Title:
Convertible Pompon System
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Convertible pompons having ornamental arrays such as fluffy projections at opposite ends of baton handles are constructed from pompon halves with half handles incorporating coupling mechanisms for connecting and disconnecting the handle halves. The half handle of one pompon half can be connected with the half handles of a plurality of other pompon halves to assemble the convertible pompons, and the pompon halves of the assembled convertible pompons can be separated and recombined with other pompon halves to provide a yet wider choice of convertible pompons.



Inventors:
Schwarz, Steven J. (Lima, NY, US)
Application Number:
11/307534
Publication Date:
08/16/2007
Filing Date:
02/11/2006
Assignee:
ALLESON OF ROCHESTER, INC. (Rochester, NY, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
D04D7/10
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
AUSTIN, AARON
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
IP Practice Group (Rochester, NY, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A convertible pompon assembly comprising a first ornamental array projecting from a first handle half, a second ornamental array projecting from a second handle half, the first and second handle halves incorporating a coupling mechanism having a coupling facility for interconnecting the first and second handle halves, thereby forming a unitary baton handle between the first and second ornamental arrays, and the coupling mechanism also having an uncoupling facility for disconnecting the first and second handle halves, thereby allowing one of the first and second handle halves to be interconnected with a handle half of another ornamental array.

2. The assembly of claim 1 in which the coupling mechanism is formed integrally with the handle halves without requiring additional moving parts and is engaged and disengaged by relative motion between the handle halves.

3. The assembly of claim 1 in which the coupling mechanism includes a male fitting associated with the first handle half and a female fitting associated with the second handle half.

4. The assembly of claim 3 in which the male fitting projects from the first handle half and the female coupling is formed within the second handle half.

5. The assembly of claim 4 in which the male and female fittings include mating threads.

6. The assembly of claim 1 in which the coupling mechanism includes a detent mechanism that provides snap-fit engagements and disengagements.

7. The assembly of claim 1 in which the coupling mechanism includes a latch mechanism that can be engaged and disengaged by relative motions.

8. The assembly of claim 7 in which the latch mechanism includes a catch that is movable relative to the first and second handle halves.

9. The assembly of claim 1 in which the handle halves include end surfaces that abut one another for forming the unitary baton handle.

10. The assembly of claim 9 in which the handle halves include peripheral surfaces that are arranged side-by-side to form a substantially uninterrupted peripheral surface of the baton handle.

11. The assembly of claim 9 in which the coupling mechanism draws the end surfaces of the handle halves into engagement with each other.

12. The assembly of claim 1 further comprising a detachable strap loosely connecting the two handle halves.

13. An convertible pompon system comprising a plurality of pompon halves each having fluffy projections supported from a handle half, the handle half of a first of the pompon halves being separately engageable with the handle halves of more than one of the plurality of pompon halves for forming convertible pompons from different pairings with the first pompon half, and the handle half of the first pompon half being disengageable from the handle half of a second of the pompon halves and engageable with the handle half of a third of the pompon halves for switching between different pairings of the convertible pompon system.

14. The system of claim 13 in which the engageable handle halves form a unitary baton handle between the pompon halves.

15. The system of claim 13 in which the engageable handle halves include a first end supporting a multitude of strands and a second end that incorporates portions of a coupling mechanism for engaging and disengaging the handle halves of other pompon halves.

16. The system of claim 15 in which the coupling mechanism is formed integrally with the engageable handle halves without requiring additional moving parts and is engaged and disengaged by relative motion between the engageable handle halves.

17. The system of claim 13 in which coupling mechanism that includes a male fitting associated with the handle half of the first pompon half and a female fitting associated with the handle halves of the second and third pompon halves.

18. The system of claim 17 in which the male fitting projects from the first handle half and the female coupling is formed within the second handle half.

19. The system of claim 18 in which the male and female fittings include mating threads.

20. The system of claim 13 in which the engageable handle halves incorporate a coupling mechanism that includes a detent mechanism that provides snap-fit engagements and disengagements.

21. The system of claim 13 in which the engageable handle halves incorporate a coupling mechanism that includes a latch mechanism that can be engaged and disengaged by relative motions.

22. The system of claim 13 in which the engageable handle halves include end surfaces that abut one another for forming a unitary baton handle of a convertible pompon.

23. The system of claim 22 in which the engageable handle halves include peripheral surfaces that are arranged side-by-side to form a substantially uninterrupted peripheral surface of the baton handle.

24. The system of claim 13 in which the fluffy projections of at least the second and third pompon halves differ from one another.

25. The system of claim 13 further comprising end caps that engage the handle halves of the pompon halves for extending the handle halves for use with the pompon halves.

26. The system of claim 25 in which coupling mechanism that includes a fitting associated with the handle half of the first pompon half and a mating fitting associated with the handle half of the second pompon half and the end caps incorporate mating features for coupling to the handle halves.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

The invention relates to pompons (also referred to as poms), which generally take the form of balls of fluffy material attached to handles and waved by cheerleaders, dancers, and sports fans, and more particularly, the invention relates to pompons with baton style handles in which fluffy materials are attached to opposite ends of handles.

BACKGROUND

Pompons, as attention gathering devices flourished by cheerleaders and others, feature ornamental arrays, generally in the form of fluffy balls formed by a multitude of strands or streamers that can be visually coordinated with school colors, uniforms, costumes, or other performance requirements. For example, the strands or streamers are available in different, lengths, widths, colors, and materials and can be assembled in various combinations into fluffy balls. The strands are attached to a core piece, which also generally includes a handle for gripping the pompons.

One type of pompon features fluffy projections (e.g., strands) supported from opposite ends of a baton handle. Typically, the fluffy projections combine to form two halves a single fluffy ball that can be gripped at its center. Such fluffy projection halves can be similar or different from each other. Different color fluffy projection halves can be arranged for matching school, uniform, or performance colors. However, similar colored fluffy projection halves may be preferred for other routines or circumstances. In addition, with the possibilities for mixed colors and different length or material strands, the fluffy projection halves provide increased versatility to suit occasions.

Although the fluffy projection halves can be factory assembled in a variety of different combinations, each new combination of the fluffy projection halves requires the purchase of a new pompon. The cost of purchasing sets of pompons with different combinations of fluffy projection halves can be expensive.

SUMMARY OF INVENTION

According to one or more preferred embodiments of the invention, convertible pompons can be constructed with interchangeable fluffy projection halves that can be used individually or in different combinations within the convertible pompons. Each of the pompon halves has an ornamental array such as a fluffy projection supported from a handle half, which can be gripped for flourishing the individual halves. However, the handle halves can also be coupled together to form baton handles of convertible pompon assemblies so that the pompon halves can be flourished together.

Thus, the invention among its objects provides a more efficient use of the fluffy projection halves of pompons with baton style handles. Each such fluffy projection half is preferably usable on its own or in combination with another fluffy projection half. Preferably, the handle halves can be connected and disconnected easily and reliably so that the fluffy projection halves can be used individually or in various combinations within the same performance or event. Both increased versatility and reduced pompon costs can be realized.

One version of the invention as a convertible pompon assembly includes both a first ornamental array projecting from a first handle half and a second ornamental array projecting from a second handle half. The first and second handle halves incorporate a coupling mechanism having a coupling facility for interconnecting the first and second handle halves, thereby forming a unitary baton handle between the first and second ornamental arrays. The coupling mechanism also has an uncoupling facility for disconnecting the first and second handle halves, thereby allowing one of the first and second handle halves to be interconnected with a handle half of another ornamental array.

The coupling mechanism is preferably formed integrally with the handle halves without requiring additional moving parts and is preferably engaged and disengaged by relative motion between the handle halves. For example, the coupling mechanism can include a male fitting associated with the first handle half and a female fitting associated with the second handle half. The male fitting preferably projects from the first handle half, and the female coupling is preferably formed within the second handle half. The male and female fittings can include mating threads for engaging and disengaging from each other.

Alternatively, the coupling mechanism can include a detent mechanism that provides snap-fit engagements and disengagements or a latch mechanism that can be engaged and disengaged by relative motions. For example, the latch mechanism can be formed with a catch that is movable relative to the first and second handle halves.

The handle halves preferably include end surfaces that abut one another for forming the unitary baton handle. The handle halves also preferably include peripheral surfaces that are arranged side-by-side to form a substantially uninterrupted peripheral surface of the baton handle. The matching surfaces are preferably easy to grip both individually as handle halves and collectively as a baton handle. The coupling mechanism can be used to draw the end surfaces of the handle halves into engagement with each other. A detachable strap can be used for loosely connecting the two handle halves as a further grip aid when the handle halves are together or as a tie for storing individual pompons in pairs.

Another version of the invention as a convertible pompon system includes a plurality of pompon halves, each having fluffy projections supported from a handle half. The handle half of a first of the pompon halves is engageable with the handle halves of more than one of the plurality of other pompon halves for forming convertible pompons from different pairings with the first of the pompon halves. In addition, the handle half of the first of the pompon halves is disengageable from the handle half of a second of the pompon halves and is engageable with the handle half of a third of the pompon halves for switching between different pairings of the pompon halves.

The engageable handle halves preferably form a unitary baton handle between the pompon halves. The engageable handle halves also preferably include a first end supporting the fluffy projections and a second end that incorporates portions of a coupling mechanism for engaging and disengaging the handle halves of other pompon halves.

The coupling mechanism can be formed integrally with the engageable handle halves without requiring additional moving parts and is engaged and disengaged by relative motion between the engageable handle halves. A male fitting can be associated with the handle half of the first pompon half and a female fitting can be associated with the handle halves of the second and third pompon halves.

Alternatively, the engageable handle halves can incorporate a coupling mechanism that includes a detent mechanism that provides snap-fit engagements and disengagements or a latch mechanism that can be engaged and disengaged by relative motions of the handle halves alone or in combination with other parts such as a catch.

The engageable handle halves preferably include end surfaces that abut one another and peripheral surfaces that are arranged side-by-side to form a substantially uninterrupted peripheral surface of the baton handle. The fluffy projections preferably differ among at least the second and third pompon halves to support the assembly of differently appearing convertible pompons from the plurality of pompon halves.

A plurality of end caps can be supplied with mating features for completing the coupling mechanisms of the various handle halves to complete the handle halves for use flourishing the individual pompon halves. For example, end caps with female fittings can be coupled to handle halves with mating male fittings to complete the handles of the individual pompons.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING FIGURES

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a disassembled convertible pompon in the form of two pompon halves with half handles arranged for coupling the pompon halves together.

FIG. 2 is a side view of the disassembled convertible pompon partly in cross section with partly cutaway ornamental arrays.

FIG. 3 is a similar side view of the assembled convertible pompon with partly cutaway ornamental arrays.

FIG. 4 is a side view of one of the pompon halves having a male fitting along with a cross-sectional view through an end cap having a female fitting for completing the handle of the one pompon half.

FIG. 5 is a side view of the other of the pompon halves having a female fitting shown partly in cross section along with an end cap having a male fitting for completing the handle of the other pompon half.

FIG. 6 is a side view of the one pompon half assembled with the female end cap, which includes a carrying strap.

FIG. 7 is a side view of a disassembled alternative convertible pompon partly in cross section showing a detent coupling mechanism.

FIG. 8 is a side view of another disassembled alternative convertible pompon partly in cross section showing a latching coupling mechanism.

FIG. 9 is a side view of another disassembled alternative convertible pompon partly in cross section showing a friction coupling mechanism.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

A preferred embodiment of the invention as a convertible pompon 10 is depicted in FIGS. 1-3. Two pompon halves 12 and 14 are assembled together to form the convertible pompon 10. The pompon half 12 includes an ornamental array 16 in the form of fluffy projections made of a multitude of strands 20 and a handle half 24 from which the strands 20 project. Similarly, the pompon half 14 includes an ornamental array 18 also in the form of fluffy projections made of a multitude of strands 22 and a handle half 26 from which the strands 22 project.

Although the pompon halves 12 and 14 and the handle halves 24 and 26 are referred to as “halves”, the terms “half” or “halves” as used herein are intended to denote either the two parts of the convertible pompons 10 or the two parts of the convertible pompon handles rather than a reference to their relative sizes. The ornamental arrays 16 and 18 of the two pompon halves 12 and 14 can contribute to the formation of a contiguous ornamental array, such as in the form of a single fluffy ball, or can form separate ornamental arrays, each complete in itself. The handle halves 24 and 26 are preferably approximately equally sized so that each handle half can function on its own as at least part of a handle grip of an individual pompon, but the two handle halves could also be made unequally sized for further distinguishing between the pompon halves, such as for distinguishing between crown and show pompons.

The strands 20 and 22, which are also referred to as streamers and can easily number 1000 or more per ornamental array 16 or 18, can be provided in various lengths, widths, colors, and materials. Generally the strands 20 and 22 are made of thin plastic strips but can also be made of paper, foils, or even feathers. Within each ornamental array 16 or 18, the strands 20 or 22 can be all the same color or a combination of colors. The color schemes of the two ornamental arrays 16 and 18 can be the same or different.

The handle halves 24 and 26 include remote ends 28 and 30 at which the ornamental arrays 16 and 18 are attached by conventional means, including capturing the strands 20 and 22 in bunches. The handle halves 24 and 26 also include adjacent ends 32 and 34, which can be abutted together to form a unitary baton handle between the ornamental arrays 16 and 18. Proximate the adjacent ends 32 and 34, the handle halves 24 and 26 incorporate a coupling mechanism 36 that provides for both connecting and disconnecting the handle halves 24 and 26.

The handle half 24 incorporates a female fitting 38 that is formed through the adjacent end 32, and the handle half 26 incorporates a male fitting 40 that projects from the adjacent end 34. The female and male fittings 38 and 40 have mating threads 42 and 44 that allow the handle halves 24 and 26 to be screwed together or apart.

The pompon halves 12 and 14 can be coupled together with each other to form the convertible pompon 10 as shown in FIG. 3 or can be coupled to other pompon halves of different colors or styles having appropriately matching handle fittings. For example, the pompon half 12, which incorporates a female fitting 38, can be paired with another pompon half like the pompon half 14 incorporating a mating male fitting 40. Similarly, the pompon half 14 can be paired with another pompon half like the pompon half 12 having a female fitting 38.

In addition, the pompon halves 12 and 14 can be used by themselves. Each of their handle halves 24 and 26 provides a region for gripping the pompon halves 12 and 14. However, as shown in FIGS. 4-6, mating end caps 46 or 48 can be supplied as handle extenders to provide larger or different grips. The end caps 46 and 48, which incorporate mating female and male fittings 50 and 52, couple to the adjacent ends 32 and 34 of the handle halves 24 and 26 to form new ends 54 and 56 that can be shaped as desired for improving appearance or grip. As shown in FIG. 6, the assembled end cap 46 completes a dowel-shaped handle for the pompon half 14. Alternatively, the end cap could be shaped to convert the handle to a different type of grip, such as a crown or block style, where the grip is oriented orthogonal to that of a dowel-shaped handle. The ornamental arrays 16 and 18 can be separately arranged in the form of individual fluffy balls to further fashion individual pompons from each of the pompon halves 12 and 14.

The handle halves 24 and 26, as well as the end caps 46 and 48, can include mountings in the form of bores 58 or other features for supporting straps, loops, rings, or other ancillary gripping or carrying structures. For example, the pompon half 14, which is fitted with the end cap 46, includes a carrying strap 60 supported from the end cap 46.

A variety of different coupling mechanisms can be used to connect the handle haves together to form convertible pompons as shown in FIGS. 7-9. For example, a detent mechanism 68 of a convertible pompon assembly 70 is shown in FIG. 7. One handle half 72 incorporates a female fitting 76, and another handle half 74 incorporates a male fitting 78. Resilient protuberances 80 project from a periphery 82 of the male fitting 78, and a receiving channel 84 is formed in the female fitting 76. The resilient protuberances 80 deflect, such as by compression or displacement, to allow the male fitting 78 to enter the female fitting 76 but expand into the channel 84 to temporarily secure the two handle halves 72 and 74 together. The channel 84 is positioned to receive the protuberances 80 at a point where adjacent ends 86 and 88 of the handle halves 72 and 74 come into contact with each other to complete a unitary baton handle having a substantially uninterrupted peripheral surface 90 extending between ornamental arrays 92 and 94. The engaged detent mechanism 70 tends to lock the handle halves 72 and 74 together, but a predetermined separating force can be applied to the handle halves 72 and 74 to disengage the detent mechanism 70 and pull the handle halves 72 and 74 apart. The separated handle halves 72 and 74 can be reengaged with each other or with another mating handle half for use as a convertible pompon or can be engaged with a mating end cap for use as an individual pompon.

Another alternative coupling mechanism in the form of a latching mechanism 98 for a convertible pompon assembly 100 is shown in FIG. 8. One handle half 102 incorporates a female fitting 106 having a resilient latch 110, and another handle half 104 incorporates a male fitting 108 having a notch 112, which is shaped for receiving a similarly shaped protuberance 114 of the latch 110. When the female and male fittings 106 and 108 are mated together, the protuberance 114 fits within the notch 112 to temporarily hold the handle halves 102 and 104 together. However, a predetermined force can be applied to re-deflect the latch 110 and pull the handle halves 102 and 106 apart. The separated handle halves 102 and 104 can be can be reengaged with each other or with another mating handle half for use as a convertible pompon or can be engaged with a mating end cap for use as an individual pompon.

Yet another coupling mechanism, this, in the form of a friction coupling mechanism 118 for a convertible pompon assembly 120, is depicted in FIG. 9. Each of two handle halves 122 and 124 incorporates similar male 126, 128 and female 130, 132 fittings. The male fittings 126 and 128 take the form of half cylinders and the female fittings 130 and 132 include corresponding shaped recesses. However, one or the other of the male fittings 126, 128 and the female fittings 130, 132 can be slightly tapered or otherwise shaped so that when drawn together, the male fittings 126 and 128 and the female fittings 130 and 132 engage each other with a friction fit. Although tight enough to hold the handle halves 122 and 124 together for intended use, a separating force can be applied to overcome the friction bond and release the handle halves 122 and 124 from each other.

A hand strap 134 straddles the two handle halves 122 and 124 and has a length that prevents the handle halves 122 and 124 from disengaging when displaced by a hand gripping the handle beneath the strap 134. However, without a hand in place, the handle halves 122 and 124 can be separated and the strap 134 can be displaced so that the separated handle halves 122 and 124 can be reconnected to each other or to a similar handle half for use as a convertible pompon or can be coupled to end caps for use as individual pompons. The end caps for engaging the two handle halves 122 and 124 can be substantially the same.

Although described with respect to a limited number of embodiments, it will be apparent to those of skill in the art that the convertible pompon system of the present invention can be carried out in a variety of ways. For example, many other known types of coupling mechanisms, including combinations of the coupling mechanisms described above, can be used to temporarily secure the pompon halves together to form convertible pompon assemblies.