US 3638350 A
A toy of the type in which movement of a plurality of balls or marbles is controlled by manipulation of a ball-supporting surface. A hollow annular casing is supported upon a resilient pedestal with the casing axis in a normally maintained vertical position. By tilting the casing upon its pedestal, balls or marbles within the casing may be set into or maintained in motion in one or more circular paths defined by annular shoulders within the casing.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent Wiggen [451 Feb. 1, 1972 TOY 2,189,853 2/1940 Zadek ..46/32  Inventor: Lyle A. Wiggen, Fort Collins, C010.
 Assignee: Fantastic Futures Inc., Fort Collins, C010.
 Filed: Sept. 2, 1970  Appl. No.: 68,955
Primary ExaminerLouis G. Mancene Assistant Examiner-J. Q. Lever Attorney-Drake & Crandell  ABSTRACT A toy of the type in which movement of a plurality of balls or marbles is controlled by manipulation of a ball-supporting surface. A hollow annular casing is supported upon a resilient pedestal with the casing axis in a normally maintained vertical position. By tilting the casing upon its pedestal, balls or marbles within the casing may be set into or maintained in motion in one or more circular paths defined by annular shoulders within the casing.
1 Claims, 3 Drawing Figures PATENTEDFEB 1x912 3538.350
' sum 1 or 3 LYLE A. W/GGE/V INVENTOR BY Drake and Crande/l Attorneys PATENTED FEB 1 I972 sumaor LYLE A. W/GGEN INVENTOR BY Drake and Crandel/ Attorneys PATENTEDFEBIWZ 3638.350 sums-M3 LYLE A. W/GGE/V INVENTOR BY Drake and Crande/l Attorneys TOY SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The general objectives of the present invention are to provide a toy of relatively simple construction which will provide amusement for children of various ages and skills. The toy is constructed from panlike base and cover elements joined to each other around their rims to form a hollow annular casing within which a plurality of balls or marbles are contained. A support pedestal in the form of a suction cup having an integral resilient shaft portion is coaxially secured to the base element to enable the toy to be mounted upon a flat surface with the casing axis normally disposed in a vertical position. Tilting of the casing axis, accommodated by the resilient suction cup shaft, sets the marbles within the casing into motion. The base element of the casing is provided with a plurality of shoulders, and by causing the casing to nutate the marbles can be maintained in or transferred between various circular paths 1 defined by the annular shoulders.
A minimum amount of skill is required to set the marbles in motion haphazardly along the various paths. However, some dexterity is required to maintain the marbles moving at a constant speed for any period of time. Further skill is required to get all of the marbles moving on a single selected path, while even more skill is required to selectively distribute the marbles between two or more paths.
In addition, movement of the marbles is noisy. Like a rattle, this contributes to the amusement of the very young child who may simply push down on or slap one edge portion repeatedly.
Other objects and features of the invention will become apparent by reference to the following specification and to the drawings.
IN THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a perspective view of one embodiment of the invention;
FIG. 2 is a vertical cross-sectional view of the embodiment of FIG. 1; and
FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of a second embodiment of the invention.
Referring first to FIGS. 1 and 2, a toy embodying the present invention is constructed with a hollow annular casing designated generally 10 formed by a pair of like, generally dish-shaped elements identified as base element 12 and cover element 14. Elements l2 and 14 may be conveniently formed from any of several commercially available plastic materials either by molding or by vacuum-forming techniques. Cover element 14 is formed from a transparent or clear plastic material while base element 12 is preferably opaque. As best seen in the cross-sectional view of FIG. 2, base element 12 is concave upwardly and formed with a first annular shoulder 16 which curves smoothly upwardly from the flat bottom of base element 12. At the upper end of shoulder 16, the shoulder merges into a radially outwardly projecting annular flange 18 formed with an axially projecting annular rim 20 at its radially outer periphery that serves as another shoulder.
As seen in FIG. 2, cover element 14 is of the same cross-sectional configuration as base element 12 and the cover and base elements are assembled to form casing 10 by thermally or adhesively bonding the axially extending rim portions of the two elements to each other in a butt joint.
Before bonding the two elements together, a plurality of balls or glass marbles 22 are placed inside one of the elements to be sealed within casing 10 when base and cover elements 12 and 14 are bonded to each other. The marbles are of a diameter just a little smaller than the height of the space between 0pposing flanges 18.
A plastic stud 24 is integral with or is thermally or adhesively bonded to the bottom of base element 12 to extend coaxially of the axis of the annular casing 10. Stud 24 functions to enable casing 10 to be mounted upon the shaft portion 26 of a suction cup 28.
In use, the toy is fixed in place by forcing suction cup 28 downwardly onto a flat surface S such as a tabletop. The flexibility of suction cup 28 and its shaft 26 is such that casing 10 can be tilted from the normally maintained horizontal position shown in FIG. 2 to cause the marbles to be set into motion. By pressing downwardly with a finger on the upper flange l8 and running the finger circumferentially around casing 10, the marbles are set in motion to run in circular paths along either of shoulders 16 or 20, depending upon the degree of tilting of casing 10 and the speed at which the finger is moved around the casing circumference. Alternatively, the palm of the hand can be pressed against the top of cover element 14 to nutate the casing by flexing of the wrist.
In FIG. 3, a modified form of the invention is disclosed in which a base element 32 is formed with a series of progressively stepped shoulders 34, 36 and 38. Still another shoulder is defined by an integral axially extending upright rim 40.'Base element 32 is further formed with a centrally located solid projection or hub 42 which receives a threaded stud 44 molded into or fixedly secured within the shaft portion of suc tion cup 46. Alternatively, projection 42 is hollow and the shaft of suction cup 46 projects into the cavity formed by the projection where the shaft is held either by friction or glue.
A transparent cover plate 48 is formed with an axially extending downtumed rim 50 adapted to receive rim 40 of base element 32. Cover element 48 and base element 32 are permanently assembled to each other by thermally or adhesively bonding the overlapped portions of rims 50 and 40. Alternatively, rim 50 is formed to have a square upper comer that rides on the lip of rim 40, so that the two rims may be spinwelded together.
Preferably, shoulders 34, 36 and 38 present successively higher steps so that a different manner of actuation is required to maintain marbles in rotation at the various shoulders. In addition to establishing different paths of movement for the marbles, the shoulders 34, 36 and 38 structurally rigidify base element 32. In a typical construction, the overall diameter is about 10 inches, the maximum interior height is about 2 inches and the marbles are of about %-inch diameter.
In operation of either version of the toy, amusement has been given even to adults who become amazed at the skill required, for example, to keep the marbles moving in trains" of equal numbers (or predesignated unequal numbers) in each of the different paths defined by the shoulders. On the other hand, movement or impact of the marbles over or against the plastic creates a rather penetrating noise. The base element is sufficiently thin and yet taut to act somewhat like a drumhead so as, together with the hollow plastic cavity, to emphasize this effect in the manner of a drum instrument. Not surprisingly, the quite young child delights in the noise he can make with, while at the same time being fascinated with the movement of the marbles.
While two embodiments of the invention have been described, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that the disclosed embodiments may be modified. Therefore, the foregoing description is to be considered exemplary, rather than limiting, and the true scope of the invention is that defined in the following claims.
l. A toy comprising an annular upwardly concave base element having an axially upwardly projecting peripheral rim, a plurality of radially spaced axially stepped shoulders on the interior of said base element concentric with the axis of said base element, an annular downwardly concave cover element of transparent material mounted upon said rim of said base element to cooperatively define with said base element a closed hollow annular-casing, resilient support pedestal means fixedly secured to said base element in coaxial relationship therewith to support said casing with its axis in a normally maintained vertical position whole accommodating resiliently resisted tilting movement of the casing axis, said pedestal means including a downwardly facing suction cup at the lower end of said pedestal means and a resilient shaft portion fixedly secured to said base element in coaxial relationship to the casing, and a plurality of balls in said casing, each of said shoulders defining an annular path along which said balls may roll as said casing is nutated about its axis.