US 3679208 A
A game apparatus in which counter pieces are thrown violently upward in random directions from the bottom of an enclosure so as to bounce about inside the enclosure, and in which a catching device can be manipulated within the enclosure by a player to catch one or more counter pieces. The game may include a scoring board having individual places for counter pieces marked to match markings on certain counter pieces, so that a player attempts to catch pieces to place in a pattern on the board.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent Carrano, Jr. et al.
 GAME APPARATUS FOR CATCHING RANDOMLY MOVING ARTICLES  Inventors: Andrew J. Carrano, Jr., New Haven,
Conn.; Stephen N. Cotsalas, Commack; John E. Jacobson, Brooklyn, both of N.Y.
 Assignee: Edu-Matic Designs, Ltd.
 Filed: July 20, 1970  Appl. No.: 56,587
 U.S. Cl ..273/95 R, 273/144 R, 273/135 B  Int. Cl. ..A63b 71/04  Field of Search ..273/95 R, 95 C, 144 R, 144 A  References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,129,489 9/1938 Brown ..273/95C 51 July 25,1972
2,621,042 12/1952 Stein ..273/95 C 3,116,927 1/1964 Kuhlman ..273/l44 R 3,118,677 1/1964 Lang ..273/144 R Primary Examiner-Richard C. Pinkham Assistant Examiner-Marvin Siskind Attorney-David R. Treacy 5 7] ABSTRACT A game apparatus in which counter pieces are thrown violently upward in random directions from the bottom of an enclosure so as to bounce about inside the enclosure, and in which a catching device can be manipulated within the enclosure by a player to catch one or more counter pieces. The game may include a scoring board having individual places for counter pieces marked to match markings on certain counter pieces, so that a player attempts to catch pieces to place in a pattern on the board.
7 Claims, 3 Drawing Figures GAME APPARATUS FOR CATCHING RANDOMLY MOVING ARTICLES BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention This invention relates to action games which involve both skill and luck, and in particular, to games in which players compete against each other in manipulating an apparatus. It has long been known that visible and audible action will encourage player interest and spectator attention. Recent emphasis on television advertising has also spurred the invention of games which present a colorful and exciting picture on the television screen. Such games are intended primarily for use by children, but may also be enjoyed by adults if the skill requirement offers some challenge.
2. Description of the Prior Art Games involving an active apparatus have been known for many years. One very popular such game, but prohibitively expensive for the average family to own, is the pinball machine. The flashing lights and ringing bells of this type of game excite a player's enthusiasm. An element of skill is introduced by variation in release of the plunger which throws the balls into play. Some machines add an extra element of luck by incorporating a device that will project a ball randomly outward if it settles in certain holes. The suspense created by this possibility adds to the games success.
Production of reasonably priced sight-plus-sound action games for household use has not resulted in many games with sustained popularity, even though automatic production machines and modern plastic molding have enabled the marketing of suspenseful apparatus games which are low in cost and are attractive to a television audience. Some require skill; for example, deciding which piece to remove from a massed array of pieces without causing the array to collapse, or manipulating a model of a player in simulation of a sport. Others involve luck only, and rely on colorful plastic contrivances to provide action and television appeal. Most of these require the players to take turns, however, so that a childs natural impatience causes him to tire rapidly of waiting for the others turns to end. Furthermore, it has proved difficult to combine luck, so that the slow or poorly coordinated child still has a chance to win, with some skill advantage so that the quick or well-coordinated player feels that he can demonstrate his superiority over the long run. As a result, most of the newer games have been just a passing fad.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION In accordance with the invention, a game apparatus suitable for one or more players is provided, wherein a quantity of scoring, or counter, pieces are contained within an enclosure, near whose bottom there is a device for propelling successive groups of one or more of the counter pieces violently upwards in different random directions, so that the pieces will bounce in various directions off the enclosure. A catching device is insorted by a player through an opening in the enclosure, to try to catch one or more of the counter pieces bouncing around inside.
In one alternate form of the invention, some or all of the counter pieces bear distinguishing colors or markings, and the game includes a scoring board having an array of places for counter pieces, the individual places bearing colors or markings corresponding to similarly identified counter pieces. Each player then tries to catch counter pieces having such colors or markings as to enable him to complete a prescribed pattern on the scoring board.
If a substantial portion of the enclosure is made of a thin, high impact resistant transparent material, the sight of the counter pieces bouncing violently around the interior of the enclosure, and the sound of the pieces striking the enclosure provide an appealing action to the game. Also, while skill in manuevering the catching device will improve a player's chance of catching a given quantity of counter pieces, there is an equalizing element of luck due to the random motion, particularly if the counter pieces have colors or markings having different values or matching different positions on the scoring board.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING FIG. 1 is a front elevation view of a game apparatus embodying the invention, with the scoring board shown in perspective.
FIG. 2 is a plan view partially in section of a part of the apparatus of FIG. I.
FIG. 3 is a front elevation view of a catching device which may be used with the apparatus of FIG. 1.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, there is shown a game apparatus having only a small number of parts and requiring very simple tooling for manufacture. A quantity of spherical balls I I, made of wood or preferably of a lightweight plastic such as polystyrene and colored in a variety of bright colors, used as counter pieces, are contained in a spherical enclosure I3, whose upper half 14 is a thin-walled transparent shell made of a high impact resistant plastic such as polypropylene modified polyvinyl chloride. The lower half 16 of the enclosure 13 is preferably opaque but otherwise of the same material and dimensions as the upper half 14 to which it is glued or otherwise bonded.
The lower half 16 is also bonded to a frustoconical base 18 on which the apparatus normally rests. A narrow rectangular slot 20, having a width somewhat less than half the diameter of the balls 11, is cut through the lower half 16 at its lowest point. A small electric motor 22, of the sort well known in the art that is operable by a flashlight battery, is mounted within the base 18 by any convenient means (not shown), with the motor shaft extension 24 horizontal and centered somewhat below the slot 20, perpendicular to the long dimension of the slot. An elongated striker arm 26 is fastened on the shaft 24, an end 27 of the striker arm extending radially outward from the shaft 24, so that the end 27 protrudes through the slot 20 into the interior of the enclosure 13 during part of each revolution of the shaft. Preferably, the motor 22 is powered by a small dry cell battery (not shown) mounted within the base 18, and controlled by a switch mounted through the side of the base 18, the switch and connecting wires (not shown) being convential.
Four round holes 30 are equally spaced around the upper part of the lower half 16, for insertion of the catching devices 32 partway therethrough, two of these devices being shown in position with their receiving ends 34 inside the enclosure. Each device 32 is made preferably of transparent, straight high impact resistant plastic tubing, circular in cross section, having an inside diameter approximately 1% times the diameter of the balls 11. The receiving end 34 of each device 32 is closed, for example by bonding a plug (not shown) to the tubing. Adjacent the end 34, a catching opening 36 is cut through the wall of the device, the opening having a width somewhat greater than the diameter of the balls 11, and a length along the axis of the device 32 approximately twice the width of the opening. Opposite the end 34, there is a controlling end 38 of each device 32. The controlling ends 38 are open, so that any balls 11 which may fall into the opening 36 without bouncing out, will roll to and out the controlling end when that end is lower than the receiving end.
Since a game will not always be played by four people, the invention also provides for use of less than all the catching devices 32. A sheet 44 of springy rubberized material is glued over each of the holes 30. A pair of crossed slits 45, each of length slightly greater than the outside diameter of the devices 32, are cut at approximately the center of each sheet 44, so as to form four flaps 47. If a catching device 32 is not inserted in one of the holes 30, the springy nature of the sheet 44 causes the flaps 47 to close the opening so that any of the balls 11 striking the flaps will bounce back to the interior of the enclosure 13. Pushing the receiving end 34 through a hole 30 wild bend the flaps 47 inward, where they will tend to hold the device 32 in place by friction.
A scoring board 50, two of which are shown in FIG. 1, is provided for each player. Depressions 52, rounded in shape, are formed in a pattern of three rows of three each, each depression of a size conveniently to receive one of the balls 11. The individual depressions are colored to match colors of the various balls 11; for example, red on the top row, blue at each end of the middle row and gold in the center, and green along the bottom row. To use the board 50, when a player catches one of the balls 11 through the opening 36 in his catching device 32, he will tilt the device so that the ball may roll out the end 38, catch the ball with a free hand and place the ball in the correspondingly colored depression 52. A scoring system may establish the winner as the player who first places three balls on his board 50 in a straight line, as in the familiar game of tic-tac-toe.
Referring to FIG. 3, there is shown an alternate form of catching device whose use requires less effort and attention on the part of the player. The device has a receiving end 64, which is closed, for example by bonding a plug (not shown) to the tubing, and an adjacent opening 66, all formed the same as the corresponding portions of the device 32 shown in FIG. 1. Instead of an open-ended controlling portion, the device 60 includes a curved region 68 having a radius of curvature suffciently great that flattening of the tubing does not restrict motion of the balls 11 through the region. Preferably, the region 68 is of such length that its arc subtends an angle of approximately 60". Extending beyond the curved region 68 is a straight reservoir portion 69 of sufficient length to hold five of the balls 11, the extreme end of the portion 69 being closed similarly as the receiving end 64.
When the FIG. 3 catching device is use, the scoring board 50 is not required, since the player cannot readily remove the balls caught therein without withdrawing the catching device from the enclosure 13. With this alternate form of the game, scoring can be quite simple; for example, counting the number of balls in the reservoir portion 69. It will also be found that the portion 69 and the region 68 in combination make a convenient means, like a pistol grip, for manipulating the catching device.
Many other changes in form and detail may be made embodying the invention. For example, the counter pieces need not be spherical; rather than be identified by color, they can bear letters or numbers; a scoring board like the well-known Bingo card could be used; and many variations in the enclosure or catching device shapes will be obvious to one skilled in the art.
What is claimed is:
l. A game apparatus for one or more players comprising:
a number ofcounter elements;
an enclosure within which said counter elements are contained, said enclosure having a lower portion sloping inwardly to a lowest region, so arranged that said counter elements may be urged by gravity toward said lowest reion;
me ans operable in said lowest region of said enclosure for propelling successive groups of at least one of said counter elements upwardly in generally random directions; and
means for catching a counter element, comprising an elongated tube having a receiving portion at one end adapted to accept at least one of said counter elements that may fall therein, and having a controlling portion at the other end operable by a player for varying the position of said receiving portion within said enclosure, said tube having an interior passage communicating with said receiving portion and said controlling portion, sufficiently large that one of said counter elements may pass through from one portion to the other;
said enclosure having an opening for insertion of said tube, so disposed that said tube may be oriented in a variety of positions within the enclosure.
2. A game apparatus according to claim 1 wherein: the apparatus comprises in addition a piece of springy from the receiving portion end to the controlling portion, at
least a substantial length of the controlling portion being a second part formed at an angle of at least approximately 45 from said first part, the interior of said second part communicating with said interior passage such that a counter element may pass into said second part, and stop means at said controlling portion end to prevent passage of a counter element out of the tube.
4. A game apparatus according to claim 1 wherein: said number of counter elements comprises a multiplicity of counter elements, one of said elements having a first identifying characteristic associated therewith; said elongated tube has an opening at said controlling portion end communicating with said interior passage, to permit any counter element accepted by said receiving portion to travel down said interior passage and fall outthe opening; and said game apparatus comprises in addition a scoring array board having a plurality of scoring positions thereon, one of said positions having an identifying characteristic associated therewith similar to said first identifying characterrstic. 5. A game apparatus according to claim 1 wherein: said enclosure has an aperture located approximately at the bottom of said lowest region; and said means for propelling comprises a striking element, rotatably mounted adjacent said aperture for motion therethrough while being rotated, and means for rotating said striking element rapidly. 6. A game apparatus according to claim 5 wherein: said enclosure has an upper portion made of transparent material so that said counter elements which may be propelled upwardly may be both seen and heard as they strike said upper portion. 7. A game apparatus according to claim 6 wherein: said number of counter elements comprises a multiplicity of counter elements, one of said elements having a first identifying characteristic associated therewith; said elongated tube has an opening at said controlling portion end communicating with said interior passage, to permit any counter element accepted by said receiving portion to travel down said interior passage and fall out the opening; and said game apparatus comprises in addition a scoring array board having a plurality of scoring positions thereon, one of said positions having an identifying characteristic associated therewith similar to said first identifying characteristic.