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Publication numberUS3717136 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateFeb 20, 1973
Filing dateNov 5, 1970
Priority dateNov 5, 1970
Also published asDE2105976A1
Publication numberUS 3717136 A, US 3717136A, US-A-3717136, US3717136 A, US3717136A
InventorsGay D, Miller A, Smedley W
Original AssigneeMattel Inc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Spring actuated projector having gravity fed magazine
US 3717136 A
Abstract  available in
Previous page
Next page
Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

Feb. 20, 1973 GAY ETAL 3,717,136

SPRING ACTUATED PROJECTOR HAVING GRAVITY FED MAGAZINE Filed Nov. 5, 1970 2 Sheets-Sheet 1 mama m (I i762 A. 4 Wax/#02 lfme'azfl' Feb. 20, 1973 DJ; Y ETAL 3,717,136

SPRING ACTUA'IED PROJECTOR HAVING GRAVITY FED MAGAZINE Filed Nov. 5, 1970 2 Sheets-Sheet 2 Win/{#70195 0585? ,7. v/ Maui/y .5250!!! i/vr/w/w 0. 07/145? U.S. Cl. 12421 United States Patent O 3,717,136 SPRING ACTUATED PROJECTOR HAVING GRAVITY FED MAGAZINE Derek J. Gay, Palos Verdes Peninsula, W lliam H.

Smedley, Garden Grove, and Anthony D. Miller, Torrance, Calif., assignors to Mattel, Inc., Hawthorne,


Filed Nov. 5, 1970, Ser. No. 87,036 Int. Cl. F4117 7/08 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A simple flying saucer launcher which rapidly rotates the saucer as it projects it in a forward direction, COlTlPI'lS- ing a pair of spaced rails for guiding the saucer and a pivotally mounted arm that is powered by a rubber band to thrust a saucer along the rails. Each saucer has corrugations at its periphery, and the arm has corresponding corrugations to facilitate rotation of the saucer as it is thrust forward. A trough is formed between the rails for receiving pencils or other articles that do not span the rails, to prevent the launcher from being used to project dangerous objects. A forwardly opening funnel is mounted on the toy to enable a child to catch flying saucers, the funnel leading to a magazine above the arm to feed saucers automatically into the toy.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION (1) Field of the invention This invention relates to toys of the type that project objects.

(2) Description of the prior art The entertainment value of toy guns has benerally been proportional to their dangerousness, inasmuch as projectiles which are soft and lightweight and thrust at low speeds to insure safety generally do not travel far. Even in the case of guns that are designed for safe projectiles, there is often the danger that a child will project a hard or even pointed object that can cause injury. One type of object which can travel far in spite of low speed is an airplane. However, toy airplanes are very fragile and do not last long even if a child is careful. Another type of relatively safe object which can travel a considerable distance in an entertaining manner is a saucer. However, proper flight of saucers requires that they be rapidly rotated as they are thrown: While a child can learn to apply wrist action that causes proper rotation during launching, simple and economical toy mechanisms have not been available heretofore to accurately launch saucers in a safe and entertaining manner.

OBJECTS AND SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION An object of the present invention is to provide a toy for launching saucer-like projectiles with substantial spin as well as forward thrust, which is simple and safe.

Another object is to provide a saucer-catching attachment for a launching toy.

In accordance with one embodiment of the present invention, a toy is provided for launching a saucer-like projectile so that it flies a substantial distance in an entertaining manner, and which is safe and simple. The toy includes a pair of spaced rails for guiding the projectile as it is launched, and a pivotally mounted arm that is powered by a rubber band to move the projectile along the rails. Both the projectile and arm are serrated to facilitate rotation of the projectile as it is launched. A trough is formed between the rails for receiving pencils and other potentially dangerous objects which cannot acice curately span the distance between the rails, to prevent the launching of such dangerous objects.

The saucer-like projectiles are fed through a magazme which is located above the path of the arm, to provide for automatic feeding. When the arm is pulled back against rubber band tension, a saucer falls down to a position in front of the arm. The arm and saucer are both restrained against movement by a trigger mechanism. A forwardly opening funnel is mounted on the launcher to enable a child to catch saucers that are flying in the air towards him. The funnel directs captured saucers into the magazine to fill it.

The novel features of the invention are set forth with particularity in the appended claims. The invention will be best understood from the following description when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a perspective, exploded view of a launcher constructed in accordance with the present invention, showing how it can be used with a returning target;

FIG. 2 is a top sectional View of the launcher of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a sectional side view of the launcher of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a view taken on the line 4-4 of FIG. 3, but with a saucer included to show its relative location;

FIG. 5 is a partial perspective view of the launcher of FIG. 1; and

FIG. 6 is a view taken on the line 66 of FIG. 1;

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS As shown in FIG. 1, a launcher 10 can launch a saucerlike projectile or saucer 12 to provide it with forward and rotary motion. Although the saucers can be substantially discs, they generally include a substantially disclike upper portion 14 and a downwardly depending flange 16 extending around the perimeter of the upper portion. When such saucers with flanges are oriented in a substantially horizontal plane with the flange extending downwardly, and are rapidly rotated as they are thrust forward, they can remain airborne for a considerable length of time in a stable and entertaining flight. The launcher 10 can be used to project saucers to another person with a similar launcher or at a rounded target 18 which can return the saucers towards the launcher along the path indicated at 20. The target 18 is a substantially sheet-like member which is curved about a substantially vertical axis to extend about one-half of a complete circle. An attachment 22 which fits on the launcher 10 includes a funnel 24 for catching saucers that are flying through the air. Saucers which are thus caught are automatically fed back to the launcher 10 for relaunching.

The launcher 10 includes a main housing 26 and a cover 28 that fits over it. As shown in FIG. 5, wherein the cover 28 has been removed, the launcher includes a pair of rails 30, 32 formed in the lower housing 26, which provide a track for guiding the saucer 12 as its is launched. An arm 34 Which thrusts saucer projectiles along the rails has an inner end which is pivotally mounted at 36 on the housing. The arm has an outer end with a handle 38 that can be grasped by a child to pull it backwards to stretch a rubber band 40 that provides spring forces to propel the arm. The rubber band 4-0 extends between a post 42 near the outer end of the arm and a finger 44 near the front of the housing. In order to ready the apparatus for a launching, a child grasps the handle 38 and pulls back the arm until it hits a stop 46 near the rear of the housing, the arm being automatically restrained near that position by a trigger mechanism. When the arm is released, it moves forward until it hits a forward stop 48 near the forward portion of the housing. During motion between its rearward and forward positions, the arm supplies substantial forward motion and spin to the saucer.

As also shown in FIG. 5, when the arm 34 is'pulled backwards, it is held in its rearward position by an arm engaging hook 50 of a trigger mechanism lever 52 that is pivotally mounted on the housing at 54. A spring portion 55 on the lever abuts the housing to urge the lever to rotate in a direction to engage the arm 34. However, when a trigger part 56 of the lever is pulled, the lever rotates so that the arm engaging hook 50 moves downwardly and releases the arm. The lever 52 also has a saucer-engaging hook 58 that can be received within a saucer which is in the position 12A so that the hook engages the inner surface of the flange 16 of the saucer. When a child pulls back on the trigger part 56, both hooks 50 and 58 move downwardly to disengage both the arm 34 and saucer, to allow the arm to propel the saucer along the rails and launch it. The trigger mechanism can be constructed so that the saucer at 12A is released slightly before the arm 34 is released for a smoother launching.

As mentioned previously, a long and stable flight of the saucer 12 requires that it be rotated rapidly while it is thrust forward. The pivoting arm 34 automatically tends to rotate the disc as it thrusts it along the rails. As shown in FIG. 2, the saucer is initially engaged by a part 60 of the arm. As the arm pivots forward, successive portions thereof contact the saucer until, at the most forward position of the arm, a point 62 on the arm contacts the saucer. Each saucer-engaging part of the arm moves not only with a directional component parallel to the rails, but with a substantial directional component perpendicular to the rails to create spin. If there is sufiicient friction between the saucer-engaging surface 64 of the arm and the rim of the saucer, the saucer will be rapidly rotated.

Two major impediments to saucer rotation are inertia of the saucer to rotating and friction between the saucer and the side wall of rail 30. There is considerable friction at the vertical side wall of rail 30 because the arm 34 pushes the saucer against that side wall during launching. In order to encourage rotating forces and minimize resistance to rotation, the coeflicient of friction between the arm and saucer rim should be greater than the coefiicient of friction between the saucer and rail. To increase the effective coeflicient of friction between the arm and saucer rim, the saucer-engaging surface 64 of the arm is corrugated, and corresponding corrugations 70, best shown in FIGS. 4 and are formed in the rim of the saucer. Instead of corrugations, high friction materials can be used such as soft rubber or sandpaper. In order to reduce wear and promote smoothness of travel during launching, the rim has a smooth lower part 72 of slightly greater diameter than the upper portions which have serrations, so that the smooth part 72 contacts the vertical wall of the rail 30. Thus, as the arm pivots forward, it supplies substantial rotation to the disc to enable it to sail in a smooth stable flight through the air.

The launcher is designed for safe and easy operation. Saucers of the type illustrated operate effectively even if they are constructed of a soft, lightweight material, and even if they are projected at only a moderate forward speed. Thus, even if a saucer strikes a child in the face, it is very unlikely that there will be injury. While the launcher is safe if used to launch saucers, there would be danger if a child could utilize the launcher to project hard or pointed objects, such as pencils. To prevent misuse of the launcher in this way, the housing is constructed to provide a trough 74 below the level of the rails, as shown in FIG. 4. The rails 30, 32 have relatively narrow horizontal widths that support the saucer, so it is unlikely that any object other than the intended saucers can accurately ride along them. Other objects will fall through the space between the rails and will normally be passed 4 over by the arm 34. Of course, the space between the rails could be left open at the bottom, but this might permit a child to hurt his finger if he places it in the path of the arm.

As shown in FIG. 1, the launcher is designed to receive saucers through an aperture 76 in the cover 28. A saucer inserted through the aperture falls directly to the position 12A wherein it is held by the hook portion 58 of the trigger lever. If the launcher 10 is used without the funnel catching attachment 22, then saucers can be fed through the aperture 76 to load the toy. The launcher 10 can then be aimed along a pair of sights 78, 80 on the cover.

The attachment 22 serves not only to catch saucers flying through the air, but also provides a magazine for holding several saucers and automatically loading them into the launcher. The attachment has three tabs 82 that can be received in corresponding holes in the cover 28 of the launcher to hold the attachment thereto. When the attachment is installed, it is positioned as shown in FIG. 3. The attachment 22 includes a cartridge portion 83 which can hold several saucers above the aperture 76 in the housing cover 28, so that the saucers tend to fall by gravity to a position for launching. The narrowed rear portion of the funnel 24 leads to the cartridge portion 83 so that saucers that enter the funnel tend to move directly into the cartridge portion for relaunching. Thus. saucers flying through the air can be captured and relaunched without handling, this factor often increasing the entertainment value of the toy.

In order to enable atuomatic loading of saucers, the arm 34 should be limited in its forward travel. Referring to FIG. 2, the forward stop 48 which limits forward travel of the arm is positioned so that when the arm 34 is at its most extreme forward position, it still lies directly beneath the saucers held in the cartridge portion of the attachment. This prevents saucers from falling behind the arm and preventing backward movement of the arm. However, when the arm is in its rearward position, it does not interfere with a saucer falling into a position for launching.

Thus, the invention provides a simple launching mechanism which thrusts forward and rotates a saucer-like projectile for a stable and entertaining flight. The launcher is prevented from misuse for firing objects other than saucers of a predetermined size by providing an opening between a pair of rails along which the saucers are thrust. An attachment is also provided for catching saucers flying in the air and for automatically loading them into the launcher.

Although particular embodiments of the invention have been described and illustrated herein, it is recognized that modifications and variations may readily occur to those skilled in the art and, consequently, it is intended that the claims be interpreted to cover such modifications and equivalents.

What is claimed is:

1. launcher and saucer-like projectiles combination comprising:

a housing having forward and rearward ends and defining a pair of laterally spaced relatively fixed rails for guiding one of said projectiles in a forward path;

an arm pivotally mounted on said housing for moving one of said projectiles along said path;

spring means for urging said arm to pivot in a forward direction to move said projectiles forward along said rails;

a manually operable trigger for restraining said arm from forward pivoting;

each of said projectiles having a substantially discshaped upper part and a downwardly depending flange extending along the rim of said upper part; and

said triger including separate hook-shaped portions for, respectively, engaging the inner surface of the flange of a projectile and said arm, and said trigger also including a manually operable portion for moving said hook-shaped portions downwardly beneath said flange and arm to release them, whereby said projectile is held from falling out of said launcher until the moment of firing.

2. The launcher described in claim 1 wherein:

said projectiles have corrugations about a peripheral portion thereof; and

said arm has a surface with corrugations thereon for engaging said corrugations on said projectile, to urge said projectile to rotate as it is pushed along said rails.

3. The launcher described in claim 2 wherein:

said projectile has a smooth surface at a radius at least equal to that of the outer portions of said corrugations, for engaging said rails to move with a minimum of friction therealong.

4. The launcher described in claim 1 wherein:

each of said rails comprises a substantially vertical wall and a substantially horizontal wall, said horizontal walls spaced apart and defining a space between them through which objects can fall which cannot span the distance between said horizontal walls.

'5. The launcher described in claim 1 including:

means defining a magazine for holding a plurality of said projectiles above the path of said arm; and

means defining a forward stop for limiting forward movement of said arm to a position beneath projectiles in said magazine, to prevent projectiles from dropping into a position behind said arm; and wheresaid trigger is constructed to restrain said arm when said arm is at a position behind projectiles in said magazine, to permit a projectile to fall to a position in front of said arm.

References Cited ANTON O. OECHSLE, Primary Examiner M. SISKIND, Assistant Examiner US. Cl. X.R.

Referenced by
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U.S. Classification124/21, 124/36, 473/588, 124/47, 473/509
International ClassificationA63H27/14, A63H27/00, F41B7/00, F41B7/08, A63F9/02
Cooperative ClassificationA63F9/02, A63H27/14, F41B7/08
European ClassificationF41B7/08, A63H27/14, A63F9/02