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Publication numberUS3707802 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJan 2, 1973
Filing dateJan 21, 1971
Priority dateJan 21, 1971
Also published asDE2119673A1
Publication numberUS 3707802 A, US 3707802A, US-A-3707802, US3707802 A, US3707802A
InventorsBales J, Bosley D, Prodger B, Ruppel K, Summerfield W, Tucker J
Original AssigneeMattel Inc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Delayed starting indicator apparatus and toy starting system
US 3707802 A
Abstract
A starting system having a delayed starting indicator apparatus comprised of a housing, a movable indicating element, a resetting element and a premature start indicator mechanism. The indicator apparatus simulates a "Christmas Tree" starting device commonly used for drag races. As the movable indicating element drops within the housing in a retarded fashion, spaced, paired openings in the housing make visible a sequential showing of color including a different color to indicate the beginning of the race. The premature start indicator mechanism causes a still different color to appear by offsetting the indicating element. The apparatus is easy to manipulate, simply constructed, rugged, inexpensive to manufacture and exciting to use.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent [1 1 Tucker, Jr. et al.

1541 DELAYED STARTING INDICATOR APPARATUS AND 'TOY STARTING SYSTEM Inventors:

Assignee:

Filed:

Appl. No.:

US. Cl. Int. Cl.

James 1. Tucker, Jr., Manhattan Beach; Joseph 11. Bales, Huntington Beach; Denis V. Bosley, Palos Verdes Peninsula; Brian S. Prodger, Torrance; Kurt Ruppel, Redondo Beach; William F. Summerfield, Huntington Beach, all of Calif.

Mattel, Inc., Hawthome, Calif.

Jan. 21, 1971 ..46/l K, 273/86 ..A63h 33/00 Field of Search.....46/1 K, 202; 273/148 R, 86 B References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS Sheldon et al. ..273/86 B Ryan et al ..273/l48 R 1 'Jan. 2, 1973 2,803,922 8/1957 Holt ..46/202 2,531,056 11/1950 Koesten ..46/202 Primary Examiner-Louis G. Mancene Assistant Examiner-.l. Q. Lever AttorneySeymour A. Scholnick [57] ABSTRACT A starting system having a delayed starting indicator apparatus comprised of a housing, a movable indicating eleme'nt,a resetting element and a premature start indicator mechanism. The indicator apparatus simulates a Christmas Tree starting device commonly used for drag races. As the movable indicating element drops within the housing in a retarded fashion, spaced, paired openings in the housing make visible a sequential showing of color including a different color to indicate the beginning of the race. The premature start indicator mechanism causes a still different color to appear by offsetting the indicating element. The apparatus is easy to manipulate, simply constructed, rugged, inexpensive to manufacture and exciting to use.

3 Claims, 8 Drawing Figures PATENTED M um 3.707.802

SHEET 2 BF 3 H Mill/Z4 ,yrraz/vif DELAYED STARTING INDICATOR APPARATUS AND TOY STARTING SYSTEM BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention The present invention relates to a toy vehicle starting system and, more particularly, to a starting system having a delayed starting indicator apparatus simulating a real race starting mechanism, commonly referred to as a Christmas Tree starting mechanism. The apparatus is simply constructed and inexpensive to manufacture and includes provisions forindicating a premature start of one of the racing vehicles.

2. Description of the Prior Art Small toy vehicles have become exceedingly popular among small children. These vehicles are usually sold in sets including extruded synthetic resin track sections which allow various track layouts to be constructed. A very popular form of toy vehicles are miniature automobiles having metal bodies and riding on freely rotatable wheels, as more clearly described in US. Pat. No. 3,510,981 to H. W. La Branche et al. The track sections are of brightly colored material having a running surface and two oppositely disposed guide flanges for guiding the toy vehicle along the running surface. The track sections also include depending flanges which provide a channel-shaped receptacle for receiving track section connectors to allow easy connection of abutting track sections. The track system is exemplified by US. Pat. No. 3,487,999 to A. W. B. Nash et al. More recently, a newer self-powered toy vehicle has appeared. By self-powered, it is meant a vehicle with a small motor directly connected to the rear wheels and a small rechargeable battery for energizing the motor.

The combination of small toy vehicles with freely rotatable wheels and especially self-powered vehicles and various shaped track sections make for an extremely exciting toy vehicle system. Frequently, added to this system are various accessories, such as curves, loops, starting gates, finish gates, speed indicators, lap counters, power boosters etc. In order to increase excitement and to offer greater versatility to imaginative children, endeavors are being made to provide additional accessories. For example, attention has been drawn to the racing field which over the years has become an exciting spectator sport. Automobile racing of the type exemplified by the Indianapolis 500 race and the Le Mans road race offer an example of exciting long distance automobile racing. Another and more recent example is the short distance drag race. In this type of race, vehicles are raced down a measured relatively short course with the winner being that car which first crosses the finish line after accelerating from a stopped idling position.

Of course, it is to be understood that to be commercially successful with any new accessory, it is required that the accessory be simply constructed, rugged and adaptable to inexpensive manufacturing and packaging processes so as to insure mass marketing at a reasonable cost.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The present invention provides an exciting toy while fulfulling the objectives mentioned hereinabove by furnishing a starting system comprising a toy vehicle launcher; and a delayed starting indicator apparatus connected to the launcher. In more detail, the delayed starting indicator apparatus comprises means movable between first and second positions for providing a starting signal; and a housing, including guide means for guiding and retarding the signal providing means between the first and second positions. In a preferred embodiment, the delayed starting indicator includes means mounted to the housing for moving the signal providing means from the second position to the first position and means connected to the housing responsive to a premature start for causing an indication of a premature start.

It is the general aim of the present invention to provide a toy vehicle starting system which is exciting,

simply constructed and inexpensive to manufacture.

Another aspect of the present invention is to provide a toy vehicle starting system which is rugged, reliable and closely analogous to the starting system of a real race.

Still another object of the present invention is to provide a delayed starting indicator apparatus which is simply constructed, has few moving parts, inexpensive to manufacture and yet closely simulates a real racing starting mechanism, as exemplified by those used for drag racing.

Other objects and advantages of the invention will appear from the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a delayed starting indicator apparatus illustrating the front portion of the apparatus,

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a toy vehicle starting system, including a delayed starting indicator apparatus and a toy vehicle launcher.

FIG. 3 is an enlarged sectional elevational view, partially exploded taken along line 3-3 of FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is a sectional plan view taken along line 4-4 of FIG. 3.

FIG. 5 is an enlarged sectional elevational view taken along line 5-5 of FIG. 1.

FIG. 6 is a partially borken away sectional elevational view of the delayed starting indicator apparatus in a resetting process.

FIG. 7 is a sectional elevational view of the delayed starting indicator apparatus in operation.

FIG. 8 is an enlarged sectional elevational view of a portion of the FIG. 7 view illustrating the position of an indicating element in a second position.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT While the present invention is susceptible of various modifications and alternative constructions, an illustrative embodiment is shown in the drawings and will herein be described in detail. It should be understood, however, that it is not the intention to limit the invention to the particular form disclosed; but, on the contrary, the intention is to cover all modifications, equivalents and alternative constructions falling within the spirit and scope of the invention as expressed in the appended claims.

Referring now to FIG. 1, there is illustrated a delayed starting indicator apparatus comprising a housing 12 having a front surface 14 and a resetting element 16. The front surface 14 includes a number of paired openings, such as the pairs 18 and 20, 22 and 24, 26 and 28, and 30 and 32, which are generally aligned, except for the pair 30, 32, and vertically spaced. The indicator apparatus 10 is to simulate a real drag race type starting mechanism, commonly known as a Christmas Tree. The real drag race starting mechanism has an upright platform, including a number of vertically aligned lights which are flashed in sequence starting with the uppermost lights and descending to the lowermost lights. When the lowermost lights are reached, the race is to begin. Usually the lights above the lowermost lights are of a particular color, while the lowermost light is of another color; for example, the preparation lights may be yellow or orange, while the lowermost lights may be red or green. The Christmas Tree" offers an unmistakable visual representation of the start of a race for the race drivers as well as for spectators and provides for a predetermined time for anticipation or preparation.

Referring now to FIG. 2, there is illustrated the indicator apparatus 10 mounted to a toy vehicle launcher 34. The launcher includes a molded base 52 and two preformed vehicle pathways 36 and 38. Corresponding pusher arms 40 and 42 are slideable along the pathways and are activated by latch mechanisms 44 and 46, respectively. As shown in the broken away portion of the vehicle path 38, the pusher arm 42 has a hook portion 48 which is connected to an elastic band 50. The elastic band provides the necessary force to the pusher arms to cause movement and thereby launches a vehicle. The elastic band is also attached to the underside (not shown) of the base 52. The latch mechanism 46 retains the pusher arm 42 in the position shown after the pusher arm has been moved by an operator against the biasing force of the elastic band. Knobs 54 and 56 are provided for changing the tautness of the elastic bands and thereby the force available to the pusher arms.

In operation, toy vehicles, such as small toy automobiles, are positioned on the paths 36 and 38 adjacent the pusher arms 40 and 42. Upon the proper signal being given by the indicator apparatus 10, operators depress the activating mechanisms 44 and 46 to cause the pusher arms 40 and 42 to come under the influence of their respective elastic bands. Previous to the start of the race, track sections such as a track section 58 extend away from each of the pathways 36 and 38 and form a predetermined race course. In this way, the excitement of a drag race, for example, may be simulated. A fuller description of the toy vehicle launcher is contained in a copending application titled TOY HILL-CLIMBING SYSTEM" assigned to the assignee of the present invention.

One of the objectives of the indicator apparatus is to allow one of the race participants to operate a mechanical starting mechanism without interfering with the participant's ability to engage in the race; thus, the indicator apparatus has a delaying action to allow preparation and to offer a sequenced get ready" prior to the signal indicating the start of the race. Because the starting system is a toy, it is a major aspect of the present invention to not only simulate a real delayed action starting mechanism, but to do so with a simply constructed yet rugged structure. In addition, the system and the indicator apparatus, in particular, are inexpensive to manufacture, easy to package and very easy to manipulate.

Referring now to FIGS. 3 and 4, the indicator apparatus 10 is shown in more detail. The housing 12 includes a front portion 59 and a back portion 60 with back surface 61 having a series of guide walls, such as parallel vertical guide wall 62 and guide wall sections 64, 66 and 68. Positioned between these guides walls are an irregular pattern of guide wall segments 70 which are of a lesser height than the guide walls, as more readily seen in FIG. 5. The guide walls and guide wall segments function as cam surfaces as will be described hereinbelow.

The indicator apparatus also includes a movable indicating element 72 having a display surface 74, which is more readily seen in FIG. 8, and two bearing elements to act as cam followers, projecting pin 76 and projecting ring 78. Two abutment walls 80 and 82 are also part of the indicating element. Referring to FIG. 8, the display surface 74 is preferably of a first color such as yellow with four circular regions of a different color. For example, at a first level parallel with and spaced from a bottom edge 75 of the indicating element are two oppositely disposed regions 84 and 86 of red; at a second level are two oppositely disposed regions 88 and 90 of green. The cam follower pin 76 and ring 78 cooperate with the guide walls and guide wall segments to position the colored display surface so as to be viewable through the openings in the front surface 14, FIG. 1, of the housing.

The indicating element 72 is movable from a first or upper position where the indicating element is positioned at the top portion 92, FIG. 3, of the housing to a second or lower position where the indicating element is nearer a bottom portion 94 of the housing, as indicated in dotted line in FIG. 3. To accomplish the retardation desired there is a cooperation between the pin and ring of the indicating element and the guide walls and guide wall segments of the housing. As the indicating element is moved in a retarded fashion from its upper position to its lower position, the desired colors are sequentially visible through the paired openings in the housing. This movement is accomplished simply by the force of gravity. To set the indicating element in its upper position, however, a resetting element is provided. The resetting element includes a handle 102, two elongated L-shaped support and guide members 104 and 106 which are constrained by the housing to a vertical movement, and an engagement bar 108 for engaging the cam follower ring 78. As is readily apparent, the resetting element is slideable relative the housing simply by having an operator lift on the handle portion 102 to raise the resetting element relative the housing as shown in FIG. 6.

Mounted at the bottom portion 94 of the housing is a symmetrically bent wire 110 having two upwardly disposed legs 112 and 114. As seen in FIG. 3, the legs act as a support and motion limiter for the indicating element when in its lower position selectively engaging the abutment walls 82 and 80, respectively. Mounting of the wire 110 is accomplished by providing a channelshaped wall portion 116 of the housing having oppositely disposed projecting tabs 118 and 120 to lock the center portion of the wire in place. Flange walls 122 and 124 keep the legs 112 and 114 in place. The wire is responsive to the activation of the launcher, so that should one or both pusher arms be prematurely activated, one or both of the legs 112, 114 will be biased so as to allow the indicating element to be disposed in an alternate lower position. As will be noted in FIG. 3, each of the pusher arms 40 and 42 are integral with a laterally projecting cam surface 130 and 132, respectively, which may also be seen in dotted line in FIG. 2. Upon premature release of a pusher arm, the pusher arm and its lateral cam surface will abut the leg of the wire and cause the leg to deflect, such as shown in FIG.

3 where the leg 112 is shown in its deflected position in dotted line. In this position, the leg 112 will not engage the abutment wall 82. If the pusher arm is not prematurely activated, then engagement of the legs and the abutment walls will occur; as the pusher arm moves past the legs, the legs will simply deflect. The housing also includes a connector portion 115, FIG. 5, having two lateral flanges 117 and 119 and shoulders 121 and 123 for being received within a formed opening (not shown) in the base 52, FIG. 2 of the launcher so that a secure engagement between the launcher and the indicator apparatus is achieved.

Referring now to FIGS. 3, 6, 7 and 8, the operation of the indicator apparatus will be described. In an at rest or non-use position, the indicator element 12 will be situated as shown in dotted line in FIG. 3 in its lower position When it is desired to start a race, the handle 102 of the resetting element 100 is lifted so as to have the engagement bar 108 of the resetting element engage the ring 78 of the indicating element as seen in FIG. 6. Initially, the pin 76 is situated in a triangularshaped region 140. As the engagement bar 108 lifts the indicating element, the ring 78 is constrained to move between the guide wall sections 64 and 66; the pin meanwhile is directed along a narrow pathway 142 between guide wall segments 144 and 146. As lifting continues, the pin 76 enters a region 148 where the pathway divides into two direction. Because of. a blocking tip 150, the pin will follow a pathway 152, as indicated by the ascending arrows, so as to be constrained between the guide wall section 66 and a guide wall segment 154. At the same time, the indicating element is tilted to the position shown in FIG. 6. The pin 76 continues along the path 152 until it reaches a region 156 where it is directed once again to a vertical alignment with the ring 78. This is the upper or first position of the indicating element and is reached relatively quickly by the indicating element along a relative direct path just described.

The resetting element 100 is then released and allowed to return to the position shown in FIGS. 3 and 7 due to the gravitational force exerted upon it. Once the bar 108 no longer supports the ring, the indicating element will start to descend by first engaging a guide wall segment 70a sliding along the segment until engagement with a guide wall segment 70b, as indicated by the descending arrows. The pin continues to slide and drop, as indicated by the arrows, to the following guide wall segments 70c, 70d, 70e, 70f (see dotted portion of FIG. 7), 70g, 70):, 701', 70 70k and 146. The pin then enters the pathway 142. During this time, the ring 78 is constrained between the guide wall 62 and the guide wall sections 66 and 64, so that as the pin moves along its irregular path causing the pin to misalign vertically from the ring, the indicating element tilts or cants to one side and then to the other as it proceeds down the housing (see FIG. 7). This takes a relatively long time as the indicating element moves along the path just described. Meanwhile, visible through the paired openings 18, 20; 22, 24; and 26, 28, in sequence, is a colored (yellow) surface which will be portions of the display surface 74, FIG. 8, of the indicating element. If the toy vehicle launcher has not been prematurely activated, then the indicating element will continue dropping until it reaches its lower position indicated by the dotted line in FIG. 3 where the abutment surfaces 82 and 80 are supported respectively by the legs 112 and 114 of the wire 110. When this is the situation, the green colored regions 88 and 90 will be visible through the paired openings 30, 32 indicating the race is to begin. However, should one of the operators prematurely activates his pusher arm, then one or the other of the legs 112, 114 will have been moved so as to misalign with the abutment surface of the indicating element. For example, in FIG. 7, the leg 114 is being biased by the lateral arm 132 (depicted by the arrow 147), so that the leg does not engage with the abutment surface 80 as shown in FIG. 8. In this situation, the indicating element tilts in an alternative lower position, so that the red region 86 appears at the same vertical height as the green pattern 88 and is visible through the opening 32, FIG. 1. Thus, an indication is made to the operators that the pusher arm 142 has been prematurely activated and there was a false start. In a like manner, if the arm 112 had been biased, as shown in phantom line in FIG. 3, then the indicating element 12 would have tilted in an opposite direction so that the red region 84, FIG. 8, is visible through the opening 30, FIG. 1. If both operators activate prematurely, then the indicating element will drop in a level manner, so that the pin 76 engages a groove 160, FIG. 8, of a guide wall segment 162. In this alternate lower position, both of the red regions 84 and 86 are aligned with the openings 3.0 and 32 to indicate a premature or false start on the part of both operators.

In operation of the system, a toy vehicle is placed on each of the paths 36 and 38 after a track system has been laid out to determine the course of the race; the pusher arms 40 and 42 are latched to the latching mechanisms 44 and 46, respectively. One of the operators lifts the handle 102 moving the indicating element to its upper position and then releases the handle 102 to allow the indicating element to make a retarded return to its lower position. The return takes two to three seconds. In the meantime, each operator is able to visually see a yellow indication appear sequentially in the paired openings 18 and 20, then in the paired openings 22 and 24, and then in the paired openings 26 and 28. By the same token, the delayed start allows the operator who has activated the indicator apparatus to prepare for the start of the race. When the indicating element has reached its lower position, a signal will be viewed through the lower paired openings 30 and 32 which will indicate the start of the race provided there has not been a premature start. Thus, the two green regions will be visible. As mentioned, however, should there have been a premature start, then a red region will be visible on that side of the system having the premature start.

What has been described is a simply constructed yet rugged and easily operated delayed starting indicator apparatus and starting system which is inexpensively manufactured and packaged. The indicator apparatus comprises in a preferred embodiment five parts, the two sections of the housing, the resetting element, the indicating element and the wire. The housing, the resetting element and the indicating element may be of a suitable molded synthetic resin, such as polystyrene, so that all of the complex functions performed provide no manufacturing difficulties since the portions of the apparatus can be molded integrally. Thus, the pin 76 and ring 78 are integral with the display surface 74 and the abutment walls 80 and 82; the guide walls and guide wall segments are integral with the back portion of the housing.

We claim:

1. A toy vehicle timer and launching system comprismg:

a toy vehicle launcher comprised of:

a supporting base, including a pathway;

a pusher arm slideably connected to said supporting base and movable along said pathway for engaging a toy vehicle;

an elastic band connected to said supporting base and to said engaging means for imparting motion to said engaging means; and

means for latching said pusher arm to selectively prevent movement of said pusher arm; and

a delayed starting indicator apparatus connected to said toy vehicle launcher and comprised of:

an indicating element having a display surface of various colors movable between a first and second positions; housing having a front surface with spaced openings for sequentially viewing said display surface, and a back surface with guide means for directing and retarding movement of said indicating element as it travels from said first position to said second position;

a resetting element including a handle to activate said resetting element and a bar to engage said indicating element, said indicating element movable from said first position to said second position by the force of gravity and movable from said second position by the force of gravity and movable from said second position to said first position by the movement of said resetting element; and a movable motion limiter for altering said indicating elements second position upon engagement of said toy vehicle launcher with said movable motion limiter. 2. A toy vehicle timer and launching system comprismg:

a toy vehicle launcher; and a delayed starging indicator apparatus connected to said toy vehicle launcher and comprised of: an indicating element having a display surface of various colors movable between a first and eco d ositi ns; iious ing having a front surface with spaced openings for sequentially viewing said display surface, and a back surface with guide means for directing and retarding movement of said indicating element as it travels from said first position to said second position;

a resetting element including a handle to activate said resetting element and a bar to engage said indicating element, said indicating element movable from said first position to said second position by the force of gravity and movable from said second position by the force of gravity and movable from said second position to said first position by the movement of said resetting element; and

a movable motion limiter for altering said indicating elements second position upon engagement of said toy vehicle launcher with said movable motion limiter.

3. A toy vehicle timer and launching system comprismg:

a toy vehicle launcher comprised of:

a supporting base, including a pathway;

a pusher arm slideably connected to said supporting base and movable along said pathway for engaging a toy vehicle;

an elastic band connected to said supporting base and to said engaging means for imparting motion to said engaging means; and

means for latching said pusher arm to selectively prevent movement of said pusher arm; and

a delayed starting indicator for providing first and second indicia, said indicatorv connected to said toy vehicle launcher and having a movable motion limiter for altering said indicia upon engagement of said toy vehicle launcher with said movable motion limiter to display said second indicia.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US2531056 *Mar 1, 1949Nov 21, 1950Herman KoestenMechanical igniter
US2803922 *Mar 12, 1954Aug 27, 1957Company The Harter Bank TrustToy vehicle and launching device therefor
US3230697 *Apr 17, 1964Jan 25, 1966Mattel IncInvertible timing device
US3403908 *Nov 8, 1965Oct 1, 1968Model Products CorpDrag strip for slot racers
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4108437 *Jan 17, 1977Aug 22, 1978Mattel, Inc.Toy vehicle starting and launching set
US4291878 *Aug 17, 1979Sep 29, 1981Dietmar NagelStarting gate for a multiple-track toy vehicle racing set
US4605229 *Feb 8, 1985Aug 12, 1986Mckay Robert SToy dragstrip and starting tower
US7241223 *Oct 27, 2003Jul 10, 2007Wesley CaudillToy car racing apparatus
US8113961May 4, 2007Feb 14, 2012Mattel, Inc.Race set
Classifications
U.S. Classification446/429, 463/59
International ClassificationA63H18/14, A63H18/02, A63H18/00
Cooperative ClassificationA63H18/14, A63H18/026
European ClassificationA63H18/14, A63H18/02E