Title:
Toy for launching a projectile
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A toy for launching a projectile is described. The toy comprisies a body and a resiliently flexible tongue attached to the body at a first end. The resiliently flexible tongue includes a free second end adapted to be initially displaced from the body and released by a user so as to resiliently flex in a direction opposite from which it was initially displaced in order to strike and launch the projectile.



Inventors:
Andersen, Jacob R. S. (Hong Kong, HK)
Application Number:
11/134191
Publication Date:
11/23/2006
Filing Date:
05/20/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F41B7/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
RICCI, JOHN A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
IP GROUP OF DLA PIPER LLP (US) (PHILADELPHIA, PA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A toy for launching a projectile, the toy comprising: a body and a resiliently flexible tongue attached to the body at a first end, the resiliently flexible tongue having a free second end adapted to be initially displaced from the body and released by a user so as to resiliently flex in a direction opposite from which it was initially displaced in order to strike and launch the projectile.

2. The toy of claim 1, wherein the resiliently flexible tongue includes a striking member, wherein the striking member contacts the projectile when the tongue resiliently flexes in a direction opposite from which it was initially displaced.

3. The toy of claim 2, wherein the striking member comprises an upwardly angled member.

4. The toy of claim 2, further comprising at least one guide member, wherein the at least one guide member and the striking member launch the projectile in a pre-selected orientation.

5. The toy of claim 1, further comprising a gripping member, wherein the gripping member is utilized by a user to initially displace the free second end of the tongue from the body.

6. The toy of claim 5, wherein the gripping member includes a striking member, wherein the striking member contacts the projectile when the tongue resiliently flexes in a direction opposite from which it was initially displaced.

7. The toy of claim 1, wherein the resiliently flexible tongue is constructed out of one of plastic, metal or wood.

8. The toy of claim 1, wherein the deflection angle between the plane of the body and the resiliently flexible tongue for launching the projectile is between 30 and 60 degrees.

9. The toy of claim 8, wherein the projectile is launched with an energy of between 20mJ and 60mJ when the resiliently flexible tongue is released from the deflection angle of between 30 and 60 degrees.

10. The toy of claim 1, further comprising a base member, wherein the base member provides added stability for when the tongue resiliently flexes in a direction opposite from which it was initially displaced.

11. A toy for launching a projectile, the toy comprising: a body including a chamber having a first opening for receiving a projectile, a shaft and a second opening; and a resiliently flexible tongue attached to the chamber at a first end, the resiliently flexible tongue having a free second end adapted to be initially displaced from the chamber and released by a user so as to resiliently flex in a direction opposite from which it was initially displaced in order to strike and launch the projectile; wherein the shaft of the chamber guides the projectile in a predetermined orientation through the second opening of the chamber.

12. The toy of claim 11, wherein the resiliently flexible tongue includes a striking member, wherein the striking member contacts the projectile when the tongue resiliently flexes in a direction opposite from which it was initially displaced.

13. The toy of claim 12, wherein the shaft of the chamber and the striking member launch the projectile in a pre-selected orientation.

14. The toy of claim 12, wherein the chamber includes a seat for aligning the projectile with the striking member.

15. The toy of claim 11, wherein the deflection angle between the plane of the body and the resiliently flexible tongue for launching the projectile is between 30 and 60 degrees.

16. The toy of claim 15, wherein the projectile is launched with an energy of between 20mJ and 60mJ when the resiliently flexible tongue is released from the deflection angle of between 30 and 60 degrees.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to a toy launching device, and more particularly to a toy launching device for striking and launching a projectile in a pre-selected orientation.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Toys for launching projectiles provide a constant source of amusement to children. Such toys may be entertaining in and of themselves or they may be components of a more comprehensive game or system of games. In order to achieve lasting enjoyment, such toys should be easy to operate and they should perform consistently. Unfortunately, such toys often include several parts and complex mechanisms that can render the toys expensive. Also, although such toys provide for initial enjoyment, they are often quickly rendered useless due to breakage of complex parts, normal wear and/or inconsistent performance attributes. Therefore, what is needed in the art is an improved toy for launching a projectile.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Embodiments of the invention include a toy for launching a projectile. The toy comprisies a body and a resiliently flexible tongue attached to the body at a first end. The resiliently flexible tongue includes a free second end adapted to be initially displaced from the body and released by a user so as to resiliently flex in a direction opposite from which it was initially displaced in order to strike and launch the projectile.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

For the purpose of illustrating the invention, there are shown in the drawings forms which are presently preferred; it being understood, that this invention is not limited to the precise arrangements and instrumentalities shown.

FIG. 1A illustrates a side elevation view of an exemplary embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 1B is another side elevation view of the embodiment of the invention in FIG. 1A.

FIG. 1C is another side elevation view of the embodiment of the invention in FIG. 1A.

FIG. 1D illustrates a three dimensional view of the embodiment of the invention in FIG. 1A.

FIG. 2A is a front elevation view illustrating an exemplary embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2B is another front elevation view of the embodiment of the invention in FIG. 2A.

FIG. 2C is another front elevation view of the embodiment of the invention in FIG. 2A.

FIG. 3A is front elevation view illustrating an exemplary embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 3B is another front elevation view of the embodiment of the invention in FIG. 3A.

FIG. 3C is another front elevation view of the embodiment of the invention in FIG. 3A.

FIG. 3D is a side elevation view of the embodiment of the invention in FIG. 3A.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

It will be appreciated that the following description is intended to refer to exemplary embodiments of the invention selected for illustration in the drawings and is not intended to define or limit the invention, other than in the appended claim. In the figures, in which like reference numerals indicate like elements, apparatuses and methods for a toy for striking and launching a projectile in a pre-selected orientation are shown. Before describing the invention in detail, certain terms should be defined for a more complete understanding of this description.

As such, for the purposes of the embodiments herein a “projectile” is defined as a shooting piece that can be made from, for example (and without limitation), paper, glass or plastic. The projectile can be made, for example, by the grasping of paper into a generally compressed surface area, forming glass or ceramic into a spheroid shape (e.g., a marble), or by the blow molding or injection molding of plastic material such as high impact polystyrene, polypropylene or polyethylene. Other suitable materials and forming methods will be apparent to those skilled in the art. In various embodiments, the diameter of the projectile may range between 0.8 cm and 1.6 cm, however, the general size and shape of the projectile will be determined by an array of factors including its application in various game concepts.

A “toy” as defined herein may include any object comprising a body by which a method for launching a projectile may be implemented. For example, in various embodiments the toy may be shaped to look like a character such as a robot-like figure (as shown in FIGS. 1A-1D), a ball player or a domesticated animal. Further, the toy may be decorated with colors and/or graphics of some sort. The toy may alternatively be configured as a purely functional device without decorative design elements.

In addition to having a distinctive shape or color element, the toy may be two dimensional (2-D) or three dimensional (3-D). For example, in 3-D form, as shown in FIG. 1A, the toy 100 may comprise a body 102 which has the ability to stand upright. In one embodiment, the 3-D toy 100 includes at least one base member 104 that enables the toy 100 to stand upright and to be substantially anchored for the launch of a projectile 106. It is also possible that the user can hold the toy during launch to provide further stability. The 3-D embodiment in FIG. 1A also provides the ability to load the projectile 106 into a chamber 108 from one or more openings for launching. FIGS. 2A-2C illustrate another equally suitable and generally compact 3-D embodiment of the invention, while FIGS. 3A-3D illustrate a 2-D embodiment. It should be understood that the description herein, although focussed on the embodiment of FIGS. 1A-1D, is also generally applicable to the embodiments of FIGS. 2A-3D unless otherwise indicated or evident from the drawings.

In the various embodiments, all or part of the toy may be constructed out of commercially available flexible sheet materials. For example, the production material of the toy may include flexible plastic, e.g., polystyrene sheet, PERSPEX (a registered trademarks of ICI Acrylics, Inc.) or other acrylics, metal (stainless steel, copper), wood, or any combination thereof. Generally, for portions of the toy to be resiliently flexible as described below, a suitable thickness for the flexible sheet material may range between 0.5 mm and 1.5 mm. However, one skilled in the art will note that this thickness range will vary depending on the selected flexible sheet material being employed. The dimensions of the toy will also vary according to the requirements of various applications. For example, the toy height requirement for use as part of a board game may range between 5 cm and 8 cm. It is, of course, also possible to produce the toy with materials that would not ordinarily be considered “sheets”, such as by injection molding the body in any desired shape.

In various embodiments, the toy may be implemented as a fully assembled device or as a do-it-yourself kit, wherein a user assembles the toy by popping out prefabricated parts along lines of weakness from a flat piece of plastic, metal or any other bending material. Preferrably, the assembly of the toy will not require the aid of tools and/or adhesives and all the parts should be joined together by the snap fit of the parts themselves.

The functionality of the toy is based on initially displacing a resiliently flexible tongue and using the recurring force of the tongue in the direction opposite to the initial displacement to strike and launch the projectile. It should be noted that the tongue can be an elongated element as shown in the drawings, or can be of other shapes, such as a triangle or the like, so long as one end is attached to the body and another end is resiliently displaceable. In operation, as shown in FIGS. 1A and 1B, a user places the projectile 106 within contact range of the resiliently flexible tongue 109 that is attached to the body 102 of the toy 100 at a first end. The user then initially displaces the free second end of the tongue 109 from association with the body 102 by utilizing a gripping member 110 as shown in FIG. 1B. In various embodiments, the initial displacement of the free end of the tongue 109 that is not attached to the body 102 may comprise either a vertical or horizontal motion, however, for either configuration the general functionality of the tongue 109 will be the same. For example, the tongue 109 as illustrated in FIGS. 1B and 2B is shown to be displaced vertically by a user, while the tongue 109 in FIG. 3B is shown to be displaced horizontally.

Next, the user releases the gripping member 110 so that the tongue 109 will resiliently flex in a direction opposite to the initial displacement, causing the tongue 109 to strike and launch the projectile 106 as shown in FIG. 1C. The speed of the projectile 106 will mainly depend on the resiliently flexible material and the angle at which the tongue 109 is initially displaced by the user. In one embodiment, the energy of the projectile 106 can be limited so as not to exceed a pre-selected safety limit. For example, one pre-selected safety limit suitable for various children's games is 0.08 Joules (J). Alternatively, a safety limit for other applications may be higher or lower. Preferrably, an initial tongue displacement of 30 to 60 degrees relative to the body 102 by a user will produce a sufficient force in a direction opposite to the initial displacement of the tongue 109 to launch a projectile 106. Within a selected safety range, for example, a projectile 106, such as a marble, may be launched with an energy of between 10mJ and 100mJ, preferably between 20mJ and 60mJ, and most preferably between 30mJ and 50mJ depending on the initial displacement angle of the tongue 109.

The launch direction of the projectile 106 can be pre-selected by changing the orientation/posture of the toy and/or by incorporating a chamber or guide member into the body 102 to direct the flight path of the projectile 106. An example of a chamber 108 utilized to direct the flight path of a projectile is shown in FIG. 1D. The chamber 108 includes a first opening 116 for receiving a projectile 106, a second opening 118 for an exiting projectile 106, and a shaft 120 for at least partially selecting the orientation of the projectile 106 as it exits the chamber 108. In addition to having a chamber 108, the toy as illustrated in FIGS. 1A-1D includes a seat 112 for stabilizing and aligning the projectile 106 with the tongue 108. Alternatively, FIGS. 2A-2C illustrate a toy 200 with dual guide members 202. In still another alternative, FIGS. 3A-3D illustrate a toy 300 with a single guide member 302.

As shown in FIGS. 1A-1D, in various embodiments the toy 100 includes a striking member 114 that is generally characterized by a surface area for contacting the projectile 106, when the tongue 109 resiliently flexes in a direction opposite from which it was initially displaced. The striking member 114 may be constructed of any material including plastic, metal, wood or any combination thereof. In one embodiment, the striking member 114 is centrally mounted at the second free end of the tongue 109. For example, the striking member 114 may be an integrated surface feature of the tongue 109. Alternatively, the striking member 114 may be an independent element that is constructed from the same or different materials from the tongue 109 or other components. In another embodiment, the striking member 114 may be incorporated into the gripping member 110, wherein, as shown in FIGS. 1A-1D, the tongue 109 separates the gripping portion of the gripping member 110 from an integrated striking member 114 by being fixedly seated within the gripping member 110. In the case of FIGS. 1A-1D, the tongue 109 defines the demarcation between the gripping member 110 and the striking member 114 of the integrated element.

In operation, the striking member 114 is designed to strike a seated projectile 106 at a pre-selected orientation. For example, for the toy in FIGS. 1A-1D the striking member 114 may be designed to strike the projectile 106 in such a manner as to keep the projectile 106 in a generally narrow trajectory for exiting the chamber 108 after a launch. Alternatively, the striking member 114 may be designed to strike the projectile 106 in such a manner as to direct the projectile 106 to contact a certain portion of the chamber 108 after launch in order for the projectile 106 to exit the chamber 108 in a pre-selected orientation. As shown in FIG. 1D, the striking member 114 may be wedge-shaped to provide an upwardly angled member so as to launch the projectile 106 in a generally elevated manner relative to a horizontal plane. The wedge-shaped striking member 114 may also keep the projectile 106 airborne over an increased distance relative to, for example, a convex-shaped striking member. For various applications of the toy, the projectile 106 may be required to be airborne over a certain distance, such as for scoring a goal in a game. In other instances, the projectile 106 may be required to clear a threshold elevation in order to score a goal, such as a football-type fieldgoal. As such, the striking member 114 in association with either a chamber 108 or at least one guide element work to guide a projectile 106 in a pre-selected orientation. Further, a chamber or guide component may be detachable in order to give a user the option of attaching another launch mechanism or functionality.

Another method of launching the projectile at vertical angles is to form the flexible tongue so as to have a neutral position disposed at an angle off of vertical. In this way, the striking position of the projectile can be in front of the body while the tongue is on an upswing. Alternatively, the user can hold the toy off of vertical to achieve a similar effect.

As such, in various embodiments the toy may be utilized to play games in which a user is required to accurately hit an opponents' toy, target, goal, etc.

Although the invention has been described in terms of various embodiments, it is not limited thereto. Rather, the appended claims should be construed broadly to include other variants and embodiments of the invention which may be made by those skilled in the art without departing from the scope and range of equivalents of the invention.