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Publication numberUS3897951 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateAug 5, 1975
Filing dateApr 4, 1974
Priority dateApr 4, 1974
Publication numberUS 3897951 A, US 3897951A, US-A-3897951, US3897951 A, US3897951A
InventorsKeller Albert G, Morrison Howard J
Original AssigneeMarvin Glass & Associates
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Pinball game apparatus
US 3897951 A
Abstract
A pinball game in which a ball is moved by gravitational forces over a substantially vertical, slightly inclined playing surface among various types of targets. A clear plastic shield covers the entire playing surface and is provided with several holes for positioning a ball on the playing surface. The game in general includes two types of targets, a first type comprising apertures in the playing surface and a second type in the form of a pair of limited access slots. Both types of targets include channels which direct a ball which has fallen through the playing surface to a ball propulsion unit which returns the ball to the uppermost end of the playing surface for an additional play. The apertures normally are covered by a pair of pivotally mounted blockers. The blockers are formed as jaws, claws or the like, of figures represented on the playing surface. The game also includes flipper members which are used to keep a ball in play on the playing surface. Operation of either one of the flippers actuates the aperture blockers and causes them to open thus exposing an aperture in the playing surface. One of the aperture blockers requires activation of both flippers in order to open both jaws of the blockers to allow a ball to enter that aperture. The second type of target is located on the lower portion of the playing surface and includes two raised block-like portions which are accessible only to a ball which is propelled from one of the flippers. A ball which enters either type of target is directed back onto the playing surface. However, only those balls which enter through the first type of target will operate a scoring device signifying the achievement of a score. The playing surface also includes a plurality of upstanding pins which provide a tortuous path for balls gravitating down the playing surface. A ball which does not engage any of the targets will be directed into a receiving tray out of play.
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United States Patent I191 Morrison et al.

[ PINBALL GAME APPARATUS [75] Inventors: Howard J. Morrison, Deerfield;

Albert G. Keller, Chicago. both of Ill.

[73] Assignee: Marvin Glass & Associates,

Chicago. ill.

22 Filed: Apr. 4, [974 2] Appl No.:457,962

273/ll9A, 120 R, 120A, l2l R, 12! A. [ll D. l2l E. 122 R. l22 A, [23 R. 123 A, [24 R, I24 A, 125 R, 125 A [56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS l.l27.86l 2/l9l5 Connor et al. 273/122 R UX 111612.504 3/l928 Kudler 273/122 R l.885 ()36 lU/l932 GlZl 2llt,, 273/l l) R 2.083.463 6/1937 May 273/[25 A 2,l5Ut5l5 3/l939 Meyer .273/l 19 A X 3.4U4t88i4 Ill/i968 Lally et 21].. 273/12] A 1582.074 6/l97l Menotti 273/[21 A X 3.675.927 7/l972 Gottlieh et ul 273/1) A Prinmry E.mmmer-Anton O. Oechsle Au'isrzm! E.\cmIinerR T. Stouffcr Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Coffee & Sweeney [57] ABSTRACT A pinball game in which a ball is moved by gravitational forces over a substantially vertical. slightly inclined playing surface among various types of targets.

[ Aug. 5, 1975 A clear plastic shield covers the entire playing surface and is provided with several holes for positioning a ball on the playing surface. The game in general in cludes two types of targets, a first type comprising apertures in the playing surface and a second type in the form of a pair of limited access slots. Both types of targets include channels which direct a ball which has fallen through the playing surface to a ball propulsion unit which returns the ball to the uppermost end of the playing surface for an additional play The apertures normally are covered by a pair of pivotally mounted blockers. The blockers are formed as jaws, claws or the like, of figures represented on the playing surface. The game also includes flipper members which are used to keep a ball in play on the playing surface. Operation of either one of the flippers actuates the aperture blockers and causes them to open thus exposing an aperture in the playing surface. One of the aperture blockers requires activation of both flippers in order to open both jaws of the blockers to allow a ball to enter that aperture. The second type of target is located on the lower portion of the playing surface and includes two raised block-like portions which are accessible only to a ball which is propelled from one of the flippers. A ball which enters either type of target is directed back onto the playing sur face. However, only those balls which enter through the first type of target will operate a scoring device signifying the achievement of a score. The playing surface also includes a plurality of upstanding pins which provide a tortuous path for balls gravitating down the playing surface. A ball which does not engage any of the targets will be directed into a receiving tray out of play.

17 Claims, 16 Drawing Figures PATENTEU AUG 5W5 SHEET Sum PATENTED AUG 5 I975 SHEET PINBALL GAME APPARATUS BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention This invention relates to improvements in pinball games.

2. Brief Description of the Prior Art Pinball games have been known for many years and have enjoyed a great deal of popularity. The usual pinball game generally includes a housing having an inclined playing surface over which a ball may be propelled, a device for launching a ball onto the playing surface, flipper members which are selectively actuatable for keeping a ball on the playing surface, and some form of scoring means. The scoring means usually includes target members mounted on the playing surface and registering devices for registering the score every time a target member is struck by a moving ball.

Some of the prior art pinball games provide devices for making the targets inaccessible during certain periods, such as those disclosed by Breitenstien in U.S. Pat. No. 2,094,633. Some other of the prior art pinball games have a ball return means whereby a ball launched on the playing surface is directed back to the launching station for another turn" should the ball roll into a particular receptacle. Such a return is considered to be in the way of a reward or advantage for scoring.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The principal object of this invention is to provide a new and improved pinball game. More particularly, it is an object of the present invention to provide a new and improved pinball game which includes means to make the targets inaccessible at different times during a game, with selectively operable means for exposing the targets.

The exemplary pinball game apparatus includes a housing having a substantially vertical, slightly inclined playing surface over which a ball may be propelled, at least one ball to be propelled on the playing surface, at least one target mounted on the playing surface, and scoring means associated with the target for indicating when a ball engages the target. The target comprises an aperture in the playing surface into which a ball may enter and cover means associated with the aperture. The cover means is selectively movable between an aperture closing position wherein the ball cannot enter the aperture and an aperture exposing position wherein the ball can enter the aperture. A flipper assembly is connected to the cover means for moving the cover means between the closed and exposing positions simultaneously with actuating flippers which are pro vided to keep a ball in play. When a ball falls into an aperture, it is returned to the uppermost end of the playing surface for an additional play, whereby more than one ball may be in play at any given time. Thus a player must use skill in actuating the flippers which, in turn, expose the target apertures so as not to have the play of one ball be interfered with while concentrating play on another ball.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. I is a front perspective view ofthe pinball game apparatus of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a vertical section on an enlarged scale, taken generally along the line 2-2 of FIGv l',

FIG. 3 is a front elevational view of the game of the present invention:

FIG. 4 is a rear elevational view of the game of the present invention;

FIG. 5 is an enlarged, exploded perspective view of the ball return channels and a portion of the scoring mechanism provided for in the game of the present invention;

FIG. 6 is an enlarged. exploded perspective view of the flipper drive mechanism provided for in the game of the present invention;

FIG. 7 is an enlarged, partial front plan view ofa portion of the scoring mechanism provided for in the game of the present invention;

FIG. 8 is an enlarged fragmented perspective view of one type of target provided for in the game of the present invention;

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of the operating mechanism for the aperture closing devices provided for in the game of the present invention;

FIG. 10 is a partial front plan view of a pair of aperture covering devices in their closed position with part of the rear operating mechanism in dotted lines;

FIG. 11 is a partial front plan view similar to that of FIG. 10 with the aperture covering devices in their open position;

FIG. 12 is an enlarged, fragmented, exploded perspeetive view of one jaw of one of the aperture closing devices provided for in the game of the present invention;

FIG. 13 is an enlarged partial perspective view ofthe ball propulsion means provided for in the game of the present invention;

FIG. 14 is a front elevational view, with the cover broken away, of the ball propulsion means provided for in the game of the present invention;

FIG. 15 is a vertical sectional view taken generally along the line l5l5 of FIG. I4; and

FIG. 16 is an enlarged partial vertical sectional view taken through one of the spinners provided for in the game of the present invention.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT The pinball game apparatus of the present invention, generally designated 1 (FIGS. 1-4), includes a housing, generally designated 2, which has side walls 3, a base plate 4, a back wall 5, and a clear plastic cover shield 6. Within the housing is mounted a substantially vertical, inclined playing surface 7 upon which a plurality of balls 8 are rollingly supportable. The playing surface 7 is enclosed by the housing, with a zigzag wall 9 on each side, a raised portion 10 at the top of the playing surface and another raised portion I2 at the bottom of the playing surface. A guide wall 14 connects the upper raised portion 10 with the playing surface 7 and a guide wall I6 connects the lower raised portion with the playing surface 7. A plurality of deflectors I7 at the top of the playing surface direct the balls 8 toward various paths of travel.

The game also includes a scoring means, generally designated 18 (FIGS. 2, 4 and 7). In addition, the game includes a flipper assembly, generally designated 20 (FIGS. 2, 4 and 6), and a return means. generally designated 22 (FIGS. 4, 5, I4 ant IS).

The playing surface 7 includes a plurality of upstanding pins 24 to provide a tortuous path for a ball 8 as it rolls down the inclined surface 7. Two openings 32 are provided near the top of plastic shield 6 to permit the introduction of a ball 8 onto the playing surface 7.

A plurality of spinners 34 (FIGS. 1, 3 and 16) are mounted on studs 36 which protrude from the playing surface. Each spinner 34 includes a top umbrella-like disc 38 and a depending journal 40 which is slidably mounted on the stud 36. Each spinner is provided with three fins 42 which engage a passing ball 8 and cause the spinner to rotate.

The playing surface 7 includes two types of targets into which the player attempts to manuever the ball 8. The first type (FIG. 11) are apertures 48 in the playing surface 7 through which a ball 8 can pass. The second type of target is a pair of slots 50 (FIG. 3) near the lower end of the playing surface 7. Any ball 8 which passes through a target 48 or 50 is automatically returned to the uppermost portion of the playing surface 8 by the return means 22, to be described in greater detail hereinafter.

The holes 48 in the playing surface 7 are made inaccessible to the ball 8 by a cover means, generally designated 52. The cover means 52 each includes two cover blocks 56 over each of four lowermost apertures 48 and two cover blocks 57 over a top uppermost aperture 48, see FIGS. 1 and 3. The blocks 56 and 57 are pivotally mounted on the playing surface. The cover blocks 56 and 57 are so mounted that their normal closed position as shown in FIGS. 3 and 10, a ball 8 cannot enter the aperture 48 because it is completely covered by the blocks 56. The cover blocks 56 are connected to the flipper assembly 20, as described in greater detail hereinafter, to permit a player of the game to selectively rotate the cover blocks 56 open, depending on which flipper is actuated, to expose the apertures 48, and thus attempt to cause a ball 8 to fall into the aperture 48 for a score. Each of the cover blocks 57 are connected to different flippers for opening purposes, as described hereinafter.

A second type of target is provided by the slots 50, which, while not producing a score, direct the ball 8 to the return means 22 for another play. More particularly, the slots 50 are made partially inaccessible to a ball 8 which is rolling down the playing surface 7 by means of two raised block-like members 58 as best seen in FIGS. 1 and 3. The raised members 58 contain side walls 60 which prevent a ball 8 from entering the slots 50 from the top or sides of the raised members. The bottom of the raised members 58 are open so that a ball which is directed upwardly by the flipper assembly may enter the slot 50. The lower side of each raised member 58 includes a pivotally mounted flap 62 which will be moved by contact with a ball 8 and thus allow the ball to fall into one of the slots 50. The flap 62 is pivotally mounted by means of a pin 64 (FIG. 8) in the raised member 58.

To provide for a more competitive game, a reward, in the form of a free additional ball 69 (FIG. 3) is provided within the area circumscribed by the raised members 58. More particularly, a rib 68 is provided which protrudes outwardly from the playing surface 7. The rib 68 is provided with a hole 68a to seat the ball 69 such that it will normally hold the additional ball 69 with a portion of the ball protruding through the bottom of the rib 68. A hole 70 is provided in the clear plastic shield 6 so that the free ball 69 may be placed on the rib 68. Thus, it is possible during play of the game that a ball 8 may contact the bottom of the ball 69 and cause it to roll off of the rib 68 and down through one of the slots 50 toward the return means 22. At this time both the additional free ball 69 and the original ball 8 will be directed by the return means 22 back onto the uppermost end of the playing surface 7, as described hereinafter.

As previously discussed, the flipper assembly 20 is provided to open the cover blocks 56, 57 and to operate a pair of flippers 72 which may be utilized to keep the balls in play. More particularly, the flipper assembly 20 comprises the pair of flippers 72, a pair of manually operable flipper actuating levers 74 and connecting linkage, generally designated 75 (FIGS. 4 and 6), for operating the flippers and opening the cover blocks.

Turning to FIG. 6, each flipper lever 74 is connected to a rotatably mounted gear 78. The gears 78 each contain a tab 80 which is connected to a biasing spring 82 secured to the housing 2 by means of a pin 84. The springs 82 bias the flipper levers 74 toward their upward position as shown in FIG. 3. The gears 78 are in meshing engagement with a rack 86 on a connecting arm 90. Each connecting arm 90 is slidably supported in the housing by means of a pair of slots 92 in each connecting arm 90 which slidably engages a pair of screws 94 for each connecting arm. A second rack 96 is provided on each connecting arm and is in meshing engagement with a second gear 98. The gears 98 are rotatably mounted in the housing 2 and are connected to the flippers 72. Thus, as the flipper levers 74 are caused manually to rotate in the direction of arrows A (FIG. 3), the flippers 72 will rotate in the direction of arrows B. If a player misses a ball 8 with one of the flippers 72, it will roll down into a storage area 100 through a channel 102. The storage area 100 is formed as an extension of the base plate 4 of the housing 2 and includes a wall 104 which circumscribes the storage area, see FIG. 1.

The flipper assembly 20 also is interconnected with the cover blocks 56 to provide means for exposing the apertures 48. More particularly, turning to FIGS. 6 and 9, the connecting arms 90 each include an L-shaped laterally projecting portion which has a tapered end 112. The tapered ends 112 contact a counterweighted lever 114 (FIGS. 4, l0 and 11) and cause it to rotate in the direction of arrow C (FIG. 10) each time the respective flipper lever 74 associated with that particular connecting arm 90 is manually rotated. This causes the counterweighted lever 114 to rotate to the position as shown in FIG. 11. The counterweighted levers 114 are in engagement with links 116 at tapered lower end 118 of the links. Each link 116 is pivotally connected to three short pivot arms 122 by means of pins 124. The short pivot arms 122 are pivotally mounted to the playing surface 7 by means of studs 128 (FIG. 12) extending perpendicularly from the back of the playing surface 7. The counterweighted levers 114 normally hold the connecting links "6 in their uppermost position as shown in FIG. 4. As the counterweight is rotated in the direction of arrow C (FIG. 10) to the position as shown in FIG. 11, the connecting links 116 move downwardly under gravitational forces to the position as shown in FIG. 11. This downward movement of the links 116 is stopped as the short links 122 on either side of the connecting links 116 reach their limit of travel.

Each one of the cover blocks 56 is pivotally mounted on an upstanding stud 130 (FIG. 12). Each cover block 56 has a rigid pinion gear portion 132 journalled on the pins 130, with the gears 132 of adjacent mating blocks in constant engagement. A small pin 134 is provided on the bottom side of one of each pair of cover blocks 56 and extends through an arcuate slot 136 in the playing surface 7. The pin 134 is journalled in one of the pivot arms 122 in a hole 138. Thus, as the connecting links 116 move downwardly toward the position as shown in FIG. 11, the pivot arms 122, through the pin 134 on the blocks 56, causes the blocks 56 to rotate from the position as shown in FIG. to the position as shown in FIG. 11.

It should be pointed out at this time that actuation of one of the flipper levers 74 will completely open the two pairs of cover blocks 56 on that respective side of the playing surface (i.e., the right hand lever for the two right hand pairs of blocks 56). However, both of the cover blocks 57 contain a pin 134 which engages the uppermost pivot arms 122 and the two cover blocks 57 are not interconnected by a pinion gear. Thus, when only one flipper lever 74 is actuated. only one of the blocks 57 will be rotated toward an open position depending on which flipper lever 74 is actuated. Therefore, both levers 74 must be operated simultaneously in order to completely expose the aperture 48 under the cover blocks 57 to permit a ball 8 to enter that aperture.

It should be noted that counterweight lever 114 makes it impossible to hold the cover blocks 56 and 57 open for a long period of time to expose the hole 48. Referring to FIG. 11, when the counterweight lever is in this position it will immediately begin to rotate back in the direction opposite that of arrow C (FIG. 10) and contact the point 118 and raise the link 116, thus covering the holes 48, even if the lateral projecting portion 110 is held in its uppermost position by the flipper assembly 20. It should also be noted that a slow actuation of the flipper levers 74, while causing the flippers 72 to rotate, will not cause the counterweight lever 114 to rotate to the position shown in FIG. 11, and thus will not expose the apertures 48.

It now can be seen that the apertures 48 will remain exposed only for a short period of time while the counterweight lever 114 is in the position shown in FIG. 11. As the counterweight lever 114 falls back to the position as shown in FIG. 10, the cover blocks 56 and 57 again will be closed even if the flipper levers 74 have not yet been released by the player. This, therefore. requires an additional degree of skill since it is impossible to hold the cover blocks 56 and 57 open at all times. The player of the game must constantly and quickly actuate the flipper levers 74 in order to expose the apertures 48.

The return means 22 is provided in order to give the player another turn when he has successfully directed a ball 8 into an aperture 48 or slot 50. More particularly. the return means includes a multi-legged channel 150 (FIG. 5) which receives a ball 8 after it passes through any of the apertures 48 and directs it downwardly. The channel 150 is connected to a lower hall collector 152 which receives the balls 8 that have passed through the slots 50. The ball collector 152 then directs the balls 8 toward a return motor 154 (FIGS. and 14). A metal flywheel 156 is secured to the motor shaft 158. An annular rubber wheel 160 is secured to the wheel 156. The wheel is enclosed within a housing 162. On one side of the wheel a space is provided between the wheel 160 and the casing 162, the space being of a smaller diameter than that of a ball 8 such that as the wheel 160 rotates the ball which enters the casing through an aperture 164 will be propelled along the casing 162 and out through a return channel 166 (FIG. 14). An aperture 164 is directly in line with the lowermost point of the ball collecting portion 152 such that any ball rolling into the channel 150 or the collecting portion 152 will automatically be deposited in the casing 162. The return channel 166 extends from the lower portion of the playing surface 7 upwardly to the upper portion of the playing surface 7 and direct the ball 8 onto the playing surface 7 along the guide wall 14 by a spring 169. The spring 169 then closes to prevent the ball 8 from re-entering the channel 166. A bell 170 is provided at the top of the playing surface and any balls 8 returned through the channel 166 will roll along the guide wall 14 and strike the bell 170 before gravitating down the playing surface 7. A rubber bumper 172 is provided at the righthand end of wall 14 to cause the ball 8 to rebound toward the center of the playing surface.

Integral with the channel 150 is the scoring means 18 which provides that only those balls 8 which pass through the apertures 48 will add to the score of the player. More particularly, the scoring means 18 is best seen in FIGS. 4, 5 and 7 and includes a bottom common portion 174 of the collecting channel 150. A horizontal channel section 176 is formed integrally with the main channel 150 and slidably encloses a plunger 178. Referring to FIG. 7, the common portion 174 is formed with a horizontal detent 180 so that a ball 8 which has entered the channel 150 through an aperture 48 will be trapped by the plunger 178. The plunger 178 is connected by a rod 182 to a pivotally mounted bell crank 184. A spring 186 connects the other leg of the bell crank to a pin 188 formed on the lower ball collecting portion 152. The spring 186 constantly biases the plunger 178 toward the left as shown by arrow D in FIG. 7. A release arm generally designated 190 enters the channel 150 through an aperture 192 in the side thereof. The release arm 190 is pivotally mounted on a flange 194 which is secured to the channel 150. The release arm 190 rotates in the direction of arrow E each time either of the flipper levers 74 is actuated (this mechanism will be described in detail hereinafter). The release arm 190 includes an arcuate portion 196 which enters through the aperture 192 and contacts a ball 8, only if a ball has previously fallen through an aperture 48. The ball 8 under the force of the release member 190 forces the plunger 178 in a direction opposite that of arrow D (FIG. 7) which causes the bell crank 184 to rotate counterclockwise, as seen in FIG. 4. A shaft 198 is connected to one end of the bell crank 184 and is slidably journalled in two tabs 200 formed on the channel 150. The other end of the shaft 198 contains a claw foot 202 and a hammer actuating portion 204. The claw 202 is in engagement with a ratchet wheel 206 which is pivotally mounted on a shaft 207 secured to the playing surface. As the bell crank 184 rotates in a counterclockwise direction. the claw 202 on the shaft 198 advances the ratchet 206 one position in the direction of arrow F (FIG. 4). A small spring 208 mounted on the housing is also engaged with the ratchet wheel 206 and prevents rotation in the direction opposite that of arrow F. A second bell 210 is mounted within the housing near the ratchet wheel 206. A spring 2l2 is mounted on the housing and carries a hammer 214 on the free end thereof. Each time the hammer actuating portion 204 is moved upwardly, the hammer 214 is moved away from the bell 210. As the ball 8 is pushed past the plunger [78 by the release arm 190, the plunger, under the force of the biasing spring 186, rapidly moves back into the channel in the direction of arrow D (FIG. 7). This action causes the hammer actuating portion 204 to move quickly downward and allows the hammer 214 to strike the bell 210 thus causing an audible signal to be produced each time a ball 8 travels through the signal means 18.

Turning to FIG. 4, a long needle or pointer 220 is slidably journalled on the ratchet wheel 206. Thus, as the ratchet wheel turns, the pointer 220 will rotate in a counterclockwise direction as seen in FIG. 4. The outward end of the pointer 220 is formed in the shape of a U as seen in FIG, 2 and the tip of the needle is bent over a scale 222 on the raised portion 10 of the housing. Thus, as balls 8 accumulate and are moved through the signal means, the bell rings and the pointer 220 moves along the scale 222 indicating the increasing score. A small shaft 224 extends through the rear wall 5 of the housing and is connected to the pointer 220 so that the score may be manually reduced to zero after a game has been played.

As stated before, each time one of the flipper levers 74 is actuated, the ball release member 190 rotates in the direction of arrow E. More particularly, this is accomplished through upper tips 230 of the connecting arms 90. A channel is formed on the back of the playing surface by two L-shaped members 232 (FIG. 4). The members 232 support a slide bar 234 which is mounted on an extended link 236. The lower portion of the link 236 contains a right angle member 238 supporting a pin 240. The pin 240 engages a hole 244 on the release arm 190 as best seen in FIG. 5. The tips 230 of the connecting arms 90 contact the slide bar 234 so that each time a flipper lever is actuated one of the connecting rods 90 causes the slide bar 234 to move upwardly between the two L-shaped members 232. This movement causes the ball release member 190 to enter the channel in the direction of arrow E each time one of the flipper levers (or both) are manually actuated. A spring 244 is secured to the slide bar 234 and the channel 150 to move the link 236 and the release arm 190 to their starting position (FIGS. 5 and 6).

The return motor 154 has one lead connected by a wire (not shown) to a battery housing 250 in which a plurality of batteries 252 may be positioned. Another wire connects the battery housing 250 with an off/on switch 256 (FIG. I) mounted on the side wall 3 of the housing 2, and the off/on switch then is connected with the other motor lead.

The cover blocks 56 and 57 can be painted or otherwise marked by indicia to represent animal claws, jaws, etc., in relation to the indicia on the playing surface. In the preferred embodiment, the cover blocks 56 represent the jaws of an alligator and a lobster, the claws of a monster, and the wings of a large bird. The independently operable cover blocks 57 represent the sword and a shield of a horseman.

Although the description of the preferred embodiment has been described in relation to a substantially vertical type pinball game, it is not intended to be limited to such since all that is required is an inclined playing surface. However, as the angle of the playing surface is increased from the horizontal towards the verti' cal, the balls which roll down the playing surface will roll faster thus providing for a faster game and therefore increasing the amount of skill and coordination required of the user of the game.

The foregoing detailed description has been given for clearness of understanding only and no unnecessary limitations should be understood therefrom as some modifications will be obvious to those skilled in the art.

We claim:

I. In a pinball type game including a housing having an inclined playing surface over which a ball may be propelled, at least one ball to be propelled on said playing surface, and at least one target mounted on the playing surface, the improvement wherein said target comprises:

an aperture in the playing surface through which a ball may enter;

cover means associated with said aperture, said cover means being movable between an aperture closing position wherein said ball cannot enter said aperture and an aperture exposing position wherein said ball can enter said aperture; and

a manually actuatable flipper assembly for keeping a ball in play and operatively connected to said cover means for moving said cover means between said closed and exposing positions in response to actuation of the flipper assembly.

2. The device of claim I wherein the flipper assembly includes at least one flipper pivotally mounted on the playing surface and a manually operable flipper lever operatively connected to the flipper so as to permit selective movement of said flipper to contact and direct a ball into play on the playing surface simultaneously with actuating said cover means.

3. The device of claim 1 wherein said flipper assembly includes counterweight means for moving said cover means to the aperture closing position after said cover means has been moved to said aperture exposing position, independent of said flipper assembly.

4. The device ofclaim I including scoring means having signal means mounted within the housing for producing an audible signal whenever a ball engages said signal means signifying the achievement of a score, said ball being engageable with said signal means only after entering one of said apertures in said playing surface.

5. The device of claim 1 including return means comprising entrance means for receiving a ball from the playing surface, guide means for directing a ball back onto the playing surface, and ball propulsion means between said entrance means and said guide means for engaging said ball and propelling it along said guide means onto the playing surface.

6. The device of claim 5 wherein said entrance means includes a channel associated with said aperture for receiving a ball which has entered said aperture and depositing said ball in said ball propulsion means.

7. The device of claim 5 wherein said entrance means includes at least one return slot in said playing surface, said return slot being accessible only on one side to a ball which has been propelled from said flipper assembly, and a channel associated with said return slot for receiving a ball which has entered said return slot and depositing said ball in said ball propulsion means.

8. The device of claim 7 wherein said channel is positioned below said aperture for receiving a ball which has entered said aperture and depositing said ball in said ball propulsion means.

9. The device of claim including means for introducing an additional ball into said return means, said means including a ball holder which holds the additional ball at rest on said playing surface, said second ball holder releasing said second ball when a first ball strikes said second ball.

10. The device of claim 1 including a plurality of said flipper assemblies independently operable, said cover means being operatively connected to only a certain one of the independently operable flipper assemblies.

ll. The device of claim 10 including a plurality of said apertures in the playing surface each having one of said means associated therewith, each cover means being independently operable by at least one but not all of said independently operable flipper assemblies.

12. The device of claim 11 wherein the cover means for at least one of said apertures comprises two oppositely and independently movable aperture covering portions, one of which is operably associated with one of the independently operable flipper assemblies and the other of which is operatively associated with another of the independently operable flipper assemblies.

13. The device of claim 1 including a pair, righthand and lefthand, of said flipper assemblies, and at least a pair of said apertures and said associated cover means laterally spaced on the playing surface with the leftmost cover means being operatively connected to the lefthand flipper assembly and the rightmost cover means operatively connected to the righthand flipper assembly.

14. The device ofclaim 1 including a pair of said flipper assemblies and wherein said cover means includes two relatively movable jaw-like portions one of which is operatively associated with one of said pair of flipper assemblies and the other of which is operatively associated with the other of said pair of flipper assemblies for independent operation of the jaw-like portions by the two flipper assemblies.

15. The device of claim 1 wherein said cover means includes two interconnected pivotally mounted jawlike portions covering the aperture whereby actuation of said flipper assembly causes the two jaw-like portions of the cover means to move apart and expose the aperture as the flipper assembly is actuated.

l6. ln a pinball type game including a housing having an inclined playing surface over which a ball may be propelled, at least one ball to be propelled on said playing surface. at least one target mounted on the playing surface, and a flipper assembly for keeping the ball in play, the improvement wherein said target comprises:

return means including entrance means for receiving a ball from the playing surface, guide means for directing a ball back onto the playing surface, and ball propulsion means between said entrance means and said guide means for propelling a ball onto the playing surface, said entrance means including at least one return slot in said playing surface, said return slot being accessible only on one side to a ball which has been propelled from said flipper assembly, and a channel associated with said return slot for receiving a ball which has entered said return slot and depositing said ball in said ball propulsion means.

17. In a pinball type game including a housing having an inclined playing surface over which a ball may be propelled, at least one ball to be propelled on said playing surface, at least one target mounted on the playing surface, and a flipper assembly for keeping the ball in play, the improvement wherein said target comprises:

return means including entrance means for receiving a ball from the playing surface, guide means for di recting a ball back onto the playing surface, ball propulsion means between said entrance means and said guide means for propelling a ball onto the playing surface, and means for introducing an additional ball into said return means including a ball holder which holds the additional ball at rest on the playing surface, said second ball holder releasing said second ball when a first ball strikes said second ball.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification273/121.00A, 273/124.00A, 273/121.00B
International ClassificationA63D13/00, A63F7/02
Cooperative ClassificationA63F7/025
European ClassificationA63F7/02P