US 3835583 A
A soft resilient wheeled toy formed of a body of foamed resilient compressible material and relatively wide wheels of the same material which are secured to the body by hubs and axle members which do not extend outwardly to the outer surfaces of the wheels. Because of the construction, there are no hard surfaces to engage furniture or the user of the toy. The wheels are preferably of a width at least one-fifth of the width of the body of the toy. The toy may simulate in appearance any of various automotive vehicles or it may simulate some animal such as a worm. In the latter case, the body may consist of two parts pivotally connected together with at least one wheel adjacent the pivotal connection and eccentrically mounted so that as the toy is moved along, the body parts move with respect to each other.
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent [191 Manning WHEELED TOY  lnventor: Raymond J. Manning, 450 Edmund Ave., St. Paul, Minn. 55103 22 Filed: Oct. 16, 1972 21 Appl. No.: 297,946
Primary Examiner-Louis G. Mancene Assistant Examiner.l. Q. Lever Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Frederick E. Lange 1451 Sept. 17, 1974 157 ABSTRACT A soft resilient wheeled toy formed of a body of foamed resilient compressible material and relatively wide wheels of the same material which are secured to the body by hubs and axle members which do not extend outwardly to the outer surfaces of the wheels. Because of the construction, there are no hard surfaces to engage furniture or the user of the toy. The wheels are preferably of a width at least one-fifth of the width of the body of the toy. The toy may simulate in appearance any of various automotive vehicles or it may simulate some animal such as a worm. In the latter case, the body may consist of two parts pivotally connected together with at least one wheel adjacent the pivotal connection and eccentrically mounted so that as the toy is moved along, the body parts move with respect to each other.
8 Claims, 6 Drawing Figures WHEELED TOY BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION Wheeled toys of various types are extremely old and have been sold for many years. Probably the most popular wheeled toy since the advent of the automobile is some toy simulating an automobile in general appearance. There have also been wheeled toys in which the body of the toy resembled some animal such as a horse or dog. In almost all cases, however, either the body member or an axle member extending through the wheels is made of some relatively hard material. In some cases, the wheels likewise are made of hard material. Even where the body and wheels have been made of some relatively yieldable material such as rubber it has been customary to extend an axle through the wheels so that the ends of the axle present hard surfaces. The drawback of such a toy is that if a child falls on the toy, the hard surface presented by the body of the toy or the end of the axles can cause severe injury, particularly if for example, it engages the childs eye. Similarly, even when such toys are used in the manner intended, that is, by being shoved or pulled on their wheels, they are apt to hit furniture and cause damage to it. Often, such vehicles are sent across the room at fairly high speed or even thrown. Children are often prone to pick up toys and throw them either playfully or in a fit of anger. One reason that axles have customarily extended through the wheel of the toy is that an attempt is being made to simulate as nearly as possible the object which the toy is designed to represent. Customarily, automobile wheels are relatively narrow and the axle basically extends to the outer surface of the wheel. With narrow wheels, it is impractical to have an adequate bearing surface for the wheel without having the hub or axle extend through the wheel.
Furthermore, even where such toys have been made of resilient material, the resilient materials employed are normally relatively uncompressible so that even though they do not cause the damage to the furniture or to the user, as would be the case if they are made of wood or metal, they still can cause injury to objects with which they come in contact, particularly when they are propelled at very high speeds or thrown.
SUMMARY OF THE PRESENT INVENTION The present invention is concerned with a soft resilient wheeled toy formed of a body of foamed, resilient, readily compressible material and relatively wide wheels of the same material, the wheels being supported on the body portion by hubs and axle members which do not extend outwardly to the outer surfaces of the wheels. In this way, all of the outer surfaces of the wheeled toy are soft and compressible and nodamage can result from the wheeled toy even when it is thrown or propelled at high speed.
The wheels are preferably of a width at least one-fifth of the body of the toy. These very wide wheels have several advantages. In the first place, they enable the insertion of hub members and axles therein which do not extend to the outer surface of the wheels and yet which still provide adequate bearing surfaces for rotatably supporting the wheels. In the second place, by the use of relatively wide wheels, the wheels define an area of engagement with a supporting plane or surface which is much greater than any such area of engagement which includes the portions of the body surface. As a result the vehicle when thrown tends to land on its wheels. If it lands in any other position, the resiliency of the material will cause it to bounce and it will tend to right itself in a position in which it is resting on the wheels.
Each wheel contains a hub member which is secured against removal from the axle member. This may be accomplished either by a tight frictional fit, by adhesive or by some enlarged head at the end of the axle which can be forced through the opening in the hub member but which prevents withdrawal of the axle member from the hub member.
The foamed material is preferably provided with some bearing surface adjacent the opening through which the axle passes. This may either be provided by fusing the material adjacent the axle opening or by inserting a sleeve into this opening, which sleeve has an internal bore of the proper diameter to receive the axle member. Where the material is fused adjacent the axle opening, this can be accomplished by forming the axle opening by forcing a hot rod through the foam rubber material at the desired location of the axle opening.
It is preferable to provide some circular disc adjacent the opposite sides of the body portion and surrounding the axle. Such circular discs aid in proper support of the axle in the foamed material.
While the wheeled toy preferably takes the form of some automotive vehicle such as a passenger car, a truck or a racer, the wheeled toy may be in the form of some animal, such as a worm. In one embodiment of my invention, the body comprises two sections which are articulated about a horizontal pivot point and is provided with eccentrically mounted wheels adjacent the pivot point so that as the toy is moved along a supporting surface, the pivot point moves up and down to cause an undulating movement of the worm. Other objects and features of the invention will be apparent from a consideration of the accompanying specification, claims and drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a toy automobile made in accordance with my invention; t
FIG. 2 is a vertical sectional view of a portion of the vehicle taken along the line 22 of FIG. 1 and in the direction of the arrows adjacent that line;
FIG. 3 is a fragmentary view taken along the same sectional plane as FIG. 2 but showing a modified means for supporting the wheel axle;
FIG. 4 is a sectional view of one of. the wheels showing a modified form of wheel;
FIG. 5 is an elevational view of my wheeled toy in which the toy is designed to simulate a worm; and
FIG. 6 is a top plane view of the worm of FIG. 4.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Referring to FIG. 1, the automobile there shown includes a body member 11, wheels l2, l3 and 14, and a fourth wheel not shown. The body portion 11 and all of the wheels are formed of a foamed, resilient, highly compressible material such as a foamed polyurethene. Such a material may for example be of the type described in Buff et al., Pat. No. 3,296,658. It should be highly compressible. For example, a ball made of this material and having a diameter of about 3 and inches, requires less than 2 pounds pressure to compress the ball to 1 inch in thickness, when placed between two flat plates. While I have shown the body 11 as resembling the body of a passenger sedan, it is to be understood that the device may take form of any other automotive vehicle such as a truck, station wagon or racer. It will also be noted that there is shown on the body 11 various elements typical to such an automotive vehicle such as headlights 18, a windshield 19 and a door 20. These features and other similar features are merely represented by lines applied to the foam material, the foam material being simply a solid block of material which has preferably been cut to the desired shape. Where it is not desired to as closely simulate the appearance of the vehicle, the vehicle may simply have a shape resembling the vehicle in question without any additional ornamentation or lines applied thereto. In such case, the shape of the vehicle is suggestive of the type of vehicle which it is desired to simulate. It is desirable that both the body and wheels be cut to the desired shape, rather than being molded, since this produces an open pore outer surface which is softer and more yieldable. Where the body and wheels are molded, the outer surface is in the form of a skin which is firmer than the open pore outer surface existing when the material is cut.
Referring to FIG. 2, and particularly to wheel 13, it will be noted that there is a hub member 22 disposed in the wheel. This hub member has a flange 23 and a shank portion 24. The hub member also has an internal bore which has a diameter corresponding to the diameter of an axle member 26 extending into the hub member 22. The hub member 22 may be secured within the wheel 13 in any of various manners. For ex.- ample, an opening corresponding to the hub member 22 may be drilled by first drilling an opening corresponding to the diameter of the shank member and then by undercutting the opening to accommodate the flange 23. The material of wheel 13 is sufficiently soft so that it is then possible by distorting the material to insert the hub member 22 in position. If desired a suitable adhesive may be employed to additionally hold the hub member into position. It will of course be appreciated that the flange 23 already acts to retain the hub member 24 against axial movement.
Wheel 14 has a similar hub member 28. It will be noted that with both hub members 22 and 28 the inner portion of each hub member terminates adjacent the inner surface of the wheels 13 or 14, as the case may be. The outer extremities of these hub members 22 and 28, however, terminate at a point substantially spaced from the outer walls 29 of wheel members 13 and 14. Thus, even though the hub members 22 and 28 are made of relatively hard material as compared with the material of the body or the wheels, the end portions of such hub members are spaced inwardly a substantial distance so that these hub members cannot possibly contact either a person or an article of furniture engaged by the toy.
The axle member 26, previously referred to, extends through a bore 27 in the body portion 11. The ends of this axle member extend into the bore 25 in the hub member 22 and into a similar bore in hub member 28. In the form shown, the axle member 26 is either tightly frictionally secured to the hub member 22 or is adhesively secured thereto. In any event, the hub members 22 and 28cannot be readily removed from the axle member 26. The bore 27 may be formed by forcing a hot rod through the foamed material causing it to fuse as the rod is moved through the material. This has the advantage of closing the pores of the material adjacent the wall of the passage 27, thus making the wall smoother and denser so as to provide a better bearing surface for the axle member 26.
It will be noted that the length of the axle member 26 is substantially less than the distance between the outer walls of hub members 22 and 28. Thus, neither the hub members nor the axle project outwardly to a point where they will engage an object with which the wheels 13 and 14 come in contact. In other words, the material of the wheels beyond the hubs and axle acts as a cushion.
The hub members 24 and 28 and the axle may be made of some realtively soft plastic such as Nylon. In spite of the fact that a soft plastic is used for these members, its compressibility is very limited and it can cause damage to an object with which it comes in contact if the speed of impact is sufficiently great. Hence the arrangement of the present invention is desirable in preventing such direct contact with an exterior object even though the axle and hub members are formed of relatively soft materials as compared with conventional metals.
Secured around the axle member 26 are a plurality of circular disc members 30 and 31. These are cemented to the body member i1 and act to further sup port the axle member 26 and to position it with respect to the foamed material Ill.
While I have described the axle and hub construction only in connection with wheels 13 and M, it is to be un derstood that the same type of axle, hub and wheel construction is employed in connection with the two remaining wheels, only 12 of which is shown in the drawmg.
In connection with FIG. 2, I have referred to the bearing surface for axle member 26 as being provided by fusing the material adjacent to the passage 27. Where the passage 27 is drilled, it may be desirable, as shown in FIG. 3, to provide a liner sleeve 33 which may be formed of a suitable metal or of a low friction plastic. In such case, the passage 27 is made of sufficiently larger internal diameter to provide for the insertion of a sleeve 33 which will have an internal diameter slightly greater than the external diameter of the axle member 26.
I have referred to the hub members 22 and 28 as being secured within the wheels 13 and 14 by providing an undercut passage to fit the flange 23 and then distorting the material to insert the hub members in the wheels. Instead of doing this, it is possible to make the wheel in two sections as has been illustrated in FIG. 41 in connection with a modified wheel 35. The wheel in this case comprises two sections 36 and 37. Section 36 has a bore therethrough of a size to accommodate the shank of hub member 39. Section 37 has a larger bore to accommodate the flange M of the hub 32 These two sections are fastened together by a suitable adhesive and function collectively in the same manner as the unitary wheels 13 and 14 of FIG. 2. In the modification of FIG. 4, I also employ a somewhat different method for securing the axle member 40 in the member 39. In the modification of FIG. 2, the axle member 26 was retained in the hub member 22 and 28 by either adhesive or a tight frictional fit. In the arrangement of FIG. 4,
the axle member is provided with a conical head 43 which has a diameter at its base slightly larger than the passage through the hub 39. Because the axle member is made of a relatively soft material, such as Nylon, it is possible to force the axle through the opening in hub 39. Once it is through, however, the base of the conical head 43 prevents the axle from being withdrawn. Or, starting matters differently, it prevents the wheel 35 from being withdrawn from axle 40.
As has been pointed out above, the wheels are of a width at lease one-fifth of the width of the body of the toy. Furthermore, the wheels are disposed entirely outside of the outer side walls of the body portion. The wheels thus define an area of engagement with a supporting plane or surface which is much greater than any such area of engagement which includes portions of the body surface. Furthermore, the only exposed surfaces are made of the soft, resilient material of which the body and wheels are made. Thus, as pointed out previously, the vehicle when thrown tends to land on its wheels. If it lands in any other position, the resiliency of the material of the body and wheels will cause the toy to bounce and tend to right itself in a position in which it is resting on the wheels.
While the preferred embodiment of my invention is designed to simulate an automotive vehicle, it is possible to employ my invention to simulate objects such as animals. In FIGS. 5 and 6, I have shown an embodiment of my invention in which a worm is simulated. In this case, a further feature is introduced in that there are two sections of the body which are moved with respect to each other as the toy is moved along a smooth surface. Referring specifically to FIGS. 5 and 6, the body portion 50 has two sections 51 and 52 designed to simulate the front and rear sections of a worm. These sections are made of the same type of soft, resilient, highly compressible foam as the body portion 11 of the automobile of FIG. 1. Both sections 50 and 52 are of rectangular cross section although they are curved in a longitudinal direction to better simulate the curved position a worm may assume. The front section 51 is provided at its rear with a flange 53 which fits into a slot 54 at the front end of the rear section 52. The slot 54 results in two flanges 55 and 56 between which the tongue 53 extends. An axle member 57 extends through aligned openings in the tongue 53 and the flanges 55 and 56. Secured to the outer end of axle member 57 are a pair of wheels 58 and 59. These wheels may be secured to the axle member 57 in the same manner as depicted in FIGS. 2 and 4. In other words, there are hub members which are secured within the wheel and through which the axle member 57 extends and is secured. As shown in dotted lines, the axle member 57 and the hub members do not extend to the outer walls of wheels 58 and 59. Like the embodiment of FIGS. 1-4, the wheels 58 and 59 are relatively wide and may have a width actually exceeding the width of the body members 51 and 52. Certainly, in all cases the wheels 58 and 59 will have a width exceeding percent of the body portion, as in the case with the embodiments of FIGS. 1 to 4. The forward section 51 of the body member 50 is provided with a pair of wide wheels 61 and 62 and the rear section 52 is provided with a set of wheels 63 and 64. All of the wheels are of foamed resilient, highly compressible material just as were the wheels of the preferred embodiment. These wheels are also all provided with axle members which extend only partially through the wheels and which are secured to the wheels in the same manner as has been described in connection with Wheels l3, l4 and 35 of the embodiments of FIGS. 1 to 4.
Wheels 61, 62, 63 and 64, like wheels 12, 13 and 14 are circular and the axles associated with these wheels are concentric therewith. Wheels 58 and 59, however, are eccentrically mounted with respect to axle 57. Furthermore, the wheels 58 and 59 are oval instead of circular. As is shown in FIG. 5, the distance from the axle to the point on wheel58 contacting the supporting surface is substantially greater than the distance from the axle to the diametrically opposite point on the wheel which is shown as being uppermost in FIG. 5. As the toy is moved forwardly, a condition will be reached in which this condition is reversed. In other words, the distance between the axle and the point of contact of the wheel with the ground will be much less than the distance between the axle and the upper diametrically opposite point of the wheel. The result is that the axle 57 moves vertically up and down as the toy is moved forwardly. Since the axle 57 extends through the pivotal connection of body sections 51 and 52 with each other, it will be obvious that sections 51 and 52 are continually rocked with respect to each other, rocking about the forward and rear axles of those sections. The result will be that as the toy is propelled forward, the two sections will imitate a crawling action of a worm.
CONCLUSION It will be seen that I have provided a wheeled toy in which all exposed surfaces are of a foamed soft, resilient, highly compressible material. Thus, the toy may be either propelled violently or even thrown with no damage to the child playing with the toy, to furniture,
or to other children. Even if the child falls upon the vehicle, no damage can result to the child. The toy is furthermore extremely simple and can be produced with a minimum of expense.
While I have shown certain specific embodiments of my invention, it is to be understood that this is only for purposes of illustration and that the scope of my invention is limited solely by the appended claims.
I claim as my invention:
1. A soft, resilient wheeled toy comprising:
a body portion comprising a block of a soft, foamed, resilient compressible material formed to simulate the body of a normally movable object,
a plurality of pairs of relatively wide wheels formed of the same material as that of which said body portion is formed, and disposed on opposite sides of said body portion,
each of said wheels having a hub member therein of relatively non-compressible material, each of said hub members being secured within its associated wheel concentrically with the axis of revolution and extending from a region adjacent the inner wall of the wheel and terminating at a region spaced from the outer wall of the wheel, and each of said hub members having a cylindrical passage therein, and
an axle member extending through said body member and into the cylindrical passages of the hub members of opposed wheels and secured to said hub members, said axle being of a length substantially less than the distance between the outer walls of the opposed wheels so that the outer terminal portions of said axle are spaced a substantial distance inwardly from the outer walls of the wheels, so that all of the outwardly exposed portions of said toy are of said soft, foamed resilient compressible material,
each of said wheels being of a width at least equal to one-fifth of the width of the body and in which the wheels are disposed entirely outside of the outer side walls of the body portion so that the wheels define an area of engagement with a supporting planar surface which is much greater than any such area of engagement which includes a surface of the body portion so that when said toy is dropped onto a surface, the bouncing of the toy resulting from the necessary engagement of a soft, resilient portion of either said body or said wheels with said surface will tend to result in said toy coming to rest in a position in which said wheels all engage said surface.
2. The wheeled toy of claim 1 in which the body portion simulates the body of an automobile and in which there are two pairs of wheels.
3. The wheeled toy of claim 1 in which the body portion comprises two parts which are pivotally joined together for pivotal movement about a substantially horizontal pivotal axis and in which there are a pair of wheels secured to said body portion adjacent the pivotal connections of the two parts thereof, the axle member on which said wheels are supported being eccentric with respect to said wheels so that as said toy is moved along a supporting surface, the pivotal connection of said two parts moves up and down.
4. The wheeled toy of claim 3 in which the two parts of the body portion are shaped to resemble portions of a worm.
5. The wheeled toy of claim 1 in which said body member has a passage therethrough for said axle memher in which the material of said passage is partially fused to provide a bearing surface for said axle member.
6. The wheeled toy of claim 1 in which said body member has a passage therethrough for said axle member and in which there is a sleeve member in said passage through which said axle member extends.
7. The wheeled toy of claim 1 in which there are circular discs surrounding said axle member and disposed adjacent the side walls of said body portion where the axle member enters said body portion.
8. The wheeled toy of claim 1 in which each of said hub members has an outwardly extending flange which acts in retaining said hub member in position in the wheel.