having a travel surface 132 that starts at or near work surface 28 and arches along a curve that is inclined upwardly from the inside to the outside of the curve. Assembly 130 may include a barrier 134 along at least a portion of the outside edge of the curve, which may retain a moving wheel assembly 60 on surface 132. A challenge for a player may be to propel a wheel assembly 60 toward the curve at a speed appropriate to cause the wheel assembly to stay on the curve and, as a result, turn the corner defined by the curve, without hitting the barrier.

A third accessory, shown in FIG. 9, is a target game 136 including a platform 138 having a surface 140 adapted to conform along a front edge 142 generally with work surface 28. A short barrier 144 may extend along a rear edge 146. One or more targets 148, such as miniature barrels 150, may be positioned along platform surface 140. A challenge for a player may be to propel a wheel assembly toward platform 138 in a direction appropriate to knock one or more barrels or other targets down or off of the platform.

FIG. 10 depicts a “Drag Race” game 152 that may be played by two or more players. Game 152 may include two or more built-in launchers 32′″, as shown in FIG. 10. Alternatively, each player may use a separate launcher 32 as described above and shown in FIGS. 1-4. Game 152 may include a surface 154 having indicia 156 defining a track 160 having a plurality of lanes 162. Game 152 may include a sensor assembly 164 adapted to sense when a wheel assembly 60 has been released from a built-in launcher 32′″, or has been released onto surface 154 by a separate launcher. Various forms of sensor systems may be used, such as infrared (IR), electromagnetic, electrical, sonic, mechanical, or combinations of them.

Start of a race may be controlled by a starting system 166 that may include a series of lights 168 in the configuration of a drag race “tree.” Lights 168 may be used to countdown visually the start of a race, in which lights may be controlled by an electronic controller 170 contained in a base 172 supporting a pole 174 that in turn supports the lights. Lights 168 may be of different colors, and for example, may include a red light, an amber light and a green light. In some examples there may be a plurality of lights, such as a plurality of amber lights. The start of a race may include the sequential lighting of red lights, then amber lights, and finally a green light signaling players that they may direct a wheel assembly or other propelled object from a launcher.

Game 152 may also include an ending gate 176 having a sensor or sensors 178 built into or on surface 154 that detects when wheel assemblies pass through the ending gate. Sensor 178 may, for example, be a proximity sensor, and/or may be a sonic, IR, physical, or other suitable sensor. A sensor 178 may be used for each lane. Optionally, spaced transmitters and receivers may be used for sensors 178, similar to sensor assembly 164. Additionally, a display 180, such as a flag 182 that is mounted on and movable relative to a base 184, may be used to indicate the lane in which the winner of the race traveled. Other forms of visual and/or audible displays may also be used. Controller 170 may also be responsive to sensors 178 and may control operation of display 180.

Controller 170 may be configured to function in different ways or different modes. For example, one mode may be simply in changing the lights from red to green to signal the start of a race. In another mode, the controller may be configured to determine whether a wheel assembly passes through the starting gate before the green light is lit. In yet another mode, the controller may include a timer, not shown, and be configured to determine, display and store for each lane, the elapsed time for a wheel assembly to pass from the starting gate to the ending gate. In yet a further mode, as has been stated, the controller may operate a display 180 to indicate the lane of a winner of a race.

A toy 20 adapted to move a movable assembly may thus have various configurations. In one configuration, it may be a hand-held device adapted to support a movable assembly. The toy may be a launcher adapted to rotate a wheel assembly at a high speed, and release the wheel assembly when a user operates a release mechanism. The toy may accordingly include a movable assembly having a wheel assembly and opposite sides. The toy may also include a launcher that has two arms that are adapted to extend along the sides of the movable assembly and a drive mechanism that is mounted relative to the launcher. The drive mechanism may be adapted to be operated selectively by a user to apply a force to the movable assembly. Some embodiments may also have a release mechanism that may include at least one of the movable assembly, the launcher, and the drive mechanism. The release mechanism may be configured to be changed between a support state, where the launcher retains the movable assembly, and a release state, where the movable assembly is released from the launcher.

In other configurations, toy 20 may include an axle having an axis. At least one wheel assembly may be coupled to, and rotatable about, the axis. The toy may also include a drive mechanism adapted to apply a force to the wheel assembly. The drive mechanism may have a pull handle adapted to be grasped and pulled by a user′ s second hand, and an elongated rack coupled to the pull handle. The rack may have a plurality of rack teeth adapted to engage the gear teeth and rotate the gear and thereby the wheel assembly when the pull element is pulled by the user. The toy may also include a support adapted to engage the axle, and a handle mounted relative to the support member. The handle may be adapted to be grasped by a first hand of a user, and may extend along a longitudinal axis that is substantially transverse to the axis of the axle when the support engages the axle.

A spinning wheel assembly, or a movable assembly with a spinning wheel assembly, released onto a work surface may engage one or a plurality of accessories that are impacted by the wheel assembly or which affect the travel of the wheel assembly. Other accessories may function with a wheel assembly independently of a launcher, to produce outputs related to the wheel assembly.

This disclosure may include one or more independent or interdependent inventions directed to various combinations of features, functions, elements and/or properties. While examples of apparatus and methods are particularly shown and described, many variations may be made therein. Various combinations and sub-combinations of features, functions, elements and/or properties may be claimed in one or more related applications. Such variations, whether they are directed to different combinations or directed to the same combinations, whether different, broader, narrower or equal in scope, are regarded as included within the subject matter of the present disclosure.

The described examples are illustrative and directed to specific examples of apparatus and/or methods rather than a specific invention, and no single feature or element, or combination thereof, is essential to all possible combinations. Thus, any one of various inventions that may be claimed based on the disclosed example or examples does not necessarily encompass all or any particular features, characteristics or combinations, unless subsequently specifically claimed. Where “a” or “a first” element or the equivalent thereof is recited, such usage includes one or more such elements, neither requiring nor excluding two or more such elements. Further, ordinal indicators, such as first, second or third, for identified elements are used to distinguish between the elements, and do not indicate a required or limited number of such elements, and do not indicate a particular position or order of such elements unless otherwise specifically indicated.

INDUSTRIAL APPLICABILITY

The methods and apparatus described in the present disclosure are applicable to toys, games, and other devices, and industries in which amusement devices are used.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7445539 *Jan 26, 2006Nov 4, 2008Jakks Pacific, IncorporatedToy vehicle with a detachably attachable wheel
US8262473Jan 5, 2009Sep 11, 2012Mattel, Inc.Interactive toy with visual and audio feedback
WO2009089173A1 *Jan 5, 2009Jul 16, 2009Tood M BaileyInteractive toy with visual and audio feedback
Classifications
U.S. Classification446/429
International ClassificationA63H17/00
Cooperative ClassificationA63F7/249, A63D5/00, A63H33/007, A63H29/24, A63F2007/0011
European ClassificationA63H33/00G, A63H29/24
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Mar 14, 2006ASAssignment
Owner name: MATTEL, INC., CALIFORNIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:TRAGESER, MARK;REEL/FRAME:017680/0606
Effective date: 20060302