Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.


  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS3879887 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateApr 29, 1975
Filing dateNov 15, 1973
Priority dateNov 15, 1973
Publication numberUS 3879887 A, US 3879887A, US-A-3879887, US3879887 A, US3879887A
InventorsBrookson Jr Robert H, Greig Richard G
Original AssigneeTeton Toy Dev Company
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Inflatable top
US 3879887 A
A large size inflatable top made up of a plastic or similar flexible material that can be inflated by mouth, and having a unique shape and activation mechanism which permits the top to be spun to form a large, stable toy.
Previous page
Next page
Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent Brookson, Jr. et al.

INFLATABLE TOP Inventors: Robert H. Brookson, Jr.; Richard G.

Greig, both of Jackson, Wyo.

Teton Toy Development Company, Jackson, Wyo.

Filed: Nov. 15, 1973 Appl. No.: 415,945


US. Cl 46/67; 46/69 Int. Cl A63h 1/02 Field of Search 46/59, 64, 65, 67

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 8/1916 Cigol ..46/64 1/1934 Shikaly ..46/59 Apr; 29, 1975 2.449.405 9/1948 Mordan 46/67 2.818.675 1/1958 Glass et a1. 46/69 Primary Examiner-Louis G. Mancene Assistant Examiner-Robert F. Cutting Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Dugger, Johnson & Westman 57 1 ABSTRACT A large size inflatable top made up of a plastic or similar flexible material that can be inflated by mouth. and having a unique shape and activation mechanism which permits the top to be spun to form a large, stable toy.

The large size of the top presents a large area on which figures and decorative material can be printed.

14 Claims, 8 Drawing Figures PATENTEUAPRZQIQYS 3879 887 SHiET 2 BF 2 INFLATABLE TOP BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention.

The present invention relates to inflated, spinning tops.

2. Prior Art.

U.S. Pat. No. 2,449,405 issued 2,449,405 14, 1948 to Mordan shows an air propelled top which has a bag that deflates in use to provide jets of air from exhaust tubes along the sides of the top. The top is elastic, and greatly changes in size during use. U.S. Pat. No. 1,193,991 shows a hollow rubber top with an end point for supporting the top while it is spinning.

Many tops have been invented which have some means for implying a rotational force to the top so that the top can be made to spin. However, the problems involved in obtaining sufficient rotational force and sufficient duration of spinning have prevented any really large tops from being satisfactorily developed.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The present invention relates to an inflated top that is of a large size, generally on the order of 30 inches or more tall, and ranging substantially 20 inches or more in maximum diameter which gives a top almost as large as a small child to provide amusement. When the top is inflated, it is formed into a pear shape which gives it stability and a great endurance of rotation. The large surface of the top permits the use of different designs, and in addition, suitable weights may be provided to help hold 'the shape of the top proper and increase rotational intertia forextended durations of spinning. Suitable ratchet mechanism for imparting rotational force is provided so that the string for driving the top can be pulled several times to get the speed of the top at a desired level. The drive ratchet and driven member of the top have interlocking teeth that tend to keep the two parts engaged during multiple pulls of the drive cord.

The top is made out of flexible plastic materials, and can be inflated by mouth. The top can be deflated for storage. The top has reinforcing elements at the drive attachment, and at the end that rotates on a supporting surface.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a part perspective view of a top made according to the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a view of a top made according to the present invention showing a drive mechanism for imparting rotational force to the top;

FIG. 3 is a fragmentary view of a modified form of the top made according to the present invention with parts in section and parts broken away;

FIG. 4 is a fragmentary perspective view of a driven member at the upper portion of the top of FIG. 2;

FIG. 5 is a view showing an activation mechanism adjacent a top portion of the top, and taken as on line 55 in FIG. 2;

FIG. 6 is a sectional view taken as on line 66 in FIG. 5;

FIG. 7 is a fragmentary detail view of the interlocking drive teeth between the top and a drive mechanism; and

FIG. 8 is a side view of a modified form of the top of the present invention.

DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENT In FIG. 1, a top 10 as shown is a flexible inflated bag 11 that has a rounded bottom portion 12 attached to a plastic, relatively rigid cone l3, and having a rounded upper portion 14 when it is rotating about an upright axis. A suitable graphic display 15, in this case, a happy face can be used on the top. Suitable activation mechanism which is not shown in FIG. 1 can be used for spinning the top.

It should be noted that the inflated bag is wider in the region 16 that is approximately one-third of the way between the bottom and the upper portion of the top. In FIG. 1, the widest portion (greatest diameter) is closer to the supporting surface for the end support member 13 than it is to the upper end.

In FIG. 2, a top illustrated generally at 20 has a lower end support member 21 attached thereto, and the top is inflated through a suitable conventional check valve member indicated generally at 22. The top is a thin wall polyethelene or vinyl or other suitable flexible, substantially non-stretchable material. There is a rounded bottom portion 24 and a rounded top portion 25 to form an ellipsoid shape. At the upper part of the top there is a drive mechanism 26 attached, including a pull string 27 and a handle 28 that can be grasped by a user. The drive mechanism is removable from the top as will be more fully explained. In addition, there are means as shown in dotted lines for supporting individual weights 29 on the periphery of the top to give it more inertia. Centrifugal force acting on the weights gives additional inertia to the top to keep the top rotating longer.

In FIG. 3, a modified form of the invention is shown, and in this case a top illustrated generally at 35 has a thin wall flexible, inflatable bag 36 with a circumferential band 37. A check valve 36A of usual form used for mouth inflation of inflatable toys is provided near the top adjacent the rotational axis. A generally cone shaped lower end support member 38 is attached to the bottom portion of the bag to provide a hard or rigid point member for low friction rotation of the top on the supporting surface 39. A drive plate 40 is also attached to the top.

The drive plate 40 provides means for impelling rotary motion to the top. The drive plate 40 and the lower member 38 are shown as exemplary of the method on construction whereby the flexible plastic bag 36 comprising the top when inflated is attached to these members at the top and the bottom to provide a support end member, and a drive end. The bag 36 can be made of any suitable material in order to obtain the desired configuration of the top when it is spinning. For example, the bag may comprise a series of panels extending from top to bottom and connected together. However, if a plurality of individual panels are used, the seams between the panels should be kept to a minimum size and made without loose edges to minimize any wind drag, because of the relatively large diameter of the top when it is spinning. The shape of the top could be controlled with internal supports or partitions if desired.

The band 37 as shown contains a plurality of weights 29 shown in dotted lines. The added inertia keeps the top rotating for longer periods of time, and gives it somewhat more stability. The band 37 also could comprise a tube on the outer periphery of the top that was filled with liquid for providing necessary weight.

, FIGS. 4, 5,16 and 7 show details of a typical repeatable pull drive mechanism. As shown in connection with FIG, 2, the drive mechanism illustrated generally at 26 includes the handle 28 that has a lower housing 42: attached thereto. The housing 42 surrounds a ratchet pull mechanism as will be more fully explained.

A shaft '43 is rotatably mounted inside the handle 28, and the shaft extends through the housing 42, and a drive plate 44 is attached to the shaft. The drive plate 44 thus moves with theshaft 43 and is positioned below the housing 42.

The shaft 43 has a ratchet gear 45 drivably mounted thereon and the ratchet gear has a raised boss portion 'iofsize to bear against the inside of the housing 42 adjacent the opening where the shaft 43 enters the handle lower reel plate 468.

A torsion spring 48 is wound in place around the hub 47 below the reel plate 468 and above the 'drive plate 44. One end of the torsion spring is removably posi- "tioned as at 49 in a slot in the outer housing 42, and the inner end of the torsion spring is attached to the hub 47. The pull string 27 is wound around the hub 46 in the center portions of the reel between the upper and lower reel plates a shown, and the pull string 27 extends out through a provided slot 51 in the outer housing 42.

A ratchet dog or pawl 52 is pivotally mounted on a suitable pin on the upper reel plate 46A, as shown perhaps best in FIG. 6, and the pawl has a small spring 53 i that urges it towards the periphery of the ratchet gear 45, so that when the string 27 is pulled the reel will tend to rotate in direction as indicated by the arrow 54 in FIG. 6, and the pawl 52 will drivably engage the teeth on the ratchet gear 45 and will rotate the ratchet gear with the reel and at the same time, therefore, rotate the drive plate 44. l

As p'e'rhapsbest seen in FIG. 7, the member 23 of the top, comprising a driven plate, has teeth defined in the upper surface thereof adjacent the periphery thereof, and these teeth are indicated at 55. The drive plate 44 also has teeth 56 which mate with the teeth 55. The teeth 55 and 56 are positioned so that they tend to lock together when the drive plate is placed on top of the. driven plate, and the unit is rotated by pulling the string or cord 27. The angle of the mating surfaces of the teeth is such that they tend to seat more deeply when the drive force indicated by the arrow 58 (FIG. 7) is applied. The resistance to rotation tends to cause the teeth to seat quite tightly. By holding the handle 28, and pressing down slightly on the drive mechanism when the cord 27 is pulled the drive mechanism will seat in place. After the cord 27 has been pulled once to start the top rotating, the pull force of the cord is re leased and the rewind spring 48 will then retract or rewind the cord due to the spring force. The ratchet pawl 52 slips by the teeth of ratchet gear 45 during rewind. Then the cord 27 can be pulled again to drive the plate 44 without disengaging the teeth 55 and 56', untilthe top is spinning at the desired speed. A plurality of'pulls on thecord 27 can be'made so that the top can be made to spir}, and the total energy put into the top can thus With weights 29 added to the top, the top will spin for v a long time even though it is quite large and the flexible bag is light. The drive assembly 26 can be pulled off the top when the top is spinning sufficiently fast, because the teeth 55 and 56 will disengage when the handle is lifted up to permit removal of the drive plate.

In FIG. 8, a top 60 of somewhat different shape but of substantially identical construction is shown. The top 60 includes a support end member 61, a driven plate 62, and a flexible envelope 63 that is inflatable in the usual manner. The envelope is sealed to the end member and driven plate. It should be noted that the check valves that are used for inflating the tops are the common vinyl check valves used with inflated toys and they also permit the devices to be deflated merely by holding the valve open.

The top shape shown in FIG. 8 is similar to an inverted pear shape, and suitable weights for inertia can be placed along a band near the upper end of the top as indicated at 64 in dotted lines to add inertia to the top, and to increase its stability. Also, a tube which will hold water can be formed on the bag and filled to provide weight.

It should be noted that with the large curved upper ends such as shown in FIGS. 1, 2 and 8 the tops are quite resistant to collapsing when the drive mechanism is applied to the driven plate. The skin tension from the low air pressure provides a good deal of resistance to collapsing forces. It should also be noted that if the weights for inertia are kept away from the 'rnaximum diameter of the top, it will keep the weights from being torn out when the spinning top bumps into a solid object. In addition, if at all possible the weights should be located on a diameter which does not rest on the gound when the top is not spinning, and the top lays on its side. 2

When the top is delfated, the bag of course can 001- lapse a substantial amount into a very small package which aids for shipping and the like. A stem with an inflating check valve can also be provided in the top if desired for ease of inflation.

The flexible plastic is not substantially elastic and thus the shape of the top can be controlled. The top is not merely an elastic bag that stretches when inflated. The flexible material will carry a tension load to give strength and rigidity even when under low pressure such as is available from inflation by mouth. Usually the tops are inflated to at least 1 psi'over atmospheric pressure. 7

The bottom end members or supports 13, 21, 38 and 61 are made of low friction, smooth material, such as ABS plastic. The relatively rigid member provides a smooth point contact to reduce friction drag on the top while it is spinning. The point members are sufficiently rigid to not flatten substantially when the top is spinning. If only the flexible walls were used to support, they would tend to flatten'and drag while the top was spinning. The bottom end members (and also the drive members) may be attached to'theflexible walls of the top with adhesive or other suitable sealing means.

i What is claim is: 1

1; An inflatable top comprising an inflatable bag having a central turning axis, said inflatable bag being made of material that is flexible but does not stretch substantially when under inflation, said bag being formed substantially into the size and shape when uninflated as is desired for the top when fully inflated, said bag having means for engaging a support surface for rotational movement about its central axis when inflated, means mounted on said bag to permit inflation thereof, means for rotating said inflated bag about said central axis to impart top like motion to said inflated bag.

2. The combination as specified in claim 1 and a drive member, said means for rotating said bag including means on the bag for receiving said drive member, said means for receiving said drive member including means to impart rotary motion to said inflated bag when said drive member is driven.

3. The combination as specified in claim 2 wherein said weight means are arranged substantially along a plane perpendicular to the rotational axis of said bag.

4. The combination as specified in claim 2 wherein said drive means includes ratchet means, a pull member for manually pulling said ratchet means to impart rotary motion to said bag, and means for rewinding said pull member to permit a repeated number of pulls without removing said drive means from said bag.

5. The combination as specified in claim 2 wherein said means for receiving said drive member comprises a plate member on said bag, a plurality of teeth formed in said plate member, and a plurality of interlocking teeth on said drive member, said teeth on said plate member inclining in direction opposite from the rotational direction of said top and said teeth on said drive member being inclined in direction of rotation of said drive member so that the interlocked teeth tend to pull said drive member and said plate member together.

when the drive member is driven.

6. The combination as specified in claim 1 wherein said bag is of size in the range of 30 inches high when inflated.

7. The combination of claim 1 wherein said bag comprises a rounded, curved upper portion, and said bag includes wall portions tapering together toward the central axis adjacent said means for engaging the support surface.

8. The combination of claim 1 wherein said bag includes wall portions formed to create a maximum diameter of said bag when inflated in a desired section of said bag, said weight means being positioned in location other than the area of maximum diameter of said bag.

9. An inflatable toy comprising an inflatable and collapsible top having wall means made of flexible material capable of carrying tension caused by inflation without substantial stretching, said wall means being formed to define when inflated a symmetrical body generated about a central axis on the order of 30 inches or more high and 20 inches or more in maximum diameter without stretching the flexible material, means for inflating said top, a support member attached to said wall means and defining an area of contact of said top with a supporting surface concentric with said central axis, and means for imparting rotary motion to said top when inflated to rotate said top about said central axis.

10. The top of claim 9 wherein said wall means has an upper end formed to define said maximum diameter for said top at a location other than midway between the upper end and the means contacting the supporting surface.

11. The top of claim 10 wherein said wall means define a maximum diameter above said plane midway between the upper end and the means engaging a supporting surface.

12. The top of claim 9 wherein said means to impart rotary motion includes a driven plate at the upper portions of said top, and removable drive means for engaging said driven plate.

13. The top of claim 12 wherein said removable drive means comprises a drive plate to drivably engage said driven plate, a cord reel, a pull cord on said reel. ratchet means between said reel and drive plate to drive said drive plate when the cord is pulled and means to rewind said cord onto said reel when the cord is pulled and the pulling force is released.

14. The top of claim 9 wherein said support member comprises a low friction member fixed to said flexible wall means and being of sufficient rigidity to provide point contact of said top on said supporting surface.


DATED April 29, 1975 INVENTOWS) 1 Robert H. Brookson, Jr et al.

It is certified that error appears in the above-identified patent and that said Letters Patent a are hereby corrected as shown below:

Column 1, line 8 before "14" insert-=-September--. Column 5, line 7 (Claim 1, line 11), before the period insert --==and weight means attached to and supported by said bag and positioned around the periphery of said bag when inv flated at preselected positions spaced upwardly from the means 0 for engaging a surface--.

igned and salad this 6 fifth y 0? August 1975 {start Arrest:

0 Rum c. MASON c. MARSHALL DANN :HWSIiH-g Officer ('ummissinncr of lurenls and Trademarks

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US1193991 *Mar 23, 1916Aug 8, 1916 Rubber top
US1942006 *Mar 6, 1933Jan 2, 1934Shikaly David LToy
US2449405 *Aug 24, 1946Sep 14, 1948Mordan Joseph RAir propelled top
US2818675 *Jun 8, 1954Jan 7, 1958Fred ZantToy tops
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4309840 *Aug 13, 1980Jan 12, 1982Marvin Glass & AssociatesInflatable top
US5026057 *Nov 6, 1989Jun 25, 1991Watford Roger LTop and launcher boxing simulation game and method
US5088952 *Jun 6, 1991Feb 18, 1992Goldblatt Robert LInflatable air-hoverable toy having stems for spinning
US5102413 *Nov 14, 1990Apr 7, 1992Poddar Satish BInflatable bone fixation device
US5974717 *Jan 25, 1999Nov 2, 1999Saf T Lok CorporationFirearm safety mechanism
US5987796 *Jul 17, 1998Nov 23, 1999Saf-T-Lok CorporationFirearm safety mechanism
US6146233 *Feb 9, 2000Nov 14, 2000Hedeen Toys LlcSpinning top
US6364734 *Apr 14, 2000Apr 2, 2002Ricky NgToy top structure and system
US6406349 *Jul 28, 2000Jun 18, 2002Toyinnovation, Inc.Gyroscopic toy
US6607420Mar 11, 2002Aug 19, 2003Toyinnovation, Inc.Gyroscopic toy
US6666743 *Oct 23, 2001Dec 23, 2003Sport Fun, Inc.Spinning top
US7674152Mar 3, 2005Mar 9, 2010Cti Industries, Inc.Enhanced balloon weight system
US8013457Nov 7, 2007Sep 6, 2011Potenco, Inc.Human power generation using dual pulls
US8093731Nov 7, 2007Jan 10, 2012Potenco, Inc.Gearless human power generation
US20060199465 *Mar 3, 2005Sep 7, 2006Brent AndersonEnhanced balloon weight system
US20080157615 *Nov 7, 2007Jul 3, 2008Potenco, Inc.Human power generator with a sealed and unsealed chambers
EP1228795A2 *Nov 29, 2001Aug 7, 2002Geobra Brandstätter GmbH & Co. KGSpinning top
EP1228795A3 *Nov 29, 2001Aug 13, 2003Geobra Brandstätter GmbH & Co. KGSpinning top
WO2001008773A1 *Jul 28, 2000Feb 8, 2001Caleb ChungGyroscopic toy
U.S. Classification446/220, 446/262, 446/256
International ClassificationA63H1/00, A63H1/06
Cooperative ClassificationA63H1/06, A63H1/00
European ClassificationA63H1/06, A63H1/00