Title:
Foosball Accessories
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A foosball table accessory comprises at least one themed foosball man outfit which is attachable to and removable from a foosball man without removing the foosball man from an associated rod, wherein the foosball man outfit comprises one of headgear selectively attachable to and removable from a head portion of the foosball man, torso gear selectively attachable to and removable from a torso portion of the foosball man, and combinations thereof. A visually striking presentation may be provided when the foosball man outfits are provided for one whole team of foosball men and wherein the opposing team has suitably selected opposing outfits. A thin mat adding visual elements to the playing surface may be provided to further accentuate the desired theme.



Inventors:
Mercier, David (Fayetteville, WV, US)
Application Number:
11/969695
Publication Date:
07/10/2008
Filing Date:
01/04/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
273/108.55
International Classes:
A63F7/22; A63F7/07
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20080143050Paper Folding Puzzle With Secondary ImageJune, 2008Shelton
20030197330Method of playing craps and apparatus thereforOctober, 2003Mathis
20040007817Apparatus to facilitate the playing of the game of solitareJanuary, 2004Orbanes
20030006556Cards for playing blackjack and casino twenty-oneJanuary, 2003Debiase
20060244213ChessQuire or Chess100 squaresNovember, 2006Svatovic
20050242503Mathematical problem solving gameNovember, 2005Lloyd
20090096172Composite archery targetApril, 2009Beschorner
20060237906Winner's Card GameOctober, 2006Bowling
20080042357Marketing playing card setFebruary, 2008Gueldenpfennig
20020163130Skill and chance game for fun or competitionNovember, 2002Kornafel
20100019450PICTURE PUZZLEJanuary, 2010Auerbach



Primary Examiner:
PASSANITI, SEBASTIANO
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BLYNN L. SHIDELER;THE BLK LAW GROUP (3500 BROKKTREE ROAD, SUITE 200, WEXFORD, PA, 15090, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A foosball table accessory comprising: at least one themed foosball man outfit which is attachable to and removable from a foosball man without removing the foosball man from an associated rod, wherein the foosball man outfit comprises one of (i) headgear selectively attachable to and removable from a head portion of the foosball man, (ii) torso gear selectively attachable to and removable from a torso portion of the foosball man, and (iii) combinations thereof.

2. The foosball table accessory according to claim 1 further including at least two of the themed foosball men outfits of two distinct themes.

3. The foosball table accessory according to claim 1 further including a mat attachment configured to be secured to the table surface to convey a selected theme.

4. The foosball table accessory according to claim 1 wherein at least one themed outfit includes back and front halves that substantially encapsulate at least the torso portion of the foosball man, wherein each half includes an attachment mechanisms configured for snapping the halves of the outfit to each other.

5. The foosball table accessory according to claim 1 wherein at least one themed outfit includes indicia thereon that is in association with the theme of the outfit.

6. The foosball table accessory according to claim 1 wherein at least one themed outfit includes a head gear portion in the form of an American football helmet.

7. The foosball table accessory according to claim 1 wherein at least one themed outfit includes a simulation of a beverage container.

8. A method of providing a foosball patron amenity comprising the steps of: Providing a foosball table for patrons to play; Providing a set of foosball table accessories, each accessory including a themed foosball man outfit which is attachable to and removable from a foosball man without removing the foosball man from an associated rod, wherein the foosball man outfit comprises one of (i) headgear selectively attachable to and removable from a head portion of the foosball man, (ii) torso gear selectively attachable to and removable from a torso portion of the foosball man, and (iii) combinations thereof; and Attaching selected foosball table accessories to selected foosball men without removing the selected foosball men from the associated rods.

10. The method of providing a foosball patron amenity according to claim 9 further including at least two of the themed foosball men outfits of two distinct themes.

11. The method of providing a foosball patron amenity according to claim 9 further including a mat attachment configured to be secured to the table surface to convey a selected theme.

12. The method of providing a foosball patron amenity according to claim 9 wherein at least one themed outfit includes back and front halves that substantially encapsulate at least the torso portion of the foosball man, wherein each half includes an attachment mechanisms configured for snapping the halves of the outfit to each other.

13. The method of providing a foosball patron amenity according to claim 9 wherein at least one themed outfit includes indicia thereon that is in association with the theme of the outfit.

14. The method of providing a foosball patron amenity according to claim 9 wherein at least one themed outfit includes a head gear portion in the form of an American football helmet.

15. The method of providing a foosball patron amenity according to claim 9 wherein at least one themed outfit includes a simulation of a beverage container.

16. The method of providing a foosball patron amenity according to claim 9 wherein at least one themed outfit includes a torso portion and head gear portion in the form of an American football helmet.

17. A rapid attachment themed foosball man outfit which is attachable to and removable from a foosball man without removing the foosball man from an associated rod, wherein the foosball man outfit, the outfit including headgear selectively attachable to and removable from a head portion of the foosball man and torso gear selectively attachable to and removable from a torso portion of the foosball man.

18. The rapid attachment themed foosball man outfit according to claim 17 wherein at least one themed outfit includes a head gear portion in the form of an American football helmet.

19. The rapid attachment themed foosball man outfit according to claim 17 wherein the outfit is a simulation of a beverage container.

20. The rapid attachment themed foosball man outfit according to claim 17 wherein the outfit includes back and front halves that substantially encapsulate at least the torso portion of the foosball man, wherein each half includes an attachment mechanisms configured for snapping the halves of the outfit to each other.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/883,775, filed Jan. 6, 2007, entitled “Foosball Accessories.”

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention pertains generally to foosball or table soccer accessories, and more particularly to rapid change themed foosball men outfits.

2. Background Information

“Foosball” is the American corruption of fussball (pronounced the same), the German word for soccer-literally foot plus ball, which is not to be confused with American style “football”. While the sport of foosball has the more formal name of table soccer, to the American players who love it, it's foosball, or sometimes just “foos”. Within the meaning of this application the term “foosball” is interchangeable with the phrase “table soccer.”

Foosball is played on a table surface 10, a representative example of which is shown in plan view in FIG. 1, with a plurality (generally 8) rotating and axially sliding rods 12 extending across the table surface 10 in an elevated position by being supported in walls 14 around the perimeter of the table surface 10. The rods 12 have handles 16 on one side thereof off to the side of the table surface 10 (in plan view).

Table soccer figurines or foosball men 18 are mounted to the rods 12 with varying number of figurines 18 on selected rods 12, wherein the figurines move with the selected rod 12. The foosball men 18, representative “novelty” versions of which are shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, will have a central torso portion through which the rod 12 extends, and a head portion on one end of the torso and a striker portion at an opposed end of the torso. The striker portion is the ball engaging portion and the head portion is typically designed to be sufficiently close to the rod 12 as to not strike the ball on the table.

There is a goal 20, e.g. an opening in the wall 14, at each end of the table surface 10 and a place to serve 22 on each side in the middle of the table surface 10. Each player/team uses their handles 16, i.e. the ones on their side of the table surface 10) to move their foosball men 18 to strike a ball (not shown) into the opposing teams goal 20. Team attempt to score to the player's right and defend at the player's left. The tables are very cleverly built to provide different kinds of rods 12 with different spacing between the foosball men 18. The game is exciting, fast and fun.

With the general structure of the table known the game objective can be summarized as to use ones foosball men 18 to pass and shoot the ball into an opponents goal 20 while blocking the ball from going into ones own goal 20. A typical game is played to 5 points. Although this is not a strict rule as some people play to 7 points or 9 points or whatever is pre-determined by the players. A match would normally be best 2 out of 3 games, or sometimes 3 out of 5.

One of the particular advantages of foosball is that the beginning rules are amazingly simple. The “simple rules” would be: “Hit the ball into the goal. Your goal is on the left, you try to score to the right.” This simple instruction allows players to pick up and play the game almost immediately upon first seeing a foosball table. The next level of “rules” for more advanced foosball play is similarly easy to grasp. The more advanced rules would include: “No spinning. If you score, the other team serves. Be polite, no swearing.” The simple elegance to the rules and the entertaining game play is what has maintained foosball as a popular game.

The origins of the foosball game are not as easy to trace as those of its name. Like many games, it is quite possible that variations of foosball developed in different countries over roughly the same time period. Since organized soccer first entered the sports scene in the 1860s, the invention of soccer's table version can be safely dated sometime afterward, probably in the late 1800s. The earliest United States patent for a foosball table was granted in 1901, but it is generally agreed that foosball, like soccer, originated in western Europe.

One source stated that the inventor of the first foosball table was a Frenchman named Lucien Rosengart, who lived from 1880 to 1976. An employee of the Citroen automobile factory, he amassed a huge fortune through his inventive genius and is accredited with the invention of the minicar, frontwheel drive, and the seat belt, to name a few, besides “babyfoot”, which some have asserted as the original name for foosball. Other sources credit foosball as being invented by Alejandro Finisterre, an editor and poet from Galicia.

One of the oldest commercial manufacturers of foosball is a Swiss company called Kicker, located in Geneva. Its table is also called Kicker and has been so popular in Switzerland, Germany, and Belgium that the word has become generic: “kicker” is to these European players what “foosball” is to Americans.

Larry Patterson, a businessman in Cincinnati, Ohio, was the first American to have a soccer table built in Germany for distribution in the United States. He introduced his table in 1962 and about 13,000 Foosball tables between 1962 and 1974. Other U.S. companies saw potential in the game and began importing European-made tables in the mid-60's. German tables Deutscher Meister and Leonhart came to the eastern U.S. in 1965. The Italian-made Garlando table was first imported to the U.S. in 1969 by Empire Distributing of Chicago. The first Rene Pierre table was imported from France in 1970 by Peabody's Inc. of Virginia Beach, Va.

In the late 1960's, the first coin-operated soccer tables were manufactured in the U.S. They were the Vulcan Fussball Table made by EBSCO Amusements in New Jersey, and the Super Soccer table, which evolved into the Hurricane table, made by Irving Kaye Sales Corp. of New York, in 1969. Arizona Automation, which had been importing a German-made table since 1969, merged with Mirco Games in 1971 and began manufacturing their line of Champion Soccer tables. The “Texas-style” soccer table first appeared in 1970 with the introduction of the Tornado table, built in Dallas, Tex. The American table built by Dallas-based Leisure Sports Systems appeared in 1972. Dynamo Corp. began manufacturing the Dynamo soccer table in a Dallas suburb in 1973.

In European countries as well as in the United States (as suggested above), foosball did not become widespread until after World War II. One popular belief is that foosball was invented to help rehabilitate war veterans. While not invented for that purpose, foosball has been used in rehabilitation with great success, especially in rebuilding hand-eye coordination.

Foosball is played all over the world. It can be found in the Middle East, North Africa, South America, Australia, and Tahiti, as well as in Europe, the United Kingdom, and North America. Competition in Europe, compared to the United States, has been organized for a long time. Belgium leagues, for instance, were organized as early as 1950. It wasn't until 1976, however, that the European leagues from different countries finally united to form the European Table Soccer Union (ETU) and competed against each other in the European Cup, now an annual affair. The pro's play for hundreds of thousands of dollars ($100,000) all over the world. At a tournament the pro's play the same game as anyone else would. They simply do it much faster and with very strict rules. A typical tournament last for 3 to 6 days during which they play for 12 or more hours a day with up to 1000 players involved.

One of the significant commercial outlets for foosball is as a patron amenity at taverns and arcades. In a tavern it is common for the foosball table to be a fee based patron amenity (e.g. coin operated at $0.50-$1.00), but it may be provided as a free amenity, if desired. It is intended that the foosball table may draw some additional patrons into the establishment, will increase the enjoyment of those patrons playing and watching games on the foosball table and can increase the stay of selected patrons who will “hang out” a little longer while playing a game or two. All of these factors tend to increase the bottom line of the establishment.

For the commercial “tavern/arcade” type implementations there is a desire to increase patron interest with the non-foosball playing, or only casual foosball playing, patrons. As discussed above the game is well suited for immediate play and enjoyment by novice players. Thompson Sporting Goods has developed a line of “novelty” foosball men, representative examples of which are shown in FIGS. 2 and 3. Thomson Sporting Goods asserts that to “really enjoy these novelty men, [Thomson Sporting Goods] suggest you get 2 different types, ex. Order one team as the Democrat, and one team as the Republican, then have your own Presidential Race! If you don't want a whole set, why not buy two men and use them as your goalies? There are no limits with these novelty men, you could even paint them different colors to represent your favorite sports team. Imagine your table with the Georgia Bulldogs playing the Florida Gators! Now that would rack in hundreds of dollars in a commercial environment.” Thompson Sporting Goods adds that other “styles of men are still “in production” and will not be available for an unknown time. Thompson Sporting Goods is determined to get these men right and so there has been a few set backs in production. If there is one that you want but we don't have yet, get on the back order list right away and get on the back order list. You will be one of the first in the world to own your own truly unique foosball men!”

The goal and intent of the Thompson Sporting Goods novelty men is believed to be right on point. The look of the foosball men will give a completely different and intriguing look to the table. Further, in a commercial environment this will likely result in significant increase in play, which generates more money from the patrons through the table and through the longer stay at the establishment. However, this approach has several difficulties. The largest is in the ability to swap out the foosball men. It requires the table to be disassembled and the new foosball men placed on the rods. This is a time consuming endeavor that will not be embraced by most establishments. Further, it makes swapping out and changing the novelty men even more difficult. Secondly the replacement of the existing foosball men with the selected novelty men is a substantial cost.

There is a need for foosball accessories that increase the appeal of the game, particularly to novice players, without detracting from the play of the game. There is a need to do so in a cost effective, and time efficient manner.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The objects of the present invention are achieved with a foosball table accessory that comprises at least one themed foosball man outfit which is attachable to and removable from a foosball man without removing the foosball man from an associated rod, wherein the foosball man outfit comprises one of headgear selectively attachable to and removable from a head portion of the foosball man, torso gear selectively attachable to and removable from a torso portion of the foosball man, and combinations thereof.

A foosball table is as generally known in the art and described above, and can be defined within this application as including a table surface with a plurality rotating and axially sliding rods extending across the table surface in an elevated position and wherein a plurality of figurines or foosball men are mounted to the rods, wherein the figurines move with the selected rod.

Foosball men are as generally known in the art and described above, and can be defined within this application as figurines that are attachable to rods of a foosball table generally through the torso of the figurine with a ball striking portion coupled to one end of the torso.

The term “themed” when referencing the foosball man outfits indicates that the outfits convey a visual motif for the foosball player. The motif can take any of an infinite variety of forms as will be described hereinafter. Non-limiting examples of which include American football, baseball, hockey, basketball, angels, devils, demons, cowboys, Indians, Santa Claus(es), Grinch(es), pilgrims, leprechauns, mermaids, beer containers, soft drink containers, knights, mascots, witches, wizards, and individual character caricatures. This list is certainly not exhaustive, but merely representative.

In one non-limiting embodiment of the invention the foosball man outfits are provided for one whole team of foosball men. An opposing team may have suitably selected opposing outfits, however the possibilities are limitless as to the associated groupings. Some representative, non-limiting examples include representative of existing sports rivalries (e.g. The National Football League Pittsburgh Steelers vs The National Football League Cleveland Browns, or the National Basketball Association L.A. Lakers vs The National Basketball Association Boston Celtics), cross sports rivalries (e.g. National Football League Pittsburgh Steelers vs Major League Baseball Pittsburgh Pirates facing off in a simulated soccer game), Home outfits vs Away outfits for same team, college vs professional teams, intergenerational sports mach ups (e.g. leather helmeted American football players vs modern American football players), fictional match-ups (e.g. knights vs dragons, angels vs devils, little red riding hood(s) vs the big bad wolf(es), winter vs summer), historical (Northern American Civil War vs Southern American Civil War, American Revolutionary War Minutemen vs British Redcoat Regulars, Cowboys vs Indians), opposition groups (e.g. battle of the sexes Men vs Women, Democrats vs Republicans, kids vs parents, Coca-Cola brand Coke bottle vs Pepsi brand Pepsi bottles, Burger King vs Ronald McDonald), Seasonal (e.g. Santa vs Grinch, Pilgrims vs Indians, Jack-o-lanterns vs Witches, Uncle Sam vs American Eagles, four leaf clovers vs pot of gold(s), cupid vs (broken) hearts, Old “new year” men vs New “new year” babies), and promotional (Budweiser brand “bud light” bottles vs Budweiser brand bud bottles, Coca-Cola brand Coke bottle vs Coca cola brand diet coke bottle).

In one non-limiting embodiment of the invention the foosball man outfits are provided in a manner that does not allow the outfit to detrimentally affect the play. This can be done in one embodiment by maintaining the outfit as not extending from the rod farther than the torso, whereby the outfit will never strike the ball even if the foosball man is inverted (and spinning of the rods is frowned upon in foosball). In another embodiment the headgear that could, in theory with an inverted player, contact the ball is formed so as not to stop the progress of the ball (i.e. flexible feathers for an Indian headdress that may engage the ball with an inverted foosball man, but would not stop the progress of the ball).

In one non-limiting embodiment of the invention the foosball man outfits are provided in a manner to be attached to a standardized core or base. The standardized core is a foosball man that is preconfigured to receive the outfits, and may only comprise a torso and striker. The core could allow for attachment of head gear or entire detachable heads. The core could be pre-manufactured with a number of desired male and female snap fit connections for the attachment of a number of distinct outfits. In this embodiment a foosball table manufacturer would provide a table with standardized cores and then supply a plurality of outfits in team packs.

In one non-limiting embodiment of the invention the foosball man outfits are provided in the form of longitudinally split foosball man that snaps together over the associated rod. This embodiment of the invention integrates the outfits with the foosball men but still allows for the rapid change out that is a key advantage of the present invention.

These and other objects of the present invention will be clarified in the following description which is taken together with the attached figures in which like reference numerals represent like elements throughout.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is an top plan view of a conventional prior art foosball table that can accept the foosball accessories in accordance with the present invention;

FIGS. 2-3 are views of prior art existing “novelty” foosball men for attaching to a foosball table such as shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is an exploded front perspective view illustrating one example of a themed outfit foosball accessory attachable to and removable from a conventional foosball man in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 5 is an exploded rear perspective view illustrating one example of the themed outfit foosball accessory attachable to and removable from a conventional foosball man in accordance with FIG. 4;

FIG. 6 is a rear perspective view of a portion of a torso gear element of the themed outfit foosball accessory of FIG. 4;

FIG. 7 is a rear elevation view of a portion of a combined head gear and torso gear element of the themed outfit foosball accessory of FIG. 4;

FIG. 8 is a front elevation view of the portion of the combined head gear and torso gear element of FIG. 7;

FIG. 9 is a perspective view illustrating one example of a themed outfit foosball accessory attachable to and removable from a conventional foosball man in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 10 is a schematic side elevation view 4 is an enlarged sectional view of two opposing themed outfits attachable to and removable from a conventional foosball man in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 11 is a schematic side elevation view 4 is an enlarged sectional view of two opposing themed outfits attachable to and removable from a conventional foosball man in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 12 is a schematic side elevation view 4 is an enlarged sectional view of two opposing themed outfits attachable to and removable from a conventional foosball man in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

A complete understanding of the invention will be obtained from the following description when taken in connection with the accompanying drawing figures, wherein like reference characters identify like parts throughout. It is also to be understood that the specific devices and processes illustrated in the attached drawings, and described in the following specification, are simply exemplary embodiments of the invention. Hence, specific dimensions and other physical characteristics related to the embodiments disclosed herein are not to be considered as limiting.

The present invention provides a foosball table accessory that comprises at least one themed foosball man outfit 30 which is attachable to and removable from a conventional foosball man 18 without removing the foosball man 18 from an associated rod 12. An initial example of a themed outfit 30 according to the present invention is shown in FIGS. 4-8.

In the embodiment of FIGS. 4-8 the outfit 30 is comprised of a headgear portion 32 that is selectively attachable to and removable from a head portion of the foosball man 18. The outfit 30 in the embodiment of FIGS. 4-8 is also comprised of a front and back torso gear portion 34 that is selectively attachable to and removable from a torso portion of the foosball man 18. In the illustrated embodiment the rear torso gear portion 34 is formed integral with the head gear portion 32.

The head gear portion 32 and the torso gear portion 34 each include attachment mechanism 36 for selectively attaching the associated portion to the head or torso of the foosball man. In the illustrated embodiment the attachment mechanism 36 is in the form of posts that are snap or press fit into corresponding holes in the foosball man 18. In this aspect the outfit 30 according to the present invention will be specific to the particular shape and structure of the foosball man 18. Although it is expected that a single outfit 30 will accommodate several different manufactured types of foosball men 18, it can be expected that certain different men 18 will require a differently shaped outfit 30 including different attachment mechanism. In a commercial context it will be expected that the consumer be conspicuously informed that the outfit 30 is associated with the identified brands of foosball men 18.

Physically all foosball men 18 have a variety of features that allow for forming the corresponding attachment mechanism 36. As shown in FIGS. 4-8 the attachment mechanism may be engaging posts 36 that conform to associated holes in the foosball men 18. Alternatively, for head gear portion 32 the attachment mechanism 36 may be a snap fit connection or even an elastic band that engages with or on a corresponding annular ridge that is commonly found in the head portion of many foosball men (and such a conventional ridge is shown in FIGS. 4-5). Many foosball men 18 also contain a pair of annular ridges that surround the rod engaging boss portion which can be seen in FIGS. 4-5 in where the arms of the figurine would be located in the torso portion of the foosball man 18. These two torso annular ridges can also serve as an attaching point for an alternative attaching mechanism 36 for an alternative torso gear portion 34. The attaching mechanism 36 can thus take many different forms and may include releasable latches, hooks, clasps, friction fit, snap rings, and the like. It is preferred that the mechanism be of sufficiently simple construction to allow for easy attachment and removal of the outfit 30 from the foosball man 18. As shown in FIG. 9 the mechanism 36 may attach to itself to surround the relevant portions of the foosball man 30 to secure the outfit thereto.

One non-illustrated example of the present invention would be back and front halves (such as the front and back portions of a beer or soft drink bottle) that substantially encapsulate the torso and/or head portions of the particular foosball man 18 with the mechanisms 36 snapping the halves of the outfit to each other.

It is anticipated that the outfit 30 will include indicia 38 thereon that is in association with the theme of the outfit. The indicia 38 may be a team logo, team name, player number and/or player name, or the like that brings out the associated theme. In addition to the indicia 30 the color of selected components of the outfit 30 will generally also be selected to enhance the visual association with the selected theme (e.g. team colors, Union Civil War Soldier Blue and Confederate Soldiers Grey, the hood for little red riding hood in the color red, etc).

As noted above the outfit 30 can take one of almost an infinite variety of forms. FIGS. 4-8 illustrate only one version of a generic American football player theme. The head gear portion 32 is in the form of a distinctive American football helmet. A face mask portion (not shown) can be added to make it more distinctive, such as by forming it integral with the front torso portion 34 with a separate attachment mechanism to secure the mask to the helmet simulation of the head gear portion 32 shown. An alternative would be to form the mask portion with the headgear portion as shown and change the attachment mechanism 36 from posts to head ridge engaging elements which would allow the helmet to be placed on from above. The outfit 30 may be formed of any convenient material from any convenient process; however, injection molding from a thermosetting plastic is likely the most cost effective.

The outfit 30 can take any desired shape sufficient to convey the theme (e.g. for a baseball player the torso may have arms carrying a simulated bat to further convey the theme). The only restrictions are that the outfit 30 be constructed so as to not detrimentally affect the play of the game. For a hard plastic outfit, as shown in FIGS. 4-8, the outfit 30 would not extend farther from the rod 12 than the torso portion (which defines the beginning of the striking portion).

FIG. 9 is a perspective view illustrating one example of a themed outfit 30 foosball accessory attachable to and removable from a conventional foosball man 18 in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention in which the outfit 30 is a torso gear portion 34 in the form of a fabric pinny having attachable hook and loop type fasteners straps 36 that secure to each other to hold the outfit 30 in place. Here it is the color and indicia 38 (likely including identifiable player/team names and or logos) that are relied upon to carry the theme forward. This alone may be sufficient or may be coupled with additional head gear portions. Other material and construction of the outfit 30 can be used, such as a heat activated shrink wrapped plastic or rubberized material. Another option is an outfit that is slipped on over the striker in a pants like fashion up to the rod and having an upper extension that is flipped over the head and upper torso (above the rod). The possibilities for rapid change out outfits are very large.

The outfit 30 may be provided for only a select player (e.g. a team goalie), but it is anticipated that a more visually striking presentation will be provided when the foosball man outfits 30 are provided for one whole team of foosball men and wherein the opposing team has a suitably selected opposing outfit 30. The possibilities are limitless as to the associated groupings. FIGS. 10-12 represent schematic representations of three proposed opposing groups, as non-limiting examples only. The outfits 30 shown are only illustrated as headgear 32, but it is understood these themes could further include torso elements and even whole front and rear man encasing shells (except for the striking portions that are left alone with this invention).

The Cowboy and Indian themed shown in FIG. 10 is believed to be particularly applicable to western themed restaurants and bars. The feathered head gear 32 for the Indian team is illustrative of another aspect. Where the feathers are not made out of rigid plastic, but rather a more flexible material, the height restriction is not as significant, as this headgear may not stop a ball even if the player has the men in an inverted position and the feathers are engaged by a passing ball. However it is preferred if the head gear be limited so as not to touch the ball at all.

The seasonal opponents shown in FIG. 12 (the santa(s) vs the grinch(es)) represent another important aspect of the present invention. With the present invention the “teams” can be rapidly changed out, assuming the establishment has a wide collection of outfits 30. There are no special tools required for swapping out different teams and no need to disassemble the table and risk losing pieces with reassembly (e.g. losing a rod bearing making the entire game table unusable). With a seasonal approach an establishment can continuously update the foosball table to keep the table new, fresh, timely and interesting to the patrons. For example: January is Old “new year” men vs New “new year” babies, February is cupid vs (broken) hearts, March is four leaf clovers vs pot of gold(s), April is two teams of jesters, May/June is MOM vs DAD themed teams, July is Uncle Sam vs American Eagles, August/September is Summer vs Fall themes, October is Jack-o-lanterns vs Witches, November is Pilgrims vs Indians and December is Santa vs Grinch.

For a sports themed establishment the present system provides and easy way to keep the table new, fresh, timely and interesting to the patrons. For example the teams could reflect the Monday Night Football™ NFL football game match up for the week during football season, or the selected game match up that is being televised within the establishment. For a multi-table establishment the various tables may be designated to reflect the selected team match ups for that day or week. In this context the interchangeability of the outfits 30 in a rapid fashion is almost an essential element.

A further implementation of the opposing teams is in a promotional context. As noted above examples of such promotional teams would be Budweiser brand “bud light” bottles vs Budweiser brand bud bottles or Coca-Cola brand Coke bottles vs Coca-Cola brand diet Coke bottles. The end result would be a patron interactive advertisement for the selected products. A thin overlying vinyl mat (not shown) on the playing surface could be used to further enhance the branding theme without effecting game play, as such mats would be less than ⅛ of an inch in thickness. The mat attachment would be expected to add the desired product promotion and tag lines and greatly enhance the overall theme.

The vinyl mat attachments could be used with all of the themes to convey the selected theme. For example, the simulated soccer field marking would be replaced with a football field simulation on the mat where the outfits are football players. The fact that simulated football players are on a simulated football field playing a soccer type game will simply add a humorous note to the overall impression, as it is not the intention of the present invention to change the foosball game itself. The possibilities are endless and would generally be associated with the outfit themes, such as a snowy playfield for Grinches vs Santas, a cut stone floor for the Beasts vs Knights, a woodland setting for Little Red Riding Hoods vs Big Bad Wolves, a campaign or Oval Office based setting for the Democrats vs Republicans. The themed mats will add to the fantasy-realism afforded by having the fantasy characters in the first place, again without detracting from the game or causing excessive set up time. If needed tape or low shear strength adhesive could be used to secure the mat into position.

In addition to playing surface mats, side wall stickers and the like can further improve the visual appearance of the present invention to round out the theme of the entire table. A foosball table with knights and beasts, played on a stone floor playfield mat together with castle walls or woodland side wall stickers would present a complete themed package. The present invention further includes ball improvements to convey theme, such as a painted ball. A clear resin or plastic ball with a visible molded insert can be used to convey almost any theme. For example, a clear ball with an internal visible picnic basket for the Red Riding Hood VS Wolfs set, or clear ball with an internal halo around a pitchfork for the Angels VS Devils set, or a internal football for an American style football theme. The internally visible icon in a clear ball is believed to be a effective manner of conveying any theme without effecting gameplay.

In one non-limiting embodiment of the invention the foosball man outfits are provided in a manner to be attached to a standardized core or base. The standardized core is a non-conventional foosball man that is preconfigured to receive the outfits, and may only comprise a torso and striker. The core could, of course, more conventionally include striker, torso and head portions. The core could allow for attachment of head gear or of an entire detachable head where the core does not include a head portion. The core could be pre-manufactured with a number of desired male and female snap fit or other suitable connections for the attachment of a number of distinct outfits. For example, a detachable head may be screwed onto a stud extending from the core. Within the meaning of the claims the detachable head may be considered as “torso gear” as the head is selectively attachable to and detachable from the torso of the core. The attachment mechanisms that can be utilized are numerous and anything that allows for rapid, tool free secure attachment is preferred. In this embodiment a foosball table manufacturer would provide a table with standardized cores and then supply a plurality of outfits in team packs. The standardized core is a foosball man within the meaning of this application in that it has at least a torso and striker, but unlike conventional foosball men it is pre-configured and intended to have a themed outfit attached thereto. The use of a core would allow the striker portion to be separable there from for replacement purposes and for adding of “themed” strikers. However, a themed striker should keep the utilitarian aspects of the striker so as not to change the operation of the game.

In one non-limiting embodiment of the invention the foosball man outfits are provided in the form of longitudinally split foosball man with integral themed outfit that snaps together over the associated rod. This embodiment of the invention integrates the outfits with the foosball men but still allows for the rapid change out that is a key advantage of the present invention. In this embodiment the “spit” need only be sufficient to slip the foosball man with themed outfit over the associated rod. For example the split may be through the head and torso and not through the striker.

Although the present invention has been described above by reference to an embodiment of the invention, the present invention is not limited to the embodiments described above. Modifications and variations of the embodiment described above will occur to those skilled in the art, in light of the above teachings without departing from the spirit of the present invention. For example, while molded outfits may be most cost effective, the outfits could be cloth uniforms, or cloth torso portions with molded headpieces. The present invention, therefore, to be limited only as indicated by the scope of the claims appended hereto and equivalents thereto.