US 20060211331 A1
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.
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
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
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
5. The toy of
6. The toy of
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
14. The toy of
15. The toy of
16. The toy of
17. The toy of
18. The toy of
19. An assembly comprising:
two of the toys of
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
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
23. The toy of
24. The toy of
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
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
An illustrative example of a toy is illustrated in
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
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
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
For example, as shown in
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
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
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
Various accessories 110 that may be used with a toy 20 are illustrated in
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.
A third accessory, shown in
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.
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.