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Publication numberUS20060228982 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/105,039
Publication dateOct 12, 2006
Filing dateApr 12, 2005
Priority dateApr 12, 2005
Publication number105039, 11105039, US 2006/0228982 A1, US 2006/228982 A1, US 20060228982 A1, US 20060228982A1, US 2006228982 A1, US 2006228982A1, US-A1-20060228982, US-A1-2006228982, US2006/0228982A1, US2006/228982A1, US20060228982 A1, US20060228982A1, US2006228982 A1, US2006228982A1
InventorsJeffrey Rehkemper, Steven Rehkemper, Ryan Kratz, Jackson Wilson
Original AssigneeRehco, Llc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Interactive figure
US 20060228982 A1
Abstract
An interactive toy aquatic animal is provided and includes a head, a tail and a bottom portion. The toy includes a flexible tail extending from the rear portion. A wheel rotatably attached to the bottom portion. A first motor mechanism operatively connected to the wheel, wherein when the first motor mechanism drives said wheel, the figure moves causing the tail to flex. A second motor mechanism is also provided and operatively connected to various other parts of the animal for movement thereof. For example, the second motor mechanism causing the blinking of eyelids, the flapping of side appendages, and/or the vibration of a tongue.
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Claims(20)
1. A toy figure having a body defined with a front portion, a rear portion, and a bottom portion, the figure further comprising:
a flexible tail extending from the rear portion, the tail being defined as having a flexible membrane with a plurality of sectional coverings separately secured to the flexible membrane, wherein the flexible membrane remains flexible in regions defined between the plurality of sectional coverings;
a wheel rotatably attached to the body and extending from the bottom portion of the body; and
a motor mechanism housed in the body and operatively driving said wheel, wherein when the motor mechanism drives said wheel across a surface, the figure moves further causing the tail to flex.
2. The figure of claim 1 further comprising:
a head extending from the front portion, the head having a pair of eyes and a pair of eye lids moveable in relation to said eyes, each eye lid being biased in an open position; and
a second motor mechanism housed in the body and operatively connected to said eye lids such that when the second motor mechanism is activated, the eye lids are engaged to move to a closed position temporarily to blink the eye lids.
3. The figure of claim 2, wherein:
each eye lid, of the eye lids, has an eye flap extending within the body of the figure, the eye lids capable of moving to a closed position when the eye flaps are engaged and the eye lids being biased to the open position return thereto when the eye flaps are not engaged; and
the second motor mechanism drives an eye gear train, the eye gear train engages a gear cap when the motor mechanism is operating in a first direction, the gear cap includes a flapper arm that rotates around the gear cap such that the flapper arm engages and moves the eye flaps to a closed position once every revolution of the gear cap,
whereby operation of the second motor mechanism in the first direction causes the eye lids to blink.
4. The figure of claim 3 further comprising:
a mouth positioned on the head of the figure, the mouth having a tongue pivotally connected therein, the tongue including a tongue flap that when engaged moves the tongue about its pivotal connection; and
the second motor mechanism when operating in a direction opposite of said first direction engages a tongue gear train that engages and moves a second gear cap, the second gear cap includes a second flapper arm that rotates around the second gear cap such that the second flapper arm engages and moves the tongue flap once every revolution of the second gear cap;
whereby the second motor mechanism when operating in the second direction causes the second flapper arm to engage and move the tongue flap once every revolution of the gear cap such that the tongue vibrates about its pivotal connection.
5. The figure of claim 4 further comprising:
a pair of appendages separately extending from either side of the body of the figure, each appendage movably connected to the body of the figure; and
the second motor mechanism when operating in the first and second directions drives an appendage gear train that engages and moves the pair of appendages.
6. The figure of claim 5 further comprising a circuit board having preprogrammed sounds and controls, the preprogrammed controls defined to control the motor mechanisms and thus control the movement of the figure, the circuit board replaying said preprogrammed sounds and controls upon the triggering of a switch positioned about the figure.
7. The figure of claim 6 further comprising a first switch positioned within the mouth of the figure, the first switch being triggered upon insertion of an object in said mouth of the figure, and when the first switch is triggered, the circuit board activates the second motor mechanism in the second direction causing the tongue to vibrate and the pair of appendages to move.
8. The figure of claim 6 further comprising a second switch positioned on a top portion of the figure, the second switch when triggered causes the circuit board to activate the second motor mechanism in the first direction to cause the eye lids to blink and the pair of appendages to move.
9. The figure of claim 6 further comprising a speaker to emit the playback of preprogrammed sounds.
10. An interactive toy aquatic animal having a body defined with a head and a bottom portion, the toy further comprising:
a freely flexible tail extending from the rear portion;
a wheel rotatably attached to the body and extending from the bottom portion of the body;
a first motor mechanism housed in the body and operatively driving said wheel, wherein when the motor mechanism drives said wheel the figure moves and such movement of the figure causes the freely flexible tail to wag;
a second motor mechanism housed in the body and driven in a first direction and in a second direction;
a pair of eyes defined on the head, each eye having an eye lid moveable in relation to said eyes, the eye lids biased in an open position and controllable to blink close when the second motor mechanism is driven in the first direction;
a mouth positioned in the head, the mouth having a tongue pivotally connected therein, the tongue controllable to vibrate when the second motor mechanism is driven in the second direction; and
a pair of appendages separately extending from either side of the body, each appendage movably connected to the body and controllable to move when the second motor mechanism is driven in the first and second direction.
11. The toy of claim 10 further comprising:
a switch positioned about the toy; and
a circuit board having a memory portion to store preprogrammed controls, and having programming that plays the controls upon the triggering of said switch, the preprogrammed controls defined to control the first and second motor mechanisms and thus control the movement of the toy.
12. The toy of claim 11 further comprising:
a fin pivotally connected the body; and
a first switch positioned below the fin and which is triggered when the fin is pushed towards the body,
whereby upon triggering said first switch, the circuit board plays a preprogrammed control to move the toy.
13. The toy of claim 12 further comprising:
a second switch positioned within the mouth and which is triggered upon the insertion of an object into the mouth,
whereby upon triggering said second switch, the circuit board plays a preprogrammed control to vibrate the tongue.
14. The toy of claim 10 wherein the tail is defined as having a flexible membrane with a plurality of sectional coverings separately secured to the flexible membrane, wherein the flexible membrane remains flexible in regions defined between the plurality of sectional coverings.
15. A toy figure having a body defined with a front portion, a rear portion, and a bottom portion, the figure further including a flexible tail extending from the rear portion capable of moving when said body moves, a motor housed in the body, a wheel rotatably attached to the body and the drive mechanism connecting said motor to the wheel, wherein when the motor is activated the body will be moved and the flexible tail will flex in response thereto.
16. The toy of claim 15 wherein the flexible tail is defined as having a flexible membrane with a plurality of sectional coverings separately secured to the flexible membrane, wherein the flexible membrane remains flexible in regions defined between the plurality of sectional coverings.
17. The toy of claim 15 further comprising a circuit board housed in the body and a receiver secured to the body and operatively connected to the circuit board, the circuit board further having programming to control the motor in response to a signal received by said receiver.
18. The toy of claim 15 further comprising a motor mechanism housed in the body and driven in a first direction and in a second direction and a pair of eyes defined on the head, each eye having an eye lid moveable in relation to said eyes, the eye lids biased in an open position and having a means to blink close when the second motor mechanism is driven in the first direction.
19. The toy of claim 16 further comprising a mouth positioned in the head, the mouth having a tongue pivotally connected therein, the tongue having a means to vibrate when the second motor mechanism is driven in the second direction.
20. The toy of claim 16 further comprising a pair of appendages separately extending from either side of the body, each appendage having a means to move when the second motor mechanism is driven in the first and second directions.
Description
FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a toy figure with various pre-recorded sounds and movements that are played upon the activation of one or more switches.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Toy figures have always been the mainstay as toys for young children. Included therewith, are figures that when activated by a user talk or sing in response thereto. For example, in some instances a switch may be placed within the figure that when pressed causes the toy figure to emit various sound bites or noises. The present invention is directed more towards aquatic animals or animals and figures that include tails, such as but not limited to, fish, mermaids, dragons, alligators, etc.

The prior art does include numerous mechanical aquatic animals. In their basic form, aquatic animals have been developed for many years for fish tanks and aquariums. Such aquatic animals may include mechanical moving parts that may be activated by pressure, floats, or springs to simulate movement in the water. More recent robotic aquatic animals include highly developed mechanics to actually move the robotic aquatic animals under water in a manner that simulates an actual fish swimming.

Nevertheless, there is always a continual need for improvements and novel features not found in the prior art. For example, the ability to provide an aquatic animal or other tailed creature (hereinafter referred to broadly as a “figure”) that does not require water and that still resembles the same movement. Such a figure includes multiple switches and a proximity sensor that when triggered, invokes various responses and movements. For example, if the figure was a fish, the responses and movements could include a moving tail and flippers. The fish may also include vibrations in the mouth to simulate nibbling and include the closing or blinking of an eye. Various sound responses may also be included such as music, voices, and sound effects.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In one embodiment of the present invention there is provided a toy figure, having a body defined with a front portion, a rear portion, and a bottom portion. The figure further includes a flexible tail extending from the rear portion. The tail being defined as having a flexible membrane with a plurality of sectional coverings separately secured to the flexible membrane. The flexible membrane is able to remain flexible in regions defined between the plurality of sectional coverings. The figure also includes a wheel rotatably attached to the body and extending from the bottom portion of the body. A first motor mechanism is housed in the body and is operatively connected to drive the wheel such that when the first motor mechanism is activated the wheel moves, which causes the freely flexible tail to move.

The figure may also include a head extending from the front portion of the body. The head has a pair of eyes and a pair of eye lids that are moveable in relation to the eyes and biased in an open position. A second motor mechanism is housed in the body and operatively connected to the eye lids such that when the second motor mechanism is activated, the eye lids are engaged to move to a closed position temporarily to provide an appearance the figure has blinked.

The figure may also include a mouth with a tongue pivotally connected therein. The second motor mechanism when operating is able to engage and move the tongue causing the tongue to vibrate. The vibration movement simulates the figure nibbling.

The figure may also include a pair of appendages separately extending from either side of the body of the figure. Each appendage is movably connected to the body of the figure. In addition, the second motor mechanism when operating is able to move the pair of appendages.

A circuit board having preprogrammed sounds and controls is further positioned in the figure. The preprogrammed controls are defined to control the motor mechanisms and thus control the movement of the figure. The circuit board has programming to replay the preprogrammed sounds and controls upon the triggering of a switch or possibly upon direction of a timing mechanism.

Numerous other advantages and features of the invention will become readily apparent from the following detailed description of the invention and the embodiments thereof, from the claims, and from the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

A fuller understanding of the foregoing may be had by reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an aquatic animal in accordance to the present invention with a movable tail;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the animal in FIG. 1 illustrating movable eye lids;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the animal in FIG. 1 illustrating a vibrating tongue;

FIG. 4 a is a bottom view of the animal in FIG. 1 illustrating oscillation of the animal causing the tail to wag;

FIG. 4 b is a bottom view of the animal in FIG. 1 illustrating the ability for the animal to rotate 360°;

FIG. 5 is an exploded view of the animal in FIG. 1;

FIG. 6 is a partial sectional view of the animal in FIG. 1 showing some of the internal components;

FIG. 7 is an exploded view of one of the one way clutch mechanisms, used in the present invention to blink the eyes and vibrate the tongue;

FIG. 8 a through 8 c are views of the inside cam surface of the eye gear cap illustrating the movement of the pin and engagement of the eye gear cap;

FIG. 9 is an alternative embodiment including receivers on either side of the figure; and

FIG. 10 is an alternative embodiment including an interactive figure with an outer covering and mechanically movable tail sections.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

While the invention is susceptible to embodiments in many different forms, there are shown in the drawings and will be described in detail herein the preferred embodiments of the present invention. It should be understood, however, that the present disclosure is to be considered an exemplification of the principles of the invention and is not intended to limit the spirit or scope of the invention and/or claims of the embodiments illustrated.

Referring now to FIG. 1, a FIG. 10 is shown and is illustrated as an aquatic animal such as a fish. It being mentioned above, that any tailed animal or creature may be used without deviating from the spirit of the invention as the outside appearance of the FIG. 10 is not meant to limit the scope of the invention.

The FIG. 10 includes a head 12, a tail 14, a dorsal fin 16, and a pair of side fins 18 (one on each side of the FIG. 10). The head 12 has a pair of eyes 20 and a mouth 22. The FIG. 10 also includes idler wheels 24 and a drive wheel 26 to support the FIG. 10 on a surface. Various switches (shown in later FIGS) positioned about the figure and/or timing mechanisms are used to activate pre-recorded or programmed responses.

The responses may include mechanical movement of portions of the figure, including, movement of the tail 14 (FIG. 4) and flapping of the side fins 18 (FIG. 1). Additionally, the responses may include blinking eyes 20 (FIG. 2) and a vibrating tongue 23 in the mouth 22 to simulate the figure nibbling or eating (FIG. 3). These and other responses such as sound and/or movement of the figure across a surface may be in response to sound, light, touch, and/or timing mechanisms that are programmed to automatically activate after a period of time.

Turning now to FIGS. 5 and 6, the FIG. 10 includes housing sections 30 that form the body 28 of the FIG. 10. Secured to the housing sections 30 or captured by the assembly of the housing sections is the tail 14 that is made up of a flexible member 32 and segment coverings 34. The segment coverings 34 are secured to the flexible member 32 to provide the appearance of a tail 14. Preferably the flexible member 32 is highly flexible in the horizontal direction to provide for a more realistic type movement from the FIG. 10 (shown in FIG. 4). In addition, (as shown in FIG. 4) segment coverings 34 are spaced apart from each other such that movement of the tail is not completely hindered, moreover, movement of the flexible member 32 is maintained in regions 35 between the segment coverings 34

Housed within the body 28 of the FIG. 10 is a circuit board 40 that is operatively connected to a speaker 42, various switches, motor mechanisms, and a power supply 44. The circuit board 40 also includes a memory portion to store the pre-programmed sounds and pre-programmed controls, which control the mechanical movement of the FIG. 10. The power supply 44 is preferably replaceable batteries 46 housed within a battery compartment 48 that is accessible through a removable door 49.

As mentioned, the circuit board 40 controls motor mechanisms to move the FIG. 10 or move various aspects of the FIG. 10. The present invention includes a first motor 50 that drives the drive wheel 26 in a forward and a reverse direction causing the figure to rotate in clockwise and counterclockwise directions. The first motor 50 is secured within a two piece first motor housing block 52. The first motor 50 drives a gear 54 which is meshed to a first drive train 56 that includes various gears to provide a proper predefined gear ratios. The first drive train 56 is meshed to the drive wheel 26 that is defined by having a wheel 58 and an outer covering 60 with an outside traction to grip the surface. When the first motor 50 is operating the drive wheel 26 rotates. When the FIG. 10 is on a surface and the drive wheel 26 begins to rotate in a first direction, the FIG. 10 will spin about its idler wheels 24 (FIG. 4 b). Similarly, when the first motor 50 drives the wheel forwards and reverse, the drive wheel 26 will changes from a first direction to a section direction or side to side causing the FIG. 10 to oscillate. Such oscillation will have the effect of moving the flexible tail back and forth to simulate a swimming fish (FIG. 4 a).

Continuing to refer to FIGS. 5 and 6, the present invention includes a second motor 70 that controls the movement of the side fins 18, the eyes 20 and the tongue 23. The second motor 70 rotates a gear train 72 that branches into an eye gear train 74, a tongue gear train 76 and a fin gear train 78. Referring now also to FIGS. 7 through 8 c, the eye gear train 74 when rotating in a first direction rotates a one way clutch mechanism 80. The one way clutch mechanism includes a gear 81 that has a shaft 82, which includes a bore 84 perpendicular to its axis to accommodate a pin 86. Attached to the gear 81 over the shaft 82 and pin 86 is a gear cap 88 that has an eye flapper arm 90 extending outwardly therefrom. The inside portion of the gear cap 88 includes a cam surface 92 that engages the pin 86 when the gear 81 is rotating in a first direction (FIG. 8 a). This in turn moves the eye flapper arm 90 along with the gear 81. When the gear 81 is rotating in a direction opposite to the first direction (FIGS. 8 b and 8 c), the pin 86 will slide along the inside surface 94 of the gear cap 88 without engaging the cam surface 92. As such the eye flapper arm 90 only moves when the eye gear train 74 is moving in a first direction that causes the pin 86 to engage the gear cap 88. When the eye flapper arm 90 moves it comes in contact with and pushes flaps 96 secured to eye lids 98. The eye lids 98 are movably secured to or over the eyes 20. The eye lids 98 are biased in an open position, as such when the eye flapper arm 90 moves the eye lids 98, the eye lids 98 cover the eyes 20 providing a blinking or closing movement. The eyelids are preferably biased by having the flaps 96 weighted such that gravity keeps the flaps 96 up and the eyes 20 uncovered. However, a spring or other mechanism may be used to keep the eyelids in an open position.

Similarly, a second one way clutch mechanism is employed to vibrate the tongue 23. The tongue gear train 76 when moving in a specific direction operates a gear cap 88 that moves a tongue flapper arm 100. The tongue flapper arm 100 comes in contact with a tongue flap 102 that is secured to a tongue 23. The tongue 23 is pivotally secured to the body 30 such that movement of the tongue flap 102 will cause the tongue to vibrate about its pivot 106. Moreover, the eye gear train 74 and the tongue gear train 76 are laid out such that when the second motor 70 is operating in a first direction, the eye flapper arm 90 moves and when the second motor 70 is operating in a direction opposite to the first direction, the tongue flapper arm 100 moves.

When the second motor 70 is operating in either direction, the second motor 70 engages the fin gear train 78. The fin gear train 78 includes a pair of fin gears 110 secured on an axle. The fin gears 110 are diametrically opposed on either side of the FIG. 10 and include a cam surface 112. The cam surface 112 includes various valleys and peaks. Each side fin 18 has an end 114 positioned through an aperture 116 defined on the body 26 of the FIG. 10. The end 114 is secured to a pin 118 that is pivotally attached to a Y-shaped member 120. The Y-shaped member 120 includes an end 122 that rests and rides against the cam surface 112. As the cam surface 112 rotates, the end 122 of the Y-shaped member 120 moves outwardly and inwardly riding the peaks and valleys of the cam surface pivoting the pin 118 and thereby flapping the side fin 18.

Various switches in the FIG. 10 will trigger the playback of various responses or controls stored on the circuit board. One of the switches 130 is positioned under the dorsal fin 16. When the dorsal fin is pressed downwardly, the switch 130 is triggered. The triggering is recognized by the circuit board 40 which plays a preprogrammed response, which may include controlling the motors to move the figure or various parts of the figure and/or emitting various sounds.

A second switch 132 may be positioned within the mouth 22. The second switch 132 is activated when a user places an object within the mouth, such as a finger (FIG. 3). Similarly, once the second switch 132 is triggered, the circuit board 40 will play a preprogrammed response and/or power up the second motor to activate the tongue motion.

Referring now to FIG. 9, in another embodiment of the present invention the FIG. 10 may include a pair of receivers 140 separately positioned on both sides of the fish and are operatively connected to the circuit board 40. A transmitter (not shown) may be embedded within an object to send a signal to the receivers. The transmitter may also be a remote control unit. Upon receiving such a signal the circuit board 40 may play pre-programmed controls, movement and/or sounds. For example, multiple drive wheels can be installed to move the FIG. 10 forwards, backwards, and in various turn radii such that the FIG. 10 may be programmed to follow or chase the transmitter.

Referring now to FIG. 10, in another embodiment of the present invention, the FIG. 10 may include a plush or outside covering or skin 150. However, the outside covering 150 may hinder the flexibility of the tail. As such the flexibility of the tail may be mechanically moved by links and gears. Such construction and movement by links and gears should not be viewed as outside the scope of the present invention. In other constructions, the tail may be multiple segmented sections 152 pined 154 to each other. The segmented sections 152 may be moved by a motor mechanism

The present invention may therefore be described as a motorized interactive audio animatronics toy aquatic animal having semi-realistic styling, motorized moving eyes and mouth as well as a multi-segmented body and tail. The tail has pivoting means for simulating the action of swimming in place when an electronically controlled motorized transverse wheel located beneath the front end of the animal causes the front end of the animal to oscillate. The same motorized wheel can cause the animal to rotate 360° in either direction. The animal is equipped with switches and sensors in various locations to detect petting and feeding and sounds from a person interacting with the fish and further includes a speaker and electronic voice for responding to and/or prompting interaction from a person. The animal may include other sound effects such as bubbling or splashing and/or other human sounds such as burping.

In another embodiment, the present invention may be a motorized interactive audio animatronics toy animal having robotic styling, as well as a multi-segmented body and tail. The tail having pivoting means for simulating the action of swimming in place when an electronically controlled motorized transverse wheel causes the animal to rotate in either direction and/or perform electronically controlled moves in response to pre-programmed sounds or music. The animal is equipped switches, sensors or lights and a speaker that when combined with its motorized movements can convey a mood of the animal. To increase the quality of play with the animal. The animal can further have electronic circuits programmed to help compose music to convey its mood.

In yet another aspect of the invention, the present invention may be controlled through a remote controller unit. The remote controller unit may send signals received by receivers in the animal. The circuit board may have programming to control the movement of the animal to follow the signals or move the animal in response to such signals.

From the foregoing and as mentioned above, it is observed that numerous variations and modifications may be effected without departing from the spirit and scope of the novel concept of the invention. It is to be understood that no limitation with respect to the embodiments illustrated herein is intended or should be inferred. It is intended to cover, by the appended claims, all such modifications within the scope of the appended claims.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US8016837 *Apr 5, 2007Sep 13, 2011Synthes Usa, LlcRemotely adjustable tissue displacement device
US8894663Sep 12, 2011Nov 25, 2014DePuy Synthes Products, LLCRemotely adjustable tissue displacement device
US20130017754 *Nov 15, 2011Jan 17, 2013Xiaoping LuDriving and Controlling Method for Biomimetic Fish and a Biomimetic Fish
Classifications
U.S. Classification446/279, 446/330, 446/353
International ClassificationA63H3/20, A63H11/00, A63H17/00
Cooperative ClassificationA63H13/02, A63H2200/00, A63H17/00, A63H23/10, A63H11/12, A63H3/28
European ClassificationA63H23/10, A63H17/00, A63H11/12, A63H3/28, A63H13/02
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Apr 12, 2005ASAssignment
Owner name: REHCO, LLC, ILLINOIS
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:REHKEMPER, JEFFREY;REHKEMPER, STEVEN;KRATZ, RYAN;AND OTHERS;REEL/FRAME:016473/0463
Effective date: 20050411