Title:
Battle system for assembleable toy figures and accessories
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention is directed to a randomizing mechanism for use in game play involving a plurality of toy figures each having a corresponding game piece having indicia disposed thereon containing information relating the components of the corresponding toy figure. The randomizing mechanism may be adapted to be manipulated by a player of the game play, and the randomizing mechanism may include an outer housing, a cylinder disposed and rotatable within the housing which may be adapted to receive a plurality of the game pieces therein, and the housing being adapted so that the indicia of a game piece received in the cylinder is visible from the exterior of the housing. The randomizing mechanism may further include an input member operatively connected to the cylinder that may have a first position and a second position, wherein movement of the input member from the first position to the second position may cause the cylinder to rotate.



Inventors:
Losey, Wayne (Providence, RI, US)
Tinguely, James (West Newbury, MA, US)
Sabram, William C. (Lynn, MA, US)
Application Number:
10/422505
Publication Date:
10/28/2004
Filing Date:
04/24/2003
Assignee:
LOSEY WAYNE
TINGUELY JAMES
SABRAM WILLIAM C.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F5/04; A63H3/16; A63H33/06; (IPC1-7): A63F5/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MENDIRATTA, VISHU K
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MARSHALL, GERSTEIN & BORUN LLP (CHICAGO, IL, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A randomizing mechanism for use in game play involving a plurality of toy figures each having at least one corresponding game piece having indicia disposed thereon containing information relating components of the corresponding toy figure, the randomizing mechanism being adapted to be manipulated by a player of the game play, the randomizing mechanism comprising: an outer housing; a cylinder disposed and rotatable within the housing and being adapted to receive a plurality of the game pieces therein; and an input member operatively connected to the cylinder and having a first position and a second position, wherein movement of the input member from the first position to the second position causes the cylinder to rotate; wherein the indicia of a game piece received in the cylinder is visible from the exterior of the housing.

2. A randomizing mechanism as defined in claim 1, further comprising a detachable end cap being adapted to retentively engage the housing proximate the cylinder, the housing, the cylinder and the end cap being adapted to retain game pieces received in the cylinder when the end cap is attached to the housing, and to facilitate insertion into and removal from the housing of game pieces when the cap is detached from the housing.

3. A randomizing mechanism as defined in claim 1, wherein the cylinder comprises a plurality of partitions subdividing the cylinder into a plurality of subdivisions, each subdivision being adapted to receive one of the game pieces.

4. A randomizing mechanism as defined in claim 3, wherein the housing comprises a demountably attached back plate being adapted to be removed from the housing, whereby the game pieces are inserted and removed from the subdivisions of the cylinder when the back plate is removed from the housing, and the game pieces are retained in the subdivisions when the back plate is attached to the housing.

5. A randomizing mechanism as defined in claim 3, wherein the cylinder comprises a plurality of detents, each detent corresponding to one of the subdivisions and being adapted to engage a game piece received in the subdivision to retain the game piece in the subdivision.

6. A randomizing mechanism as defined in claim 1, further comprising a wheel disposed and rotatable within the housing and operatively connected to the input member, and having wheel indicia disposed thereon, the housing being adapted so that a portion of the wheel indicia is visible from the exterior of the housing.

7. A randomizing mechanism as defined in claim 1, further comprising a toggle mechanism operatively connected to the input member and the cylinder, and having a first toggle position wherein the toggle mechanism is adapted to operatively connect the input member to the cylinder, and a second toggle position wherein the toggle mechanism is adapted to disconnect the input member from the cylinder whereby movement of the input member from its first position to its second position does not cause the cylinder to rotate.

8. A randomizing mechanism as defined in claim 1, further comprising a ring disposed and slidable on the housing, the ring having an opening through which indicia on the game pieces received by the cylinder are visible.

9. A randomizing mechanism as defined in claim 1, further comprising a rotatable dial mounted on the housing, the dial having an external portion extending outwardly and being adapted for manipulation by the player, and an internal portion having dial indicia disposed thereon, the housing being adapted so that at least a portion of the dial indicia is visible from the exterior of the housing.

10. A randomizing mechanism as defined in claim 1, wherein the toy figures are assembleable toy figures each having a plurality of components adapted to be connected to one another, wherein the components of the unique toy figures may be connected to components of the other unique toy figures, and wherein each unique assembleable toy figure has a corresponding game piece having indicia disposed thereon containing information relating the components of the corresponding unique assembleable toy figure.

11. A randomizing mechanism as defined in claim 1, wherein each toy figure has a plurality of game pieces having indicia disposed thereon, and wherein the indicia of each game piece contains information relating to one of the components of the corresponding toy figure.

12. A randomizing mechanism as defined in claim 1, wherein each game pieces comprises a plurality of sides having indicia disposed thereon, and wherein the cylinder is adapted to engage each game piece received thereby such that one of the sides of the game piece faces outwardly from the cylinder and is visible from the exterior of the housing.

13. A randomizing mechanism for use in game play involving a plurality of toy figures each having at least one corresponding game piece having indicia disposed thereon containing information relating components of the corresponding toy figure, the randomizing mechanism being adapted to be manipulated by a player of the game play, the randomizing mechanism comprising: an outer housing; a cylinder disposed and rotatable within the housing and being adapted to receive a plurality of the game pieces therein, the housing being adapted so that the indicia of a game piece received in the cylinder is visible from the exterior of the housing; an input member operatively connected to the cylinder and having a first position and a second position, wherein movement of the input member from the first position to the second position causes the cylinder to rotate; a detachable end cap being adapted to retentively engage the housing proximate the cylinder, the housing, the cylinder and the end cap being adapted to retain game pieces received in the cylinder when the end cap is attached to the housing, and to facilitate insertion into and removal from the housing of game pieces when the cap is detached from the housing; a wheel disposed and rotatable within the housing and operatively connected to the input member, and having wheel indicia disposed thereon, the housing being adapted so that a portion of the wheel indicia is visible from the exterior of the housing; a toggle mechanism operatively connected to the input member and the cylinder, and having a first toggle position wherein the toggle mechanism is adapted to operatively connect the input member to the cylinder, and a second toggle position wherein the toggle mechanism is adapted to disconnect the input member from the cylinder whereby movement of the input member from its first position to its second position does not cause the cylinder to rotate; and a rotatable dial mounted on the housing, the dial having an external portion extending outwardly and being adapted for manipulation by the player, and an internal portion having dial indicia disposed thereon, the housing being adapted so that at least a portion of the dial indicia is visible from the exterior of the housing.

14. A randomizing mechanism as defined in claim 13, wherein the cylinder comprises a plurality of partitions subdividing the cylinder into a plurality of subdivisions, each subdivision being adapted to receive one of the game pieces.

15. A randomizing mechanism as defined in claim 13, wherein the toy figures are assembleable toy figures each having a plurality of components adapted to be connected to one another, wherein the components of the unique toy figures may be connected to components of the other unique toy figures, and wherein each unique assembleable toy figure has a corresponding game piece having indicia disposed thereon containing information relating the components of the corresponding unique assembleable toy figure.

16. A randomizing mechanism as defined in claim 13, wherein each toy figure has a plurality of game pieces having indicia disposed thereon, and wherein the indicia of each game piece contains information relating to one of the components of the corresponding toy figure.

17. A randomizing mechanism as defined in claim 13, wherein each game pieces comprises a plurality of sides having indicia disposed thereon, and wherein the cylinder is adapted to engage each game piece received thereby such that one of the sides of the game piece faces outwardly from the cylinder and is visible from the exterior of the housing.

18. A method of game play for a toy figure assembly game wherein participants assemble hybrid toy figures from the components of a plurality of unique toy figures, each unique toy figure comprising a plurality of components adapted to be connected to one another with each unique toy figure having the same types of components as the other unique toy figures, wherein the components of each unique toy figure may be connected to the components of the other unique toy figures, the method comprising: selecting one of the types of components to be added to the hybrid toy figure; randomly selecting one of the unique toy figures; and assembling the selected one of the types of components from the randomly selected one of the unique toy figures in the hybrid toy figure.

19. A method of game play for a toy figure assembly game as defined in claim 18, wherein each unique toy figure has a corresponding game piece having indicia disposed thereon containing information relating each type of component of the corresponding unique toy figure, and wherein the randomly selecting step comprises randomly selecting one of the game pieces, and wherein the randomly selected unique toy figure is the unique toy figure corresponding to the randomly selected game piece.

20. A method of game play for a toy figure assembly game as defined in claim 19, wherein the game piece indicia comprises a value associated with each type of component of the corresponding unique toy figure, the hybrid toy figure having an associated total value, the method comprising incrementing the total value of the hybrid toy figure by the value associated with the selected one of the types of components of the randomly selected one of the unique toy figures.

21. A method of game play for a toy figure assembly game as defined in claim 19, wherein the step of randomly selecting one of the game pieces comprises: inserting the game pieces into randomizing mechanism having a rotatable cylinder being adapted to receive a plurality of game pieces; activating the randomizing mechanism such that the cylinder is spun by a drive mechanism; allowing the cylinder to stop spinning without intervention by a participant of the game play; determining which of the plurality of game pieces is disposed proximate a predetermined location within the randomizing mechanism, wherein the randomly selected unique toy figure is the unique toy figure corresponding to the game piece disposed proximate the predetermined location within the randomizing mechanism.

22. A method of game play for a toy figure battle game between a plurality of participants, each participant having a toy figure having an associated plurality of attack actions associate therewith, with each attack action having an associated action value and each toy figure having an associated total value, the method comprising: selecting one of the attack actions associated with the toy figure of one of the participants; randomly selecting one of a plurality of attack values; and decrementing the total value of the toy figure of another one of the participants by the action value associated with the selected attack action, and by the randomly selected one of the plurality of attack values.

23. A method of game play for a toy figure assembly game as defined in claim 22, wherein the step of randomly selecting one of a plurality of attack values comprises: providing a randomizing mechanism having a rotatable wheel, the rotatable wheel having indicia disposed thereon representing a plurality of attack values; activating the randomizing mechanism such that the wheel is spun by a drive mechanism; allowing the wheel to stop spinning without intervention by a participant of the game play; determining which of the plurality of attack values is disposed proximate a predetermined location within the randomizing mechanism, wherein the randomly selected one of the plurality of attack values is the one of the plurality of attack values disposed proximate the predetermined location within the randomizing mechanism.

22. A method of game play for a toy figure battle game between a plurality of participants, each participant having a toy figure having an associated plurality of attack actions associate therewith, with each attack action having an associated action value and each toy figure having an associated total value, the method comprising: selecting one of the attack actions associated with the toy figure of one of the participants; randomly selecting one of a plurality of attack values; and decrementing the total value of the toy figure of another one of the participants by the action value associated with the selected attack action, and by the randomly selected one of the plurality of attack values.

23. A method of game play for a toy figure assembly game as defined in claim 22, wherein the step of randomly selecting one of a plurality of attack values comprises: providing a randomizing mechanism having a rotatable wheel, the rotatable wheel having indicia disposed thereon representing a plurality of attack values; activating the randomizing mechanism such that the wheel is spun by a drive mechanism; allowing the wheel to stop spinning without intervention by a participant of the game play; determining which of the plurality of attack values is disposed proximate a predetermined location within the randomizing mechanism, wherein the randomly selected one of the plurality of attack values is the one of the plurality of attack values disposed proximate the predetermined location within the randomizing mechanism.

24. A randomizing mechanism for use in game play involving a plurality of toy figures and being adapted to be manipulated by a player of the game play by rolling the randomizing mechanism on a substantially horizontal surface, the randomizing mechanism comprising: a plurality of game pieces corresponding to one of the toy figures, each game piece comprising a pair of oppositely disposed ends and a plurality of sides each having indicia disposed thereon containing information relating to one of the components of the corresponding toy figure; and a first end cap comprising a plurality of first receptacles adapted to retentively engage one of the ends of one of the game pieces, and a first base having a plurality of first surfaces each corresponding to one of the first receptacles; and a second end cap corresponding to the first end cap and comprising a plurality of second receptacles each corresponding to one of the first receptacles and being adapted to retentively engage the other end of the one of the game pieces engaged by the corresponding first receptacle, and a second base having a plurality of second surfaces each corresponding to one of the second receptacles, wherein one of the sides of the game piece engaged by one of the first and second receptacles faces upwardly when the corresponding first and second surfaces are disposed on the substantially horizontal surface.

25. A randomizing mechanism as defined in claim 24, comprising six game pieces each having three sides having indicia disposed thereon containing information relating to one of the components of the corresponding toy figure, wherein the first end cap comprises six first receptacles and six first surfaces each corresponding to one of the six first receptacles, and the second end cap comprises six second receptacles each corresponding to one of the six first receptacles and six second surfaces each corresponding to one of the six second receptacles.

Description:

BACKGROUND

[0001] The patent is directed to assembleable toy figures, and more particularly to a battle system and game play for assembling hybrid figures from a plurality of assembleable toy figures and playing a battle game between the hybrid figures.

[0002] Various assembleable toy figures have been previously described. For example, an articulated toy figure may include a plurality of body parts each operatively adapted to be adjoined to one another by a ball-socket joint arrangement, with each ball-socket joint arrangement having a ball portion protruding from a region of a body part and also having a corresponding socket portion located in an adjoining body part. The ball portion may have a knob supported on a shaft, and the socket portion may have a socket which rotatably receives the knob. In one or more of the ball-socket joint arrangements, the socket portion is provided with a contoured cavity arrangement having the socket in its interior, with the contoured cavity arrangement limiting the extent of the movement of the shaft therewithin.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0003] In one aspect, the invention is directed to a randomizing mechanism for use in game play involving a plurality of toy figures each having a corresponding game piece having indicia disposed thereon containing information relating the components of the corresponding toy figure. The randomizing mechanism may be adapted to be manipulated by a player of the game play, and the randomizing mechanism may include an outer housing, a cylinder disposed and rotatable within the housing which may be adapted to receive a plurality of the game pieces therein, and the housing being adapted so that the indicia of a game piece received in the cylinder is visible from the exterior of the housing. The randomizing mechanism may further include an input member operatively connected to the cylinder that may have a first position and a second position, wherein movement of the input member from the first position to the second position may cause the cylinder to rotate.

[0004] The randomizing mechanism may further include a detachable end cap that may be adapted to retentively engage the housing proximate the cylinder, with the housing, the cylinder and the end cap being adapted to retain game pieces received in the cylinder when the end cap is attached to the housing, and to facilitate insertion into and removal from the housing of game pieces when the cap is detached from the housing. A wheel may be disposed and rotatable within the housing and operatively connected to the input member, and may have wheel indicia disposed thereon, with the housing being adapted so that a portion of the wheel indicia is visible from the exterior of the housing. Still further, a toggle mechanism may be operatively connected to the input member and the cylinder, and may have a first toggle position wherein the toggle mechanism is adapted to operatively connect the input member to the cylinder, and a second toggle position wherein the toggle mechanism is adapted to disconnect the input member from the cylinder whereby movement of the input member from its first position to its second position does not cause the cylinder to rotate. Moreover, a rotatable dial may be mounted on the housing, with the dial having an external portion extending outwardly which may be adapted for manipulation by the player, and an internal portion having dial indicia disposed thereon, and the housing may be adapted so that at least a portion of the dial indicia is visible from the exterior of the housing.

[0005] In another aspect, the present invention is directed to a method of game play for a toy figure assembly game wherein participants may assemble hybrid toy figures from the components of a plurality of unique toy figures, each unique toy figure including a plurality of components adapted to be connected to one another with each unique toy figure having the same types of components as the other unique toy figures, and wherein the components of each unique toy figure may be connected to the components of the other unique toy figures. The method of game play may include selecting one of the types of components to be added to the hybrid toy figure, randomly selecting one of the unique toy figures, and assembling the selected one of the types of components from the randomly selected one of the unique toy figures in the hybrid toy figure. The step of randomly selecting one of the game pieces in the game play method may include inserting the game pieces into a randomizing mechanism having a rotatable cylinder being adapted to receive a plurality of game pieces, activating the randomizing mechanism such that the cylinder is spun by a drive mechanism, allowing the cylinder to stop spinning without intervention by a participant of the game play, and determining which of the plurality of game pieces is disposed proximate a predetermined location within the randomizing mechanism, and wherein the randomly selected unique toy figure is the unique toy figure corresponding to the game piece disposed proximate the predetermined location within the randomizing mechanism.

[0006] In a further aspect, the present invention is directed to method of game play for a toy figure battle game between a plurality of participants, each participant having a toy figure having an associated plurality of attack actions associate therewith, and with each attack action having an associated action value and each toy figure having an associated total value. The method may include selecting one of the attack actions associated with the toy figure of one of the participants, randomly selecting one of a plurality of attack values, and decrementing the total value of the toy figure of another one of the participants by the action value associated with the selected attack action, and by the randomly selected one of the plurality of attack values. The step of randomly selecting one of a plurality of attack values may include providing a randomizing mechanism having a rotatable wheel, with the rotatable wheel having indicia disposed thereon representing a plurality of attack values, activating the randomizing mechanism such that the wheel is spun by a drive mechanism, allowing the wheel to stop spinning without intervention by a participant of the game play and determining which of the plurality of attack values is disposed proximate a predetermined location within the randomizing mechanism, wherein the randomly selected one of the plurality of attack values is the one of the plurality of attack values disposed proximate the predetermined location within the randomizing mechanism.

[0007] In a still further aspect, the present invention is directed to a randomizing mechanism for use in game play involving a plurality of toy figures and may be adapted to be manipulated by a player of the game play by rolling the randomizing mechanism on a substantially horizontal surface. The randomizing mechanism may include a plurality of game pieces corresponding to one of the toy figures, and each game piece may include a pair of oppositely disposed ends and a plurality of sides that each may have indicia disposed thereon containing information relating to one of the components of the corresponding toy figure. The randomizing mechanism may also include a first end cap that may have a plurality of first receptacles that may be adapted to retentively engage one of the ends of one of the game pieces, and a first base that may have a plurality of first surfaces each corresponding to one of the first receptacles. Still further, the randomizing mechanism may include a second end cap corresponding to the first end cap and that may have a plurality of second receptacles each corresponding to one of the first receptacles and that may be adapted to retentively engage the other end of the one of the game pieces engaged by the corresponding first receptacle, and a second base that may have a plurality of second surfaces each corresponding to one of the second receptacles. One of the sides of the game piece engaged by one of the first and second receptacles may face upwardly when the corresponding first and second surfaces are disposed on the substantially horizontal surface.

[0008] Additional aspects of the invention are defined by the claims of this patent.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0009] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an embodiment of an assembleable toy figure having use with the method and apparatus in accordance with the invention;

[0010] FIG. 2 is a front view of the toy figure of FIG. 1 along with additional components that are attachable to the toy figure;

[0011] FIG. 3 is a side view of a first side of a game piece having use with the method and apparatus in accordance with the invention;

[0012] FIG. 4 is a side view of a second side of the game piece of FIG. 3;

[0013] FIG. 5 is a side view of a third side of the game piece of FIG. 3;

[0014] FIG. 6 is a perspective view two connectable pieces of an alternative embodiment of game piece having use with the method and apparatus in accordance with the invention;

[0015] FIG. 7 is a side view of an embodiment of a randomizing mechanism in accordance with the invention;

[0016] FIG. 8 is an exploded perspective view of an alternative embodiment of a randomizing mechanism in accordance with the invention;

[0017] FIG. 9 is a side view of an embodiment of a plunger and gears having use with the method and apparatus in accordance with the invention in a first position;

[0018] FIG. 10 is a side view of the plunger and gears of FIG. 9 in a second position;

[0019] FIG. 11 is a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of a game piece;

[0020] FIG. 12 is a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of a randomizing mechanism;

[0021] FIG. 13 is a top view of an end cap of the randomizing mechanism of FIG. 12;

[0022] FIG. 14 is a side view of an end cap of the randomizing mechanism of FIG. 12;

[0023] FIG. 15 is a rear partially exploded view of a further alternative embodiment of a randomizing mechanism;

[0024] FIG. 16 is a side view of a shell for the randomizing mechanism of FIG. 15;

[0025] FIG. 17 is a top view of the shell of FIG. 16;

[0026] FIG. 18 is a side view of the shell of FIG. 16 and the randomizing mechanism of FIG. 15; and

[0027] FIG. 19 is a bottom partially exploded view of the shell of FIG. 16.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF VARIOUS EMBODIMENTS

[0028] Although the following text sets forth a detailed description of numerous different embodiments of the invention, it should be understood that the legal scope of the invention is defined by the words of the claims set forth at the end of this patent. The detailed description is to be construed as exemplary only and does not describe every possible embodiment of the invention since describing every possible embodiment would be impractical, if not impossible. Numerous alternative embodiments could be implemented, using either current technology or technology developed after the filing date of this patent, which would still fall within the scope of the claims defining the invention.

[0029] It should also be understood that, unless a term is expressly defined in this patent using the sentence “As used herein, the term ‘______ ’ is hereby defined to mean . . .” or a similar sentence, there is no intent to limit the meaning of that term, either expressly or by implication, beyond its plain or ordinary meaning, and such term should not be interpreted to be limited in scope based on any statement made in any section of this patent (other than the language of the claims). To the extent that any term recited in the claims at the end of this patent is referred to in this patent in a manner consistent with a single meaning, that is done for sake of clarity only so as to not confuse the reader, and it is not intended that such claim term by limited, by implication or otherwise, to that single meaning. Finally, unless a claim element is defined by reciting the word “means” and a function without the recital of any structure, it is not intended that the scope of any claim element be interpreted based on the application of 35 U.S.C. § 112, sixth paragraph.

[0030] FIG. 1 illustrates one embodiment of an assembleable toy FIG. 10 having use with the method and apparatus in accordance with the invention. The toy FIG. 10 may consist of various components representing various parts of a human body. For example, the toy FIG. 10 may include separate components for a head 12, a torso 14, upper arms 16, forearms 18, hands 20, a pelvis 22, thighs 24, lower legs 26, and feet 28. The components 12-28 of the toy FIG. 10 may be assembled and disassembled via ball-and-socket joints that may include balls 30 on one component that mate with corresponding sockets 32 on another component. The sockets 32 may be configured with an opening having a diameter smaller than the diameter of the balls 30 so that the balls 30 may be inserted into and retained by the sockets 32 to assemble the toy FIG. 10, and removed from the sockets 32 without damaging the components to disassemble the toy FIG. 10. The sockets may also be configured with the inner diameter of the sockets 32 being dimensioned to engage the balls 30 such that the connected components may be positioned relative to one another by a force applied by the player of the toy FIG. 10, and such that the connected components maintain their positions relative to one another when no force is applied by the player of the toy FIG. 10, thus making the toy FIG. 10 posable by the player.

[0031] In order to increase the degrees of freedom of the ball-and-socket joints, and correspondingly the posability of the toy FIG. 10, the balls 30 may be connected to the components 12-28 by stems 34 having outer diameters smaller than the diameters of the balls 30 and the openings of the sockets 32. When the balls 30 are inserted in the sockets 32, the openings of the sockets 32 allow rotation of the components about multiple rotational axes. Moreover, to further simulate anatomically correct movement of the joints, the openings of the sockets 32 may be elongated to facilitate greater movement in a particular direction. For example, the sockets 32 of the joints between the thighs 24 and lower legs 26 may have openings that are elongated from front to back to allow a significant amount of rearward pivoting of the lower legs 26, and have a relatively narrow lateral dimension such that movement of the lower legs 26 from side to side is minimal. In this way, the joints between the thighs 24 and lower legs 26 may function in a similar manner to the knee joints of a human being. The balls 30 and sockets 32 of the other joints may be similarly configured to accurately simulate the movement of the corresponding joints of the human body.

[0032] While the toy FIG. 10 is shown in FIG. 1 and described herein as having components 12-28, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that the toy FIG. 10 may consist of more or fewer components. For example, the thigh 24 and lower leg 26 may be integrally formed as a single component without having a moveable knee joint. Moreover, the components 12-28 may be connected by mechanisms other than ball-and-socket joints that may or may not allow relative movement of the connected components. Still further, while the toy FIG. 10 is illustrated and described as being in the form of a human being, the toy FIGS. 10 may alternatively be configured in the forms of animals, insects, robots, or other real or fictional characters that may have use with the method and apparatus according to the present invention.

[0033] Referring now to FIG. 2, each toy FIG. 10 may be in the form of a distinct or unique character and may include additional accessories that are related to the character or personality of the toy FIG. 10, and that may be connected to and used in conjunction with the toy FIG. 10. For example, the character of the toy FIG. 10 in FIG. 2 may be a soldier having various components of armor 36 that are attachable to the toy FIG. 10. The soldier of toy FIG. 10 may further include an assortment of weapons such as hand grenades 38, knives 40, and guns 42, all of which may be attachable to or grasped by the toy FIG. 10. Still further, the soldier of toy FIG. 10 may include other accessories related to the personality of the character, such as clothing 44, goggles 46 providing enhanced vision, such as X-ray, infrared, or night vision, breathing apparatus 48, and computing or other apparatus 50 representing enhanced intelligence, skills or other sensory capabilities.

[0034] As previously mentioned, the toy FIG. 10 may be provided in the form of various distinct or unique characters having distinct personalities and accessories that are related to the character's personality. For example, the character may be a knight with medieval armor and weapons, a robot with various mechanical and electro-mechanical accessories, non-human creatures, and any other type of real or fictional characters that may be useful with the method and apparatus according to the present invention. Each of the characters may be accompanied by a unique game piece 52 including information unique to the character. As an example, the game piece 52 may be in the form of an elongated tube having three sides, each of which may include different types of information relating to the corresponding character. The information contained on the game piece 52 may be useful in the method and game play according to the present invention in the assembly of hybrid characters and in staging battles between the characters assembled by the players.

[0035] One embodiment of a game piece 52 in the form of an elongated tube having three sides is illustrated in FIGS. 3-5. Referring to FIG. 3, a first side 54 of the game piece 52 may include information relating to the assembly of the components of a character. The information on the first side 54 may be in the form of indicia that may be indicative of a relative value of a component of the character to the overall value or strength of the character, or to the value or strength of a hybrid character assembled from components of two or more different characters. For example, the information on the first side 54 of the game piece 52 may have head indicia 56 indicating that the head of the corresponding character contributes three points to overall value or strength of the character. The information on the first side 54 of the game piece 52 may further include indicia 58 relating to a special feature included with the corresponding character that contributes four points to the overall value or strength of the character. The first side 54 may include additional indicia with information relating to the value or strength of other components or accessories of the corresponding character that may be useful during the assembly of characters during the game play in a manner described more fully below.

[0036] FIG. 4 shows a second side 60 of the game piece 52 that may include information in the form of indicia that may be indicative of a relative value or amount of damage inflicted by particular actions of the corresponding character during battle game play. For example, the information on the second side 60 of the game piece may have indicia 62 indicating that a head butt by the character may have a value of one point during battle game play between two or more characters, while other indicia 64 may indicate that a block by the character may have a value of negative two points. The indicia on the second side 60 relating to the battle game play may correspond to the indicia on the first side 52 relating to the assembly of the characters. For example, the head indicia 56 on the first side 52 may be positioned proximate the head butt indicia 62 on the second side 60. Configured in this way, it may be apparent to the player that a particular component of the character (the head or the special feature) corresponds to a particular action of the character (head butt or tail whip, respectively) during battle game play.

[0037] Turning to FIG. 5, a third side 66 of the game piece 52 may include bar codes 68 containing the information corresponding to the assembly and battle game play information for the character that is provided on the first and second sides 54 and 60, respectively, of the game piece 52. In an alternative embodiment of the mechanized game play described below, an electronic game system may be provided that may include a scanner for reading the bar codes 68 to obtain the assembly and battle game play information provided visually on the first and second sides 54 and 60 of the game piece 52. The electronic game system may further include a processor, software and input/output devices configured to electronically control the assembly and battle game play described herein.

[0038] An alternative embodiment of a game piece 52 in accordance with the present invention is shown in FIG. 6. The game piece 52 may be comprised of a plurality of interconnected pieces 70, each of which may include assembly and battle game play information for a component or accessory of a corresponding character. The pieces 70 may be connected via a ball-and-socket connection mechanism including a ball 72 and a socket 74. The openings of the sockets 74 are dimension such that a ball 72 may be inserted by the player and retained until the player applies a force to remove the ball 72 from the socket 74. Each piece 70 may include a ball 72 disposed at one end and a socket 74 disposed at the opposite end so that a series of pieces 70 may be connected to form a game piece 52 having information for a corresponding unique character or a hybrid character that is assembled from components chosen from two or more unique characters.

[0039] In one embodiment of a method of game play in accordance with the present invention, components of a plurality of unique characters are assembled to form a hybrid character. The players may be free to select components from the unique characters to assemble a desired hybrid character. Alternatively, the composition of a hybrid character may be determined randomly or semi-randomly based on the information contained on the game pieces 52 corresponding to the unique characters being used to derive the hybrid character. One mechanism for randomly or semi-randomly assembling a hybrid character and for battle game play is illustrated in FIG. 7. A randomizing mechanism 80 may include a cylindrical outer housing or chamber 82 having a rotatable cylinder 84 disposed therein which is visible through the removed portion of the cylindrical chamber 82. The cylinder 84 may be subdivided to receive a plurality of game pieces 52 corresponding to each of the unique characters used during the game play. The game pieces 52 may be inserted into the cylinder 84 when an end cap 86 is opened or removed to permit access to the interior of the randomizing mechanism 80. In the embodiment shown, the end cap 86 may be connected to the chamber 82 by a hinge 88 that facilitates the movement of the end cap 86 between a closed position (not shown) and an open position. During the assembly of the unique character, the game pieces 52 are disposed within the subdivisions of the cylinder 84 and oriented with their first sides 54 facing outwardly such that the indicia on the first sides 54 are visible through a transparent portion or opening in the wall of the chamber 82.

[0040] The randomizing mechanism 80 may further include a slidable ring 90 disposed on the exterior surface of the chamber 82 and slidable along the longitudinal axis 92 of the chamber 82. The ring 90 may include an opening 94 through which the indicia on the first sides 54 of the game pieces 52 are visible to the player. During game play, the ring 90 may be slid by the player along the outside of the chamber 82 to position the opening 94 of the ring 90 at one of the indicia that is selected by the player during the player's turn.

[0041] For use during battle game play, the randomizing mechanism 80 may further include a rotatable wheel 96 disposed within the chamber 82 and coaxial with the cylinder 84. The wheel 96 may have indicia 98 thereon indicative of an amount of damage inflicted during a player's turn during battle game play. The indicia 98 may be, for example, a number indicating an amount of points to be deducted from the value or strength of an opponent's character. Alternatively, the indicia 98 may be a design or figure indicating a particular action to be taken during battle game play. For example, the word “CRUSH” may indicate that the player may remove a component or accessory from the opponent's character. As another example, the word “EVOLVE” appearing on the wheel 96 may indicate that player may substitute a superior component or accessory for a component or accessory of the player's character. Other indicia and corresponding actions to be taken by the players during battle game play will be apparent to those skilled in the art and are contemplated as having use in the method and apparatus according to the present invention. In order to view the indicia on the wheel 96, the chamber 82 may include a second transparent portion or opening 100 disposed proximate the wheel 96 so that one of the indicia 98 of the wheel 96 is visible to the player. The indicia 98 appearing in the opening 100 during the player's turn is the indicia 96 used for the particular round of battle game play.

[0042] In order to activate the randomizing mechanism 80 during game play, the mechanism 80 may further include a plunger 102 projecting outwardly through an opening 104 in the chamber 82. The plunger 102 may be connected to a drive mechanism (not shown) within the chamber 82 that causes the wheel 96 and/or the cylinder 84 to spin when the plunger 102 is depressed by the player into the chamber 82. A toggle button 106, similar to the button of an ink pen, may be provided to alternately engage and disengage the cylinder 84 from the drive mechanism, depending on whether the game play is in assembly mode or attack mode. When the button 106 is in the extended position, which may be the normal position for the attack mode of the game play, the drive mechanism may engage only the wheel 96 so that only the wheel 96 is spun when the plunger 102 is depressed by the player. When the button 106 is in the retracted or inward position, which may be the normal position for the assembly mode of the game play, the drive mechanism may engage both the wheel 96 and the cylinder 84 so that both the wheel 96 and the cylinder 84 are spun when the plunger 102 is depressed by the player. Of course, those skilled in the art will understand that other mechanisms for alternately engaging and disengaging the drive mechanism from the cylinder 84 are contemplated as having use with the method and apparatus in accordance with the present invention.

[0043] As previously discussed, the values or strength represented by the indicia on the first side 54 of the game piece 52 may be accumulated as a hybrid character is being assembled during the assembly mode of game play. In order to assist the player in keeping track of the accumulated value of the hybrid character, the randomizing mechanism may further include a base cap 108 disposed at the opposite end of the chamber 82 from end cap 86. The base cap 108 may include a dial 110 held in place by a collar 112 that may be affixed to the end and/or outer wall of the chamber 82. The dial 110 may be rotatable about the longitudinal axis of the chamber 82, and include numbers or other indicia 114 representing the accumulated value or strength of the player's hybrid character. During the assembly mode of game play, as components and accessories are added to the hybrid character as indicated by the indicia on the first sides 54 of the game pieces 52, the dial 110 is rotated in a direction such that the indicia 114 indicates an increase in the value or strength of the hybrid character. Conversely, during the attack mode of game play, in a manner discussed more fully below, the dial 110 is rotated in a direction such that the indicia 114 indicates a decrease in the value or strength of the hybrid character by an amount corresponding to an attack amount achieved by the player's opponent during the opponent's turn. In order to view the accumulated value indicated by the indicia 114 on the dial 110, the collar 112 may include an opening 116 through which the indicia 114 of the dial 110 is visible.

[0044] FIG. 8, wherein the same reference numerals are used with reference to similar components, illustrates an alternative embodiment of a randomizing mechanism 120 in accordance with the present invention. An outer housing or chamber 122 may have a two-piece construction consisting of a first section 124 and a second section 126 that are assembled to form the cylindrical chamber 122. The first and second sections 124 and 126 may be partially transparent in the area in which the cylinder 84 is disposed so that the indicia on the game pieces 52 disposed in the cylinder 84 are visible to the player of the randomizing mechanism 120. The cylinder 84 is subdivided by a plurality of partitions 128 that may form sections into which the game pieces 52 may be inserted when the cylinder 84 is disposed within the chamber 122.

[0045] To facilitate the insertion and removal of a single game piece 52 at a time in the cylinder, the randomizing mechanism 120 may include a detachable end cap 130 and cover disk 132. The cover disk 132 may be attached to an end of the assembled chamber 122, and include a first opening 134 configured such that one game piece 52 at a time may be inserted or removed through the first opening 134. When the end cap 130 is detached from the chamber 122, a game piece 52 may be inserted into or removed from a section of the cylinder 84 disposed at the first opening 134. The remaining game pieces 52 disposed in the remaining sections of the cylinder 84 are retained within the chamber 122 by the cover disk 132. When the end cap 130 is attached to the chamber 122, all the game pieces 52 disposed within the cylinder 84 are retained in the chamber 122 by the end cap 130 regardless of their proximity to the first opening 134 of the cover disk 132. The cover disk 132 may further include a second opening 136 in which a shaft or extension 138 of the cylinder 84 is disposed to act as a fulcrum about which the cylinder 84 can rotate within the chamber 122.

[0046] The randomizing mechanism 120 may be configured such that the cylinder 84 may stop in certain discrete positions such that when the cylinder 84 comes to a stop after rotating, one of the subdivisions of the cylinder 84, and consequently a game piece 52 disposed therein, are positioned in a particular location of the chamber 122 for viewing by the player. In order the ensure that the opening 94 of the ring 90 is aligned with the particular location where the game piece 52 will be viewable, the ring 90 may include a notch 140 on the inner surface of the ring 90 that may be adapted to mate with a longitudinal bearing surface 142 on the outer surface of the chamber 122. When the randomizing mechanism 120 is assembled, the notch 140 is aligned with the bearing surface 142 to allow the ring 90 to slide onto the outer surface of the chamber 122. The ring 90 is then constrained to slide along the longitudinal direction of the chamber 122 without rotating about the longitudinal axis of the chamber 122. The notch 140 and bearing surface 142 may be positioned such that as the ring 90 slides back and forth along the chamber 122, the opening 94 of the ring 90 is aligned with the particular location where the game piece 52 will be viewable.

[0047] As previously described, the wheel 96 is disposed and rotatable within the chamber 122, with the indicia 98 of the wheel being visible through the opening 100 which may be located in the second section 126 of the chamber 122. Still further, the dial 110 may be disposed and rotatable within a base cap 144 such that the portion of the dial 110 manipulated by the player extends outwardly from the end of the randomizing mechanism 120, and the portion of the dial 110 having the indicia 114 disposed thereon extends inwardly into the chamber 122 when the base cap 144 is attached to the end of the chamber 122. In this embodiment, the indicia 114 of the dial 110 may be visible to the player through an opening 146 which may be provided in the second section 126 of the chamber 122.

[0048] In order to activate the randomizing mechanism 120, the plunger 102 extends outwardly from the chamber 122 through the opening 104, and is operably connected to a drive mechanism for spinning the cylinder 84 and/or wheel 96. In one embodiment, the drive mechanism may include a pair of racks 146 and 148 connected to the plunger 102 and disposed within the chamber 122. The drive mechanism may further include a cylinder gear 150 and a wheel gear 152 disposed on an axle 154 on which the wheel 96 and at least one end of the cylinder 84 are mounted. The cylinder gear 150 may be operatively coupled to the cylinder 84 and the wheel gear 152 may be operatively coupled to the wheel 96 such that rotation of the gears 150 and 152 about the axle 154 may cause a corresponding rotation of the cylinder 84 and wheel 96, respectively. The gears 150 and 152 may mate with racks 146 and 148, respectively, such that the racks 146 and 148 cause the gears 150 and 152 to rotate in one direction when the plunger 102 is depressed by the player. The drive mechanism may further include a pair of springs 154 and 156 operatively coupled to the cylinder 84, wheel 96 and gears 150 and 152 whose spring force may be used to drive the cylinder 84 and wheel 96, respectively, through more revolutions and more rapidly than merely driving the gears 150 and 152 with the racks 146 and 148.

[0049] As an example, the drive mechanism may be configured with the springs 154 and 156 operatively coupled to the gears 150 and 152, respectively, such that as the plunger 102 is depressed the gears 150 and 152 are rotated in a first direction by the racks 146 and 148, respectively, the spring force in the springs 154 and 156 increase as the springs 154 and 156 are compressed or elongated, or as torque is applied, by the gears 146 and 148. At a predetermined point in the range of motion of the plunger 102, the gears 150 and 152 may disengage from the racks 146 and 148, thereby allowing the force of the springs 154 and 156 to cause the cylinder 84 and wheel 96 to rotate about the axle 154 for a number of rotations and with a rotational velocity proportional to the spring force built up in the springs 154 and 156.

[0050] In one embodiment, the operative connection between the gears 146 and 148 and the springs 154 and 156 may be in the form of a cylinder rack 158 disposed between the cylinder gear 150 and spring 154, and a wheel rack 160 disposed between the wheel gear 152 and spring 156. As the plunger 102 is depressed and the racks 146 and 148 move downwardly as shown in FIG. 8, the gears 150 and 152 rotate about the axle 154 and drive the racks 158 and 160 upward, thereby stretching the spring 154 and 156. At a predetermined point in the range of motion of the plunger 102, the gears 150 and 152 may disengage from the racks 146 and 148, thereby allowing the gears 150 and 152, the cylinder 85 and the wheel 96 to rotate in the opposite direction as the racks 158 and 160 are urged downward by the force of the springs 154 and 156. In order for the cylinder 84 and wheel 96 to continue rotating under the impulse applied by the force of the springs 154 and 156, the springs 154 may be adapted to compress past their steady state position such that the racks 158 and 160 may be pushed down and out of engagement with the gears 150 and 152 by the teeth of the gears 150 and 152. Once the cylinder 84 and wheel 96 stop spinning and the plunger 102 is released, the springs 154 and 156 and racks 158 and 160 may be returned to their steady state or normal positions with the teeth of the racks 158 and 160 engaging the teeth of the gears 150 and 152. It will be understood by those skilled in the art that other drive mechanism configurations may be implemented to translate motion of the plunger 102 or other input device into rotation of the cylinder 84 and wheel 96 for use with the method and apparatus in accordance with the present invention.

[0051] As previously discussed, the randomizing mechanisms 80 and 120 may be implemented such that cylinder 84 and/or wheel 96 may be alternately engaged and disengaged from the drive mechanism at different times during game play. In one embodiment, the randomizing mechanism 120 may include a toggle mechanism 162, such as the mechanism commonly used in ink pens, operatively connected to the axle 154 such that the toggle mechanism 162 may move the axle 154 axially to move the gears 150 and/or 152 into and out of engagement with the racks 146 and/or 148. The toggle mechanism 162 may include a toggle button 164 extending outwardly from the randomizing mechanism 120 so that the player may depress the button 164 to move the axle 154 between a first position wherein one or both of the gears 150 and 152 engage their respective racks 146 and 148, and a second position wherein one or both of the gears 150 and 152 are disengaged from their respective racks 146 and 148.

[0052] As one example, FIG. 9 may illustrate a first position of the axle 154 and gears 150 and 152. In this first position, the gear 152 engages the rack 148 while the gear 150 is disengaged from the rack 146 so that the wheel 96 spins and the cylinder 84 remains stationary when the plunger 102 is depressed by the player. This may be the desired mode of operation during the battle game play so that the particular game piece 52 for a character disposed in the cylinder 84 remains in place while the wheel 96 spins to determine an attack value during the player's turn. A second position of the axle 154 is shown in FIG. 10 wherein both gears 150 and 152 engage the racks 146 and 148, respectively, so that both the cylinder 84 and wheel 96 are spun when the plunger is depressed. This may be the desired mode of operation of the randomizing mechanism 120 during the assembly mode of game play. Those skilled in the art will understand that other configurations and mechanisms for alternately engaging and disengaging the drive mechanism from the components spun by the drive mechanism may be implemented in a randomizing mechanism for use with the method and apparatus in accordance with the invention.

[0053] The toy FIG. 10 and randomizing mechanisms 80 and 120 illustrated and described herein may be used by players for game play in which toy FIG. 10 having differing unique character configurations may be combined and assembled into hybrid characters. The players may further participate in game play in which unique and/or hybrid characters battle each other to determine a winner based on the information on the game pieces 52 relating to the values or strengths of the characters, and to the attack capabilities of the characters being used in the game play. In one embodiment of assembly mode game play, a player may combine two or more unique characters into a hybrid character using the game pieces 52 and the randomizing mechanism 80 to determine which components and accessories of the unique characters to assemble in to the hybrid character, and to determine a value or strength associated with the hybrid character. The player may start by detaching the end cap 86 from the chamber 82 and inserting the game pieces 52 into the various sections of the cylinder 84 with the first sides 54 of the game pieces 52 facing outwardly so that the player may view the assembly indicia of the game pieces 52. Once the game pieces 52 are inserted and the end cap 86 is closed, the player may need to press the toggle button 106 to ensure that the drive mechanism operatively engages the cylinder 84.

[0054] To begin the player's turn, the player may slide the ring 90 along the chamber to position the opening 94 proximate the indicia corresponding to a component or accessory that the player desires to add to the hybrid character. As shown in FIG. 7, the ring 90 may be positioned such that the opening 94 is proximate the indicia for the torso of the character on the first side 54 of the game piece 52. Once the ring 90 is positioned, the plunger 102 may be depressed by the player, thereby causing the cylinder 82 to spin within the chamber 82. When the cylinder 82 stops, one of the game pieces 52 corresponding to one of the unique characters should be aligned with the opening 94 so that the indicia on the first side 54 of the game piece 52 is visible to the player through the opening 94. The player determines which of the unique characters corresponds to the game piece 52, selects the component or accessory corresponding to the indicia shown through the opening 94, and attaches or otherwise add the accessory or component to the hybrid character.

[0055] At the same time that the component or accessory is added to the hybrid character, the player may increase or decrease the value or strength of the hybrid character based on the indicia on the game piece 52. The value or strength may be adjusted by turning the dial 110 until the indicia 114 visible through the opening 116 reflects the increase or decrease in value or strength dictated by the indicia on the game piece 52. For example, if the player aligns the ring 90 with the indicia for the arms on the game pieces 52, the player increases the value or strength of the hybrid character from forty-one as shown in the opening 116 by five points by turning the dial 110 until the indicia 114 of forty-six appears in the opening 116. The player may repeat this process until the ring 90 has been aligned with each indicia of a component or accessory on the game pieces 52, the hybrid character is fully assembled, and the characters total value or strength is determined and reflected by the indicia 114 shown in the opening 116.

[0056] Once the players have assembled their unique or hybrid characters and determined their value or strength, the players may enter battle game play in which the players attack each others characters until the value or strength of one or more of the characters is reduced to zero. If the players utilize game pieces 52 composed of interconnected pieces 70, the players may remove the game pieces 52 for the unique characters from the randomizing mechanism 80, disassemble the game pieces 52, and reassemble a hybrid game piece 52 consisting of the interconnected pieces 70 corresponding to the components and accessories of the hybrid character. Once the hybrid game pieces 52 are assembled, the players may insert the hybrid game pieces 52 into their randomizing mechanisms 80 with the second sides 60 of the hybrid game pieces 52 facing outwardly and visible to the players.

[0057] During battle game play in which only a single game piece 52 is used, the players may desire to have the cylinder 84 remain stationary during the battle game play so that the indicia on the second side 60 of the game piece 52 is visible at all times. In order to prevent the cylinder 84 from spinning, the player may press the toggle button 106 to disengage the drive mechanism from the cylinder 84 so that the cylinder 84 does not spin when the plunger 102 is depressed by the player. Even though the cylinder 84 is disengaged, the drive mechanism may still engage the wheel 96 so that the wheel 96 spins during battle game play.

[0058] During a player's turn, and in a similar manner as during the assembly mode, the player may slide the ring 90 along the chamber 82 to align the opening 92 proximate the indicia for a particular attack or battle action. For example, the player may align the opening 94 proximate the head butt indicia 62 or block indicia 64 on the second side 60 of the game piece 52 shown in FIG. 4. To execute the selected attack action, the player may depress the plunger 102 of the player's randomizing mechanism 102 to cause the attack wheel 96 to spin in the chamber 82 while the cylinder 84 remains stationary. When the attack wheel 96 stops, the indicia 98 on the wheel 96 visible through the opening 100 may be used to determine an amount of damage inflicted on an opponent's character. The indicia 98 may indicate an amount of attack points to be deducted from the value or strength of the opponent's character.

[0059] Where attack points are indicated, the attack points shown on the wheel 96 may be added to the points indicated by the indicia on the second side 60 of the game piece 52 visible through the opening 94 to determine a total amount of attack points accumulated by the player during the player's turn. The total amount of attack points accumulated by the player may be deducted from the value or strength of the opponent's character by turning the dial 110 on the opponent's randomizing mechanism 80 until the amount of points displayed in the opponent's opening 116 reflects the damage points inflicted by the player. The players may take turns adjusting the ring 90 and spinning their attack wheels 96 until the value or strength of one or more of the characters is reduced to zero.

[0060] While the method and apparatus in accordance with the invention are described herein as having game pieces 52 and randomizing mechanisms 80 and 120, other configurations of the method and apparatus are contemplated. For example, the game pieces 52 may be configured in a manner that facilitates assembly and battle game play by manipulating the game pieces 52 without a randomizing mechanism. In one embodiment, the game pieces 52 may be configured as multi-sided dice that may be thrown by the players, and with the outcome of a player's turn being determined based on the indicia on the upward-facing sides of the dice. Moreover, other configurations of randomizing mechanisms, and methods and rules for assembly and battle game play are contemplated as having use in the method and apparatus in accordance with the invention. As an example, during the assembly mode, each hybrid character may have an initial value or strength to which the values corresponding to the included components or accessories are added to arrive at a total value or strength of the hybrid character. As a further example, the game pieces 52 may include additional indicia indicating a defense value for components and accessories that may be used reduce the amount of damage points applied during the opponent's attack turn.

[0061] An alternative embodiment of the game piece 200 is illustrated in FIG. 11. Similar to the game piece 52 previously described, the game piece 200 may be in the form of an elongated tube having three sides 202-206, each of which may include different types of information relating to the corresponding character. In this embodiment, the information on each side 202-206 of the game piece 200 relates to the same component or aspect of the associated character, and each character may have a plurality of game pieces 200 each providing information relating to the composition of the character. For example, the game piece 200 may include information relating to the arms of the character and their associated accessories and capabilities. The first side 202 may provide information relating to the strength of the particular body part, such as the arms, the second side 204 may include information relating to a weapon or attack capability associated with the body part of the character, and the third side 206 may include information relating to a defense capability of the character, such as a shield or a force field, or other special powers or abilities associated with the character. Of course, the component of the character to which the game piece 200 is associated, and the information presented on the sides 202-206 of the game piece 200, may vary based on the character to which the game piece 200 is associated and the configuration of the character or component dictated by the game or the designer of the game.

[0062] Each side 202-206 of the game piece 200 includes information pertaining to a given component or body part for the associated character. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 11, the information on a given one of the sides 202-206 may include family or category indicia 208 identifying a particular family or category of characters of which the associated character is a part, character indicia 210 designating the character within the family or category to which the game piece 200 and corresponding component are associated, and component indicia 212 identifying the component, weapon, defense, special power or ability, and the like for the character identified by the character indicia 210. As previously discussed, each character may have a unique identity or personality, with the characters being divided up between families or categories such that each family or category may have a plurality of unique characters that are based on a common theme. For example, the icon of the family indicia 208 may indicate that the character belongs to the human family or category, with the particular character being identified as a human commando, either textually as shown or by an appropriate icon or other symbol, by the character indicia 210. As described with the character indicia 210, the category indicia 208 and component indicia 212 may be in the form of text, icons or symbols, and the like, that may convey the necessary information. The game piece 200 may further include strength or command indicia 214 and 216 associated with the component identified by the component indicia 212. For example, strength indicia 214 may include a numerical valve representative of the relative strength or attack capability of the corresponding component, while the command indicia 216 may include a symbol or icon identifying a command to be executed, such as a player losing a turn, or losing or gaining pieces or accessories for the character, upon the occurrence of the command indicia 216 during game play. Various configuration or combinations of strength and command indicia 214 and 216 may be implemented based on the particular design of the character or the game. In addition, to a numerical value, symbol or icon on the indicia 214 and 216, the indicia 214 and 216 may include background coloring indicative of which indicia 214 or 216 is applicable in a particular game play. For example indicia 214 may have a white background while indicia 216 may have a black background, with the indicia 214 being applicable if it is determined that the indicia with the white background will be controlling in a particular game play, or with the indicia 216 being applicable if it is determined that the indicia with the black background will be controlling.

[0063] In order to perform game playing with the game pieces 200, a randomizing mechanism may be used to randomly select a side 202-206 of one of the game pieces 200 during a players turn. As one example, the randomizing mechanism 180 of FIG. 7 may be utilized in the manner previously described herein. One alternative embodiment of a manual randomizing mechanism is illustrated in FIG. 12, which shows a plurality of game pieces 200 engaged at either end by randomizer end caps 220. In the illustrated embodiment, the end caps 220 have a hexagonal outer surface and are configured to engage six game pieces 200 such that one of the sides 202-206 of each game piece 200 faces outwardly and is parallel to one of the sides of the hexagonal outer surface. Configured in this way, the assembled end caps 220 and game pieces 200 may be rolled by a player like a die with the upwardly facing side of one of the game pieces 200 representing the value of the roll of the assembly.

[0064] An embodiment of a randomizer end cap 220 is illustrated in FIGS. 13 and 14. Referring to FIG. 13, the randomizer end cap 220 may include a hexagonal base 222 having a center post 224 extending upwardly from the center of the hexagonal base 222 with partitions 226 extending radially outwardly from the center post 224 to the axes of the hexagonal base 222. The hexagonal base 222 further includes an outer wall 228 extending upwardly with the partitions 226 intersecting the wall 228 at the axis of the hexagonal base 222. Each pair of partitions 226 and corresponding portions of the wall 228 and base 222 define a receptacle 230 that may be adapted to receive and engage an end of a game piece 200 inserted therein. The randomizing mechanism is assembled by inserting an end of each of the game pieces 200 into one of the receptacles 230 and attaching a second one of the end caps 220 to the opposite ends of the game pieces 200 as shown in FIG. 12. The game pieces 200 may be inserted in the corresponding receptacles 230 in an orientation such that one of the sides 202-206 faces outwardly from the assembly as desired by the player, or as dictated by the game play.

[0065] It will be understood that although end caps 220 are illustrated as adapted to engage six game pieces 200, the end caps 220 may be configured to engage more or fewer game pieces 200, with the base 222 being shaped such that a side of a game piece 200 faces upwardly. This is also true for other embodiments of randomizing mechanisms disclosed herein that may be adapted to hold as many or as few game pieces as may be desired by a designer or dictated by the game play. It is further contemplated that the game pieces may include more or fewer than three sides having indicia with information relating to the associated character disposed thereon.

[0066] FIG. 14 illustrates an alternative embodiment of the end cap 220 including a mechanism for accumulating the values or strength of the associated character during assembly and battle game play. In order to assist the player in keeping track of the accumulated value of the character, and reducing the value or strength during battle, one of the end caps 220 may further include a collar 232 affixed to the outer surface of the base 222, and retaining a dial 234 that may be rotatable therein, and may include numbers and other indicia 236 representing the accumulated value or strength of the players character. During the assembly mode of game play as the game pieces 200 are inserted in the receptacles 230 of the end caps 220, the dial 234 is rotated in a direction such that the indicia 236 indicates an increase in the value or strength of the character based on the strength or command indicia 214 or 216 of the game pieces 200. Conversely, during the attack mode of game play, the dial 234 is rotated in a direction such that the indicia 236 indicates a decrease in the value or strength of the character by an amount corresponding to an attack amount achieved by the players opponent during the opponents turn. In order to view the accumulated value indicated by the indicia 236 on the dial 234, the collar 232 may include an opening 238 through which the indicia 236 of the dial 234 is visible.

[0067] FIG. 15 illustrates a further alternative embodiment of a randomizer mechanism 250. The randomizing mechanism 250 is generally similar in structure and operation to the randomizing mechanism 80 of FIG. 7, and includes a chamber or housing 252 enclosing a cylinder 254 adapted to receive the game pieces 200 and to be spun within the housing 252 by an activation mechanism 256 when a plunger 258 is depressed by a player. The activation mechanism 256 may be similar to the activation mechanism illustrated and described with respect to the randomizing mechanism 80.

[0068] In order to retain the game pieces 200 within the cylinder 254, the cylinder 254 may include detents or clips 255 disposed at either end of the cylinder 254. When a game piece 200 is inserted into a section of the cylinder 254, the end of the game piece 200 may engage the corresponding clip 255 and cause the clip 255 to deflect outwardly. Once the end of the game piece 200 moves past the clip 255, the clip 255 may deflect back to its normal position and retentively engage the game piece 200 in the cylinder 254.

[0069] The housing 252 may include a removable back plate 260 that may be detached from the housing 252 to insert and remove game pieces 200 within the cylinder 254. The back plate 260 may include an opening 262 through which the plunger 258 is inserted when the back plate 260 is reattached to the housing 252. The housing 252 may further include a window 264 through which the game pieces 200 and the cylinder 254 may be visible during game play. The actuation mechanism 256 may also drive a rotatable wheel 266, which may be similar to the rotatable wheel 96 of the randomizing mechanism 80, when the plunger 258 is depressed, with indicia 268 being visible through the window 264 of the housing 252. While not shown, the randomizing mechanism 250 may further include a dial similar to the dials 110 and 234 having value or strength indicia disposed thereon, or other tracking mechanism, attached thereto for accumulating and reducing the value or strength of a character during game play.

[0070] Game play using the randomizing mechanism 250 may be performed in a similar manner as previously described for the randomizing mechanism 80. When the plunger 258 is depressed by the player, the activation mechanism 256 may cause the cylinder 254 and the wheel 266 to spin within the housing 252 and to randomly stop with one of the game pieces 200 being visible through the window 264. Once the cylinder 254 stops, the indicia 214 and/or 216 of the game piece 200 may be used to determine the outcome of the players turn. In addition to the characteristics previously described for the indicia 98 of the wheel 96, the indicia 268 on the wheel 266 may include color coding, icons or other symbols at particular locations on the wheel 266 corresponding to a particular family or category of characters. If a player's character matches the coloring or icon that the indicia 268 in the location where the wheel 266 stops, the player may be entitled to an advantage over players who do not have characters within the family or category of characters indicated by the coloring or icons on the wheel 266, such as doubling the value of the indicia 214 and/or 216.

[0071] In order to facilitate game play using the randomizing mechanism 250, the randomizing mechanism 250 may include an accompanying holder or shell 280 as illustrated in FIGS. 16 and 17. Referring to FIG. 16, the shell 280 may include downwardly extending legs 282 to sit on a table, floor or other surface, with a grip 284 being disposed therebetween. An upper portion 286 of the shell 280 includes a pair of upwardly extending arms 288 having a space therebetween for inserting the randomizing mechanism 250 within a receptacle 290 (FIG. 17) of the upper portion 286. During assembly, the randomizing mechanism 250 is place downwardly into the receptacle 290 between the arms 288 of the shell 280 as shown in FIG. 18, with the plunger 258 extending downwardly into the receptacle and abutting the bottom surface of the receptacle 290. In order to activate the randomizing mechanism 250, the player pushes downwardly on the housing 252 such that the bottom surface of the receptacle 290 pushes the plunger inwardly to activate the activation mechanism 256 and cause the cylinder 254 and wheel 266 to rotate within the housing 252. Once the cylinder 254 and wheel 266 stop, the indicia on the upwardly facing game piece 200 and the wheel 266 are visible through the window 264 which faces upwardly away from the shell 280. In a further alternative embodiment of the shell 280 illustrated in FIG. 19, the legs 282 may be hollow and include removable doors 292 to mountably attached to openings 294 in the bottom of the legs 282 such that the game pieces may be inserted into the openings 294 of the legs 282 and retained within the legs 282 when the doors are reattached at the openings 294 of the legs 282.

[0072] While the randomizing mechanisms 80, 120 and 220 have been described herein as being useful for game play with assembleable toy figures, it will be readily understood by those skilled in the art that the randomizing mechanism 80, 120 and 220 may be used in game play toy figures that are not intended to be assembleable and combinable with other toy figures. For example, the game pieces 52 and 200 may correspond to action figures, with the indicia thereon relating to powers and abilities possessed by the action figures. Moreover, the randomizing mechanisms 80, 120 and 220 may be used with toy figures that are not assembleable, but may include accessories, such as clothing, weapons, defenses and the like that may be interchangeable between the toy figures. The indicia on the game pieces 52 and 200 may relate to both the abilities of the toy figures, and to the accessories accompanying the toy figures. Other combinations and game play involving assembleable and non-assembleable toy figures and randomizing mechanisms, such as randomizing mechanisms 80, 120 and 200 are contemplated as having use with the method and apparatus of the present invention.

[0073] Thus, while the present invention has been described with reference to specific examples, which are intended to be illustrative only and not to be limiting of the invention, it will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art that changes, additions or deletions may be made to the disclosed embodiments without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.