Title:
Stacking ring toy
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A toy set comprising a plurality of plush toys, each of which includes a plush character having a plush ring frictionally engageable thereto. An elongate rod is provided which is releasably attachable to a base. The rod and the plush rings are sized and configured relative to each other such that the plush rings are advanceable over the rod when detached from the corresponding plush characters. The plush toys may be releasably attached to and suspended from a support bar comprising part of a crib mobile or an activity arch.



Inventors:
Norman, Lisa C. (San Diego, CA, US)
Application Number:
10/256328
Publication Date:
04/01/2004
Filing Date:
09/26/2002
Assignee:
NORMAN LISA C.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63H33/00; (IPC1-7): A63H33/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
WILLIAMS, JAMILA O
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
STETINA BRUNDA GARRED & BRUCKER (ALISO VIEJO, CA, US)
Claims:
1. A toy set, comprising: a base; an elongate rod removably attachable to the base; a plurality of plush toys, each of the plush toys comprising: a plush character; and a plush ring frictionally engageable to the plush character; the plush ring being advanceable over the rod upon detachment from the plush character.

2. The toy set of claim 1, wherein: each of the plush rings defines a central opening; and each plush character is advanceable into the central opening of a respective one of the plush rings.

3. The toy set of claim 2 wherein the central opening of each of the plush rings is formed to have a shape selected from the group consisting of: a square shape; a circular shape; and a triangular shape.

4. The toy set of claim 1 wherein the plush rings are formed to have shapes selected from the group consisting of: circular shapes; square shapes; triangular shapes; star shapes; and combinations thereof.

5. The toy set of claim 1 wherein: the base defines a central aperture; and the rod is sized and configured to be slidably insertable into and frictionally retainable within the central aperture of the base.

6. The toy set of claim 1 wherein each of the plush rings defines opposed, generally planar upper and lower surfaces.

7. The toy set of claim 6 wherein the plush rings are sized and configured to have different mean diameters.

8. The toy set of claim 1 wherein the rod includes a noisemaking device disposed therein.

9. The toy set of claim 1 wherein at least one of the plush characters includes a noisemaking device disposed therein.

10. The toy set of claim 1 wherein the rod includes a ball attached to one end thereof.

11. The toy set of claim 10 wherein the ball includes a noisemaking device disposed therein.

12. An activity device comprising: a support bar; a plurality of plush toys releasably attached to the support bar, each of the plush toys comprising: a plush character; and a plush ring frictionally engageable to the plush character.

13. The device of claim 12 wherein each of the plush toys is releasably attached to the support bar via an elongate strap having a first end which is releasably attached to the support bar and a second end which is releasably attached to a respective one of the plush characters.

14. The device of claim 12 further in combination with: a base having an aperture disposed therein; and an elongate rod releasably attachable to the base; each of the plush rings being advancable over the rod upon detachment from a respective one of the plush characters.

15. The device of claim 14, wherein: each of the plush rings defines a central opening; and each plush character is advanceable into the central opening of a respective one of the plush rings.

16. The device of claim 15 wherein the central opening of each of the plush rings is formed to have a shape selected from the group consisting of: a square shape; a circular shape; and a triangular shape.

17. The device of claim 14 wherein: the base defines a central aperture; and the rod is sized and configured to be slidably insertable into and frictionally retainable within the central aperture of the base.

18. The device of claim 14 wherein the rod includes a noisemaking device disposed therein.

19. The device of claim 12 wherein the plush rings are formed to have shapes selected from the group consisting of: circular shapes; square shapes; triangular shapes; star shapes; and combinations thereof.

20. The device of claim 12 wherein at least one of the plush characters includes a noisemaking device disposed therein.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] (Not Applicable)

STATEMENT RE: FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH/DEVELOPMENT

[0002] (Not Applicable)

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] The present invention relates generally to toys for infants and, more particularly, to a toy set, a portion of which may be configured as a mobile that may be interfaced to an infant's crib in a conventional manner, and the individual components of which may be quickly and easily removed so that the infant may play therewith.

[0004] As is well known to many parents, mobiles including elongate arms from which a plurality of toys or characters is suspended may be removably attached to a portion of an infant's crib (e.g., a side rail). Such mobiles are typically provided with a wind-up musical element or music box component operative to play a melody while simultaneously rotating the arms and the toys suspended therefrom.

[0005] Another item known to most parents is referred to as an activity arch. An activity arch typically comprises a bar from which detachable toys are suspended. The activity arch is attachable to and extensible over a portion of a car seat or stroller.

[0006] It is generally accepted that mobiles should be removed from an infant's crib when the infant is physically capable of pushing up on his or her hands and knees so as to reduce the risk of injury due to the collapse of the mobile or any portion thereof as a result of the infant pulling on the suspended toys. Thus, such mobiles may only be provided for an infant for a short period of time.

[0007] Typically, once an infant has reached an age by which the mobile should be removed from the crib, the infant is provided with toys with which he or she can interact directly. Particularly popular are plush toys or characters, the soft and sturdy nature of which typically precludes injury to the infant. Also popular, particularly with toddlers, are various kinds of puzzles. For example, toys are known which consist of a plurality of rings of differing diameters insertable onto a rod so that a toddler may stack the rings thereon in, for example, an order of progressively decreasing diameter.

[0008] The present invention provides a mobile to which plush toys are removably attached. Each plush toy consists of a plush character to which a plush ring is removably attached. The mobile can be reconfigured into an activity arch removably attachable to a car seat or stroller. A base and a rod attachable to the base are additionally provided on which the plush rings may be stacked. Thus, the present invention provides the attributes of a crib mobile, an activity arch, a number of plush toys, and a stackable ring toy within a single product, thus providing an economical product which provides a relatively long time frame for use by the infant/toddler.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0009] In accordance with the present invention, there is provided a toy set comprising a mobile which can be converted to an activity arch and to which a plurality of plush toys is removably attached. Also provided are a base and a rod attachable to the base. Each plush toy comprises a plush character and a plush ring removably attachable thereto. The opening at the center of each ring enables the rod to be inserted thereinto. The rod length is sufficient to allow all of the rings to be stacked simultaneously thereon.

[0010] The plush rings have generally planar upper and lower surfaces so as to facilitate the stacking thereof. Each plush ring may be designed so that the perimeter thereof comprises a different geometric shape (e.g., a circle, a triangle, a square, a star, etc.). The configuration of the opening at the center of each plush ring is complementary to the configuration of the ring.

[0011] Further in accordance with the present invention, the rod may comprise a plush ball attached to one end thereof. Such ball has a diameter greater than the rod diameter. The ball may contain a noisemaking device such as a squeaker. The rod itself may further comprise a rattle. One or more of the plush characters may also further comprise a noisemaking device such as a squeaker or a rattle.

[0012] The present invention is best understood by reference to the following detailed description when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0013] These, as well as other features of the present invention, will become more apparent upon reference to the drawings wherein:

[0014] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a multi-function mobile from which a plurality of plush toys is suspended;

[0015] FIG. 2 is a front view of the stackable ring toy of the present invention, showing the rings stacked upon the base and about the rod of the ring toy;

[0016] FIGS. 3a-3d are perspective views of exemplary plush toys, each toy comprising a plush ring frictionally engaged to a plush character;

[0017] FIG. 4 is an assembly view of the rod, base, and rings of the stackable ring toy of the present invention;

[0018] FIG. 5a is a cutaway view of the rod depicting a rattle therein;

[0019] FIG. 5b is a cutaway view of a ball which may be attached to the rod, further depicting a squeaker within the ball; and

[0020] FIGS. 6a-6d are cutaway views of the exemplary plush characters shown in FIGS. 3a-3d, depicting various noisemaking devices within the interiors thereof.

[0021] Common reference numerals are used throughout the drawings and detailed description to indicate like elements.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0022] Referring now to the drawings wherein the showings are for purposes of illustrating preferred embodiments of the present invention only, and not for purposes of limiting the same, FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a multi-function mobile 8 from which a plurality of plush toys 9, each comprising a plush character 10 and a plush ring 14, is suspended. Each plush character 10 is removably attachable to a support bar 50 via an elongate strap 52, one end of which is connected to the support bar 50 and the other end of which is releasably attachable to the plush character 10. By way of example and not limitation, each elongate strap 52 may be releasably attached to a plush character 10 via a hook and loop system provided under the trademark VELCRO. Preferably, the loops are located on the elongate straps 52 and the hooks are located on the plush characters 10. The multi-function mobile is described in more detail in pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/970,062 entitled MULTI-FUNCTION MOBILE filed Oct. 3, 2001, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference.

[0023] The plush characters 10 of the present invention may each comprise a plush animal, as shown in FIGS. 6a-6d. However, it should be understood that one or more of the plush characters 10 may comprise a doll or other object without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention. The plush characters 10 are generally manufactured of a plush outer material (e.g., cotton or nylon) and a soft inner material (e.g., a low density material such as cotton, foam, or rubber). Both the inner and outer materials of the plush characters 10 must be sufficiently light to enable an infant or toddler to easily play with each plush character 10. Further, the inner and outer materials of each plush character 10 must be sufficiently soft to ensure that the infant or toddler would not be physically injured if impacted thereby.

[0024] A noisemaking device may be mounted within one or more of the plush characters 10. The noisemaking device may comprise a squeaker 34 or a rattle 38. The noisemaking device is covered by a soft, plush outer material and a soft, insulative inner material so that any hard materials used to manufacture the noisemaking device would not injure an infant or toddler if he or she were physically impacted by the plush character 10 within which the noisemaking device is located.

[0025] The plush rings 14 are frictionally engagable to respective ones of the plush characters 10. Each plush character 10 may be configured such that one end or either of both ends is insertable into a corresponding ring opening 36 of a ring 14. For example, as shown in FIGS. 3a-3d, the upper extremities (i.e., legs and hooves, or, alternatively, wings) of each plush character 10 may be sufficiently large to prevent the upper end, i.e., the head and upper extremities, of the plush character 10 from entering into the ring opening 36. However, the lower extremities of the plush characters 10 are sized and configured so as to allow entry thereof into the ring opening 36. Each plush character 10 may be sized and configured so as to be insertable into and frictionally attachable to only a plush ring 14 of a certain size and/or configuration.

[0026] Each plush ring 14 has a generally planar upper surface 42 and a generally planar lower surface 46 disposed in opposed, generally parallel relation to each other. These upper and lower surfaces 42, 46 facilitate the stacking of the plush rings 14 one on top of another such that the stacked rings 14 are independently stable, that is, would not tip over if stacked upon each other without being stabilized by another device.

[0027] As shown in FIG. 4, the perimeter of the opening 36 of each plush ring 14 may have a different geometric configuration (e.g., circular, triangular, or rectangular). The edges of each opening 36 are generally perpendicular to the planar upper and lower surfaces 42, 46 of the associated plush ring 14 so that, when stacked, the plush rings 14 are independently stable as well as stackable upon another device.

[0028] As shown in FIGS. 2 and 4, the toy set of the present invention may be configured as a stacking ring toy 24 in which the rings 14 may be stacked on a base 22 and may circumvent a rod 18. The rings 14 may be placed individually on the rod 18 or, alternatively, may be stacked simultaneously thereon. The rings 14 may be placed on the rod 18 in at least one logical order. By way of example and not limitation, the rings 14 may be stacked in an order of decreasing or of increasing diameter, in an order of decreasing or increasing number of peripheral sides, or in a sequentially numbered order.

[0029] As shown in FIG. 4, the base 22 comprises a base aperture 54 disposed in the center of an upper surface 62 thereof. The rod 18 may be inserted into the base aperture 54 and frictionally attached to the base 22. The edges of the base aperture 54 are generally perpendicular to the generally planar upper surface 62 and a generally planar lower surface 64 disposed in opposed relation to the upper surface 62. The base 22 must be sufficiently heavy to stabilize the stacked rings 14, yet sufficiently soft to prevent injury to an infant or toddler. As further shown in FIG. 4, the rod 18 is sized and configured so that a base end 32 thereof is frictionally engagable to the base 22 after being inserted into the base aperture 54. Alternatively, the base end 32 of the rod 18 may be permanently attached to the base 22.

[0030] As shown in FIGS. 2 and 4, the rod 18 has an elongate, cylindrical configuration. The rod 18 comprises an outer material 68 and an inner material 70. One or both of the outer and inner materials 68, 70 must be sufficiently rigid so as to allow the stacking of the rings 14 onto the rod 18 and the insertion of the rod 18 into the base aperture 54 of the base 22 and frictional attachment of the rod 18 to the base 22. The inner material 68 may comprise two different materials. For example, a hard inner core may be surrounded by a layer of soft, insulative material (e.g., cotton, foam or rubber). In this regard, the soft material protects an infant or toddler from the hard inner core during use. Alternatively, the inner material 68 may comprise a single soft, rigid material, thus precluding the necessity of any soft insulative material. The outer material 70 comprises a soft material (e.g., cotton or nylon).

[0031] As shown in FIG. 5a, the rod may further comprise a rattle 38 contained therewithin. The rattle 38 mounted within the rod 18 is a noisemaking device that produces a sound or noise in response to a shaking or side-to-side movement of the rod 18. More particularly, the rattle 38 may comprise a hard outer container 56 with hard individual objects 58 contained therein. The sound is produced when objects 58 strike other objects 58 or when objects 58 strike the container 56, when the rod 18 is shaken. Alternatively, the container 56 of the rattle 38 may be manufactured from a soft material. In this case, the sound is produced solely by the hard individual objects 58 striking each other. The rattle 38 may alternatively be an electronic device with a motion sensor programmed to respond to a side-to-side motion by producing a sound. The sound may be pre-programmed by the manufacturer or it may be programable by the toy user. The rattle 38 is completely contained within the rod outer material 68 and a sufficient amount of inner material 70 to protect an infant or toddler from injury by any hard component of the rattle 38.

[0032] The rod 18 has an end 28 to which a ball 26 having a generally spherical configuration is permanently attached. The ball 26 may contain a squeaker 34, as shown in FIG. 5b. The squeaker 34 is a device that produces an audible sound in response to a compressive force. The squeaker 34 may comprise a flexible bellow 60 filled with air. When the flexible bellow 60 is compressed, air is forced out through an aperture of the bellow 60, thus creating a sound. Alternatively, the squeaker 34 may comprise an electronic device programmed to produce a sound when the sensors of the electronic device sense a compressive force. The sound may be pre-programmed by the manufacturer or, alternatively, the sound may be programmed by the user. The squeaker 34 is completely circumvented by a soft, insulative inner material which protects an infant or toddler from injury by any hard component of the squeaker 34. The soft inner material is itself circumvented by a soft outer material. Both the inner and outer materials of the ball 26 must be flexible so as to allow an infant or toddler to compress the squeaker 34 to activate the same. The size of the ball 26 is limited to the size of an infant's or toddler's hand so that he or she will be able to squeeze the ball 26 to activate the squeaker 34 contained therewithin.

[0033] The diameter or maximum width (if non-circular) of the ring opening 36 of each plush ring 14 is dependent on the diameter of the rod 18 and the diameter of the ball 26 attached thereto. The diameter of the ring opening 36 may be less than the diameter of the ball 26 to prevent the insertion of the ball 26 through the ring opening 36 and, thus, to prevent the insertion of the rod 18 through the ring opening 36 via the end 28. Alternatively, the diameter of the ring opening 36 may be greater than the diameter of the ball 26 to allow the insertion of the rod 18 through the ring opening 36 via the end 28. In either event, the diameter of the ring opening 36 must be greater than the diameter of the rod 18 to allow the insertion of the rod 18 into the ring opening 36.

[0034] Additional modifications and improvements of the present invention may be apparent to those skilled in the art. Thus, the particular combination of parts described and illustrated herein is intended to represent only one embodiment of the present invention, and is not intended to serve as a limitation of alternative devices within the spirit and scope of the invention.