BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of the Invention
This invention relates to water toys.
2. Description of the Prior Art
An interesting toy is provided by a propulsion unit which can drag a toy aquanaut figure through the water. It is desirable to enable control of the direction in which the drive unit moves through the water, to make it move in circles or dive, instead of moving straight ahead. Inasmuch as children sometimes identify with the toy figure, it is often desirable to construct the apparatus so that the figure appears to use its strength to control the unit instead of representing the figure as a lifeless form that is merely dragged along. It is also desirable to enable the use of toy figures which may be played with independently of the drive unit.
OBJECTS AND SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
An object of the present invention is to provide an aquanaut assembly which operates in a realistic and entertaining manner.
Another object is to provide a toy propulsion assembly to which an aquanaut figure can be rapidly attached, and which enables realistic control by the figure.
In accordance with one embodiment of the present invention, an aquanaut assembly is provided which includes a drive unit with a battery and electric motor, a frame for attachment to the drive unit, and a toy figure for attachment to the frame. The figure is constructed with a soft wire armature and a flexible plastic covering, so that it can be bent to act as a rudder that controls the direction of movement of the drive unit. The mounting frame includes a pair of laterally spaced pontoon members which are joined together by a pair of vertically spaced connecting members, and the drive unit is held between the connecting members. Each pontoon member has a hollow rear end for receiving a hand of the figure, and a pin for holding the hand in a manner that prevents removal by pulling the figure straight back, while enabling removal by twisting and pulling the hand.
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 view of an aquanaut toy propulsion assembly constructed in accordance with the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a view taken on the line 2--2 of FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is a view taken on the line 3--3 of FIG. 2;
FIG. 4 is a view taken on the line 4--4 of FIG. 1;
FIG. 5 is a side elevation view of the assembly of FIG. 1, with the figure bent in a manner to cause diving of the assembly; and
FIG. 6 is a plan view of the assembly of FIG. 1, showing the figure bent in a manner to cause turning of the assembly.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
FIG. 1 illustrates an aquanaut assembly which includes a drive unit 10, a coupling frame 14 for holding the drive unit, and an aquanaut figure 16 which can be held by the frame. The aquanaut figure 16 is constructed of a soft wire armature with a flexible plastic covering so that it can be easily bent to a variety of configurations. When used with the drive unit and coupling frame, the arms 18, 20 of the figure are bent so that they extend in a forward direction when the figure is prone, in the manner in which an aquanaut would be expected to use such equipment. The drive unit 10 includes a battery and motor which drive a propeller 22 that moves the unit through the water, pulling the frame 14 and figure 16 with it. When the figure is in a substantially straight orientation, the assembly moves substantially straight through the water, the apparatus being light enough so that it floats and therefore moves along the surface of the water. However, if the figure 16 is bent to the configuration shown in FIG. 5 wherein the forearms of the figure point downwardly, the assembly will dive. If the figure is bent in the manner shown in FIG. 6 wherein the legs extend to one side, the assembly will move in a circle at the surface of the water. Thus, the figure can be bent to control the direction, both horizontally and vertically, of the assembly, in a manner in which a person might be expected to operate a full size unit to direct it in the water.
The drive unit 10 includes a forward part 24 which contains an electric battery, and a rearward part 26 which contains a motor that drives the propeller. The coupling frame 14 includes a pair of laterally spaced pontoon-shaped members 28, 30 which are held together by a pair of vertically spaced connecting members 32, 34. As shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, the drive unit 10 is positioned between the connecting members. The upper connecting member 32 has a depending bracket 36 which is held in a receiving member 38 at the top of the drive unit. A protuberance 40 on the lower connecting member abuts the drive unit. The two connecting members 32, 34 are constructed so that they can spring apart slightly, to hold the drive unit firmly in place.
As best shown in FIG. 4, each pontoon member 28, 30 has a hollow rear end for receiving the outer portion of an arm of the figure, and a pin 42, 44 for trapping the hand in place. Each of the figure's hands 46, 48 is formed in a partial cup configuration, leaving a hollow that partially surrounds a pin 42, 44 when the hand is received in the pontoon member. The walls 50, 52 on the outside of the rear portion of each pontoon member is spaced from the pin 42, 44 so that the hands are trapped between the pin and wall and cannot be removed by merely pulling the hands rearwardly. In order to remove a hand, it must be pivoted to rotate out of engagement with the pin. In a similar manner, the installation of each hand requires that it be turned into place. The flexibility of the arms of the toy figure enables the arms to be moved so that the hands can be pivoted to install or remove them from the pontoons. Accordingly, the figure can be played with independently of the propulsion apparatus. In a similar manner, the drive unit and coupling frame can be played with independently of the figure, the rudder on the drive unit helping to steer them, and the forward or rearward shifting of the drive unit relative to the frame serving to direct the unit toward the surface of the water or to dive, respectively. Also, the drive unit can be disengaged from the coupling frame so that it can be used in other applications, such as in driving a toy submarine.
The orientation of the toy figure in the manner shown in FIGS. 5 and 6 to control the direction of the assembly can be accomplished very easily. In order to make the figure dive, it is often preferable to bend just the arms 18, 20 of the figure so that the drive unit is angled downwardly. The arms are bent about a horizontal axis so that the frame and drive unit point at a downward incline when the figure is horizontal. The long extent of the figure behind the drive unit makes it a very effective rudder in steering the assembly down into the water. The orientation of the figure for turning can be easily accomplished by bending only the legs 54, 56 of the figure and the fins 58, 60 which may be on the figure, in the manner shown in FIG. 6. The figure 16 is constructed so that the waist portion as well as all four limbs can be bent, so that a child can create his own orientation for control of direction, and can experiment with various orientations.
The apparatus may be originally provided in three parts, including the drive unit 10, the frame 14 and the figure 16. As mentioned above, the figure 16 may be played with independently or with other accessories, and the drive unit 10 may be used to power a variety of accessories using the coupling frame 14 or other means. To assemble the apparatus as shown in the figures, the drive unit is installed in the frame, and the figure's hands are installed in the pontoons of the frame. The motor of the drive unit may be energized by twisting the front portion 24 of its housing relative to the rear portion 26. The figure will then move through the water in a direction governed primarily by the configuration of the toy figure.
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.