Title:
Integrated carrying case and toy object launcher
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An integrated carrying case and toy object launcher is described. The integrated carrying case comprises a carrying case portion and a launcher. The carrying case portion includes an openable container having a lid and a plurality of compartments. Each compartment is formed to hold at least one toy object. The launcher is connected with and extends from the carrying case portion. The launcher is formed to attach with a toy object and operably connect with a gear rack. The launcher is also formed to impart a rotary motion to the object, such that withdrawal of an operably connected gear rack causes the object to rotate and launch from the launcher.



Inventors:
Vetuskey, Brendon (Van Nuys, CA, US)
Tam, Thomas (Hong Kong, HK)
Application Number:
11/373407
Publication Date:
07/06/2006
Filing Date:
03/09/2006
Assignee:
JAKKS Pacific, Inc.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63H3/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
LEICHLITER, CHASE E
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
TOPE-MCKAY & ASSOCIATES (MALIBU, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An integrated carrying case and toy object launcher, comprising: a carrying case portion formed to hold at least one toy object; and a launcher connected with and extending from the carrying case portion, the launcher being formed to attach with a toy object and operably connect with a gear rack, and being configured to impart a rotary motion to the object, such that withdrawal of an operably connected gear rack causes the object to rotate and launch from the launcher.

2. An integrated carrying case and toy object launcher as set forth in claim 1, wherein the carrying case portion includes an openable container having a lid, and wherein the openable container includes a plurality of compartments, with each compartment being formed to hold at least one toy object.

3. An integrated carrying case and toy object launcher as set forth in claim 2, further comprising a flexible tab connected with the lid for holding toy objects in place when the toy objects are positioned within the openable container.

4. An integrated carrying case and toy object launcher as set forth in claim 3, further comprising a cap for connecting with and covering a portion of the launcher.

5. An integrated carrying case and toy object launcher as set forth in claim 4, further comprising an object for connecting with and being launched from the launcher.

6. An integrated carrying case and toy object launcher as set forth in claim 5, wherein the object is formed in a shape selected from a group consisting of a disk, a wheel, and a ball.

7. An integrated carrying case and toy object launcher as set forth in claim 6, wherein the launcher comprises a driving element configured to engage a receiving element that is attached with the object to form a drive connection, such that when the driving element engages the receiving element, the object is rotationally accelerated in one direction, and wherein once the driving element ceases to accelerate the receiving element, the receiving element disengages from the driving element and releases the object from the drive connection.

8. An integrated carrying case and toy object launcher as set forth in claim 7, further comprising a launcher-rotating system mounted inside the carrying case portion and connected with the launcher, the launcher-rotating system configured to impart a rotary motion to the launcher.

9. An integrated carrying case and toy object launcher as set forth in claim 8, wherein the driving element comprises two substantially helical tabs extending in a parallel configuration from the shaft about an axis, the axis running substantially parallel to and substantially centered in the shaft, and wherein the receiving element of the object is similarly configured with two substantially helical tabs extending outward in parallel configuration about an axis, the axis running perpendicular to the rotational motion of the object, and wherein the two substantially helical tabs of each of the driving element and receiving element has an edge that runs parallel to the axis of the respective driving element and receiving element, such that the edge of the driving element rests flush against the edge of the receiving element, forming a drive connection which allows the rotation of the driving element to rotate the receiving element.

10. An integrated carrying case and toy object launcher as set forth in claim 9, wherein the edge of the driving element and the edge of the receiving element are formed as matching and interlocking shapes, such that when the edge of the driving element is matched with the edge of the receiving element, an interlocking drive connection is formed.

11. An integrated carrying case and toy object launcher as set forth in claim 9, wherein the edge of the driving element and the edge of the receiving element are formed as a hook shapes, such that when the edge of the driving element is matched up with the edge of the receiving element, an interlocking drive connection is formed.

12. An integrated carrying case and toy object launcher as set forth in claim 1, further comprising an object for connecting with and being launched from the launcher.

13. An integrated carrying case and toy object launcher as set forth in claim 12, wherein the object is formed in a shape selected from a group consisting of a disk, a wheel, and a ball.

14. An integrated carrying case and toy object launcher as set forth in claim 12, wherein the launcher comprises a driving element configured to engage a receiving element that is attached with the object to form a drive connection, such that when the driving element engages the receiving element, the object is rotationally accelerated in one direction, and wherein once the driving element ceases to accelerate the receiving element, the receiving element disengages from the driving element and releases the object from the drive connection.

15. An integrated carrying case and toy object launcher as set forth in claim 14, wherein the driving element comprises two substantially helical tabs extending in a parallel configuration from the shaft about an axis, the axis running substantially parallel to and substantially centered in the shaft, and wherein the receiving element of the object is similarly configured with two substantially helical tabs extending outward in parallel configuration about an axis, the axis running perpendicular to the rotational motion of the object, and wherein the two substantially helical tabs of each of the driving element and receiving element has an edge that runs parallel to the axis of the respective driving element and receiving element, such that the edge of the driving element rests flush against the edge of the receiving element, forming a drive connection which allows the rotation of the driving element to rotate the receiving element.

16. An integrated carrying case and toy object launcher as set forth in claim 14, wherein the edge of the driving element and the edge of the receiving element are formed as matching and interlocking shapes, such that when the edge of the driving element is matched with the edge of the receiving element, an interlocking drive connection is formed.

17. An integrated carrying case and toy object launcher as set forth in claim 14, wherein the edge of the driving element and the edge of the receiving element are formed as a hook shapes, such that when the edge of the driving element is matched up with the edge of the receiving element, an interlocking drive connection is formed.

18. An integrated carrying case and toy object launcher as set forth in claim 1, further comprising a launcher-rotating system mounted inside the carrying case portion and connected with the launcher, the launcher-rotating system configured to impart a rotary motion to the launcher.

19. An integrated carrying case and toy object launcher as set forth in claim 2, further comprising a flexible tab connected with the lid for holding toy objects in place when the toy objects are positioned within the openable container.

20. An integrated carrying case and toy object launcher as set forth in claim 1, further comprising a cap for connecting with and covering a portion of the launcher.

21. A method for forming an integrated carrying case and toy object launcher, comprising acts of: forming a carrying case portion to hold at least one toy object; forming and connecting a launcher connected with the carrying case portion, the launcher being formed to attach with a toy object and operably connect with a gear rack, and being configured to impart a rotary motion to the object, such that withdrawal of an operably connected gear rack causes the object to rotate and launch from the launcher; and wherein in forming the carrying case portion, the carrying case portion is formed to include an openable container having a lid and a plurality of compartments, with each compartment being formed to hold at least one toy object.

Description:

PRIORITY CLAIM

This application is a Continuation-In-Part application, claiming the benefit of priority of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/183,118, filed Aug. 14, 2005, entitled “Toy for Rotating and Launching an Object”, which is a non-provisional patent application claiming the benefit of priority of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/604,283, filed Aug. 25, 2004, entitled “Wheel Spinning Launcher and Wheel Toy”.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

(1) Field of Invention

The present invention relates to a carrying case and launcher and, more particularly, to an integrated carrying case and launcher for both carrying and launching a toy object.

(2) Description of Related Art

Toy launchers are well known in the art. Toys that accelerate and launch gliders, helicopters, cars, and parachutes are well documented. One method of launching a toy is through a rotary motion, often utilizing a gear system to turn a shaft that rotates a portion of the toy.

For example, the inventors of the present invention previously disclosed a toy wheel launcher. U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/183,118, entitled, “Toy for Rotating and Launching an Object”, discloses a launcher for launching a toy wheel upon pulling a strip. In some circumstances, it may be desirable for the user to possess a plurality of wheels for launching. In such circumstances, a need arises for a container for storing and carrying the wheels.

Thus, a continuing need exists for an integrated carrying case and toy object launcher.

SUMMARY OF INVENTION

The present invention relates to an integrated carrying case and toy object launcher. The device includes a carrying case portion formed to hold at least one toy object. A launcher is connected with and extends from the carrying case portion. The launcher is formed to attach with a toy object and operably connect with a gear rack. The launcher is also configured to impart a rotary motion to the object, such that withdrawal of an operably connected gear rack causes the object to rotate and launch from the launcher.

The carrying case portion includes an openable container having a lid. Additionally, the openable container includes a plurality of compartments, with each compartment being formed to hold at least one toy object. A flexible tab is connected with the lid for holding toy objects in place when positioned within the openable container. Furthermore, a cap is included for connecting with the launcher.

In another aspect, the present invention further comprises an object for connecting with and being launched from the launcher. The object is formed in a shape selected from a group consisting of a disk, a wheel, and a ball.

In another aspect, the launcher comprises a driving element configured to engage a receiving element that is attached with the object to form a drive connection, such that when the driving element engages the receiving element, the object is rotationally accelerated in one direction, and wherein once the driving element ceases to accelerate the receiving element, the receiving element disengages from the driving element and releases the object from the drive connection.

In another aspect, the present invention further comprises a launcher-rotating system mounted inside the carrying case portion and connected with the launcher. The launcher-rotating system is configured to impart a rotary motion to the launcher.

In yet another aspect, the driving element comprises two substantially helical tabs extending in a parallel configuration from the shaft about an axis, the axis running substantially parallel to and substantially centered in the shaft. The receiving element of the object is similarly configured with two substantially helical tabs extending outward in parallel configuration about an axis, the axis running perpendicular to the rotational motion of the object. The two substantially helical tabs of each of the driving element and receiving element has an edge that runs parallel to the axis of the respective driving element and receiving element, such that the edge of the driving element rests flush against the edge of the receiving element, forming a drive connection which allows the rotation of the driving element to rotate the receiving element.

The edge of the driving element and the edge of the receiving element are formed as matching and interlocking shapes, such that when the edge of the driving element is matched with the edge of the receiving element, an interlocking drive connection is formed.

In another aspect, the edge of the driving element and the edge of the receiving element are formed as a hook shapes, such that when the edge of the driving element is matched up with the edge of the receiving element, an interlocking drive connection is formed.

Finally, as can be appreciated by one skilled in the art, the present invention also comprises a method for forming and using the integrated carrying case and object launcher described herein.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The objects, features and advantages of the present invention will be apparent from the following detailed descriptions of the various aspects of the invention in conjunction with reference to the following drawings, where:

FIG. 1 is an illustration of an integrated carrying case and toy object launcher according to the present invention;

FIG. 2 is an illustration of the integrated carrying case and toy object launcher according to the present invention, illustrating a carrying case portion with an opened lid;

FIG. 3A is an illustration of the integrated carrying case and toy object launcher according to the present invention, illustrating an object positioned within the carrying case portion;

FIG. 3B is an illustration of another aspect of the integrated carrying case and toy object launcher according to the present invention;

FIG. 4 is an illustration of the integrated carrying case and toy object launcher according to the present invention, illustrating a gear rack engaged with a launcher-rotating system;

FIG. 5 is a close-up view illustration of the launcher-rotating system;

FIG. 6A is an illustration of a driving element of the launcher according to the present invention;

FIG. 6B is an illustration of an exemplary toy object according to the present invention, depicting the toy object with a receiving element;

FIG. 6C is an illustration depicting the relationship of the structure of the driving element with a receiving element according to the present invention;

FIG. 6D is an illustration depicting an interlocking drive connection between the driving element and the receiving element according to the present invention;

FIG. 7 is an illustration of a launcher-rotating system according to the present invention, depicting a launcher-rotating system comprising an input axle, input pinion, input gear, output gear, output axle and launcher, the input pinion drivingly connected with the gear rack; and

FIG. 8 is an illustration of a stopper mechanism according to the present invention, depicting the stopper mechanism being rotationally attached to the output axle of the launcher-rotating system and interlocking with the gear rack.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The present invention relates to a carrying case and launcher and, more particularly, to an integrated carrying case and launcher for both carrying and launching a toy object. The following description is presented to enable one of ordinary skill in the art to make and use the invention and to incorporate it in the context of particular applications. Various modifications, as well as a variety of uses in different applications will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art, and the general principles defined herein may be applied to a wide range of embodiments. Thus, the present invention is not intended to be limited to the embodiments presented, but is to be accorded the widest scope consistent with the principles and novel features disclosed herein.

In the following detailed description, numerous specific details are set forth in order to provide a more thorough understanding of the present invention. However, it will be apparent to one skilled in the art that the present invention may be practiced without necessarily being limited to these specific details. In other instances, well-known structures and devices are shown in block diagram form, rather than in detail, in order to avoid obscuring the present invention.

The reader's attention is directed to all papers and documents which are filed concurrently with this specification and which are open to public inspection with this specification, and the contents of all such papers and documents are incorporated herein by reference. All the features disclosed in this specification, (including any accompanying claims, abstract, and drawings) may be replaced by alternative features serving the same, equivalent or similar purpose, unless expressly stated otherwise. Thus, unless expressly stated otherwise, each feature disclosed is one example only of a generic series of equivalent or similar features.

Furthermore, any element in a claim that does not explicitly state “means for” performing a specified function, or “step for” performing a specific function, is not to be interpreted as a “means” or “step” clause as specified in 35 U.S.C. Section 112, Paragraph 6. In particular, the use of “step of” or “act of” in the claims herein is not intended to invoke the provisions of 35 U.S.C. 112, Paragraph 6.

Note, if used, the labels left, right, front, back, top, bottom, forward, reverse, clockwise and counter-clockwise have been used for convenience only and are not intended to imply any particular fixed direction. Instead, they are used to reflect relative locations and/or directions between various portions of an object.

Before describing the invention in detail, an introduction is provided to provide the reader with a general understanding of the present invention. Next, a discussion of various aspects is provided to give an understanding of the specific details.

(1) Introduction

As shown in FIG. 1, the present invention relates to a carrying case portion 100 with an attached launcher 102. The launcher 102 is formed to launch toy objects, while the carrying case portion 102 is formed to hold and carry a plurality of the toy objects. Although connected with each other as an integrated unit, the launcher 102 and carrying case portion 100 are described separately for clarity purposes.

(2.1) The Carrying Case Portion

As shown in FIG. 2, the present invention includes a carrying case portion 100 formed to hold at least one toy object. In order to hold the toy object, the carrying case portion 100 includes an openable container 200 having a lid 202 operably connected with the openable container 200. The lid 202 is connected with the openable container 200 in any suitable manner to allow it to be openable therefrom. As a non-limiting example, the lid 202 is hingedly connected with the openable container 200 by a hinge 203 to allow a user to easily open and close the carrying case portion 100.

In a desired embodiment, the carrying case 100 is formed to hold a plurality of toy objects. To firmly hold the plurality of toy objects, the openable container 200 includes a plurality of compartments 204, with each compartment 204 being formed to hold at least one toy object. The compartments 204 are formed by container partitions 206 that are connected with the openable container 200 and lid partitions 208 that are connected with the lid 202. While only one set of partitions is required to form a plurality of compartments 204, using two sets of partitions (i.e., container partition 206 and lid partition 208) further assists in holding a plurality of toy objects.

For further illustration, FIG. 3A depicts a plurality of toy objects 300 positioned within the compartments 204 of the openable container 200. The toy object 300 is any suitably rotatable object that can be connected with and launched from the launcher 102, such that when launched, it will spin away from the launcher 102. As non-limiting examples, the toy object is formed in a rotatable shape such as a disk, a wheel, and a ball. For illustrative purposes only, the toy object 300 shown in FIG. 3A is formed as a toy wheel.

Additionally, flexible tabs 302 can be optionally included within the openable container 200 to hold the toy objects 300 in place during storage. The flexible tabs 302 can be attached at any suitable location within the container 200 to hold toy objects 300 in place, non-limiting examples of which include being attached with the lid 202 and within the compartments 204. As shown, the flexible tabs 302 are attached with the lid 202 such that when the lid 202 is closed, the toy objects 300 are securely held within the openable container 200.

As can be appreciated by one skilled in the art, the openable container 200 and lid 202 are formed of any suitably rigid material, non-limiting examples of which include plastic and metal. In another aspect, it may be desirable to be able to see within the carrying case portion 100. In this aspect, the openable container 200 and/or the lid 202 can be formed of a translucent material, such as a translucent plastic. When formed of a translucent plastic, a user can easily see through the lid 202 to view the toy objects 300 held therein.

FIG. 3B illustrates another aspect of the carrying case 100. In this aspect, an attachment mechanism 304 is attached with the openable container 200. The attachment mechanism 304 is any mechanism that allows for selectively opening and closing the openable container 200. As a non-limiting example, the attachment mechanism 304 is a push button with a clip that allows the lid 202 to be selectively secured against the openable container 200. In operation, a user can depress the attachment mechanism 304 to cause the lid 202 to be released from an edge of the opeanble container 200 and thereby open. Furthermore, a cap 306 can also be included. The cap 306 is formed to cover a portion of the launcher. More specifically, the cap is formed to cover the driving element of the launcher.

(2.2) Detailed Discussion of the Launcher

As shown in FIG. 4, in order to launch the toy object, the present invention also includes a launcher 102, a launcher-rotating system 400, and a gear rack 402. The launcher-rotating system 400 is located inside a housing (not illustrated in FIG. 4). The launcher-rotating system 400 is drivingly connectable with the gear rack 402 such that when the gear rack 402 is moved, the launcher-rotating system 400 translates the movement of the gear rack 402 into a rotary motion. The launcher-rotating system 400 is then drivingly connected with the launcher 102. When an object (such as a wheel) is connected with the launcher 102, the launcher 102 rotationally accelerates the object until the object is released from the launcher 102 and propelled forward.

Although a gear rack 402 is shown in the aspect of FIG. 4, one skilled in the art will appreciate that the launcher-rotating system 400 can comprise a motorized or other manually-operated mechanism to cause the rotation of the launcher 102.

For further clarity, the launcher 102 will be described in additional detail below corresponding to the various portions of the launcher (i.e., the launcher mechanism, the launcher-rotating system, and the stopper mechanism).

(2.2.1) Launcher Mechanism

The launcher 102 functions to retain an object, rotate the object, and launch the object, without the need for a manual or mechanical release mechanism. In one aspect, as illustrated in FIG. 5, the launcher 102 is mounted to an output axle 500 which is drivingly connected with the launcher-rotating system 400. FIG. 6A illustrates the specific design of one aspect of the launcher 102, including a driving element 600. The driving element comprises two identical helical tabs 602A and 602B, which extend outward in parallel configuration from the output axle 500 about an axis, such that the axis is running parallel to and centered in the output axle 500. The edges 604A and 604B of each of the helical tabs 602A and 602B are formed into hook shapes.

FIG. 6B illustrates a blown-up view of a toy object 300 with a receiving element 606. As shown in FIG. 6B, the toy object 300 includes a receiving element 606 attached thereto. As described in further detail below, the receiving element 606 is formed to be engaged with and rotatably driven by the launcher.

FIG. 6C illustrates how the helical tabs 602A and 602B of the driving element 600 are configured to interlock, as matching and interlocking shapes, with similar helical tabs 608A and 608B on a receiving element 606. The receiving element 606 is connected with the object to be rotated (not illustrated). In particular, the hook-shaped edges 604A and 604B of the driving element 600 are configured to match up with the hook-shaped edges 610A and 610B of the receiving element, forming an interlocking drive connection. The interlocking drive connection, as illustrated in FIG. 6D, allows a user to rotate the toy in any orientation and still maintain the interlocking drive connection between the driving element 600 and the receiving element 606.

Once the interlocking drive connection is made between the driving element 600 and the receiving element 606, a user can pull the gear rack (not illustrated) to rotate the driving element 600 and thereby rotate the object connected with the receiving element 606. When the user pulls the gear rack to the point that it is no longer in contact with the launcher-rotating system, the launcher-rotating system ceases to accelerate the launcher 102 and the driving element 600. Once the driving element 600 ceases to accelerate the receiving element 606, the receiving element 606 disengages from the driving element 600 and releases the object from the interlocking drive connection. This is accomplished because once the launcher-rotating system ceases to rotate the driving element 600, the rate of rotation of the driving element 600 decreases immediately. However, due to the object's inertia, the rotational velocity of the receiving element 606 decreases more slowly, and the object and the receiving element rotate away from the driving element 600 and disengage from the interlocking drive connection.

Due to the helical tabs 602A and 602B of the driving element 600, the rotation of the launcher 102 will impart a rotation to the receiving element 606 only if rotated in a clockwise direction. If the launcher 102 is rotated in a counter-clockwise direction, the hook-shaped edges 604A and 604B of the driving element will rotate away from the hook-shaped edges 610A and 610B of the receiving element 606 and disengage the interlocking drive connection without imparting any rotational motion to the receiving element 606.

In the aspect where the object is a wheel, the receiving element 606 is connected with the hub 612 of the wheel, as illustrated in FIG. 6B.

(2.2.2) Launcher-Rotating System

The launcher-rotating system comprises a series of interconnected gears and axles to impart a rotary motion to the launcher. In one aspect, as illustrated in FIG. 7, the launcher-rotating system 400 comprises an input axle 700 with an input pinion 702 and an input gear 704. The input pinion 702 is drivingly connected with a gear rack 402. The launcher-rotating system 400 further comprises an output axle 500 with an output gear 706, where the output gear 706 is drivingly connected with the input gear 704, and where the output axle 500 is connected with the launcher 102.

One skilled in the art will appreciate that by changing the radius of the interconnected gears and input pinions of the launcher-rotating system, a desired input-to-output gear ratio can be achieved. For example, the radius of the gears and pinions can be reduced to provide for a faster rotation output to the launcher, due to the fact that a given movement of the gear rack produces more revolutions of the gears and input pinions than are produced with a greater radius of the gears and input pinions.

(2.2.3) Stopper Mechanism

An additional aspect of the toy is a stopper for preventing the object from rotating and launching in an undesired direction (e.g., in the direction of a user). In one aspect, illustrated in FIG. 8, the stopper 800 is rotationally attached to the output axle 500 of the launcher-rotating system. The stopper 800 is formed with teeth 802 to interlock with the gear rack 402 and prevent the gear rack 402 from moving. The stopper 800 is rotationally configured such that when the user is operating the toy as designed, the stopper 800 does not interact with the gear rack 402. However, if the toy is oriented in a way such that a pull of the gear rack 402 would result in the rotation and launch of the object in the direction of the user, the stopper 800 rotates into a position in which it interlocks with the gear rack 402, thereby preventing the gear rack 402 from being pulled.

One skilled in the art will appreciate that the stopper may consist of any mechanism designed to prevent the rotation and launch of the object in the direction of the user. For example, if the launcher-rotating system comprises a motor, the motor may possess a device to detect a particular orientation of the device and thereby prevent the motor from operating in that orientation.

It should be noted that the gear system described herein references a specific gear configuration for illustrative purposes only, and that it is not intended to be limited thereto. As can be appreciated by one skilled in the art, there are many gear system configurations that can be utilized to cause the detachably attachable wheel to spin away from the launcher.





 
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