Title:
Toy action figures with manipulating stem and selectably articulatable joints
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A toy action figure comprises in combination a miniature three-dimensional model or figurine of a living creature, particularly a human being, and a manipulating stem which protrudes from the body of the figurine, the stem having an outer hand grip portion adapted to be grasped by the hand of the user. The figurine is preferably combined with a model of a vehicle, such as a bicycle or motorcycle, or a miniature model of other locomotion means such as skates, a skateboard or the like. Pairs of certain body members of the figurine, such as the pelvis and thighs, are connected by a first, loose type of joint which enables those body members to be pivoted freely with respect to one another in response to inertial forces exerted on the body members, such inertial forces including the force of gravity, when the figurine is tilted about a horizontal axis, and centrifugal force, when the figurine is spun about an arbitrary axis. Pairs of other body members of the figurine, e.g., an upper and lower arm are rigidly joined to one another or interconnected by a second, “stiff” type joint which enables the body members to be moved relative to another to a posed orientation which remain fixed while the figurine is moved in inertial space. The combination of loose and stiff joints between different pairs of body members causes the figurine to execute realistically life-like, fluid motions as the figurine is manipulated by the manipulating stem. Realistic motion is enhanced by limit stops which limit the relative angular excursion angles of certain body members otherwise freely pivotable with respect fo one another. Also, a preferred manipulating stem includes a ring-shaped portion adapted to inertially receive a person's fingertip, thereby allowing the action figurine to be orbited around the finger.



Inventors:
Donohoe, David G. (Springville, CA, US)
Application Number:
09/751430
Publication Date:
07/04/2002
Filing Date:
12/29/2000
Assignee:
DONOHOE DAVID G.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63H11/00; A63H17/16; A63H3/46; (IPC1-7): A63H3/46
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MILLER, BENA B
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
William L. Chapin (Huntington Beach, CA, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A toy action figurine including a body and a. at least one pair of a first type of body members, b. a first type joint connecting said first type of body members which enables relative movement between said first type body members in response to inertial forces exerted on said members as said figurine is moved in inertial space, c. at least one pair of a second type of body members, and d. a second type of joint connecting said second type of body members which maintains said second type of body members immobile in response to said inertial forces.

2. The toy action figurine of claim 1 wherein at least one of said first type joints is further defined as being of a type enabling relative angular rotation about a pivot axis between said first type body members.

3. The toy action figurine of claim 2 further including stop means for limiting said angular motion to a predetermined value.

4. The toy action figurine of claim 2 wherein at least one of said first type joints of a type enabling relative angular rotation about a pivot axis between said first type body members is further defined as having a mirror image counterpart of opposite handedness.

5. The toy action figurine of claim 4 further including stop means for limiting said angular motion of said first type of body members to a predetermined value.

6. The toy action figurine of claim 5 wherein said predetermined angular motion limit is different than an angular motion limit between said counterpart body members.

7. The toy action figurine of claim 1 further including a manipulating stem which protrudes from said body of said figurine, said manipulating stem adapted to being grasped by the hand of a user to thereby move said figurine in inertial space.

8. The toy action figurine of claim 7 wherein said manipulating stem is further defined as including a ring-shaped portion adapted to insertably receive a person's fingertip, thereby enabling said figurine to be moved orbitally around said fingertip in response to motion of said person's hand.

9. The toy action figurine of claim 7 wherein said manipulating stem is further defined as protruding from an upper surface of said body.

10. The toy action figurine of claim 7 wherein said manipulating stem is further defined as protruding from a posterior surface of said body.

11. A toy action figure comprising in combination a figurine which is a model of a living creature, and model locomotion means attachable to said figurine, said figurine including, a. a body, b. at least one pair of a first type of body members, c. at least one, first, loose type joint interconnecting said pair of first-type body members, said first type joint being of a loose type enabling relative movement between said pair of first-type body members in response to inertial forces exerted on said members as said figurine is moved in inertial space, d. At least one pair of a second type of body members, e. at least one, second, stiff type joint interconnecting said pair of second-type body members, said second-type joint being of a type which maintains said second pair of second type body members immobile in response to said inertial forces.

12. The toy action figure of claim 11 wherein at least one of said first-type joints is further defined as being a type enabling relative angular rotation about a pivot axis between said first-type body members.

13. The toy action figure of claim 12 wherein at least one of said first-type joints is further defined as being a swivel joint.

14. The toy action figure of claim 12 wherein at least one of said first-type of joints is further defined as being a ball-and-socket joint.

15. The toy action figurine of claim 12 further including stop means for limiting said angular motion to a predetermined value.

16. The toy action figure of claim 12 further including a manipulating stem which protrudes from said body of said figurine, said manipulating stem adapted to being grasped by the hand of a user to thereby move said figurine in inertial space.

17. The toy action figure of claim 16 wherein said manipulating stem is further defined as protruding from a head of said figurine.

18. The toy action figure of claim 16 wherein said manipulating stem is further defined as protruding from a back surface of said body.

19. The toy action figure of claim 15 wherein said model locomotion means is further defined as being a bicycle.

20. The toy action figure of claim 19 wherein at least one of said first, loose type of joints is further being a first knee joint of a first handedness.

21. The toy action figure of claim 10 wherein said stop means is further defined as limiting straightening motion between a thigh and leg of said figurine.

22. The toy action figure of claim 21 wherein said stop means is further defined as including in combination a first, abutting member secured to a shin portion of said leg, and a transversely disposed margin surface of said thigh which abuts an upper transverse surface of said abutting member to thereby limit straightening motion of said leg relative to said thigh.

23. The toy action figure of claim 22 wherein said figurine is further defined as including a second knee joint, said second knee joint being of said first, loose type.

24. The toy action figure of claim 23 wherein said figurine is further defined as including right and left shoulder joints of said first, loose type.

25. The toy action figure of claim 24 wherein said figurine is further defined as including right and left forearms joined to right and left upper arms by said joints of said second, stiff type.

26. The toy action figure of claim 25 wherein said figurine is further defined as including pelvis connected to right and left thighs by right and left thigh joints of said first, loose type.

27. The toy action figure of claim 26 wherein said right and left thigh joints of said figurine are further defined as being ball-and-socket joints.

28. The toy action figure of claim 27 wherein said figurine is further defined as including right and left hands pivotably fastened to right and left handlebar grips of said bicycle.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] A. Field of the Invention

[0002] The present invention relates to toys which may be manipulated by hand. More particularly, the invention relates to miniature humanoid figures which may be dynamically manipulated to simulate human activities such as bike riding.

[0003] B. Description of Background Art

[0004] A variety of toys exist which include miniature three-dimensional figures that are either accurate, stylized or comedic representations of humans or animals, or of fanciful or contrived creatures. Some toys of this type include a rigid figurine rigidly attached to a model of a movable object such as a skateboard or bicycle. For example, Takahashi, U.S. Pat. No. D 259,647, Jun. 23, 1981, Skateboard Figure Toy, discloses an ornamental design for a rigid comedic skateboard rider figurine rigidly mounted to a toy skateboard, the latter having a pair of front wheels at opposite ends of a laterally disposed front axle, a pair of rear wheels at opposite ends of a rear axle, a driven gear attached coaxially to the rear axle inwardly of a rear wheel, and a drive gear meshed with the driven gear and rotatably powered by a spring or inertia motor.

[0005] Another toy that includes a figurine combined with a miniature vehicle is described in Mangold, U.S. Pat. No. 2,645,056, Jul. 14, 1952, Toy Vehicle With Moving Figure, which discloses a toy vehicle, especially a toy motorcycle provided with a toy cyclist supported by the feet thereof by a mechanism coupled to a wheel rotated by longitudinal movement of the cycle on the ground, the mechanism causing the cyclist to cyclically lean forward to a prone position and back to a standing position. The cyclist has no movable joints.

[0006] A toy which interchangeably supports various dolls in a fixed position is described in Echelmeier, U.S. Pat. No. 2,820,324, Doll Walker, which discloses a doll walker comprising essentially a wheeled cart including an upright or stanchion rod R having attached thereto upper and lower endless elastic belts securable around the chest and ankles, respectively of a doll standing on the upper surface of the cart.

[0007] Cleveland, in U.S. Pat. No. 3,574,969, Apr. 13, 1971, A Walking Doll And Wheeled Scooter Combination, discloses a miniature scooter for use with a walking doll to allow the doll to push and ride the scooter. The scooter includes a low flexible platform for receiving one foot of the doll, a hook for loosely capturing the foot on the scooter, and a handlebar that lies immediately in front of the doll's abdomen to prevent forward tipping.

[0008] Oishi et al., in U.S. Pat. No. 4,836,819, Jun. 15, 1984, Skateboarding Toy, discloses a skateboarding toy which includes a mechanism frame that supports a toy body having the appearance of a monkey, in an erect but horizontally rotatable disposition on a skateboard which has a spring motor powered drive wheel and front steering wheels, and a steering rod for operating the front wheels. When the drive wheel is driven, the toy body with the skateboard is advanced in a straight direction, and when the steering rod is moved back and forth, the front wheels are turned horizontally towards the right and left alternately with respect to the advancing direction of the skateboard, so that the skateboard runs along a snaking path. The toy body rides sideways on the skateboard and twists the upper half of its body while appearing to steer the skateboard in a zigzag line as if the toy animal were enjoying the skateboarding. The left and right arms of the toy animal are shown hanging to its sides, but may be manually rotated on shoulder pivot joints having generally horizontally disposed pivot axes to a raised position, or to a front or back position and then set there, so that with the raised arms, the toy animal looks as if it were balancing on its skateboard while skateboarding in a snaking path.

[0009] The present invention was conceived of to provide toy action figures having joints which are selectably articulateable, each figure having protruding from its body a stem which may be grasped by the hand of a user and used to manipulate the figure to execute life-like motions.

OBJECTS OF THE INVENTION

[0010] An object of the present invention is to provide three-dimensional toy action figures each including a figurine which has body member joints that are selectably articulateable to enable the figurine to realistically simulate motions of a human body performing specific activities.

[0011] Another object of the invention is to provide toy action figurines, each of which has certain body member joints which are fixed to maintain a fixed arrangement between certain pairs of body members, and other body member joints which are so constructed as to enable other pairs of body members to move freely relative to one another, the combination of fixed and freely movable joints enabling the figurines to be manipulated to realistically simulate fluid, athletic motions of a human body in performing activities, particularly those of an athletic type.

[0012] Another object of the invention is to provide toy action figurines, each of which has a particular combination of fixed and movable body member joints, and a manipulating stem which protrudes from the body of the action figure and which may be grasped by the hand of a user and used to manipulate the figurine, thereby causing the figure to execute life-like motions.

[0013] Another object of the invention is to provide toy action figurines, each of which represents a person engaging in a particular physical activity, each action figurine being provided with a particular combination of body member joints, some of which are readily pivotable but provided with stops to limit the angular extent of pivotable motion, and some of which are not readily pivotable, that combination resulting in a realistic simulation of the motion of human members during performance of a particular human physical activity, when the toy action figurine is tilted and/or turned.

[0014] Another object of the invention is to provide toy action figurines, each of which has a plurality of body member joints, some of which are freely movable but provided with angular excursion limiting stops, and some of which are not readily movable, the combination of freely movable and not freely movable joints being so arranged as to allow each figure to be manipulated to realistically simulate fluid athletic motions of the human body in performing particular athletic activities, each figure including means enabling the figure to be manipulated.

[0015] Another object of the invention is to provide toy action figurines, each of which has a plurality of body member joints, some of which are freely movable but provided with angular excursion limiting stops, and some of which are not readily movable, the combination of freely movable and not freely movable joints being so arranged as to allow each figurine to be manipulated to realistically simulate fluid athletic motions of the human body in performing particular athletic activities, each figurine including a stem protruding from the body of the figurine which is adapted to being grasped by the hand of a person to manipulate the figurine.

[0016] Another object of the invention is to provide toy action figurines, each of which has protruding from the body thereof a manipulating stem which is adapted to be grasped by the hand of a person to manipulate the figurine to simulate motions of a full-size object which a figurine is patterned after, the stem being provided with a ring-shaped portion adapted to insertably receive the fingertip of a person, thereby enabling the figurine to be orbited around the finger tip, thus facilitating rotational motions in a vertical plane of the figurine, as well as translations and rotations about the axis of the stem.

[0017] Another object of the invention is to provide toy action figures, each of which includes a figurine which is a miniature three-dimensional representation of a human being or other animal, the figurine being attached to a miniature three-dimensional model of a motorcycle, bicycle, skateboard, or other such vehicle, each figurine having a plurality of body member joints some of which are freely movable but provided with angular excursion limiting stops, and some of which are not readily movable, the combination of freely movable and not freely movable joints being so arranged as to allow each figurine to be manipulated to realistically simulate fluid athletic motions of the human body in performing particular athletic activities, each figurine including a stem protruding from the body of the figurine which is adapted to being grasped by the hand of a person to manipulate the figurine.

[0018] Various other objects and advantages of the present invention, and its most novel features, will become apparent to those skilled in the art by perusing the accompanying specification, drawings and claims.

[0019] It is to be understood that although the invention disclosed herein is fully capable of achieving the objects and providing the advantages described, the characteristics of the invention described herein are merely illustrative of the preferred embodiments. Accordingly, we do not intend that the scope of our exclusive rights and privileges in the invention be limited to details of the embodiments described. We do intend that equivalents, adaptations and modifications of the invention reasonably inferable from the description contained herein be included within the scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0020] Briefly stated, the present invention comprehends miniature toy action figures, each including a figurine which is a miniature three-dimensional representation of a full-size object, particularly of a human or other animal, the figurine having selectably articulateable joints and a manipulating stem which may be manipulated by the thumb and/or fingers of a person to cause the figure to execute movements which realistically simulate movements of a full-size counterpart serving as a model for a particular miniature figure. A main embodiment of toy action figures according to the present invention includes miniature three-dimensional humanoid figurines which realistically simulate the appearance of a person engaging in an athletic exercise such as performing trick motions on a bicycle, when the figurine is suitably manipulated by a person grasping and manipulating a stem which protrudes from the head or back of the figure.

[0021] According to the invention, each three-dimensional action figurine is provided with a plurality of selectably articulateable joints that connect various pairs of body members of the figurine. Selectably articulateable here refers to the fact that certain of the joints are fixed, or immovable, while certain of the joints may be “poseable”, i.e., pivotable, but which include friction-producing elements between relatively moving members, thus allowing the relative disposition between selected body members to be adjusted into a pose which is retained as the body is moved. Also, according to the invention, certain joints between certain body member pairs of each figurine are so constructed as to be freely pivotable, with minimal frictional forces which might inhibit certain types of relative motion between those body members.

[0022] The frictional force between body member pairs joined by certain freely pivotable joints is made sufficiently small so that the body members pivot relative to ane another in response to torques exerted by gravity on the members as the figure is tilted or rotated using the manipulating stem.

[0023] According to the present invention, certain of the freely pivotable joints are accompanied by appendages such as plates or pins which are fastened to discrete locations of a particular action figure to function as limit stops which limit the angular extent of relative pivotable motion of otherwise freely pivotable body members.

[0024] An example embodiment of a three-dimensional toy action figure according to the present invention includes a figurine depicting a bicyclist which is moveably attached to a miniature bicycle model, e.g., in a seated position. The wrist and elbow joints of the bicyclist are preferably fixed so that the bicyclist's arms are generally straight and disposed perpendicularly outwardly with respect to the bicyclist's chest. A loose joint shoulder joint between the shoulder and upper end of each arm allows each arm to rotate freely in a generally vertical plane. The thumb and fingers of both hands of the bicyclist form a pair of laterally inwardly facing, semi-tubular openings which rotatably receive the handle bar grips of the bicycle. To secure the bicyclist to the bicycle, the lower surface of each of the bicyclist's two feet is fastened to the upper surface of separate pedal of the bicycle.

[0025] In the toy action figure described above, with the bicyclist seated in an upright position on the bicycle seat, grasping a manipulating stem protruding from the bicyclist's head and tilting it forward relative to the front wheel of the bicycle causes the torso of the bicyclist to pivot forward relative to his arms, thus resulting in the bicyclist assuming a prone position relative to the bicycle. Tilting the manipulating stem backwards causes the bicyclist's torso to pivot rearwardly, resulting in torques exerted by gravity acting on the front portion of the bicycle and the hands of and arms of the bicyclist to cause the arms to pivot downwardly about the shoulder joints. Downward movement of each arm is limited by a separate limit pin which protrudes laterally outwardly from the torso, at a location below and forward of the shoulder joint pivot axis. Thus, if the manipulating stem is tilted sufficiently far rearward, the arms of the bicyclist abut the stop pins to thereby limit relative pivotal motion between the arms and torso, and causing the front of the bicycle to lift off of the ground, simulating a “wheelie.” During these motions, relatively loose, freely pivotable ball joints between the upper end of each leg and pelvis, analogous to human hip joints, enable the legs to move realistically in response to the force of gravity as the figure is tilted.

[0026] The example action figure described above also includes on one leg thereof a shin guard-like bar which protrudes upwardly towards a knee joint to abut the upper leg and thereby limit straightening of the lower leg relative to upper leg to a predetermined angular extension limit which results in realistic motion of the bicyclist relative to the bicycle, as the action figure is manipulated. In a preferred embodiment, the stem protruding from a figurine is provided near the upper end thereof with a ring-shaped portion adapted to insertably receive a finger tip of a person manipulating the figurine, enabling the figurine to be orbited in partial or full circles around the finger tip, by rotating the wrist, for example.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0027] FIG. 1 is a front perspective view of a poseable prior art toy figure.

[0028] FIG. 2 is a right side elevation view of an embodiment of a toy action figure with selectably articulateable pivotable joints according to the present invention, that figure comprising a miniature bicyclist figurine attached to a miniature bicycle and showing the figure in a seated position.

[0029] FIG. 3A is a front elevation view of the article of FIG. 2.

[0030] FIG. 3B is a partly broken away front elevation view of the action figure of FIG. 3A, on an enlarged scale.

[0031] FIG. 3C is a fragmentary view of the action figurine of FIG. 3B on a further enlarged scale, showing the left arm thereof in a laterally outwardly extending position.

[0032] FIG. 3D is a fragmentary view of the figurine of FIG. 3B, showing a left knee joint thereon.

[0033] FIG. 3E is a front perspective view showing a right knee joint of the action figure of FIG. 3B, showing a motion limiting shin guard bar thereof.

[0034] FIG. 3F is a side elevation view of the joint of FIG. 3D, showing the right lower leg in a maximum rearwardly bent disposition.

[0035] FIG. 3G is side elevation view of the joint of FIG. 3D, showing the right lower leg in a maximum forward, straightened disposition.

[0036] FIG. 4 is a left side elevation view of the action figure of FIG. 2 showing how the figure may be orbited about a finger tip inserted into a ring-shaped portion of a manipulating stem of the figure.

[0037] FIG. 5 is a rear elevation view of the action figure shown in FIG. 4.

[0038] FIG. 6 is an upper plan view of the action figure of FIG. 2.

[0039] FIG. 7 is a lower plan view of the action figure of FIG. 2.

[0040] FIG. 8 is a left side elevation view of the action figure of FIG. 2, showing the bicyclist in a standing position and a manipulating stem thereof grasped by an operator's thumb and forefinger of his right hand.

[0041] FIG. 9 is a view similar to that of FIG. 8, but showing the bicyclist and bicycle rotated ninety degrees clockwise in a horizontal plane by action of the operator's thumb and forefinger.

[0042] FIG. 10 is a left side elevation view similar to that of FIG. 8, but showing the bicyclist and bicycle rotated ninety degrees clockwise (rearward), in a vertical plane by action of the operator's wrist.

[0043] FIG. 11 is a left side elevation view similar to that of FIG. 10, but showing the bicyclist and bicycle rotated counterclockwise (forward) in a vertical plane by the operator.

[0044] FIG. 12 is a view similar to that of FIG. 11, but showing an alternate embodiment of the figure in which a manipulating stem of the bicyclist is mounted to the back rather than the head.

[0045] FIG. 13 is a fragmentary view of the bicyclist of FIG. 4, showing a first modification of a manipulating stem thereof.

[0046] FIG. 14 is a fragmentary view of the bicyclist of FIG. 4, showing a second modification of a manipulating stem thereof.

[0047] FIG. 15 is a fragmentary view of the bicyclist of FIG. 4, showing a third modification of a manipulating stem thereof.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0048] FIG. 1 illustrates a prior-art poseable miniature figurine with poseable joints, while FIGS. 2-15 illustrate a toy action figure with manipulating stem and selectably articulateable joints according to the present invention.

[0049] Referring first to FIG. 1, a prior-art miniature figurine 10 with moveable joints is shown to comprise a miniature three-dimensional model which resembles a human being, having a head 11, torso 12, right and left upper arms 13R, 13L, forearms 14R, 14L, hands 15R, 15L, pelvis 16, upper legs 17R, 17L, lower legs 18R, 18L, and feet 19R, 19L. As shown in FIG. 1, poseable miniature figurine 10 includes a plurality of joints of different types that enable relative movement between pairs of body members. Each of these joints has relatively moving surfaces between which substantial frictional forces exist. This arrangement enables body parts or members to be moved into a desired disposition or “posed,” relative to one another, the frictional forces between joint members retaining the pose chosen for the figurine by a person who has manipulated the figurine members. Thus, as shown in FIG. 1, miniature figurine 10 includes shoulder rotator joints 21R, 21L between torso 12 and right and left upper arms 13R, 13L, respectively. Each shoulder rotator joint 21R, 21L includes a headed pin 31 having a generally horizontally disposed shank 32 and head 33 rotatable in a socket (not shown) within torso 12. The outer lateral end 34 of each rotator joint 21R, 21L terminates in a shoulder boss 34R, 34L, each of which holds a pivot pin 35R, 35L. The latter pivot pins are disposed transversely to the axes of inner shoulder rotator joint pins 31R, 31L. Also, the upper end portion of each upper arm 13R, 13L has formed in the upper transverse end face thereof a centrally located, rectangularly shaped, axially inwardly disposed slot 13SR, 13SL which bifurcates the upper end portion into front and rear tabs 131R, 131L. Slots 13SR, 13SL receive therewithin shoulder bosses 34R, 34L which are pivotably held therewithin by pivot pins 35R, 35L. The foregoing elements comprise shoulder swivel joints 22R, 22L which enable upper arms 13R, 13L to be pivoted around an axis perpendicular to that of an inner shoulder rotator joint pin, i.e., in a vertical plane for right upper arm 13R, as shown in FIG. 1, and in a plane perpendicular to the paper for left upper arm 13L positioned as shown in FIG. 1.

[0050] The lower portion of right and left upper arms 13R, 13L of poseable figurine 10 are rotatable upon their respective longitudinal axes with respect to upper portions of the upper arms 13R, 12L by means of joints 23R, 23L, each having a longitudinally disposed pivot axis 36R, 36L.

[0051] Poseable miniature figurine 10 also includes elbow joints 24R, 24L, which permit pivotable motion of forearms 14R, 14L within the plane of upper arms 13L, 13R, respectively.

[0052] As shown in FIG. 1, poseable miniature figurine 10 is also provided with a pelvic joint 25 that enables pivotable motion of pelvis 16 relative to torso 12, along an axis generally corresponding to the spine of the miniature figure. Pelvic joint 25 includes a fore and aft disposed upper anchor pin 40, which is encircled by an endless elastic band 41. The lower end of endless elastic band 41 is twisted 90 degrees, stretched taut, and held within the upstanding hook portion 42 of a laterally disposed leg support bar 43. Leg support bar 43 has ball ends 44R, 44L on opposite lateral ends thereof, and is fitted with a groin arch 45 which depends downwardly from pelvis 16. Ball ends 44R, 44L fit within sockets 46R, 46L provided in the upper ends of upper legs 17R, 17L respectively, the respective ball and socket combinations comprising universal joints 26R, 26L which permit movement of the upper legs relative to the pelvis.

[0053] Miniature figurine 11 also includes knee joints 27R, 27L which enable pivotable motion in a plane of each lower leg 18R, 18L with respect to upper legs 17R, 17L, respectively. Each lower leg 18R, 18L is terminated at the lower end thereof by a foot 19R, 19L.

[0054] FIGS. 2-15 illustrate an example embodiment of a three-dimensional toy action figure 50 with manipulating stem and selectably articulatable joints according to the present invention. Example embodiment 50 includes a three-dimensional figurine 51 depicting a bicyclist, which is movably attached to a miniature toy model 52 of a bicycle.

[0055] Bicycle 52 is of conventional design, including a frame 53, front and rear wheels 54 and 55, drive sprocket wheel 56, and right and left crank arms 57R, 57L which have foot pedals 58R, 58L pivotably attached to the outer ends thereof. Toy bicycle 52 also includes an upstanding seat post 59 terminated at the upper end thereof by a seat or saddle 60. Bicycle 52 also includes a front fork 61 which holds a front axle 62 at its lower end. The upper portion of fork 61 is pivotably held within a head tube 63, and has a stem 64 which protrudes upwardly of the head tube. Stem 64 has attached to the upper end thereof a pair of laterally and transversely disposed right and left handlebars 65R, 65L, terminated at the outer ends thereof by right and left handle grips 66R, 66L. As shown in FIG. 3A, bicycle 51 may optionally be provided with a pair of right and left front axle extension tubes 67R, 67L, which protrude laterally outwardly of front wheel 54.

[0056] Referring now to FIGS. 3A-3F in addition to FIG. 2, bicyclist figurine 51 according to the present invention may be seen to comprise a miniature figurine which resembles a human being, having a head 71, torso 72, right and left upper arms 73R, 73L, forearms 74R, 74L, hands 75R, 75L, pelvis 76, upper legs or thighs 77R, 77L, lower legs 78R, 78L, and feet 79R, 79L. As shown in FIGS. 2-3F, and as is described in detail below, bicyclist figurine 51 has a plurality of joints of different types that enable pairs of body members connected by individual joints to be moved relative to one another. These joints are selectably articulatable, i.e., some being of a type which is fixed, or movable with difficulty, and others being of a type which enables relatively free movement between other pairs of body members. Moreover, toy bicyclist figurine 51 includes structural elements which limit the degree of angular excursion between certain pairs of body members. Thus, some of the joints of figurine 51 are constructed so as to have substantial frictional forces exerted between relatively moving surfaces of the joints. This arrangement enables certain pairs of body parts or members connected by this type of joint to be moved into a desired fixed disposition relative to one another, frictional forces between joint components retaining the disposition chosen for the figurines, simulating, for example, a bicyclist on a bicycle. Optionally, joints of this type may be immobilized, by adhesives or locking members, for example, or body members connected by such joints may be fabricated as unitary structures affording no enablement of relative movement between those body members.

[0057] Bicyclist figurine 51 also includes certain joints which enable free relative movement between certain other pairs of body members. Thus, as may be seen best by referring to FIG. 3C, bicyclist figurine 51 has a pair of right and left elbow joints 84R, 84L, which join right and left upper arms 73R, 73L to right and left forearms 74R, 74L. Elbow joints 84R, 84L are so constructed as to maintain forearms 74R, 74L bent only slightly with respect to upper arms 73R, 73L, as shown in FIGS. 2 and 3B. Thus, joints 84R, 84L may include in combination flanges 85R, 85L formed by reduced thickness, upper ends of forearms 74R, 74L, the flanges having flat longitudinally disposed bearing surface 86R, 86L which bear against similarly shaped bearing surfaces 87R, 87L of flanges 88R, 88L, formed by reduced thickness lower ends 87R, 87L of upper arms 73R, 73L.

[0058] A pair of rivets 89R, 89L disposed transversely through flange ends 85R, 85L, and 87R, 87L function as pivot pins enabling pivotable relative motion between each forearm 74R, 74L and upper arm 73R, 73L. Rivets 89R, 89L have rounded heads 90R, 90L, flared ends 91R, 91L, which are secured sufficiently tightly against the outer surface of the forearms and upper arms to cause bearing surfaces 86R, 86L to press sufficiently tightly against bearing surfaces 88R, 88L as to enable pivotable, but frictionally retarded movement between each upper arm and forearm. Referring still to FIG. 3C, figurine 51 may be seen to include shoulder rotator joints 100R, 100L which connect the upper ends of upper arms 73R, 73L to torso 72. Each shoulder rotator joint 100R, 100L includes a headed pin 101R, 101L having a generally horizontally disposed shank 102R, 102L and a head 103R, 103L, rotatable in a socket 104R, 104L. The outer lateral end 105R, 105L of each shoulder rotator joint 100R, 100L terminates in a shoulder boss 106R, 106L, each of which holds a pivot pin 107R, 107L. The latter pivot pines are disposed transversely to the axes of inner shoulder rotator joint pins 101R, 101L. Also the upper end portion of each upper arm 73R, 73L has formed in the upper transverse end face 108R, 108L thereof a centrally located, rectangularly shaped, axially inwardly disposed slot 109R, which bifurcates the upper end portion of the arm into front and rear tabs 110R, 110L, 111R, 111L. Slots 109R, 109L receive therewithin shoulder bosses 106R, 106L which are pivotably held therewithin by pivot pins 107R, 107L. The foregoing elements comprise shoulder swivel joints 82R, 82L which enable upper arms 73R, 73L to be pivoted around an axis perpendicular to that of the inner should rotator joint pin, i.e., in a plane perpendicular to the paper for left, upper arm 73L positioned as shown in FIG. 2C.

[0059] Although not necessary for the functioning of bicyclist figurine 51 on bicycle 52, the figurine may be provided with such joints which may be required for similar figurines combined with different vehicles and/or performing different physical activities, thus enabling different figurines to be manufactured using many of the same manufacturing steps. Thus, as shown in FIG. 3C, each upper arm 73R, 73L of bicyclist figurine 51 may be segmented into upper and lower portions 112R, 113L, respectively, the upper and lower portions being joined by a coaxially disposed axle pin 114R, 114L, forming upper arm rotator joints 83R, 83L that enable the upper and lower portions of the upper arm to be rotated relative to one another about a common longitudinal axis.

[0060] Referring now primarily to FIG. 3B, it may be seen that bicyclist action figurine 51 is provided with a pelvic joint 115 that enables pivotable motion of pelvis 76 relative to torso 72, along an axis generally corresponding to the spine of the figurine. Pelvic joint 115 includes a fore and aft disposed upper anchor pin 116 which is encircled by an endless elastic band 117, preferably made from a durable elastomeric material such as synthetic rubber. The lower end of elastic band 117 is twisted 90 degrees, and held within the upstanding hook portion 119 of a laterally disposed leg support rod 118. Leg support rod 118 has ball ends 120R, 120L on opposite lateral ends thereof, and is fitted within a groin arch 121 which depends downwardly from pelvis 76. Ball ends 120R, 120L of leg support rod 118 fit loosely within sockets 121R, 121L provided in the upper ends of upper legs 77R, 77L, respectively, the ball and socket combinations comprising universal joints 122R, 122L which enable the upper legs to swivel relative to the pelvis. Bicyclist figuring 51 includes knee joints 123R, 123L which enable pivotable motion in a plane of each lower leg 78R, 78L with respect to an upper leg or thigh 77R, 77L, respectively. Thus, as shown in FIGS. 3B and 3D-3G, the lower end 124R, 124L of each thigh 77R, 77L has formed therein an axially upwardly protruding, generally rectangularly-shaped slot 125R, 125L. Slot 125R, 125L forms in each lower thigh-end 124R, 124L thin inner and outer web 126R, 126L, 127R, 127L having a generally semicircular planview shape. Each inner and outer web pair 126R-127R, 126L-127L, combined with slots 125R, 125L between the web pair members, functions as a clevis 128R, 128L. Thus, as shown in FIG. 3B and 3D-3F, slot 125R, 125L of each clevis 128R, 128L receives therewithin a generally semicircular-shaped boss 129R, 129L which protrudes upwardly from the upper end 130R, 130L of lower leg 78R, 78L. Boss 129R, 129L is held within slot 125R, 125L by a knee joint pivot pin 131R, 131L which is fixed at opposite lateral ends thereof in laterally aligned bores 132R, 132L, and 133R, 133L provided through inner and outer clevis webs 126R, 126L and 127R, 127L, the knee joint pivot pin passing through a bore 134R, 134L which extends transversely through upper leg boss 129R, 129L, thus forming knee joints 123R, 123L.

[0061] Referring now to FIG. 3F, it may be seen that knee joints 123R, 123L enable lower leg 78R, 78L, to be pivoted or bent rearwardly until the upper rear margin 136R, 136L of the calf 137R, 137L of the leg abuts lower rear margin 138R, 138L of thigh 77R, 77L. As shown in FIG. 3D, lower left leg 78L may be pivoted forwardly until the upper transverse edge wall 129L of a “shin bone” 140L abuts a lower front margin 141L of thigh 77L. On the other hand, right hand knee joint 123R is so constructed as to limit forward pivotable motion of lower right leg 78R relative to thigh 77R. Thus, as shown in FIGS. 3B and 3E-3G, lower right leg 78R of figurine 51 is provided with a bar or rigid strap 142 which is affixed to the front surface or shin 143 of the lower right leg, and may therefore be referred to as a “shin guard”. Shin guard 142 protrudes above shin bone 140R, and has a transversely disposed upper, edge wall 144. Thus, as shown in FIG. 3G, forward motion of lower right leg 78R relative to thigh 77R is limited by abutting contact of upper transverse edge wall 144 of shin guard 142 with lower front margin 141R of the right thigh.

[0062] As shown in FIG. 3G, the addition of shin guard 142 limits the allowable forward motion of lower right leg 78R relative to right thigh 77R to an amount less than that of left lower leg 78L relative to left thigh 77L, i.e., to an amount which prevents the right lower leg from being fully aligned with or straightened with respect to the right thigh. Therefore, when torso 72 and right thigh 77R are bent forward relative to pelvis 76 and right and left lower legs 78R, 78L, as shown in FIG. 10, right hand knee joint 123R is prevented from being fully straightened by the action of shin guard 142. This arrangement results in realistic motion of figurine 51 as action FIG. 50 is maneuvered as shown in FIGS. 8-12.

[0063] Referring again to FIGS. 2 and 3B, it may be seen that action figure 50 s provided with a manipulating stem 145. In the embodiment 50 of an action figure shown in FIGS. 2 and 3B, manipulating stem 145 includes a stiff spring wire 146 which has a downwardly protruding lower end 147 which is held within a bore 148 that extends perpendicularly downwardly into head 71 of figurine 51. As shown in the figures, bore 148 is preferably laterally and longitudinally centered with respect to head 71.

[0064] Manipulating stem 145 also includes a finger grip which may be readily grasped between the thumb and fingers of a person, particularly a child. The finger grip facilitates rotation of the stem about its longitudinal axis, to thereby rotate the action figure along an axis generally parallel to the spine of the action figurine, as well as facilitating pivoting the figure in a vertical plane, and translating the action figure vertically and/or horizontally. An embodiment 149 of a finger grip shown in FIGS. 2 and 3B comprises essentially a longitudinally elongated cylinder 150 having a diameter of about {fraction (3/16)} in. and a length of about ¾ in. inch. Cylinder 150 has a bore 151 which extends perpendicularly upwardly from lower transverse face 152 of the cylinder, the bore receiving the upwardly protruding upper end 153 of spring wire 146. Preferably, the upper end of finger grip cylinder 150 is enlarged to help secure it within the grasp of a person, as for example, by being provided with an upper end flange 154. As shown in FIG. 2, stem ring wire 146 preferably has formed therein a planar loop 155. Loop 155 is of the appropriate diameter, e.g., about ⅝ inch, to insertably receive a person's finger tip. This construction enables figurine 51 and vehicle 52 to be orbited in full or partial circles around the finger tip, as shown in FIGS. 4 and 5. Also, with stem wire 146 made of spring wire, loop 155 functions as a spring which enables figurine 51 and vehicle 52 to flex somewhat relative to finger grip 149 as action figure 50 is manipulated.

[0065] FIGS. 4-12 illustrate how action figurine 50 according to the present invention, provided with selectably articulateable joints and a manipulating stem, are manipulated by the hand of a person to cause the figurine to realistically simulate motion of a human body in performing certain physical activities, which for the example embodiment shown in the figures and described above are activities associated with operation of a bicycle.

[0066] Referring first to FIGS. 4 and 8, it may be seen that grasping manipulating stem 145 between the thumb and a finger of a person, and pulling upwardly on the manipulating stem, causes bicyclist figurine 51 of action figurine 50 to transition between a seated position on bicycle 52, as shown in FIG. 4, to a standing position, as shown in FIG. 8. In making this transition between a seated and standing position, right and left upper arms 73R, 73L of bicyclist 51 rotate downwardly on inner shoulder rotator joints 100R, 100L, and right and left hands 75R, 75L rotate forward or counterclockwise as viewed from the left-hand side of the bicyclist, on handlebar grips 66R, 66L. Also during this transition, right and lower legs 78R, 78L rotate forwardly to a more nearly straight position relative to thighs 77R, 77L on knee joints 123R 123L.

[0067] FIG. 9 illustrates the effects of rotating manipulating stem 145 ninety degrees clockwise between the thumb and forefinger, causing bicyclist 51 and bicycle 52 of action figure 50 to rotate ninety degrees to the right, as if to change course in that direction.

[0068] FIG. 10 illustrates the effects of tilting manipulating stem 145 of action figure 50 rearwardly in a vertical midplane through action figurine 50. This action causes torso 72 of bicyclist 51 to tilt forward to a position generally horizontal and more parallel to the frame 53 of bicycle 52. During this maneuver, right and left upper arms 73R, 73L of bicyclist 51 rotate upwardly away from torso 72 on inner shoulder rotator joints 100R, 100L, and right and left hands 75R, 75L rotate rearwardly or clockwise as viewed from the left-hand side of the bicyclist, on handlebar grips 66R, 66L. Also during this maneuver, lower legs 78R, 78L rotate forwardly to a still more nearly straightened position relative to thighs 77R, 77L on knee joints 123R, 123L. In this case, however, straightening of right knee joint 123R is limited by shin guard 142, thus resulting in figurine 51 assuming a life-like position, in which the right knee joint does not become “locked up.”

[0069] FIG. 11 illustrates the effects of tilting manipulating stem 145 of action figure 50 forwardly in a vertical midplane through the action figure. This action causes torso 72 of bicyclist 51 to tilt rearward on pelvic joint 115 to a position generally horizontal and more generally perpendicular to frame 53 of bicycle 52. During this maneuver, right and left upper arms 77R, 77L of bicyclist 51 rotate downwardly towards torso 72 on inner shoulder rotator joints 100R, 100L, and right and left hands 75R, 75L rotate forwardly or upwardly with respect to handlebars 65R, 65L on handlebar grips 66R, 66L. Also during this maneuver, thighs 77R, 77L and lower legs 78R, 78L rotate rearwardly to a more nearly bent position relative to torso 72, on pelvic ball joints 122R, 122L, and knee joints 123R, 123L.

[0070] FIG. 12 is a view of an alternate embodiment 50A of action figure 50, in which a manipulating stem 145A is attached to bicyclist 51A so that it protrudes generally perpendicularly outwardly from the back of the bicyclist, midway between the shoulder blades.

[0071] FIG. 13 is a fragmentary view of a second alternate embodiment 50B of action figure 50, which includes a modified manipulating stem 145B having a straight spring wire 146B, terminated at the upper end thereof by a straight cylindrical finger grip 149B.

[0072] FIG. 14 is a fragmentary view of a third alternate embodiment 50C of action figure 50, which includes a modified manipulated stem 145C having a straight spring wire 146C and a straight cylindrical finger grip 149C, terminated at the upper end thereof by a knob 156.

[0073] FIG. 15 is a fragmentary view of a fourth alternate embodiment 50D of action figure 50, which includes a modified manipulating stem 145D, terminated at the upper end thereof by a straight cylindrical finger grip 149D. As shown in FIG. 15, modified manipulating stem 145D protrudes from the back of bicyclist 51D, but could alternatively be attached to the head of the bicyclist.





 
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