Vehicle-triggered toy vehicle accelerator
United States Patent 3877169

A toy for motivating unpowered miniature toy vehicles along a roadway wherein a pivoted cocking arm mounted in a housing is manually moved to pull a vehicle accelerating assembly, against a predetermined biasing force, along a rising track until an assembly carried latch pin rests in a shallow notch of a housing mounted cam surface to hold the assembly in a cocked position with its front portion extending downwardly toward the roadway. A vehicle moving along the roadway will contact this portion causing it to rise and free the latch pin from the hollow notch thereby releasing the accelerating assembly and allowing it to be rapidly moved along the track by the biasing force. The assembly includes a lower extending cushioned portion which contacts and pushes the rear end of the triggering vehicle and accelerates it along the roadway in a stable condition. BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION The background of the invention will be set forth in two parts. 1. Field of the Invention The present invention pertains generally to the field of toy vehicles which travel along tracks or roadways and more particularly to a novel technique for accelerating these vehicles which have no internal motivating mechanisms. 2. Description of the Prior Art Over the years toy vehicles have become more sophisticated and elaborate in their construction. From the simple push-type toys, the art advanced to include internal mechanical motors, and later, battery operated electric motors. Then came the popular electrified track vehicles which included an electric motor that derived its electric power from an external source connected to the track or conductors on the surface of or in a notch below the roadway. The speed of these miniature machines could be controlled by varying the source potential supplied to the roadway conductors, much in the same manner as toy electric trains have long been controlled. Being much lighter and having a lower center of gravity, these newer toys could accelerate very quickly and attain greater stable speeds than was theretofore possible. The main disadvantage of this newly developed art was the relatively high cost of manufacture of both the vehicles and the electrified roadway. More recently, a new vehicle toy was developed which did not utilize electrified roadways and had no self-contained arrangement for motivation power. These devices utilized the force of gravity to accelerate relatively heavy vehicles having newly developed very low friction wheel bearings. The tracks or roadways upon which these unpowered toys travel are fabricated from relatively inexpensive plastic material that is easily bent into many configurations. The basic disadvantage of this type toy has been the dependency on gravity for vehicle acceleration. This requires that the roadway be elevated where the toy is to start its run. In order to eliminate this need of elevation, several techniques have been developed which engage and accelerate these toys anywhere along the track. These devices generally require battery or other forms of electric power and utilize rather expensive gearing arrangements to transfer their rotational power to linear acceleration of the vehicle. If the acceleration force is not properly applied to these small toys, it will cause an undesirable unstable condition and the vehicles will leave the track. SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION In view of the foregoing factors and conditions characteristic of this art, it is a primary object of the present invention to provide a new and improved unpowered toy vehicle accelerator not subject to the disadvantages enumerated above and which can be inserted in series with or simply disposed over an existing miniature toy vehicle roadway. It is another object of the present invention to provide a simple and relatively inexpensive mechanical toy vehicle accelerator which simply pushes the vehicles along a roadway. A further aim of the invention is to provide a mechanical toy vehicle accelerator that is triggered by the vehicle to be accelerated. Still another object of this invention is to provide a mechanical toy vehicle accelerator in which the amount of acceleration can easily be adjusted by an operator. An additional aim of this invention is to provide a vehicle accelerator which is self-adjusting to any toy vehicle height. According to the present invention, a toy vehicle accelerating assembly is movably disposed in a housing positionable over a roadway, the assembly including a triggering mechanism in the path of vehicle travel. The housing also includes motivation means coupled to the assembly for rapidly moving the assembly over a predetermined route to engage and push an unpowered toy vehicle along the roadway when the vehicle contacts the triggering mechanism. The features of the present invention which are believed to be novel are set forth with particularity in the appended claims. The invention and specific embodiments thereof will be described hereinafter by way of example and with reference to the accompanying drawings wherein like reference numerals refer to like elements or parts.

Munday, James F. (Southgate, CA)
Ryan, John W. (Los Angeles, CA)
Sloop, Conrad B. (Huntington Beach, CA)
Baynes, William R. (Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA)
Application Number:
Publication Date:
Filing Date:
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
International Classes:
A63H18/14; (IPC1-7): A63H18/02
Field of Search:
46/1,243,221,223,202,1K,206 273
View Patent Images:
US Patent References:
3548534MOVING APPARATUS FOR A VEHICLE TOY1970-12-22Beny et al.
3408768Toy airplane launching device1968-11-05Glass et al.
2522160Spring ejected toy vehicle1950-09-12Borchers

Primary Examiner:
Shay, Barry F.
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Shirk, Max Mesaros John E. G.
What is claimed is

1. Apparatus for motivating unpowered toy vehicles along a roadway, comprising:

2. Toy vehicle propulsion apparatus for accelerating toy vehicles along a predetermined vehicle path of travel comprising:

3. The toy apparatus described in claim 2 wherein:

4. Toy vehicle propulsion apparatus for accelerating toy vehicles along a predetermined vehicle path of travel comprising:

5. An action toy for propelling toy vehicles along a roadway comprising:

6. The action toy described in claim 5 including:

Inventors: Munday; James F. (Southgate, CA), Ryan; John W. (Los Angeles, CA), Sloop; Conrad B. (Huntington Beach, CA), Baynes; William R. (Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA) Assignee: Mattel, Inc. (Hawthorne, CA)
Appl. No.: 05/005,329 Filed: January 23, 1970

Current U.S. Class: 446/430 ; 463/64
Current International Class: A63H 18/14 (20060101); A63H 18/00 (20060101); A63h 018/02 ()
Field of Search: 46/1,243,221,223,202,1K,206 273/86D

References Cited [Referenced By]

U.S. Patent Documents
2522160 September 1950 Borchers
3408768 November 1968 Glass et al.
3548534 December 1970 Beny et al.
3789542 February 1974 Sims et al.
Foreign Patent Documents
529,892 ., 1955 IT
Primary Examiner: Shay; F. Barry
Attorney, Agent or Firm: Shirk; Max E. Mesaros; John G.


What is claimed is:

1. Apparatus for motivating unpowered toy vehicles along a roadway, comprising:

a housing positioned over and attached to a roadway section of said roadway, said housing including a cam track defining a predetermined path and an adjustable tension control arrangement;

a vehicle accelerating assembly movably disposed in said housing, said assembly including a guide pin located in said cam track and a triggering mechanism in the path of vehicle travel along said roadway;

motivation means including a cocking arm and an attached biasing-force-producing resilient member both coupled to said vehicle accelerating assembly, the manual operation of said cocking arm moving said assembly along said predetermined path against said biasing force for rapidly moving said assembly over a predetermined path to engage and push the toy vehicles when the vehicles actuate said triggering mechanism, said biasing-force-producing resilient member being connected to said adjustable tension control arrangement for varying said biasing force; and

starting means including a resilient member attached to said housing adjacent the vehicle entrance to said apparatus and a push bar attached to the resilient member for pushing the toy vehicles along said roadway section and into contact with said triggering mechanism.

2. Toy vehicle propulsion apparatus for accelerating toy vehicles along a predetermined vehicle path of travel comprising:

vehicle pushing means for engaging a rearward surface of a toy vehicle and pushing it;

guiding means for guiding said vehicle pushing means from a first position out of the way of vehicles moving along said vehicle path and thence along said vehicle path;

means for urging said vehicle pushing means to move along said guiding means;

holding means for restraining said vehicle pushing means at said first position along said guiding means; and

trigger means responsive to the arrival of a toy vehicle at a predetermined location along said vehicle path for releasing said vehicle pushing means from said holding means, said trigger means including a lever attached to said vehicle pushing means to move with it along said guiding means, said lever coupled to said holding means to release said vehicle pushing means when said lever is deflected, and said lever having an elongated part positionable in the way of toy vehicles moving along said vehicle path for upward deflection by a toy vehicle to a position approximately parallel to said vehicle path, whereby to hold down toy vehicles.

3. The toy apparatus described in claim 2 wherein:

said vehicle pushing means includes a cushioning member constructed of a resilient and easily deformable material for contacting a rearward surface of a toy vehicle to apply pushing forces to it.

4. Toy vehicle propulsion apparatus for accelerating toy vehicles along a predetermined vehicle path of travel comprising:

a vehicle engaging member;

a housing for placement astride a vehicle track, said housing having wall portions defining a guide track for guiding said vehicle engaging member from an uptrack position high enough above said vehicle path to clear toy vehicles and thence along a route extending substantially parallel to said vehicle track to push vehicles therealong, said guide track having a smoothly curved portion at its uptrack end for leading said vehicle engaging member above the path of vehicles as it is readied for a vehicle propulsion;

means for urging said vehicle engaging member along said guide track away from said uptrack position therealong;

means for retaining said vehicle engaging member at said uptrack position, said means for retaining said vehicle engaging member including a catch portion on said housing and means including a trigger member extending into the path of vehicles moving along said vehicle path, said trigger member including a portion engageable with said catch portion and which disengages from it when said trigger member is upwardly deflected for releasing said vehicle engaging member.

5. An action toy for propelling toy vehicles along a roadway comprising:

a housing positionable along said roadway, said housing being constructed to be placed astride a toy vehicle track, so that the vehicle supporting surface of the track lies at approximately a predetermined level, said housing having guide tracks with a curved uptrack portion extending towards said roadway and a substantially straight downtrack portion extending substantially parallel to said roadway, said curved uptrack portion of said guide tracks extending in a smooth curve between a first level above said roadway and a second level at least twice as high as said first level above said roadway;

a vehicle pushing assembly engaged with said guide tracks to move from a position out of the way of vehicles, and then into the way and parallel to the path of vehicles moving along said roadway, as said pushing assembly moves along said curved uptrack portion and then along said substantially straight downtrack portion of said guide tracks;

means for urging said vehicle pushing assembly downtrack along said guide tracks; and

latch means for holding said vehicle pushing assembly at said curved uptrack portion of said guide tracks, said latch means including a member positioned in the path of vehicles moving along said roadway for deflection by a vehicle to release said vehicle pushing assembly.

6. The action toy described in claim 5 including:

a cocking arm having a center portion pivotally mounted on said housing at a position downpath from the extreme uptrack end of said guide tracks, a rearward end coupled to said vehicle pushing assembly, and a manually operable forward end which extends in a primarily downtrack direction when said vehicle pushing assembly is at said curved uptrack portion of said guide tracks, whereby a child can reset the mechanism by pressing down on the forward end of the cocking arm.


FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the invention in a dual track arrangement;

FIG. 2 is a cross sectional view of the device shown in FIG. 1, taken along line 2 -- 2 and showing the accelerator in its cocked position;

FIG. 3 is a view similar to that of FIG. 2 except that the device is shown just having accelerated a toy vehicle;

FIG. 4 is a cross sectional representation of the device seen in FIG. 3 taken along line 4 -- 4; and

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the internal moving mechanism including the resilient member and its tension adjustment arrangement.


Referring again to the drawings, and more particularly to FIG. 1, there is shown a dual track mechanical toy vehicle accelerator 11 for accelerating either or both toy vehicles 13 and 15 along parallel roadways 17 and 19 in the downpath direction, indicated by arrows 21. Where the accelerator 11 is to be used to provide an initial vehicle acceleration, a catapult arrangement, comprising, for example, an elastic member 23 held at its center to the accelerator 11 by a hook 25. The elastic member 23 is forced apart by a spreader 27, and a transverse push bar 29 is connected to the ends of the member 23 so as to be pulled in the direction 21 by the force exerted by the stretched elastic member, after first being manually pulled in the opposite direction by an operator. This action pushes the vehicles 13 and 15 into the accelerator 11 where they individually trigger the mechanisms and are thereby provided with an adjustable accelerating force, as will be henceforth described.

The accelerator 11 generally comprises a housing 31 having, in the dual track arrangement, a pair of side walls 33 and a center wall 35. The walls are held in a fixed parallel spaced relationship by tubular spacers 41, the walls including raised pivot support portions 43. Between the raised portions 43, and held thereby, is a pivot post 45 on which a pair of manually operated cocking arms 47 are pivotally mounted at their center. These arms include a handle end 49 and a slotted end 51. Also seen in this figure is a tension control knob 53 connected through an appropriate hole in the wall 33 to a spindle 55. The use of this control allows the operator to obtain a desired acceleration and will be described in more detail later.

The inner workings of the invention can best be understood by referring also to FIGS. 2 and 3. However, it will be noted that only a single accelerator section of the dual unit of FIG. 1 is illustrated in these last mentioned figures. Since these sections are identical, the description of a single section will adequately describe all the features of the invention. Accordingly, it should be understood that the invention can be embodied in a single section as well as in multiple sections.

The cocking arm 47 is coupled to a movable vehicle pushing and latch assembly 71 at its slotted end 51 by means of a bent coupling arm 73. The coupling arm is loosely wrapped about the center of a transverse cam follower or guide pin 75 that rides in a double-walled guide or cam track 77 protruding from the walls on either side of the latch assembly 71. The cam track 77 is essentially parallel to the roadway surface 17 for a portion of its length but includes a gradually rising and smoothly curved uptrack portion 79 near the end of the housing 31 where the vehicles enter. The portion 79 extends in a smooth curve between a first level above the vehicle-supporting surface of the roadways or vehicle tracks 17, 19, and a second level more than twice as high as the first level above the vehicle-supporting surface.

Also protruding from the walls 33 and 35 of the housing adjacent the latch assembly 71 is a generally diagonally disposed cam surface 81, the upper extremity of which includes a sear or catch portion in the form of a hollow notch 83. Upon this cam surface rides a latch pin 85 extending from the sides 87 of the assembly 71, parallel to the guide pin 75. These features of the latch assembly are shown in more detail in FIGS. 4 and 5 where a forward extending elongated trigger portion 89, a depending vehicle engaging cushioned portion 91 and a rearward extending block 93 holding a resilient or elastic member 95 can be clearly seen. Trigger portion 89 is the forward end of a lever, guide pin 75 being the pivot for the lever.

In operation, the accelerator 11 must first be cocked by pulling or pushing the handle end 49 of the cocking arm 47 from its upwardly extending position shown in FIG. 3 to its cocked position as seen in FIGS. 1 and 2. This action moves the latch assembly 71 against the biasing force provided by the resilient member 95 which is attached at its other end to the spindle 55. The assembly 71 is thus pulled back and above the roadway 17 as guided by the guide pin 75 riding in the cam track 77 and by the latch pin 85 riding on the cam surface 81. At this point, the latch pin 85 falls into the notch 83 in the cam surface 81 to conclude the cocking operation. Because of the particular positions of the latch pin 85 and the guide pin 75 in this cocked condition, the trigger portion 89 of the assembly 71 extends downwardly adjacent the roadway surface 17 and in the path of the vehicle 13.

When a toy 13 moves along the roadway 17 in the direction 21 and strikes the trigger portion 89 of the latch assembly 71 as shown in FIG. 2 by a dashed outline, the trigger 89 is forced to move in the direction indicated by arrow 97. This movement causes the latch pin 85 to leave the notch 83 and thereby release the assembly 71 to quickly travel in a generally forward direction as guided by the cam track 77 and the cam surface 81. The physical relationship of these last mentioned projections and the relationship of the latch pin to the guide pin on the assembly 71 cause the main body of the latch assembly 71 to move just above the vehicle with its vehicle engaging cushioned portion 91 moving in behind and pushing the triggering vehicle in the direction 21 as seen in FIG. 3.

The acceleration given the vehicle 13 is dependent on the biasing force provided by the resilient member 95. This force is made adjustable by means of the tension control knob 53 which may be increased by rotating it in the direction indicated by arrow 99 in FIG. 5. Rotating the knob in the opposite direction unwinds the resilient member 95 and thereby lessens the biasing force and, in turn, the accelerating force on the vehicle 13. At the end of its useful travel, the latch assembly 71 is stopped by the cushion portion 91 meeting a stop member 101 extending from either one or both housing walls 33 and 35. The stop member 101 may preferably include a serrated or otherwise roughened surface 103 so that the trigger portion 89 of the latch assembly 71 will remain in the attitude it held during the acceleration phase of its travel and will not swing downwardly and strike the toy as it leaves the accelerator since striking the car as it leaves the accelerator causes it to fly off the track. A padded post 105 could be provided on the assembly just ahead of the cushioned portion 91, similarly to the mounting the latch pin 85. This post 105 would then strike the stop member 101, and being ahead of the portion 91, would be better suited to prevent rotation of the trigger portion 89.

At this point it should be pointed out that a downward force is applied to the upper extremity of the vehicle being accelerated. It will be noted that the latch assembly 71 is pivoted about the guide pin 75 located adjacent the bottom thereof, and that the elastic member 95 is attached in a manner to exert a force at some distance above the pin 75. It can also be presumed that the inertia force and the elastic member provided force are substantially equal. Now, since the moment arm, defined as the distance between the pin 75 and the end of the elastic member 95 anchors at the block 93, is greater than the moment arm, defined as the distance between the post 75 and a point about midway up the cushion portion 91 where the resisting force of the vehicle will act, a rotational moment exists to cause the forward extending trigger portion 89 to bear down on the toy. The amount of downwardly acting force is relatively insensitive to the height of the vehicle since the moment arms are not greatly affected by changes thereof. It has been found that the rotational force of the latch assembly 71 in conjunction with the accelerating force applied through the cushioned portion 91 and the confining walls 33 and 35 of the housing 31 aid in stabilizing the vehicle during and just after leaving the accelerator.

The invention may also be embodied with a quiet stopping feature illustrated in FIG. 3. Here, a restraining post 107 may be provided at a position where it is not contacted by the member 95 when the mechanism is cocked, but does so when the assembly 71 is released. In this embodiment, the elastic member is forced to double back upon itself as indicated by the dashed line 109 and thereby to slow down the assembly 71 as it approaches the end of its travel. Since the accelerating force is transmitted to the vehicle prior to the assembly decelerating force comes into play, the accelerator's efficiency is not affected.

As noted previously, a catapult assembly may be used with the accelerator 11 in the starter configuration of FIG. 1. However, the accelerator described herein may also be placed wherever an acceleration boost is desired. In this regard, the accelerator 11 may include a permanently attached roadway section which is inserted in series with an existing track layout. Alternately, the invention may simply be placed astride a straight section of track.

The material used in the fabrication of this toy is not considered critical and accordingly any material generally considered suitable for a particular use may be utilized.

From the foregoing, it will be evident that the invention provides a simple yet effective mechanical toy that propells unpowered toy vehicles along a roadway.

Although a specific embodiment of the invention has been described in detail, other organizations of the embodiment shown may be made within the spirit and scope of the invention.

Accordingly, it is intended that the foregoing disclosure and drawings shall be considered only as illustrations of the principles of this invention and are not to be construed in a limiting sense.