Title:
Glow in the dark wind swirls
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A toy mobile capable of being suspended in the air from an overhead support structure and having at least one relatively thin vane capable of capturing air currents includes a coating of photoluminescent material layered upon the relatively thin vane of the mobile so that the vane is capable of being seen in the dark.



Inventors:
Evans, Thomas E. (Knoxville, TN, US)
Application Number:
11/074422
Publication Date:
09/15/2005
Filing Date:
03/08/2005
Assignee:
EVANS THOMAS E.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
446/34
International Classes:
A63H27/00; (IPC1-7): A63H27/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HYLINSKI, ALYSSA MARIE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MICHAEL E. MCKEE (Knoxville, TN, US)
Claims:
1. In a toy mobile capable of being suspended in the air from an overhead support structure and having at least one relatively thin vane capable of capturing air currents, the improvement comprising: the at least one relatively thin vane of the mobile has a surface which is defined by a photoluminescent material so that the at least one relatively thin vane can be seen in the dark.

2. The improvement as defined in claim 2 wherein the at least one relatively thin vane includes a substrate and a coating of photoluminescent material layered upon the substrate.

3. The improvement as defined in claim 2 wherein the substrate is comprised of a relatively hard material.

4. The improvement as defined in claim 1 wherein the mobile is balanced about a vertical centerline when the mobile is suspended from an overhead support structure, and the mobile includes a plurality of relatively thin vanes which are regularly spaced about the vertical centerline of the mobile.

5. The improvement as defined in claim 1 wherein the mobile has a pair of circular and parallel support members which are arranged substantially horizontally when the mobile is suspended from an overhead support structure, and the mobile includes a plurality of relatively thin vanes which extend between the parallel support members.

6. The improvement as defined in claim 5 wherein the mobile is balanced about a vertical centerline which extends through the geometric center of the circular and parallel support members when the mobile is suspended from an overhead support structure and the relatively thin vanes are attached to the circular and parallel support members so as to be regularly spaced about the vertical centerline of the mobile.

7. The improvement as defined in claim 6 wherein each of the vanes of the mobile is arcuate in shape as viewed in horizontal cross section, and the vanes are arranged about the mobile so that when the mobile is suspended from an overhead support structure and exposed to a horizontally-directed air current, the air current urges the mobile to rotate about the vertical centerline.

8. The improvement as defined in claim 7 wherein there are at least four vanes which are regularly spaced about the vertical centerline of the mobile and each vane has one side which has a concave curvature and an opposite side which has a convex curvature.

9. The improvement as defined in claim 1 wherein the mobile has a top and a bottom when suspended from an overhead support structure and the at least one relatively thin vane spirals downwardly toward the bottom of the mobile from the top thereof.

10. The improvement as defined in claim 9 wherein the width of the mobile as measured horizontally therethrough is relatively narrow adjacent the top thereof and is relatively broad adjacent the bottom thereof.

11. A toy mobile comprising: suspension means by which the mobile can be suspended in air from an overhead support structure; at least one relatively thin vane attached to the suspension means for catching air currents and moving in response to those air currents; and wherein the at least one relatively thin vane includes a photoluminescent material enabling the vane to be seen in the dark.

12. The mobile as defined in claim 11 wherein the at least one vane includes a substrate material, and the photoluminescent material is coated upon the substrate of the least one relatively thin vane.

13. The mobile as defined in claim 11 having a body which is balanced about a vertical centerline when the mobile is suspended from an overhead support structure, and the mobile includes a plurality of relatively thin vanes which are regularly spaced about the vertical centerline of the mobile.

14. The mobile as defined in claim 13 wherein the mobile has a pair of circular and parallel support members which are arranged substantially horizontally when the mobile is suspended from an overhead support structure, and the mobile includes a plurality of relatively thin vanes which extend between the parallel support members.

15. The mobile as defined in claim 14 wherein the mobile is balanced about a vertical centerline which extends through the geometric center of the circular and parallel support members when the mobile is suspended from an overhead support structure and the relatively thin vanes are attached to the circular and parallel support members so as to be regularly spaced about the vertical centerline of the mobile.

16. The mobile as defined in claim 15 wherein each of the vanes of the mobile is arcuate in shape as viewed in horizontal cross section, and the vanes are arranged about the mobile so that when the mobile is suspended from an overhead support structure and exposed to a horizontally-directed air current, the air current urges the mobile to rotate about the vertical centerline.

17. The mobile as defined in claim 16 wherein there are at least four vanes which are regularly spaced about the vertical centerline of the mobile and each vane has one side which has a concave curvature and an opposite side which has a convex curvature.

18. The mobile as defined in claim 11 wherein the mobile has a top and a bottom when the mobile is suspended from an overhead support structure and the at least one relatively thin vane spirals downwardly toward the bottom of the mobile from the top thereof.

19. The mobile as defined in claim 18 wherein the mobile has a width which is relatively narrow as measured in a horizontal plane extending through the mobile adjacent the top thereof and is relatively broad as measured in a horizontal plane extending through the mobile adjacent the bottom thereof.

20. A toy mobile comprising: suspension means by which the mobile can be suspended in air from an overhead support structure; at least one relatively thin vane attached to the suspension means for catching air currents and moving the mobile in response to those air currents; and wherein the at least one relatively thin vane includes a substrate of a relatively hard material and a coating of photoluminescent material layered upon the substrate so that the vane can be seen in the dark.

Description:

The benefit of Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/551,855, filed Mar. 11, 2004, is hereby claimed. The disclosure of this referenced provisional application is incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates generally to novelty devices and relates, more particularly, to toy mobiles which are suspended in the air and have parts that move in response to currents in the air.

It would be desirable to provide a new and improved toy mobile having parts which can be seen in the dark.

Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide a new and improved mobile which is capable of being suspended in air and has parts which are capable of being seen in the dark.

Another object of the present invention is to provide such a mobile having air-catching vanes which enhance the capacity of the mobile to rotate about a vertical axis in response to air currents caught by the vanes.

Still another object of the present invention is to provide such a mobile which is uncomplicated in structure, yet effective in operation.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

This invention resides in an improvement to a toy mobile capable of being suspended in the air from an overhead support structure and having at least one relatively thin vane capable of capturing air currents.

The improvement is characterized in that the relatively thin vanes of the mobile are covered with a glow-in-the-dark luminescent material so that the vanes are capable of being seen in the dark.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of one embodiment of a mobile within which features of the present invention are embodied.

FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of the FIG. 1 mobile taken about line 2-2 of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the FIG. 1 mobile, shown exploded.

FIG. 4 is a view of an alternative embodiment of a mobile within which features of the present invention are embodied.

FIG. 5 is a plan view of a photoluminescent material-coated sheet bearing the pre-cut pattern of the FIG. 4.

FIG. 6 is a plan view of another photoluminescent-material-coated sheet upon which pre-cut patterns for five mobiles have been printed.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE ILLUSTRATIVE EMBODIMENTS

Turning now to the drawings in greater detail and considering first FIGS. 1-3, there is illustrated an embodiment, generally indicated 20, of a toy mobile within which features of the present invention are embodied. The mobile 20 is of a class which is intended to be suspended from an elevated support structure, such as the ceiling of a room, and is of lightweight construction so that natural or forced air currents within the area in which the mobile 20 is suspended is capable of moving or shifting the position of the mobile 20 so that its movements catch the eye of a viewer.

The mobile 20 of FIG. 1 includes two circular upper and lower support members 22 and 24, respectively, which are arranged in parallel relationship with one another and a plurality of vanes 26 which are attached to and extend between the upper and lower support members 22 and 24. Each support member 22 and 24 is relatively thin and substantially plate-like in form. In addition, each support member 22 or 24 is relatively light-weight and can be constructed of a paper material, such as cardboard or a heavy paper stock, but other light-weight materials can be used. For example, in order that the mobile 20 be capable of being suspended outdoors, it is preferable that the support members 22, 24 be constructed out of a weatherproof material, such as a hard durable plastic material, such as an acrylic sheet.

For purposes of supporting the mobile 20 from an elevated structure, the mobile 20 also includes suspension means, generally indicated 27, in the form of a hanger 28 which is attached to the upper support member 22 at substantially the center thereof. The hanger 28 which, in the depicted FIG. 1 mobile 20 includes an eyelet to which a suspended hook 30 can be readily attached, is disposed along the top surface, indicated 32 in FIG. 1, so that when suspended from the hook 30, the upper and lower support members 22 and 24 are arranged substantially horizontally in the air. Accordingly, the mobile 20 is balanced about a vertical centerline, indicated 33 in FIG. 1, which extends vertically through the upper and lower support members 22 and 24 and through the hanger 28.

As best shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, each vane 26 of the mobile 20 is relatively thin and arcuate in shape as viewed in the horizontal cross-sectional view of FIG. 2 and includes top and bottom edges 34 and 36, respectively, which are attached to the upper and lower support members 22 and 24. More specifically, the top edge 34 of each vane 26 is attached to the underside of the upper support member 22, and the bottom edge 36 of each vane 26 is attached to the upper surface of the lower support member 24. Furthermore, each vane 26 has side edges 38 which extend between the upper and lower support members 22 and 24 and are substantially normal to the corresponding surface of the upper and lower support members 22 to which the top and bottom edges 34 and 36, respectively, of the vanes 26 are attached.

Each vane 26 of the mobile 20 is shaped with a concave curvature on one side thereof and a convex curvature on the other side thereof so that when a horizontally-directed air current (e.g. wind) strikes the concave side, the air current is caught by the concavity thereof and urges the vane 26 in the direction of the air current. Meanwhile, when a horizontally-directed air current strikes the convex side of a vane 26 situated in one area of the mobile 20, much of the air current flows around the vane 26 and any forces exerted upon the convex side of the vane 26 by the air current and which urge the vane 26 in the direction of the air current are less than those which are urged against the concave side of a vane 26 situated on the diametrically-opposed area of the mobile 20. Consequently, horizontally-directed air currents which strike the vanes 26 of the mobile 20 urge the mobile 20 to rotate about the vertical axis 33 in the rotational direction of the FIG. 3 arrow 35. It will be understood that any rotation of the mobile 20 about the vertical axis 33 enhances the eye-catching quality of the mobile 20.

It is a feature of the mobile 20 that its vanes 26 include a photoluminescent material which enables the vanes 26 to be seen in very low light, or dark, environments. Photoluminescent materials are known which absorb light energy to which it is exposed and thereafter release light energy when in the dark. Within the depicted mobile 20, each vane 26 includes a substrate 40 of a paper material (e.g. cardboard) and a coating 42, of photoluminescent material layered upon the surfaces of the substrate 40. In order to render the vanes 26 more weatherproof—and more long-lasting if suspended outdoors, the substrate 40 is preferably constructed out of a durable plastic material, such as an acrylic sheet. Although the coating 42 of photoluminescent material can take any of a number of forms, the depicted coating 42 is in the form of a plastic resin which incorporates a matrix of photoluminescent material.

Furthermore, each vane 26 is relatively light in weight so that the total weight of the mobile 20 is relatively light in weight. Moreover, each vane 26 is suitably attached to the corresponding surface of the upper and lower support members 22 with attachment means, such as an amount 44 (FIG. 3) of glue, applied in a bead along the top and bottom edges 34 and 36 of each vane 36 before the top and bottom edges 34 and 36 of each vane 36 are placed (e.g. pressed) into engagement with the corresponding surfaces of the upper and lower support members 22 and 24.

It follows that because the vanes 26 of the mobile 20 include a photoluminescent material, the vanes 26 are capable of being seen in very low light, or dark, environments. Therefore, when the mobile 20 is suspended in a room occupied by a person, such a child, the mobile 20 is capable of being seen by the child at night when the lights in the room are turned off. It is believed that because a person is able to see the mobile 20 in a dark environment, the person is re-assured of his whereabouts, even after dark. Furthermore and when suspended inside or outside of a house, the mobile 20 can be fun and entertaining to watch and can add a special touch to the environment in which the mobile 20 is suspended.

Exemplary dimensions of the mobile 20 are provided here as follows: The diameter of each of the support members 22 or 24 is between about eight and twelve inches; and the height of each vane 26 is between about four and six inches.

With reference to FIGS. 4 and 5, there is illustrated an alternative embodiment, generally indicated 80, of a toy mobile within which features of the present invention are embodied. The mobile 80 is cut (as with a die stamp) from a sheet 81 (FIG. 5) of material within which a photoluminescent material is incorporated and bears upon its surface a spiral pattern, indicated 83, which provides a single vane 82 (FIG. 4) for the mobile 80 which spirals downwardly downwardly toward the bottom from the top thereof.

Although the photoluminescent material can be incorporated within the sheet 81 of material in any of a number of ways, the photoluminescent material of the depicted FIG. 4 mobile 80 is layered in a thin coating 84 over the surfaces of a substrate of paper material, e.g. posterboard or other material comprising a paper stock. However, other materials, such as a thin, relatively rigid plastic material, can be used. Constructed in such a manner, the sheet 81 is relatively thin and lightweight.

As is illustrated in FIG. 5, the spiral pattern 83 borne by (e.g. printed upon) the sheet 81 before the mobile 80 is cut therefrom spirals outwardly from a center, indicated 85, to a peripheral edge, indicated 87, of the pattern.

When cut from the sheet 81 of photoluminescent-coated material and subsequently suspended from an overhead support structure by way of the center 85 of the pattern 83 as illustrated in FIG. 4, the peripheral edge 87 of the spiral 85 is gravitationally attracted downwardly so that the mobile 80 increases in width as a path is traced downwardly from the center 85 of the pattern, or as viewed in FIG. 4, the top of the mobile 80. In other words, in its suspended condition of FIG. 4, the width of the mobile 80 is relatively narrow as measured in a horizontal plane extending through the mobile 82 adjacent the top thereof and is relatively broad as measured in a horizontal plane extending through the mobile adjacent the bottom thereof. Therefore, when the mobile 80 is suspended from an overhead support structure, the single relatively thin vane 82 thereof spirals downwardly toward the bottom of the mobile 80 from the top thereof.

When suspended from an overhead support structure and exposed to horizontally-directed air currents, the vane 82 catches the air currents and adds movement to the mobile 80. Such air-induced movement enhances the eye-catching quality of the mobile 80 and is further advantageous in this respect.

It will be understood that numerous modifications and substitutions can be had to the aforedescribed embodiment without departing from the spirit of the invention. For example, although the aforedescribed embodiment 80 of FIGS. 4 and 5 has been shown and described as being the only mobile which is formed from a single photoluminescent material-coated sheet 81, several mobiles of like construction can be cut from a larger photoluminescent material-coated sheet. For example, there is illustrated in FIG. 6 a single piece, indicated 92, of a photoluminescent material-coated sheet—measuring 8.5 inches by 11.0 inches—upon which a plurality of (i.e. five) patterns 96, 97, 98, 99, 100 for mobiles similar in shape to that of the mobile 80 have been printed. By way of example, the largest (two) of these patterns measures about 4.75 inches in diameter, while the smallest (three) of these patterns measures about 3.0 inches in diameter.

Accordingly, the aforedescribed embodiments 20 and 80 are intended for the purpose of illustration and not as limitation.