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Publication numberUS20080090486 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/558,350
Publication dateApr 17, 2008
Filing dateNov 9, 2006
Priority dateOct 11, 2006
Publication number11558350, 558350, US 2008/0090486 A1, US 2008/090486 A1, US 20080090486 A1, US 20080090486A1, US 2008090486 A1, US 2008090486A1, US-A1-20080090486, US-A1-2008090486, US2008/0090486A1, US2008/090486A1, US20080090486 A1, US20080090486A1, US2008090486 A1, US2008090486A1
InventorsRichard E. Zawitz
Original AssigneeTangle, Inc.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Resilient Ball Containing Looped Segments
US 20080090486 A1
Abstract
A toy body includes a plurality of curved loop segments. Each curved loop segment can have a curved end and an opposite end. The curved end of each loop segment can meet at the first end of the toy body, and the opposite end of each loop can meet at the second end of the toy body. In some cases, at least two curved ends are coupled together at the first end, and at least two opposite ends are coupled together at the second end. The plurality of curved loop segments forms a continuous loop. A method of making a toy includes shaping a continuous loop to present a first set of bent segments and a second set of bent segments. The first set of bent segments are disposed toward a first toy end, and the second set of bent segments are disposed toward a second toy end.
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Claims(29)
1. A toy body having a first end, a second end, and a hollow interior, wherein the toy body comprises:
a plurality of curved loop segments, each curved loop segment having a curved end and an opposite end, wherein the curved end of each loop segment meets at the first end of the toy body, and the opposite end of each loop meets at the second end of the toy body.
2. A toy body as in claim 1, wherein at least two curved ends are coupled together at the first end.
3. A toy body as in claim 1, wherein at least two opposite ends are coupled together at the second end.
4. A toy body as in claim 1, wherein the plurality of curved loop segments form a continuous loop.
5. A toy, comprising:
a first set of bent segments, and
a second set of bent segments;
wherein the first set of bent segments are disposed toward a first end of the toy, the second set of bent segments are disposed toward a second end of the toy, each of the first set segments is disposed between two second set segments, and each of the second set segments is disposed between two first set segments.
6. A toy as in claim 5, wherein the first set of bent segments in combination with the second set of bent segments form a continuous loop.
7. A toy as in claim 6, wherein the continuous loop comprises an inflatable lumen.
8. A toy as in claim 5, wherein the toy defines a shape selected from the group consisting of a sphere, a spheroid, a prolate spheroid, an oblate spheroid, an ellipsoid, and a toroid.
9. A toy as in claim 5, wherein the toy defines an interior space disposed between the first and the second end.
10. A toy as in claim 9, wherein the toy comprises an object at least partially disposed within the interior space.
11. A toy as in claim 5, wherein at least one of the first set or second set segments comprises a tubular segment having a circular cross-section.
12. A toy as in claim 5, further comprising a first link disposed toward the first end, wherein the first link is coupled with at least two of the first set segments.
13. A toy as in claim 12, wherein the first link comprises a member selected from the group consisting of a ring, a sphere, a cone, a sprocket, a web, and a bar.
14. A toy as in claim 5, further comprising an equatorial segment continuous with and disposed between one of the first set bent segment and one of the second set bent segments.
15. A toy as in claim 5, wherein at least one of the first set of bent segments comprises a curved segment.
16. A toy as in claim 5, wherein at least one of the first set of bent segments comprises an angular segment.
17. A toy as in claim 5, wherein the toy is elastic.
18. A toy as in claim 5, wherein the toy provides a stress relief device comprising sections of varying hardness.
19. A toy as in claim 5, wherein the toy provides a member selected from the group consisting of a stress relief device, a performance ball, a pet toy, and a baby toy.
20. A method of making a toy, comprising:
coupling a first set of bent segments with a second set of bent segments;
wherein the first set of bent segments are disposed toward a first end of the toy, the second set of bent segments are disposed toward a second end of the toy, each of the first set segments is disposed between two second set segments, and each of the second set segments is disposed between two first set segments.
21. A method as in claim 20, wherein the first set of bent segments in combination with the second set of bent segments form a continuous loop.
22. A method as in claim 20, wherein the toy defines a shape selected from the group consisting of a sphere, a spheroid, a prolate spheroid, an oblate spheroid, an ellipsoid, and a toroid.
23. A method as in claim 20, wherein the toy defines an interior space disposed between the first and the second end.
24. A method as in claim 20, further comprising a first link disposed toward the first end, wherein the first link is coupled with at least two of the first set segments.
25. A method of making a toy, comprising:
providing a continuous loop; and
shaping the continuous loop to present a first set of bent segments and a second set of bent segments;
wherein the first set of bent segments are disposed toward a first end of the toy, the second set of bent segments are disposed toward a second end of the toy, each of the first set segments is disposed between two second set segments, and each of the second set segments is disposed between two first set segments.
26. A method as in claim 25, wherein the toy defines a shape selected from the group consisting of a sphere, a spheroid, a prolate spheroid, an oblate spheroid, an ellipsoid, and a toroid.
27. A method as in claim 25, wherein the toy defines an interior space disposed between the first and the second end.
28. A method as in claim 25, further comprising a first link disposed toward the first end, wherein the first link is coupled with at least two of the first set segments.
29. A method of using a toy, comprising:
providing a first set of bent segments and a second set of bent segments, wherein the first set of bent segments are disposed toward a first end of the toy, the second set of bent segments are disposed toward a second end of the toy, each of the first set segments is disposed between two second set segments, and each of the second set segments is disposed between two first set segments; and
elastically deflecting at least one segment of the first or second set of bent segments.
Description
CROSS-REFERENCES TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/829,113, filed on Oct. 11, 2006 and entitled “Resilient Ball Containing Looped Segments,” the entire contents of which are incorporated herein by reference. This application is also related to U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,509,929, 5,110,315, and 6,086,445, and U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/744,962, filed Dec. 23, 2003, Ser. No. 11/015,387, filed Dec. 16, 2004, and Ser. No. 11/152,020, filed Jun. 13, 2005, the entire contents of each of which are incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates generally to the field of toys, and in particular to devices and methods that involve sets of curved or angular segments. Embodiments of the present invention provide toys or objects for use as balls, therapeutic instruments, baby toys, pet toys, beach or pool rafts, and the like.

The use of curved pieces in various geometric configurations has provided the basis for a variety of toys and other useful objects, for example as described in previously incorporated U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,509,929, 5,110,315, and 6,086,445.

Although such toys and objects have been generally commercially successful, it would be desirable to provide certain improvements and diversifying features. For these and other reasons, there continues to be a need for improved toy systems and other useful and decorative structures having one or more sets of curved or angular segments.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Embodiments of the instant invention addresses these and other unfulfilled needs by providing systems, devices, and methods for toys that include sets of bent segments that provide appealing stimulation to the visual and tactile senses. Such toys or structures can be made in an infinite number of graceful, decorative configurations. Moreover, these objects can function as bounceable, rollable, throwable, inflatable, or floatable balls, as diversion tranquilizers for occupying a user's hands and attention, and as toys for general amusement and artistic inspiration.

In one aspect, embodiments of the present invention provide a toy body having a first end, a second end, and a hollow interior. The toy body can include a plurality of curved loop segments. Each curved loop segment can have a curved end and an opposite end. The curved end of each loop segment can meet at the first end of the toy body, and the opposite end of each loop can meet at the second end of the toy body. In some cases, at least two curved ends are coupled together at the first end. In some cases, at least two opposite ends are coupled together at the second end. The plurality of curved loop segments may form a continuous loop.

In another aspect, embodiments of the present invention provide a toy having a first set of bent segments and a second set of bent segments. The first set of bent segments can be disposed toward a first end of the toy, and the second set of bent segments can be disposed toward a second end of the toy. Each of the first set segments can be disposed between two second set segments, and each of the second set segments can be disposed between two first set segments. In some cases, the first set of bent segments in combination with the second set of bent segments form a continuous loop. In some cases, the continuous loop includes an inflatable lumen. The toy can define any desired shape, such as a sphere, a spheroid, a prolate spheroid, an oblate spheroid, an ellipsoid, or a toroid. The toy may define an interior space disposed between the first and the second end. In some cases, the toy includes an object at least partially disposed within the interior space. In some embodiments, at least one of the first set or second set segments includes a tubular segment having a circular cross-section. The toy may also include a first link disposed toward the first end, where the first link is coupled with at least two of the first set segments. In some cases, the first link includes a ring, a sphere, a cone, a sprocket, a web, or a bar. The toy may also include an equatorial segment continuous with and disposed between one of the first set bent segment and one of the second set bent segments. In some cases, at least one of the first set of bent segments includes a curved segment. In some cases, at least one of the first set of bent segments comprises an angular segment. The toy may be elastic. The toy may provide a stress relief device having sections of varying hardness. In some cases, the toy provides a stress relief device, a performance ball, a pet toy, or a baby toy.

In another aspect, embodiments of the present invention provide a method of making a toy. The method includes coupling a first set of bent segments with a second set of bent segments. The first set of bent segments can be disposed toward a first end of the toy, and the second set of bent segments can be disposed toward a second end of the toy. Each of the first set segments can be disposed between two second set segments, and each of the second set segments can be disposed between two first set segments. In some cases, the first set of bent segments in combination with the second set of bent segments forms a continuous loop. The toy may define any desired shape, such as, for example, a sphere, a spheroid, a prolate spheroid, an oblate spheroid, an ellipsoid, or a toroid. The toy may define an interior space disposed between the first and the second end. In some cases, the toy may include a first link disposed toward the first end. The first link can be coupled with at least two of the first set segments. In a related aspect, embodiments of the present invention provide a method of making a toy that includes providing a continuous loop, and shaping the continuous loop to present a first set of bent segments and a second set of bent segments. The first set of bent segments can be disposed toward a first end of the toy, and the second set of bent segments can be disposed toward a second end of the toy. Each of the first set segments can be disposed between two second set segments, and each of the second set segments can be disposed between two first set segments. The toy can define any desired shape, such as a sphere, a spheroid, a prolate spheroid, an oblate spheroid, an ellipsoid, a toroid, and the like. In some cases, the toy defines an interior space disposed between the first and the second end. The toy may include a first link disposed toward the first end. The first link can be coupled with at least two of the first set segments.

In still another aspect, embodiments of the present invention provide a method of using a toy. The method can include, for example, providing a first set of bent segments and a second set of bent segments. The first set of bent segments can be disposed toward a first end of the toy, and the second set of bent segments can be disposed toward a second end of the toy. Each of the first set segments can be disposed between two second set segments, and each of the second set segments can be disposed between two first set segments. The method can also include elastically deflecting at least one segment of the first or second set of bent segments.

For a fuller understanding of the nature and advantages of the present invention, reference should be had to the ensuing detailed description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 illustrates a toy body according to embodiments of the present invention.

FIGS. 2A and 2B illustrate a toy body according to embodiments of the present invention.

FIGS. 3A and 3B illustrate a method making a toy body according to embodiments of the present invention.

FIG. 4 shows a portion of a toy segment according to embodiments of the present invention.

FIGS. 5A-5C show a toy body in combination with an interior object according to embodiments of the present invention.

FIGS. 6A-6D illustrate a method making a toy body according to embodiments of the present invention.

FIGS. 7A-7C illustrate a method making a toy body according to embodiments of the present invention.

FIGS. 8A and 8B illustrate portions of a toy body according to embodiments of the present invention.

FIG. 9 illustrates a toy body according to embodiments of the present invention.

FIG. 10 illustrates a toy body according to embodiments of the present invention.

FIGS. 11A and 11B illustrate a toy body according to embodiments of the present invention.

FIG. 12 illustrates an inflatable toy according to embodiments of the present invention.

FIGS. 13 and 14 illustrate a method of using a toy according to embodiments of the present invention.

FIG. 15 illustrates a toy body according to embodiments of the present invention.

FIGS. 16A-16C illustrate a toy body according to embodiments of the present invention.

FIG. 17 illustrates a toy body according to embodiments of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Turning now to the drawings, FIG. 1 illustrates a toy according to one embodiment of the present invention. Toy body 100 provides a first end 110, a second end 120, and a hollow interior 130. As seen here, toy body 100 includes three curved loop segments 140 a, 140 b, and 140 c. Each curved loop segment has a curved end and an opposite end. For example, curved loop segment 140 a includes a curved end 142 a and an opposite end 144 a. Each of the curved ends 142 a, 142 b, and 142 c meet at or are disposed at toy body first end 110. Each of the opposite ends 144 a, 144 b, and 144 c meet at or are disposed at toy body second end 120. In some embodiments, some or all of the curved ends 142 a, 142 b, and 142 c may be coupled with each other, for example at or toward first end 110. In some embodiments, some or all of the opposite ends 144 a, 144 c, and 144 c may be coupled with each other, for example at or toward second end 120. In related embodiments, the curved loop segments 140 a, 140 b, and 140 c form a continuous loop. Toy body 100 may include a first link 150 disposed toward first end 110. First link 150 may be coupled with some or all of the curved ends 142 a, 142 b, and 142 c. Similarly, toy body 100 may include a second link 160 disposed toward second end 120. Second link 160 may be coupled with some or all of the opposite ends 144 a, 144 b, and 144 c.

FIGS. 2A and 2B illustrate related perspective views of a toy or toy body according to one embodiment of the present invention. Toy 200 includes a first set 210 of three bent segments 210 a, 210 b, and 210 c and a second set 220 of three bent segments 220 a, 220 b, and 220 c. Typically, each of the bents segments includes a curved or angular portion. The first set 210 of bent segments is disposed toward a first end 230 of toy 200, and the second set 220 of bent segments is disposed toward a second end 240 of toy 200. In an alternating fashion, each of the first set segments 210 a, 210 b, and 210 c is disposed between two respective second set segments, and each of the second set segments 220 a, 220 b, and 220 c is disposed between two respective first set segments. For example, first set segment 210 a is disposed between second set segments 220 a and 220 b, first set segment 210 b is disposed between second set segments 220 b and 220 c, and first set segment 210 c is disposed between second set segments 220 c and 220 a. Likewise, second set segment 220 a is disposed between first set segments 210 c and 210 a, second set segment 220 b is disposed between first set segments 210 a and 210 b, and second set segment 220 c is disposed between first set segments 210 b and 210 c. The first set 210 of bent segments in combination with the second set 220 of bent segments can form a continuous loop. Toy 200 may define an interior space 250 disposed between first end 210 and second ends 220. Toy 200 may also include a first link system 260 disposed toward first end 210 and a second link system (not shown) disposed toward second end 220. First link system 260 may be coupled with some or all of the first set bent segments 210 a, 210 b, and 210 c. Similarly, second link system may be coupled with some or all of the second set bent segments 220 a, 220 b, and 220 c.

As shown in FIGS. 2A and 2B, first link system 260 includes three first link bars 260 a, 260 b, and 260 c. First link bar 260 a is disposed between first set segments 210 a and 210 b and coupled therewith, first link bar 260 b is disposed between first set segments 210 b and 210 c and coupled therewith, and first link bar 260 c is disposed between first set segments 210 c and 210 a and coupled therewith. Second link system (not shown) may provide a similar coupling arrangement for the segments of the second set 220 at or toward second end 240. Link systems may include any of a variety of coupler shapes or configurations, including rings, spheres, cones, sprockets, webs, bars, and the like. In some cases, toy 200 can be elastically or resiliently deformable.

To illustrate an exemplary method of making a toy according to some embodiments of the present invention, FIG. 3A provides an exploded view of the disassembled toy, and FIG. 3B depicts an assembled toy. Toy 300 is constructed of a first set 310 of bent segments and a second set of bent segments 320. Optionally, toy 300 may include one or more equatorial segments 330. As shown here, first set 310 of bent segments 310 a and 310 b can be coupled with second set 320 of bent segments 320 a and 320 b, for example by direct or indirect attachments. In embodiments involving direct attachments, bent segment coupling 310 a′ can be attached directly to bent segment coupling 320 a′, bent segment coupling 310 a″ can be attached directly to bent segment coupling 320 b′, bent segment coupling 310 b′ can be attached directly to bent segment coupling 320 a″, and bent segment coupling 310 b″ can be attached directly to bent segment coupling 320 b″. In embodiments involving indirect attachments, bent segment coupling 310 a′ can be attached indirectly with bent segment coupling 320 a′ via equatorial segments 330 a, 330 c; bent segment coupling 310 a″ can be attached indirectly with bent segment coupling 320 b′ via equatorial segments 330 b, 330 d; bent segment coupling 310 b′ can be attached indirectly with bent segment coupling 320 a″ via equatorial segments 330 e, 330 g; and bent segment coupling 310 b″ can be attached indirectly with bent segment coupling 320 b″ via equatorial segments 330 f, 330 h. Embodiments of the present invention include devices or methods involving any combination of direct or indirect attachments. Equatorial segments can be continuous with and disposed between a first set bent segment and a second set bent segment.

Toy 300 can be manufactured to dispose the first set 310 of bent segments toward a first end 340 of toy 300 and the second set 320 of bent segments toward a second end 350 of toy 300. Segment 310 a can be disposed between segments 320 a and 320 b. Segment 320 a can be disposed between segments 310 a and 310 b. Segment 310 b can be disposed between segments 320 a and 320 b. Segment 320 b can be disposed between segments 3110 a and 310 b. As seen in FIGS. 3A and 3B, toy bodies can be made to define an oblong shape. Embodiments of the present invention encompass any of a variety of toy body shapes, including spheres, spheroids, prolate spheroids, oblate spheroids, ellipsoids, toroids, and the like.

FIG. 4 shows a portion of a toy segment 400 according to one embodiment of the present invention. Toy segment 400 has a tubular portion that has a circular cross-section 410. Relatedly, the present invention encompasses toy segments having any of a variety cross-section shapes, such as ovals, squares, triangles, polygons, irregularly shapes, and the like. Toy segments may be hollow, having an internal lumen, or they may be solid in construction. In some embodiments, as depicted in FIGS. 5A-5C, a toy 500 may include an object 550 disposed within or at least partially within an interior space 520 of a toy body 510. As seen in FIG. 5A, the overall shape or envelope provided by toy body 510 defines an interior space 520. Toy body 510 also includes a segment having an attachment feature 502 adapted to couple with an attachment feature 552 of object 550. In this case, attachment feature 502 includes an aperture, and attachment feature 552 includes a pin. Object 550 also includes a recess 554 shaped to receive the contour of toy body 510. In this case, object 550 is shaped or sufficiently sized so as to not slip out of the interior space when disposed therein. Object 550 is disposed partially within toy body interior 520, and partially exterior to toy body interior 520.

FIGS. 6A-6D illustrate methods of making a toy according to embodiments of the present invention. FIG. 6A shows a continuous loop 600. As illustrated in FIG. 6B, a plurality of first directional shaping forces 610 can be applied to loop 600 at a first set of locations 620, and a plurality of second directional forces 630 can be applied to loop at a second set of locations 640. Here, locations 620 and 640 are in alternating arrangement along continuous loop 600. Eventually, as shown in FIG. 6C, continuous loop 600 can be shaped or molded into a toy that includes a first set 650 of bent segments and a second set 660 of bent segments. First set 650 of bent segments correspond to locations 640, and second set 660 of bent segments correspond to locations 620. The first set 650 of bent segments are disposed toward a first end of the toy, and the second set 660 of bent segments are disposed toward a second end of the toy. When tracing a path around the continuous loop 600, first set 650 of bent segments and the second set 660 of bent segments are in alternating arrangement. These bent segments are located one after the other, each succeeding the other in turn. Thus, the sequence of bent segments occurring along continuous loop 600 can be characterized as follows: first set bent segment 650 a, second set bent segment 660 a, first set bent segment 650 b, second set bent segment 660 b, first set bent segment 650 c, second set bent segment 660 c. Each of the first set segments is disposed between two second set segments, and each of the second set segments is disposed between two first set segments. In some embodiments, as illustrated in FIG. 6D, continuous loop 600 can be shaped or molded against or with a form 670, so as to achieve a desired shape. As depicted in this embodiment, the shape of form 670 is spherical. In some embodiments, the shape of a form may include a spheroid, a prolate spheroid, an oblate spheroid, an ellipsoid, a toroid, or any other suitable shape.

In some embodiments, a toy body may be manufactured by an injection molding process. As shown in FIG. 7A, a mold 700 can include a core 710, a first shell 720, and a second shell 730. Core 710 has a recess 712 defining a portion of the toy body shape. Similarly, first shell 720 and second shell 730 each have a recess 722, 732, defining a respective portion of the toy body shape. Together recesses 712, 722, and 732 provide an inverse of the desired toy body shape. Mold core 710, first shell 720, and second shell 730 can be positioned or joined together, as shown in FIG. 7B, and a material such as a thermoplastic substance can be injected via a port 740 into the cavity defined by recesses 712, 722, and 732, to form a toy body. FIG. 7C depicts the separation of first shell 720 and second shell 730, such that the molded toy body 750 resides on core 710. Toy body 750 can then be removed from core 710.

FIGS. 8A and 8B show interlocking portions of a toy according to embodiments of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 8A, toy body 810 includes a first set of bent segments 820 a, 820 b, and 820 c disposed toward a first end 820, and a second set of bent segments 830 a, 830 b, and 830 c disposed toward a second end 830. The first set bent segments and the second set bent segments are arranged in alternating fashion (e.g. 820 a, 830 a, 820 b, 830 b, 820 c, 830 c) along a continuous loop path defined by toy body 810. Each bent segment includes a coupling feature adapted to couple with a corresponding or complementary coupling feature of a link 850 shown in FIG. 8B. For example, bent segment 820 c includes a coupling feature 821 c having a first pin recess 822 c, a second pin recess 823 c, and a slot recess 824 c. Link 850 includes a corresponding coupling feature 851 c having a first pin 852 c, a second pin 853 c, and a tab 854 c. Thus, toy body 810 is coupleable with link 850 such that first pin recess 822 c receives first pin 852 c, second pin recess 823 c receives second pin 853 c, and slot recess 824 c receives tab 854 c. In a similar fashion, bent segment 820 a can be coupled with coupling feature 851 a of link 850, and bent segment 820 b can be coupled with coupling feature 851 b of link 850. Toy body second end 830 can be coupled with a link in a like manner. Link 850 of FIG. 8B can be described as including three bars 860 i, 860 ii, and 860 iii joined by a sprocket 870.

FIG. 9 illustrates a toy according to one embodiment of the present invention. Toy 900 includes a first set 910 of three bent segments 910 a, 910 b (not shown), and 910 c (not shown) and a second set 920 of three bent segments 920 a, 920 b, and 920 c. The first set 910 of bent segments is disposed toward a first end 930 of toy 900, and the second set 920 of bent segments is disposed toward a second end 940 of toy 900. In an alternating fashion, each of the first set segments 910 a, 910 b, and 910 c is disposed between two respective second set segments, and each of the second set segments 920 a, 920 b, and 920 c is disposed between two respective first set segments. Toy 900 may also include a first link system 955 disposed toward first end 910 and a second link system 960 disposed toward second end 920. Second link system 960 is coupled with each of the second set bent segments 920 a, 920 b, and 920 c. First link system 955 may be similarly configured. As depicted here, second link system 960 includes a ring shape. Toy 900 includes a plurality of equatorial segments or portions. For example, equatorial segment 950 a is attached with and disposed between bent segment 920 c and bent segment 910 a, equatorial segment 950 a′ is attached with and disposed between bent segment 910 a and bent segment 920 a, and so on. Equatorial segment 950 a includes two auxiliary equatorial segments 951 a and 952 a. Auxiliary equatorial segments can be coupled with other equatorial segments. For example, auxiliary equatorial segment 952 a is coupled with equatorial segment 950 a′ via three equatorial links 960 i, 960 ii, and 960 iii. Toy 900 may also include a first thread plate 970 a disposed between and coupled with auxiliary equatorial segment 951 a and equatorial segment 950 a, and a second thread plate 970 b disposed between equatorial segment 950 a and auxiliary equatorial segment 952 a. As shown here, toy 900 resembles an American football.

FIG. 10 illustrates a toy according to one embodiment of the present invention. Toy 1000 resembles the toy shown in FIG. 9 in many respects. Toy 1000 includes a first link system 1055 having a cone shape. Toy 1000 may also include a first thread plate 1070 a disposed between and coupled with auxiliary equatorial segment 1052 a and equatorial segment 1050 a′, and a second thread plate 1070 b disposed between equatorial segment 1050 a′ and auxiliary equatorial segment 1053 a.

FIGS. 11A and 11B show a top perspective view and a bottom perspective view, respectively, of a toy according to embodiments of the present invention. Toy 1100 includes a first toy body portion 1105 coupled with a second toy body portion 1105′. First toy body portion 1105 includes a first set 1110 of four bent segments 1110 a, 1110 b, 1110 c, and 1110 d and a second set 1120 of four bent segments 1120 a, 1120 b, 1120 c, and 1120 d. The first set 1110 of bent segments is disposed toward a first end 1130 of toy 1100, and the second set 1120 of bent segments is disposed toward a second end 1140 of toy 1100. In an alternating fashion, each of the first set segments 1110 a, 1110 b, 1110 c, and 1110 d is disposed between two respective second set segments, and each of the second set segments 1120 a, 1120 b, 220 c, and 1120 d is disposed between two respective first set segments (e.g. 1110 a, 1120 a, 1110 b, 1120 b, 1110 c, 1120 c, 1110 d, 1120 d). Second toy body portion 1105′ includes a first set 1110′ of two bent segments 1110 a′ and 110 b′ and a second set 1120′ of two bent segments 1120 a′ and 1120 b′. The first set 1110′ of bent segments is disposed toward a first end 1130 of toy 1100, and the second set 1120′ of bent segments is disposed toward a second end 1140 of toy 1100. In an alternating fashion, each of the first set segments 1110 a′ and 1110 b′ is disposed between two respective second set segments, and each of the second set segments 1120 a′ and 1120 b′ is disposed between two respective first set segments (e.g. 1110 a′, 1120 a′, 1110 b′, 1120 b′).

First set segment 1110 a′ intersects first set segments 1110 c and 1110 d, and first set segment 110 b′ intersects first set segments 1110 a and 1110 b. Similarly, second set segment 1120 a′ intersects 1120 a and 1120 d, and second set segment 1120 b′ intersects second set segments 1120 b and 1120 c. A first end bar 1150 a can connect first end segment 1110 a with first end segment 1110 b. Similar bars may connect segments 1110 b with 1110 c, 1110 c with 1110 d, and 1110 d with 1110 a. A second end bar 1160 a can connect second end segment 1120 a with second end segment 1120 b. Similar bars may connect segments 1120 b with 1120 c, 1120 c with 1120 d, and 1120 d with 1120 a. Relatedly, a first end bar 1150′ can connect first end segment 1110 a′ with first end segment 1110 b′, and a second end bar 1160′ can connect second end segment 1120 a′ with second end segment 1120 b′. Toy 1100 may also include one or more equatorial couplers 1170 attached with one or more segments of the toy. As shown here, toy 1100 includes a plurality of equatorial couplers that define an equatorial loop traveling a circumferential path around the toy. It is appreciated that according to embodiments of the present invention, a toy may include any desired number of toy body portions as described above, and each toy body portion may include any number of a plurality of first set end segments and second set end segments.

FIG. 12 illustrates a toy or toy body according to one embodiment of the present invention. Toy 1200 includes a first set 1210 of three bent segments 1210 a, 1210 b, and 1210 c and a second set 1220 of three bent segments 1220 a, 1220 b, and 1220 c. Each of the bents segments includes a curved portion. The first set 1210 of bent segments is disposed toward a first end 1230 of toy 1200, and the second set 1220 of bent segments is disposed toward a second end 1240 of toy 1200. In an alternating fashion, each of the first set segments 1210 a, 1210 b, and 1210 c is disposed between two respective second set segments, and each of the second set segments 1220 a, 1220 b, and 1220 c is disposed between two respective first set segments. For example, first set segment 1210 a is disposed between second set segments 1220 a and 1220 b, first set segment 1210 b is disposed between second set segments 1220 b and 1220 c, and first set segment 1210 c is disposed between second set segments 1220 c and 1220 a. Likewise, second set segment 1220 a is disposed between first set segments 1210 c and 1210 a, second set segment 1220 b is disposed between first set segments 1210 a and 1210 b, and second set segment 1220 c is disposed between first set segments 1210 b and 1210 c. The first set 1210 of bent segments in combination with the second set 1220 of bent segments can form a continuous loop 1280, and continuous loop 1280 can include an inflated or inflatable lumen. As shown here, toy 1200 is buoyant and floats on the surface of a body of water. Toy 1200 defines an interior space 1250 disposed between first end 1210 and second ends 1220. First set bent segment 1210 a is directly coupled with first set bent segments 1210 b and 1210 c. Second set bent segment 1220 a is directly coupled with second set bent segments 1220 b and 1220 c. These couplings occur at or near the apex of each of the bent segments.

FIGS. 13 and 14 illustrate a method of using a toy according to embodiments of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 13, a toy operator 1300 can throw a toy 1310 toward a surface 1320. As toy 1310 strikes surface 1320, the toy or portions thereof can elastically deform or deflect such that the toy subsequently bounces. FIG. 14 depicts an elastic deflection 1400 of segments of a toy 1410 as it contacts or collides with surface 1420.

FIG. 15 illustrates a toy according to embodiments of the present invention. Toy 1500 includes a plurality of bent segments 1510. Each of the segments can include a first end 1520 and a second end 1530. The first ends 1520 are disposed toward a first end 1540 of toy 1500, and the second ends 1530 are disposed toward a second end 1550 of toy 1500. Toy 1500 also includes a first cap or link 1560 coupled with first ends 1520, and a second cap or link 1570 coupled with second ends 1530. Bent segments 1510 and caps 1560, 1570 can define an interior space 1580. The segments, caps, or both, can be made of a variety of materials, including thermoplastic rubber. The toy can define any desires shape, such as a sphere, a spheroid, a prolate spheroid, an oblate spheroid, an ellipsoid, or a toroid.

FIGS. 16A-16C illustrate a toy according to embodiments of the present invention. Toy 1600 includes a plurality of first end bent segments 1610 disposed toward a first end 1630 and a plurality of second end bent segments 1620 disposed toward a second end 1635. First end segments 1610 can include a first bent segment 1610 a, a second bent segment 1610 b, and a third bent segment 1610 c. Similarly, second end segments 1620 can include a first bent segment 1620 a, a second bent segment 1620 b, and a third bent segment 1620 c. First end bent segments and second end bent segments can be coupled via a plurality of intermediate bent segments 1640. For example, first bent segment 1610 a and first bent segment 1620 a can be coupled via intermediate bent segments 1640 a′ and 1640 a″. In this embodiment, bent segments 1610 a, 1640 a′, 1640 a″, and 1620 a form a continuous loop. Similarly, second bent segment 1610 b and second bent segment 1620 b can be coupled via intermediate bent segments 1640 b′ and 1640 b″. In this embodiment, bent segments 1610 b, 1640 b′, 1640 b″, and 1620 b form a continuous loop. Further, third bent segment 1610 c and third bent segment 1620 c can be coupled via intermediate bent segments 1640 c′ and 1640 c″. In this embodiment, bent segments 1610 c, 1640 c′, 1640 c″, and 1620 c form a continuous loop. These three continuous loops, combined, form a spherical toy body. As shown in the top view provided by FIG. 16B, for example, first end bent segments 1610 a, 1610 b, and 1610 c can be fused or bonded together, or can otherwise form an aggregate or unitary member. Similarly, second end bent segments 1620 a, 1620 b, and 1620 c can be fused or bonded together, or can otherwise form a single or aggregate member.

FIG. 17 illustrates a toy according to embodiments of the present invention. Toy 1700 includes a plurality of first end bent segments 1710 disposed toward a first end 1630 and a plurality of second end bent segments 1720 disposed toward a second end 1735. First end segments 1710 can include a first bent segment 1710 a, a second bent segment 1710 b, and a third bent segment 1710 c. Similarly, second end segments 1720 can include a first bent segment 1720 a, a second bent segment 1720 b, and a third bent segment 1720 c. First end bent segments and second end bent segments can be coupled via a plurality of intermediate bent segments 1740. For example, first bent segment 1710 a can be coupled with second bent segment 1720 a and third bent segment 1720 c via intermediate bent segments 1740 aa and 1740 ac, respectively. Similarly, second bent segment 1710 b can be coupled with first bent segment 1720 a and second bent segment 1720 b via intermediate bent segments 1740 ba and 1740 bb, respectively. Further, third bent segment 1710 c can be coupled with second bent segment 1720 b and third bent segment 1720 c via intermediate bent segments 1740 cb and 1740 cc, respectively. In this embodiment, bent segments 1710 a, 1740 aa, 1720 a, 1740 ba, 1710 b, 1740 bb, 1720 b, 1740 cb, 1710 c, 1740 cc, 1720 c, and 1740 ac form a continuous loop, which in turn forms a spherical toy body. In a manner similar to that shown in FIG. 16B, first end bent segments 1710 a, 1710 b, and 1710 c can be fused or bonded together, or can otherwise form an aggregate or unitary member. Similarly, second end bent segments 1720 a, 1720 b, and 1720 c can be fused or bonded together, or can otherwise form a single or aggregate member.

In some embodiments, one or more toy or toy body segments may be coupled with or incorporate a writing instrument or other tool, or may include a therapeutic element or surface, as described in previously incorporated U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/152,020 filed Jun. 13, 2005. For example, a toy segment may include or be coupled with a ball point pen, retractable pen, pencil, colored pencil, charcoal pencil, mechanical pencil, fountain pen, dip pen, quill pen, paint brush, gel pen, marker, highlighter, stylographs, crayon, and the like. Similarly, therapeutic elements may include resilient coatings, rotatable or slidable elements on the surface of the segments, heating or cooling of the segments, vibratable elements, encased gels or liquids, various textured surfaces, colors and/or lights, varying sizes, thicknesses and/or levels of resilience, therapeutic magnets, surfaces that move up and down or in and out, various natural or synthetic materials, such as fabrics, leather, features, fibers, seeds, other plants and the like, scented materials, herbs, flavored materials, sticky surfaces, raised or lowered images (including brail), lotions, ointments, medicines, lubricants, sponges, porous materials, foams, rubbers, bendable tabs, extensions, spikes, clays or putty, electrical stimulation elements, and the like. Segments can also be configured as a holder for a writing instrument body. In some cases, the segments can be arranged so as to prop the writing instrument body at an angle, disposed above the desk. Alternatively, the segments can be arranged so as to support the writing instrument body in a horizontal position on the desk. In related cases, the segments will be easily removable or detachable so that if the user does not want the segments on the toy body, he or she can simply pull them off or otherwise disconnect them. Toy segments can be fabricated from or include any of a variety of desired materials, such as metals, polymers, and natural substances such as wood or bamboo. Segments may be hollow, solid, porous, fibrous, and the like. Segments can include a rubber coating, a rubber coating with raised nodules, a silicone gel coating, a chemical composite coating, or a compressible rubber coating. In some cases, the segments can include or be coated with materials of varying hardness, including thermoplastic rubber, synthetic rubber, and the like. Embodiments of the present invention encompass stress relief devices, performance balls, and pet toys. In some cases, embodiments include baby toys for grasping and teething.

Although certain system, device, and method embodiments have been disclosed herein, it will be apparent from the foregoing disclosure to those skilled in the art that variations, modifications, alternative constructions, and equivalents of such embodiments may be made without departing from the true spirit and scope of the invention. Therefore, the above description should not be taken as limiting the scope of the invention which is defined by the appended claims.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7867115Dec 17, 2007Jan 11, 2011Tangle, Inc.Segmented ball with lighted elements
US8708765Nov 17, 2011Apr 29, 2014Fort Magic, LlcKit for constructing a play structure
Classifications
U.S. Classification446/124
International ClassificationA63H33/08
Cooperative ClassificationA63B23/16, A63B43/002, A63H33/008, A63H33/18
European ClassificationA63H33/00H, A63H33/18
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Jan 4, 2007ASAssignment
Owner name: TANGLE, INC., CALIFORNIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:ZAWITZ, RICHARD E.;REEL/FRAME:018708/0865
Effective date: 20061205