Title:
Segmented figure with magnetic couplings
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A novelty figure having external body contour lines that define a body shape. The body shape is divided into a separate anterior section and posterior section. The anterior section of the body shape has a first flat surface of a first cross-sectional shape. The posterior section of the body shape has a second flat surface of a second cross-sectional shape. The second cross-sectional shape of the second flat surface is an exact mirror image of the first cross- sectional shape of the first flat surface. When the first flat surface is placed in abutment with the second flat surface, the cross-sectional shapes exactly align. At least one first magnet is disposed in the anterior section. Similarly, at least one second magnet disposed in the posterior section. Utilizing magnetic attraction, the first flat surface of the anterior section and the second flat surface of the posterior section can join together.



Inventors:
Nelson, Webb T. (Woodinville, WA, US)
Chernick, Mark (Woodinville, WA, US)
Application Number:
10/869782
Publication Date:
07/21/2005
Filing Date:
06/17/2004
Assignee:
NELSON WEBB T.
CHERNICK MARK
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63H3/16; A63H33/04; (IPC1-7): A63H33/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
FRANCIS, FAYE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LAMORTE & ASSOCIATES P.C. (YARDLEY, PA, US)
Claims:
1. A toy figure having external body contour lines that define a body shape, said figure comprising: an anterior section having a first flat surface of a first cross-sectional shape; a posterior section having a second flat surface of a second cross-sectional shape that is a mirror image of said first cross-sectional shape; at least one first magnet disposed in said anterior section; at least one second magnet disposed in said posterior section; wherein said at least one first magnet attracts said at least one second magnet aligning said first flat surface with said second flat surface so that said anterior section and said posterior section orient along said common body contour lines to form said body shape.

2. The toy figure according to claim 1, wherein said anterior section and said posterior section are approximately equal in size.

3. The toy figure according to claim 1, wherein said first flat surface and said second flat surface are parallel and both said first flat surface and said second flat surface have a periphery that align.

4. The toy figure according to claim 1, wherein said body shape has a longitudinal axis that passes symmetrically through said anterior section and said posterior section.

5. The toy figure according to claim 1, wherein said first flat surface and said second flat surface are both perpendicular to said longitudinal axis.

6. The toy figure according to claim 1, wherein said anterior section contains a first plurality of magnets.

7. The toy figure according to claim 6, wherein said posterior section contains a second plurality of magnets.

8. The toy figure according to claim 7, wherein said first plurality of magnets and said second plurality of magnets magnetically attract and position said anterior section and said posterior section into an aligned orientation.

9. The toy figure according to claim 1, wherein said body shape is that of an animal.

10. A method of attaching a novelty figure to an object that has a first side and a second side, said method comprising the steps of: providing a novelty figure of a predetermined body shape, said body shape being segmented into an anterior section having a first flat surface of a first cross-sectional shape, and a posterior section having a second flat surface of a second cross-sectional shape, wherein said second cross-sectional shape that a mirror image of said first cross-sectional shape; positioning said first flat surface of said anterior section of said novelty figure against the first side of the object; positioning said second flat surface of said posterior section of said novelty figure against the second side of the object, wherein said anterior section and said posterior section magnetically attract to one another through said object and remain stationary on said object.

11. The method according to claim 10, further including the step of mounting at least one magnet in said first flat surface of said anterior section and said second flat surface of said posterior section.

12. The method according to claim 11, further including positioning said magnets in said anterior section and said posterior section so that said first flat surface and said second flay surface automatically align when said anterior section and said posterior section magnetically attract.

13. The method according to claim 11, wherein said novelty figure has a longitudinal axis and both said first flat surface and said second flat surface are perpendicular to said longitudinal axis.

14. A segmented novelty figure, comprising: a body divided into a first section and a second section along a line of severance, wherein said first section and said second section have mirrored cross-sectional profiles at said line of severance; at least one magnet in said first section; at least one magnet in said second section; wherein said at least one first magnet and said at least one second magnet bias said first section and said second section together across said line of severance.

15. The toy figure according to claim 14, wherein said first section and said second section are approximately equal in size.

16. The toy figure according to claim 14, wherein said body is formed as an animal.

Description:

REFERENCE TO PROVISIONAL PATENT APPLICATION

The matter of this application corresponds to the matter contained in Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/536,335 entitled Segmented Figure With Magnetic Couplings, which was filed on Jan. 15, 2004, wherein this application claims the priority of that document.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field Of The Invention

In general, the present invention relates to toy assemblies that have parts that interconnect using magnetic attraction. More specifically, the present invention relates to toy figures that are segmented, wherein the various segments each contain magnets that allow the segments to be interconnected.

2. Description Of Related Art

The art of toys is replete with various toys that have component parts that can be selectively placed together. Toy trains have boxcars that interconnect. Dolls, such as Mr. Potato Head® have facial features that can be selectively attached to a body. There are also many different construction games, such as Tinker Toys® and Kinex®, that have building elements that can be interconnected to form a wide variety of structure.

In the past decade, great progress has been made in the manufacturing processes used to produce rare earth magnets. Rare earth magnets are lighter, stronger and last longer than traditional ferro magnets. In recent years, the costs associated with rare earth magnets has been reduced to a point where rare earth magnets are comparable in cost with ferro magnets.

Due to the lower cost and higher strength of rare earth magnets, the use of rare earth magnets has increased in many industries, including the toy industry. Thus, with many toys, component parts are being interconnected with rare earth magnets. Toy trains now are being produced that have magnetic boxcar couplings. Building sets are being produced that have building elements that interconnect with magnets.

In such prior art toys, magnets are used in place of traditional mechanical connectors. This makes toys easier to use, so that they can be enjoyed by a wider segment of children. However, in such prior art toys, the use of magnets is merely a substitute for mechanical connectors. The toys themselves are not reliant upon the unique properties of magnets that differentiate magnets from mechanical connects. Those unique properties being that magnets create magnetic fields that can interact with each other across space without the magnets having to physically touch each other.

The present invention is a novelty device that uses magnets in a unique application, whereby component pieces of the novelty device can be interconnected without physically touching. This novelty device is described and claimed below.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is a novelty figure. The novelty figure had external body contour lines that define a body shape. The body shape is divided into a separate anterior section and posterior section. The anterior section of the body shape has a first flat surface of a first cross-sectional shape. The posterior section of the body shape has a second flat surface of a second cross-sectional shape. The second cross-sectional shape of the second flat surface is an exact mirror image of the first cross-sectional shape of the first flat surface. Accordingly, when the first flat surface is placed in abutment with the second flat surface, the cross-sectional shapes exactly align.

At least one first magnet is disposed in the anterior section. Similarly, at least one second magnet disposed in the posterior section. Utilizing magnetic attraction, the first flat surface of the anterior section and the second flat surface of the posterior section can join together, wherein the anterior section and said posterior section orient along common body contour lines to form the body shape.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

For a better understanding of the present invention, reference is made to the following description of exemplary embodiments thereof, considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, shown in an assembled configuration;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the exemplary embodiment of FIG. 1, shown in a divided configuration;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the exemplary embodiment of the present invention, shown applied to opposite sides of a section of glass;

FIG. 4 is a partially cross-sectioned side view of the embodiment of the present invention shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a partially cross-sectioned side view of an alternate embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of an alternate exemplary embodiment of the present invention, shown applied to opposite sides of a section of glass.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Although the present invention can be configured as any object that has a discernable front end and a rear end, such as a boat, automobile or airplane, the present invention is particularly well suited to be configured as an animal. As such, the primary exemplary embodiment of the present invention illustrated herein shows the present invention configured as an animal figure in order to set forth the best mode contemplated for the invention.

Referring to both FIG. 1 and FIG. 2, an animal FIG. 10 is shown in accordance with the present invention. The animal FIG. 10 shown is that of a clown fish. However, any other animal figure can be substituted for the exemplary clown fish. The animal FIG. 10 is divided into two sections. The sections include an anterior section 12 and a posterior section 14. The anterior section 12 and the posterior section 14 are generally equal in length. The anterior section 12 terminates with a first flat end 16. The posterior section 14 terminates with a second flat end 18. The first flat end 16 of the anterior section 12 and the second flat end 18 of the posterior section 18 magnetically interconnect. When interconnected, the anterior section 12 and the posterior section 14 of the animal FIG. 10 join cleanly so that the animal FIG. 10 is complete.

The animal FIG. 10 has an exterior body shape. The exterior body shape has complex contours that are unique to the animal being portrayed. Furthermore, the animal shape has a color scheme that is exemplary of the animal being portrayed. In the example of a clown fish, the color scheme would be an orange fish with white and black patches and stripes.

When the animal FIG. 10 is complete, the animal FIG. 10 has a longitudinal axis 20 that extends down the center of both the anterior section 12 and the posterior section 14 of the animal FIG. 10. A line of severance 22 separates the anterior section 12 from the posterior section 14. The line of severance 22 extends in a plane that is perpendicular to the longitudinal axis 20 of the animal figure. The first flat end 16 of the anterior section 12 and the second flat end 18 of the posterior section 14 abut together along the line of severance 22.

Referring solely to FIG. 2, it can be seen that the first flat end 16 of the anterior section 12 and the second flat end of the posterior section 14 are the exact mirror images of each other. Thus, both the first flat end 16 and the second flat end 18 define the exact same cross-sectional profile in a mirrored symmetry. Consequently, when the first flat end 16 of the anterior section 12 and the second flat end 18 of the posterior section 14 are joined together, they exactly match. The result is that the complex contours of the exterior body shape align at all points and the line of severance 22 (FIG. 1) between the anterior section 12 and the posterior section 14 is barely noticeable. Furthermore, by making the anterior section 12 and the posterior section 14 align exactly along the exterior body shape, the color scheme on the anterior section 12 and the posterior section 14 remains uninterrupted along the entire length of the FIG. 10.

From FIG. 2, it can be seen that rare earth magnets 24, 26 are disposed in both the first flat end 16 of the anterior section 12 and the second flat end 18 of the posterior section 14. The magnets 24, 26 are also precisely aligned. As such, when the magnets 24, 26 attract and connect the anterior section 12 with the posterior section 14, the contours of the exterior body shape of the animal FIG. 10 automatically align.

Referring to FIG. 3, it can be seen that magnetic attraction between the anterior section 12 and the posterior section 14 of the animal FIG. 10 is very strong. This enables both the anterior section 12 and the posterior section 14 to project magnetic fields that attract each other through an intermediate object. In FIG. 3, the anterior section 12 of the animal FIG. 10 and the posterior section 14 of the animal FIG. 10 are disposed on opposite sides of a section of glass 28. The section of glass can be a window pane, a fish tank wall or a drinking glass wall.

The first flat end 16 of the anterior section 12 and the second flat end 18 of the posterior section 14 lay flush against opposing sides of the section of glass 28. The magnetic field generated between the anterior section 12 and the posterior section 14 is strong enough to hold the first flat end 16 and the second flat end 18 flush against the section of glass 28. The magnetic field is also strong enough so that the anterior section 12 and the posterior section 14 of the animal FIG. 10 are biased against the section of glass 28 with enough force so that friction will keep the anterior section 12 and the posterior section 14 suspended in a fixed position against the section of glass 28.

Referring to FIG. 4, it can be seen that a first magnet 24 is disposed within the anterior section 12 of the animal FIG. 10 along the first flat end 16. The first magnet 24 is recessed into the first flat end 16 so that the first flat end 16 remains flat and the first magnet 24 does not protrude. Similarly, a second magnet 26 is disposed within the posterior section 14 of the animal FIG. 10 along the second flat end 18. The second magnet 26 is also recessed into the second flat end 18 so that the second flat end 18 remains flat and the second magnet 26 does not protrude.

The first magnet 24 and the second magnet 26 are preferably rare earth magnets. The magnets 24, 26 are arranged with opposite pole extending outwardly. In this manner, the first magnet 24 and the second magnet 26 will attract each other when the first flat end 16 is brought into proximity of the second flat end 18. The first magnet 24 and the second magnet 26 are also positioned in the anterior section 12 and the posterior section 14, respectively, so that when the magnets 24, 26 do attract one another, the magnets 24, 26 align the anterior section 12 of the animal FIG. 10 with the posterior section 14 of the animal FIG. 10. In this manner, the complex contours along the exterior body shape of the animal FIG. 10 align. It therefore appears that the animal FIG. 10 is passing through a section of glass or any other object that may be placed between the anterior section 16 and posterior section 18.

Referring to FIG. 5, an alternate embodiment of the present invention is shown. In this embodiment, a plurality of magnets 31, 32, 33, 34 are disposed both along the first flat end 35 of the anterior section 37 of the animal FIG. 40 and along the second flat end 36 of the posterior section 38 of the animal FIG. 40. The magnets 31, 32 in the first flat end 35 are oriented so that they have opposite polarities facing outwardly from the first flat end 35. The magnets 33, 34 on the second flat end 36 have polarities opposite that of the magnets 31, 32 on the first flat end 35. As such, the first flat end 35 of the anterior section 37 will magnetically attract to the second flat end 36 of the posterior section 38, only if the anterior section 37 and the posterior section 38 are properly oriented.

In the embodiment of FIG. 4, the anterior section 12 can rotate with respect to the posterior section 14 while the two sections are magnetically coupled. This may cause the body lines of the animal FIG. 10 to misalign. Some concern must therefore be paid to balancing the anterior section 12 and the posterior section 14 so that they do not rotate out of alignment when suspended.

In FIG. 5, the use of multiple magnets causes the anterior section 37 of the animal FIG. 40 to always properly align with the posterior section 37 of the animal FIG. 40. The exterior body lines of the anterior section 37 and the posterior section 38 therefore automatically align.

Referring lastly to FIG. 6, another embodiment of the present invention device is shown. In this embodiment, a non-animal figure is provided. The exemplary embodiment selected is that of a submarine 50. The submarine 50 has an anterior section 52 and a posterior section 54 that are divided by a line a severance. The line of severance is perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the assembled body. The submarine has an exterior body shape that has complex curvatures and features. The complex exterior body shape aligns across the line of severance when the anterior section and the posterior section magnetically interconnect. The anterior section 52 and the posterior section 54 attract and align, even when placed on opposite sides of a section of glass 56 or another intervening object.

FIG. 8 is provided to show that the present invention can have the shape of any object, such as a car, boat, pencil, as well as an animal figure. What is important is that the exterior contours of the selected object and the exterior color scheme of the selected object align when the anterior section and the posterior section of the object magnetically interconnect.

It will be understood that the embodiments of the present invention assembly that are illustrated and described are merely exemplary. The illustrated embodiments can be altered in many ways while still being included in the scope of the present invention. For example, the animal figure can be of any animal in any pose. Furthermore, objects such as automobiles, boats, planes, fingers, arrows and the like can be substituted for the animal figure. All such alternate embodiments are intended to be included within the scope of the present invention as claimed.