Title:
STUFFED TOY WITH EMBEDDED MAGNETS AND RELATED METHOD
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A stuffed toy and method for removably attaching appendages. The appendages are magnetically attached using permanent magnets embedded beneath the stuffed toy fabric. In some embodiments, the appendages include such parts as a head, legs, arms, trunk, tail, or other toy body parts. The magnetically attached toy appendages are removable, reattachable, and interchangeable between toys or in some embodiments, to different positions on the same toy. In other embodiments, the head attaches only to a head position on the body, and the tail attaches only to a tail position on the body. In some embodiments, the body is shaped to provide an additional support structure to help hold the head in a desired position.



Inventors:
Johnson, Jason R. (Mankato, MN, US)
Kittelson, Adam W. (Coon Rapids, MN, US)
Application Number:
11/742557
Publication Date:
11/01/2007
Filing Date:
04/30/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63H3/02
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20050176346Search and find toyAugust, 2005Wessman et al.
20050227577Bedtime TeddyOctober, 2005Mcrae
20050095948Children's entertainment and development toyMay, 2005Snyder et al.
20070087656Tavi wheelApril, 2007Martinez
20100099330Pocket AudienceApril, 2010Digiovanni
20020111105Floppy flying ring toyAugust, 2002Silverglate
20090186553INTERLOCKING TOY BRICKSJuly, 2009Aggar et al.
20070054587Remote control stream dispensing toyMarch, 2007Myers
20080026669INTERACTIVE RESPONSE SYSTEM FOR A FIGUREJanuary, 2008Rehkemper et al.
20080064290Tethered snack food containable toy like objectMarch, 2008Castellani
20040198175Consumer electronics deviceOctober, 2004Shively et al.



Primary Examiner:
DENNIS, MICHAEL DAVID
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LOEB & LOEB, LLP (CHICAGO, IL, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A toy, comprising: a main body that has an exterior covering material and that includes a first ferromagnetic object within a constrained cushioned region of the main body's exterior covering material; and a first appendage that has an exterior covering material and that includes a ferromagnetic object within a constrained cushioned region of the first appendage's exterior covering material, wherein the first appendage is configured to be removably attached to the main body by magnetic attraction between the first ferromagnetic object of the body and the ferromagnetic object of the first appendage.

2. The toy of claim 1, wherein: the first appendage represents a toy head; and at least one of the first ferromagnetic object of the main body and the ferromagnetic object of the first appendage that represents the toy head is a permanent magnet that has a polarity oriented such that the first ferromagnetic object in the main body and the ferromagnetic object in the first appendage that represents the toy head attract one another.

3. The toy of claim 2, further comprising a second appendage that represents a toy tail that has an exterior covering material and that includes a ferromagnetic object disposed beneath its exterior covering material; and wherein the main body further includes a second ferromagnetic object disposed beneath a predefined constrained region of its exterior covering material, and at least one of the first ferromagnetic object of the main body and the ferromagnetic object disposed beneath the exterior covering material of the second appendage that represents the toy tail is a permanent magnet that has a polarity oriented such that the second ferromagnetic object in the main body and the ferromagnetic object in the appendage that represents the toy tail attract one another.

4. The toy of claim 3, wherein the first ferromagnetic object of the main body, the second ferromagnetic object of the main body, the ferromagnetic object of the first appendage that represents the toy head, and the ferromagnetic object of the second appendage that represents the toy tail are all permanent magnets.

5. The toy of claim 3, wherein, of the first ferromagnetic object of the main body, the second ferromagnetic object of the main body, the ferromagnetic object of the first appendage that represents the toy head, and the ferromagnetic object of the second appendage that represents the toy tail, two are permanent magnets and two are made of material that is magnetically attracted to the permanent magnets.

6. The toy of claim 1, wherein the external covering of the toy is a plush fabric, and the toy includes a plurality of magnetically detachable and re-attachable appendages including the first appendage and a second appendage each of which includes a ferromagnetic object attached inside the exterior covering material of each respective appendages, wherein the main body includes the first ferromagnetic object and a second ferromagnetic object held inside two separate constrained regions each defined by fabric pouches sewn to the main body's exterior covering material, and at least one of the first ferromagnetic object of the main body and the ferromagnetic object disposed beneath the exterior covering material of the first appendage is a permanent magnet that attracts its respective opposite ferromagnetic object; and at least one of the second ferromagnetic object of the main body and the ferromagnetic object disposed beneath the exterior covering material of the second appendage is a permanent magnet that attracts its respective opposite ferromagnetic object.

7. The toy of claim 1, wherein the first appendage represents a toy head, and the first ferromagnetic object of the main body is a first permanent magnet and the ferromagnetic object of the first appendage that represents the toy head is a third permanent magnet that has a polarity oriented such that the first permanent magnet in the main body and the third permanent magnet in the first appendage that represents the toy head attract one another; the toy further comprising a second appendage that represents a toy tail that has an exterior covering material and that includes a fourth permanent magnet disposed beneath its exterior covering material; and wherein the main body further includes a second permanent magnet disposed in a pouch sewn to an inside surface of a predefined region of the main body's exterior covering material, and wherein the fourth permanent magnet has a polarity oriented such that the second permanent magnet in the main body and the fourth permanent magnet in the appendage that represents the toy tail attract one another; wherein the exterior covering material of the body and of the first appendage that represents the toy head includes a plush fabric that covers at least half of the toy's exterior surface, and wherein the main body is stuffed primarily with a polymer-fiber material; wherein the first permanent magnet is positioned such that a pole surface of the first permanent magnet is at an angle sloping downward toward a front of the main body and wherein the first permanent magnet is attached to a location on the main body at least about halfway or further to a rear of the main body and such that when the first appendage that represents the toy head has its third magnet magnetically attached to the main body at the first magnet, a front portion of the first appendage that represents the toy head is supported in an upright position by a frontal portion of the main body; and wherein the main body includes two permanently attached legs that extend to two sides of the main body such that the body and the two legs are configured to form at least three points of contact to a horizontal plane for holding the toy in an upright position.

8. The toy of claims 3, wherein the covering material includes a short-nap plush fabric, and wherein the first ferromagnetic object is a permanent magnet that is held within a fabric pouch, and wherein the pouch is sewn to the exterior covering with an additional cushioning layer of fabric between the pouch and the external covering material, such that at least two layers of fabric are located between the permanent magnet and the external covering.

9. A method comprising: providing an exterior covering material of a main body of a toy; providing an exterior covering material of a first appendage of the toy; attaching a first ferromagnetic object to the exterior covering material of the main body within a first predefined constrained region; stuffing the main body with a squeezably compressible polymer-fiber stuffing material to firmly fill the exterior covering material to substantially maintain an angled orientation of the first ferromagnetic object relative to main body; and attaching a third ferromagnetic object to the exterior covering material of the first appendage within a predefined constrained region; stuffing the first appendage with a squeezably compressible polymer-fiber stuffing material to firmly fill the exterior covering material to substantially maintain an angled orientation of the second ferromagnetic object relative to first appendage; removably magnetically attaching the first appendage to the main body by positioning their respective ferromagnetic objects adjacent one another.

10. The method of claim 9, wherein the first appendage represents a toy head, and at least one of the first ferromagnetic object of the main body and the ferromagnetic object of the first appendage that represents the toy head is a permanent magnet; the method further including orienting a polarity of the at least one permanent magnet such that the first ferromagnetic object in the main body and the ferromagnetic object in the first appendage that represents the toy head attract one another.

11. The method of claim 10, further comprising providing an exterior covering material of a second appendage that represents a toy tail; attaching a second ferromagnetic object to the exterior covering material of the main body within a second predefined constrained region; attaching a fourth ferromagnetic object to the exterior covering material of the second appendage that represents a toy tail; stuffing the second appendage with a squeezably compressible polymer-fiber stuffing material to firmly fill the exterior covering material of the second appendage, wherein at least one of the second ferromagnetic object of the main body and the fourth ferromagnetic object of the second appendage that represents the toy tail is a permanent magnet; and orienting a polarity of the at least one permanent magnet such that the second ferromagnetic object in the main body and the fourth ferromagnetic object in the second appendage that represents the toy head attract one another.

12. The method of claim 11, wherein the first ferromagnetic object of the main body, the second ferromagnetic object of the main body, the ferromagnetic object of the first appendage that represents the toy head, and the ferromagnetic object of the second appendage that represents the toy tail are all permanent magnets.

13. The method of claim 11, wherein, of the first ferromagnetic object of the main body, the second ferromagnetic object of the main body, the ferromagnetic object of the first appendage that represents the toy head, and the ferromagnetic object of the second appendage that represents the toy tail, two are permanent magnets and two are made of material that is magnetically attracted to the permanent magnets.

14. The method of claim 9, wherein the attaching of the respective ferromagnetic objects to their respective exterior covering material further includes holding each one of the respective ferromagnetic objects within a substantially closed pouch; and sewing the pouch to an inner surface of the external covering material.

15. The method of claim 9, wherein, once the toy is completed, the first appendage represents a toy head, and the first ferromagnetic object of the main body is a first permanent magnet and the ferromagnetic object of the first appendage that represents the toy head is a third permanent magnet that has a polarity oriented such that the first permanent magnet in the main body and the third permanent magnet in the first appendage that represents the toy head attract one another; the toy further comprising a second appendage that represents a toy tail that has an exterior covering material and that includes a fourth permanent magnet disposed beneath its exterior covering material; and wherein the main body further includes a second permanent magnet disposed in a pouch sewn to an inside surface of a predefined region of the main body's exterior covering material, and wherein the fourth permanent magnet has a polarity oriented such that the second permanent magnet in the main body and the fourth permanent magnet in the appendage that represents the toy tail attract one another; wherein the exterior covering material of the body and of the first appendage that represents the toy head includes a plush fabric that covers at least half of the toy's exterior surface, and wherein the main body is stuffed primarily with a polymer-fiber material; wherein the first permanent magnet is positioned such that a pole surface of the first permanent magnet is at an angle sloping downward toward a front of the main body and wherein the first permanent magnet is attached to a location on the main body at least about halfway or further to a rear of the main body and such that when the first appendage that represents the toy head has its third magnet magnetically attached to the main body at the first magnet, a front portion of the first appendage that represents the toy head is supported in an upright position by a frontal portion of the main body; and wherein the main body includes two permanently attached legs that extend to two sides of the main body such that the body and the two legs are configured to form at least three points of contact to a horizontal plane for holding the toy in an upright position.

16. An apparatus comprising: a first stuffed toy having a main body and a plurality of appendages; and magnetic means for removably attaching the plurality of appendages to the main body of the first stuffed toy.

17. The apparatus of claim 16, wherein a first one of the plurality of appendages represents a toy head, and the magnetic means for attaching includes a plurality of permanent magnets; the apparatus further including means for maintaining orientation of a polarity of the magnetic means for removably attaching; means for supporting the main body in an upright position on a surface; and means for holding the first appendage that represents a toy head upright on the main body.

18. The apparatus of claim 16, further comprising: means for cushioning the means for magnetically attaching.

19. The apparatus of claim 16, wherein magnetic means for removably attaching of the main body, and magnetic means for removably attaching of the appendages are all permanent magnets.

20. The apparatus of claim 16, further comprising: a second stuffed toy having a main body and a plurality of appendages that are of a different form and color than those of the first stuffed toy; and magnetic means for removably attaching the plurality of appendages to the main body of second stuffed toy, wherein the plurality of appendages of the second toy are configured to attach to the main body of the first toy in place of the plurality of appendages of the first toy.

21. The apparatus of claim 17, wherein, the first appendage represents a toy head, and the magnetic means for removably attaching includes a first permanent magnet and a second permanent magnet in the main body and a third permanent magnet in the first appendage that represents the toy head that has a polarity oriented such that the first permanent magnet in the main body and the third permanent magnet in the first appendage that represents the toy head attract one another; wherein a second one of the plurality of appendages represents a toy tail that has an exterior covering material and that includes a fourth permanent magnet disposed beneath its exterior covering material, and wherein the fourth permanent magnet has a polarity oriented such that the second permanent magnet in the main body and the fourth permanent magnet in the appendage that represents the toy tail attract one another; wherein the exterior covering material of the main body and of the first appendage that represents the toy head includes a plush fabric that covers at least half of the toy's exterior surface, and wherein the main body is stuffed primarily with a polymer-fiber material; wherein the first permanent magnet is positioned such that a pole surface of the first permanent magnet is at an angle sloping downward toward a front of the main body and wherein the first permanent magnet is attached to a location on the main body at least about halfway or further to a rear of the main body and such that when the first appendage that represents the toy head has its third magnet magnetically attached to the main body at the first magnet, a front portion of the first appendage that represents the toy head is supported in an upright position by a frontal portion of the main body; and wherein the main body includes two permanently attached legs that extend to two sides of the main body such that the body and the two legs are configured to form at least three points of contact to a horizontal plane for holding the toy in an upright position.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This invention claims benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application 60/746,017, filed Apr. 28, 2006, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

This invention is related to the following applications:

U.S. patent application Ser. No. 29/249,534, filed Oct. 10, 2006, titled “STUFFED TOY WITH DETACHABLE APPENDAGES”;
U.S. patent application Ser. No. 29/249,528, filed Oct. 10, 2006, titled “STUFFED TOY DRAGON WITH DETACHABLE APPENDAGES”;
U.S. patent application Ser. No. 29/249,530, filed Oct. 10, 2006, titled “STUFFED TOY ELEPHANT WITH DETACHABLE APPENDAGES”;
U.S. patent application Ser. No. 29/249,529, filed Oct. 10, 2006, titled “STUFFED TOY RABBIT WITH DETACHABLE APPENDAGES”;
U.S. patent application Ser. No. 29/249,531, filed Oct. 10, 2006, titled “STUFFED TOY PANDA WITH DETACHABLE APPENDAGES”;
U.S. patent application Ser. No. 29/249,533, filed Oct. 10, 2006, titled “STUFFED TOY GOLDFISH WITH DETACHABLE APPENDAGES”; and
U.S. patent application Ser. No. 29/249,532, filed Oct. 10, 2006, titled “STUFFED TOY PARROT WITH DETACHABLE APPENDAGES”;
each of which is incorporated by reference. The various features of the present invention are contemplated to be combined with the designs of and apparatus shown in the above applications.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to a stuffed toy, and more specifically to a toy and related method with removable, reattachable, and interchangeable appendages, where the appendages are magnetically attached using permanent magnets or other magnetic material embedded beneath the stuffed toy fabric.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Stuffed toys are common and popular playthings for children. Stuffed toys are also popular with grown-up children and adults and are many times given as gifts. They must be strong and durable to stand up to the constant abuse such as dropping, throwing, smashing, cuddling, and chewing that children typically administer to stuffed toys. They should also be machine washable for cleaning and sanitary reasons. Many stuffed toys are rather static and lose children's interest after a short period of play. There is a need for a stuffed toy that can interactively change and challenge a child's imagination and creativity while also maintaining a child's interest. To be successful in the marketplace, the toy must also be attractive and interesting to the toy purchaser, and have features that the purchaser can quickly recognize will interest the child.

A child can find a toy interesting where the appearance can be altered. One way to alter a toys appearance is to provide detachable parts, sometimes connected via hook-and-loop type fasteners or magnets. For children, pulling a toy apart and then reassembling in various configurations can involve many hours of enjoyable and learning playtime. Toys do exist where various parts can be attached and detached, but there is a need for a stuffed toy that reliably provides a child with the ability to detach, and reattach various parts in various configurations while maintaining a soft and cuddly exterior look and feel of the stuffed toy fabric.

Examples of toys using magnets to attach appendages to a figure are found in U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,246,422, 3,375,604, 4,038,775, 4,118,888, 4,170,840, 4,176,492, 4,183,173, 4,186,515, 5,277,643, 5,295,889, 5,380,233, 5,727,717, 6,171,169, and 6,893,315, the disclosures of which are incorporated herein by reference. International Publication No. WO 2005/107916 A1 is another example of toys using magnets to attach appendages to a toy, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference.

U.S. Pat. No. 3,246,422 issued to Teagarden on Apr. 19, 1966, which is incorporated herein by reference, describes dolls composed of separable and interchangeable parts, including body portions, arms and legs, which are magnetically connected together. Teagarden describes that an object of her invention is the provision of dolls wherein circular component-connection magnets project from the components, which magnets are adapted to be engaged in socket assemblies, inset in other components, the socket assemblies being lined with magnetizable material, whereby the connected components abut each other, around the magnets, and make substantially invisible joints. Teagarden does not provide a stuffed toy, but rather is of plaster or other plastic. Teagarden further describes circular, reduced diameter, rather thick magnets that are positioned concentrically against the outer surfaces, fixed in place as by means of rivets.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,362,271 issued to Butt on Nov. 8, 1994, which is incorporated herein by reference, describes playthings, provided singly or in pairs, having limbs, such as arms, or other appendages such as tails or trunks, extending from their bodies, the limbs or appendages being provided with connection elements, such as magnets, for removably attaching limbs together to simulate “hand holding” or to attach to metal surfaces or to “pick up” metal objects. Butt does not provide a toy with removably attached parts or appendages. Rather, Butt allows for removably attaching different dolls together by their hands, or removably attaching one toy elephant to another.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,944,929 titled “Method of joining rubber magnet to yoke” issued to Ogawa et al. on Sep. 20, 2005, which is incorporated herein by reference, describes high-performance permanent rubber magnets for use in motors.

Thus, there is a need for an improved stuffed toy having the capability of detachable and interchangeable parts.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides a stuffed toy with one or more permanent magnets or other ferromagnetic objects embedded at points along the main body of the stuffed toy so that appendages of the stuffed toy, also having embedded permanent magnets or other ferromagnetic objects, can be attached, detached, and reattached. In some embodiments, all of the ferromagnetic objects of the main body of the stuffed toy and of the appendages of the stuffed toy are permanent magnets (i.e., objects that hold their magnetism indefinitely under normal conditions). In other embodiments, some of the ferromagnetic objects are non-permanent-magnetic materials such as a metal (e.g., an alloy) or a ceramic material or a composite material (e.g., metal or ceramic particles held within a polymer or rubber) containing one or more of iron, nickel, cobalt or other ferromagnetic materials (e.g., a steel disc) configured such that at least one portion of each connection between the main body and the respective appendage includes a permanent magnet that attracts the ferromagnetic objects on the opposite side of the connection. In some embodiments, appendages include such parts as a head, legs, arms, trunk, tail, and/or the like. In some embodiments, a first magnet is embedded and fixed at a position on the stuffed animal body to provide a point to receive an attachment, while a second attracting magnet is embedded and fixed on an appendage to be attached to the toy. For example, the first magnet is embedded and fixed at a position on a stuffed animal body to which the tail should be connected, while the second magnet is embedded and fixed in the tail section at a location to be attached to the stuffed animal body.

In some embodiments, the magnet is of sufficient strength that attachment is accomplished strictly from the magnetic attraction between the toy parts. In some embodiments, each one of the body magnets are held to the surface of the body with the same pole facing outward from the body (e.g., in some embodiments, the body magnets are attached such that the north pole is outward for each magnetic location on the body), and the appendage magnets are held to the surface of the appendage with the same pole facing outward from the appendage (e.g., in some embodiments, the appendage magnets are each attached such that the south pole is outward for every appendage). In this way the polarity of the permanent magnets is used to enable the body to attract and hold its appendages to any magnetic location on the animal body, while the appendages repel each other. In other embodiments, the magnet polarities are configured so the head appendage will only attract to the head location (and not the tail location) on the body, the tail appendage will only attract to the tail location (and not the head location) on the body, and the head will attract directly to the tail. For example, in some embodiments, the main body has its head-attaching magnet with its north pole outward and its tail-attaching magnet with its south pole outward and the head has its magnet with the south pole outward so it can attach only to the head-attaching magnet of the body, and the tail has its magnet with the north pole outward so it can attach only to the tail-attaching magnet of the body. In some embodiments, different types of stuffed toy animals are provided in various similar body and appendage colors (e.g., representing different real or imaginary animals with different colors, such as a rabbit having a tan body and tan head, a dragon having a green body and green head, a panda having a white and black body and a white and black head, or the like), but each type of stuffed toy animal has all of its body and appendages of the same or similar color, hue, and/or tint. Mixing and matching appendages from one type of toy animal with another type can result in a colorful mixture of strange looking animals, while a learning aspect can be provided in which a child is to find matching colors to form a complete animal of one type. In other embodiments, contrasting or complementary colors are used for one animal type, in order to teach those aspects of color. In other embodiments, different textures are used to distinguish the different animals, such as long versus short hair, smooth silky surfaces versus rough or sticky surfaces, or other identifiable or like textures, which can provide enriching experiences for vision-impaired children.

As is further described in the detailed description below, in some embodiments, the magnets are embedded with additional adaptations (such as snugly fitting padded enclosing pockets or pouches that act to cushion the impact of the magnets hitting one another upon magnetically accelerating and touching (protecting the magnets against cracking when they hit and providing better wear resistance for the fabric), and that act to resist rotation of the magnet so that the appendages continue to stick to the “correct” location on the body, thus allowing them to function properly without damaging stuffed toys or becoming dislodged therefrom.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1A is an elevation view of toy 100 according to some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 1B is a side view of toy 100 according to some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 1C is a side view of toy 100 according to some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 1D is a front view of toy 100 according to some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 1E is a top view of magnet 113 according to some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 1F is a side view of magnet 113 according to some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 1G is a perspective angle view of magnet 113 according to some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 1H is a top view of magnet 115 according to some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 1i is a side view of magnet 115 according to some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 1J is a perspective angle view of magnet 115 according to some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 2A is an exploded cross-sectional view of a magnet 113 enclosed in a durable cotton/polyester safety pouch 114 of toy 100 before attachment to the external fabric 111 according to some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 2B is a cross-sectional view of a magnet 113 enclosed in cotton/polyester safety pouch 114 of toy 100 according to some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 2C is a cross-sectional view of a magnet 113 enclosed in cotton/polyester safety pouch 114 of toy 100 according to some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 2D is a cross-sectional view of a magnet 113 attached to the external fabric 111 of toy 100 according to some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 2E is a cross-sectional view of a magnet 113 attached to the external fabric 111 of toy 100 according to some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 2F is a cross-sectional view of a magnet 113 attached to the external fabric 111 of toy 100 according to some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 2G is a cross-sectional view of a rubber magnet 213 attached to the external fabric 111 of toy 100 according to some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 2H is a cross-sectional view of a rubber magnet 213 attached to the external fabric 111 of toy 100 according to some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 3A is a perspective view of a head 120 of toy 100 showing head-to-body magnet placement according to some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 3B is a plan view of magnet-attachment portion 124 of head 120 showing magnet placement according to some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 3C is a perspective view of a body 110 of toy 100 showing body-to-head magnet placement according to some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 3D is a plan view of magnet-attachment portion 114 of body 110 showing magnet placement according to some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 3E is a perspective view of a body portion 110 of toy 100 showing body-to-tail magnet placement according to some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 3F is a plan view of magnet-attachment portion 116 of body 110 showing magnet placement according to some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 3G is a perspective view of a tail portion 130 of toy 100 showing tail to body magnet placement according to some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 3H is a plan view of magnet-attachment portion 134 of tail 130 showing magnet placement according to some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 4A is a perspective view of toy 100 showing magnet polarity orientation according to some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 4B is a perspective view of toy 100 showing an alternative magnet polarity orientation according to some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 5A is a front view of toy 100 showing head 120 attached to the body 110 according to some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 5B is a front view of toy 100 showing head 120 detached from and reattachment to the body 110 according to some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 5C is a side view of toy 100 showing head 120 and tail 130 attached to the body according to some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 5D is a side view of toy 100 showing head 120 and tail 130 detached from and reattachment to the body 110 according to some embodiments of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Although the following detailed description contains many specifics for the purpose of illustration, a person of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that many variations and alterations to the following details are within the scope of the invention. Accordingly, the following preferred embodiments of the invention are set forth without any loss of generality to, and without imposing limitations upon the claimed invention.

In the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments, reference is made to the accompanying drawings that form a part hereof, and in which are shown by way of illustration specific embodiments in which the invention may be practiced. It is understood that other embodiments may be utilized and structural changes may be made without departing from the scope of the present invention.

The leading digit(s) of reference numbers appearing in the Figures generally corresponds to the Figure number in which that component is first introduced, such that the same reference number is used throughout to refer to an identical component that appears in multiple Figures. Signals and connections may be referred to by the same reference number or label, and the actual meaning will be clear from its use in the context of the description.

The present invention provides stuffed toys with magnets embedded. In some embodiments, no part of the magnet is exposed (no hard surface of the magnet sticks through the stuffed toy's covering material). In some embodiments, the stuffed toy covering material is a plush fabric material. In some embodiments, the plush material has a short nap that provides a velvety feel, while in other embodiments, a longer nap similar to fur is used. In other embodiments, the covering is faux fur, woven fabric, spun fabric, felt, vinyl or other polymer sheet material (either embossed with a texture such as alligator skin, or smooth to provide easy washability), or other suitable covering material. In some embodiments, the same or similar color is used for the main body color and main appendage color of each type of animal (e.g., the head and body of a rabbit could both be a tan color), while different animal types (e.g., the rabbit, and a dragon, goldfish, parrot, elephant, panda, and the like) each have other matching or similar main body and appendage colors. In some embodiments, one or more additional color materials are used for accent on the main body and/or appendages.

The present invention provides one or more magnetically attached appendages that are readily removable and re-attachable. In some embodiments, the head and tail are detachably attached with magnets that are held in place within the covering material of the body, head, and tail. In other embodiments, other body parts such as legs are detachably attached with magnets. In other embodiments, one or more other appendages, implements, tools, or the like are detachably attached with magnets (e.g., a hockey stick or other appurtenance as an appendage or an accessory to an appendage).

The present invention provides, in some embodiments, covered magnets (e.g., covered or enclosed in a cloth pouch (which can be one or more layers) that is part of, and/or is sewn to, the inside surface of the exterior covering) that can be used to attach parts in a stuffed toy, wherein pile fabric or other cushioning material covers or obscures connection points. Unlike Teagarden (U.S. Pat. No. 3,246,422), the present invention provides a solution that embeds permanent magnets beneath the stuffed toy's covering. This provides several advantages: it increases the protection of the magnets against breakage that could result in small sharp pieces dangerous to small children; it increases the protection of the cloth covering against wearing through that could release the magnet, possibly resulting a small loose magnet that could represent a choking or toxic article for a small child, and it reduces the pinching hazard to small fingers that could otherwise be pinched between the strong magnets used. The present invention provides that embedded magnets can be used to removably attach limbs to a stuffed toy, or, for example, to removably attach a head and trunk or tail to the body of a stuffed elephant toy. Further, unlike Butt (U.S. Pat. No. 5,362,271), the present invention provides for removably attaching appendages and/or for restricting which parts will attract in various alternative positions and/or for interchanging appendages between playthings.

In some embodiments, polarized magnets are configured to restrict exchanging parts (e.g., if the outer surface of the magnets on the bodies are one polarity, while the outer surface of the magnets on the appendages are the other polarity, then stuffed toy bodies do not attract other similar stuffed toy bodies (since the like-magnetic poles of the bodies repel one another), but will allow exchangeable appendages between different types of stuffed toys (since the opposite magnetic poles of the body and appendage attract one another)). In other embodiments, each body has a head-attachment magnet of one external polarity, and a tail-attachment magnet of the opposite external polarity, in order that the head position on the body will only attract the head appendage and the tail position on the body will only attract the tail appendage (or the head-attachment magnet of another body, thus allowing two or more bodies to be connected in a chained manner to one another, and then have one head at one end and one tail at the other, and also allowing a head to connect directly to a tail with no intervening body). In some embodiments, parts or appendages are exchangeable between different stuffed animal types (e.g., elephants, dogs, cats, dragons, etc.). Exchanging parts between different stuffed animal types forming illogical combinations can be very entertaining for children.

FIG. 1A is an elevation view of toy 100 according to some embodiments of the invention. The exemplary toy shown is a toy stuffed rabbit, although many other embodiments are possible with other types of animals (e.g., toy elephant, toy dragon, etc.), dolls, vehicles, machines, spaceships or other playthings. In some embodiments, toy 100 is a stuffed toy having a body 110, covered by an external covering 111, with stitching 118, and substantially filled with squeezable internal stuffing 112. In some embodiments, body 110 includes one or more internal pouches or bags filled with beads (e.g., a mesh fabric bag sewn around a collection of polyethylene beads) in addition to the squeezable internal stuffing 112. In some embodiments, the weight of the beads in the lower portion of the body 110 helps stabilize the toy 100 in an upright stable position. The beads also provide an interesting and subtle texture for the person using the toy (since the beads can be felt and manipulated beneath the exterior fabric covering). In some embodiments, toy 100 further includes two attached legs 140 each covered by an external covering 141 sewn to the body 110, and substantially filled with squeezable internal stuffing 142. In some embodiments, only two legs are provided (e.g., in some embodiments, the back legs are provided without including front legs or arms), in order to provide a unique and surprising appearance. In some embodiments, the attached legs 140 are configured (e.g., at an angle to the lower body to provide a tripod-like support function between the two legs and body) to help stabilize the toy 100 in an upright stable position. In some embodiments, toy 100 includes stitching and/or fabric simulating a belly button or navel 119, making the toy more life-like and appealing.

In some embodiments, toy 100 also includes a readily detachable and reattachable toy head 120, covered by an external covering 121 and substantially filled with squeezable internal stuffing 122 (e.g., such as Dacron® or similar wool-like springy synthetic stuffing material, or shredded or molded foam rubber, or other suitable stuffing material). In some embodiments, the body, head, and tail are heavily and/or tightly stuffed using plenty of material in order to firmly support the magnets in position (thus avoiding loose or sagging excess material near the magnets) in order to provide firm support of the back of the head. In some embodiments, a fully stuffed round belly portion of the body provides support for the front of the head. This combination of magnets at the back of the head held firmly but movably by lots of stuffing material, and the fully stuffed belly supporting the front of the fully stuffed head holds the head in an aesthetically pleasing upright orientation rather than a drooping, tilting, or floppy position that results if the magnets are not snugly sewn in pockets sewn to the covering and held by well-stuffed and/or tightly stuffed stuffing material.

In some embodiments, head 120 further includes features such as, for example, ears 125, eyes 126, nose 127, and buckteeth 128. In some embodiments, toy body 110 is shaped such when head 120 is magnetically attached to the body 110, the chin or bottom portion of the head 120 is supported by the body 110 (e.g., in some embodiments, body 110 includes an ample protruding belly upon which the chin of head 120 rests). In some embodiments, toy 100 further includes a readily detachable and reattachable tail 130, covered by an external covering 131, and which, in some embodiments, is substantially filled with squeezable internal stuffing 132.

In some embodiments, the appendage-attachment mechanism for the head to the body includes a permanent magnet 113 enclosed in a fabric pocket 114 positioned adjacent to the body external covering 111, and permanent magnet 123 enclosed in a fabric pocket 124 adjacent to the head's external covering 121. Magnets 113 and 123 are configured such that they attract each other.

In some embodiments, the appendage attachment mechanism between toy tail 130 and toy body 110 includes a permanent magnet 115 enclosed in a fabric pocket 116 adjacent to the body's external covering 111, and permanent magnet 133 enclosed in a fabric pocket 134 adjacent to the tail external covering 131. Magnets 115 and 133 are configured such that they attract each other.

In some embodiments, the body 110 is shaped and filled with sufficient internal stuffing 112 to hold permanent magnet 113 at a non-vertical and non-horizontal angle. The shape of the body and the angular position of the permanent magnet 113, when head 120 is magnetically attached to the body 110, the chin or bottom portion of the head 120 is supported by the body 110 (e.g., in some embodiments, body 110 includes an ample protruding belly upon which the chin of head 120 rests).

FIG. 1B is a side view of toy 100 according to some embodiments of the invention, shown just before the head 120 is magnetically attached to the body 110. In some embodiments, the shape of body 110 is configured to hold magnet 113 sloping downward toward the front of toy 100 at about a 20 degree angle from horizontal before attachment of head 120. The dash-dot-dot square shown on head 120 represents the approximately vertical front of the face and the approximately horizontal bottom of the head, but with the head tilted backward at a small angle before attachment, and with the magnet 123 in the head and the magnet 113 of the body approximately parallel before attachment. In some embodiments, the toy 100 sits on a surface supported by lower body portion 170B, lower portion 170R of right leg 140R, and lower portion 170L of left leg 140L. These three portions (the bottom of the body and the left and right legs) of body 110 act like a tripod (with three or more contact points (including the tail 130) to the horizontal plane) supporting the body in an upright position while it is sitting on a surface.

FIG. 1C is a side view of toy 100 according to some embodiments of the invention, shown just after the head 120 is magnetically attached to the body 110. In some embodiments, when the head 120 is magnetically attached to body 110, the head 120 rotates forward lightly and maintains an upright and forward facing position by tilting the magnet 113 of body 110 forward to about a 45 degree angle from horizontal, and the chin of head 120 rests on the belly of body 110. This support of the magnets 123 and 113 attracting one another and holding the back of head 120 to body 110, while the front of the head (e.g., the chin and teeth in this embodiment, but with other features such as the trunk of an elephant in a toy elephant embodiment) is supported by the front (e.g., the large belly in the embodiment shown) of body 110. As shown in FIG. 1C, this multiple-support-point aspect of the invention supports the head with a pleasant upright orientation as shown by the dash-dot-dot square. By configuring the placement and angles of the magnets, the tight full stuffing of body 110 by the fiber-fill material at the neck connection between magnet 123 and magnet 113 that prevents loose fabric around magnet 113 from allowing the head to sag forward or to the side, and the size and shape of the belly of body 110 and chin and/or other aspects of head appendage 120 that rest on the belly, this configuration provides the unique ability of toy 100 to have the body and head both be mutually self-supporting in an upright orientation when placed on a shelf or table (with little tendency to roll or fall over), while at the same time having a very soft squeezable feel.

FIG. 1D is a front view of toy 100 according to some embodiments of the invention. This view also show how in some embodiments the toy 100 sits supported by lower body portion 170B, lower portion 170R of right leg 140R, and lower portion 170L of left leg 140L, acting like a tripod supporting the body in an upright position while sitting on a surface.

FIG. 1E is a top view of magnet 113 according to some embodiments of the invention. In some embodiments, magnet 113 is a disk or squat cylinder shape about 30 mm in diameter and 5 mm in thickness. In some embodiments, magnet 123 has similar dimensions. FIG. 1F is a side view of magnet 113 according to some embodiments of the invention. In some embodiments, magnet 113 has rounded and/or polished edges to help prevent the magnet from cutting or wearing through the toy covering material. In some embodiments, one or more layers of fabric sewn around the magnet further prevent the magnet from cutting or wearing through the toy covering material. In some embodiments, magnet 113 has a polished or plated exterior surface. In some embodiments, magnet 123 has similar rounded edges and/or polished or plated exterior surface. In some embodiments, magnet 113 is polarized to have the N-polarity 151 on one large side and the S-polarity 152 on the opposite large side. FIG. 1G is a perspective angle view of magnet 113 according to some embodiments of the invention. In some embodiments, magnet 123 has similar dimensions.

FIG. 1H is a top view of magnet 115 according to some embodiments of the invention. In some embodiments, magnet 115 is about 18 mm in diameter and 5 mm in thickness. In some embodiments, magnet 133 has similar dimensions. FIG. 1i is a side view of magnet 115 according to some embodiments of the invention. In some embodiments, magnet 115 has rounded edges to help prevent the magnet from cutting or wearing through the toy covering material. In some embodiments, magnet 115 has a polished or plated exterior surface. In some embodiments, magnet 133 has similar rounded edges and/or polished or plated exterior surface. In some embodiments, magnet 115 is polarized to have the N-polarity 155 on one large side and the S-polarity 156 on the opposite large side. FIG. 1J is a perspective angle view of magnet 115 according to some embodiments of the invention. In some embodiments, magnet 133 has similar dimensions.

In some embodiments, the various configurations shown in FIG. 2A, FIG. 2B, FIG. 2C, FIG. 2D, FIG. 2E, FIG. 2F, FIG. 2G, and FIG. 2H each apply to the main body 110 and/or one or more of the appendages (head 120 and tail 130 and optionally legs 140). While each of these embodiments is described using a magnet 113 (i.e., a permanent magnet) for both sides of each attachment site (e.g., the base of head 120 and the head-attachment site of the main body 110 is considered as one attachment site, while the front of tail 130 and the tail-attachment site at the back of the main body 110 is considered as another attachment site), in other embodiments, one side of an attachment site uses a permanent magnet for magnet 113, and the opposite side of that site uses a ferromagnetic object (such as a steel disc) that is not a permanent magnet in place of magnet 113, which works in a similar manner (since the permanent magnet and the steel disc are magnetically attracted to one another), but provide the additional feature that they attract regardless of the pole of the permanent magnet that is outward. In contrast, if both sides of an attachment site are permanent magnets with their pole portions outward (i.e., only the north pole of one magnet is outward, and only the south pole of the opposite magnet is outward, then the appendage with attach magnetically to a body site having the opposite pole outward). As used herein, ferromagnetic object shall apply to both permanent magnets (such as a strong rare-earth-based ceramic magnet) and other objects that are magnetically attracted to permanent magnets, such as a steel disc. In some embodiments, the ferromagnetic objects are rounded and/or polished and/or coated with a polymer or plated with a metal such as nickel to strengthen the ferromagnetic object and/or to prevent or smooth off any rough edges that could otherwise eventually cut through the exterior covering (e.g., plush fabric) of toy 100.

FIG. 2A is an exploded cross-sectional schematic view of a magnet 113 enclosed in a durable cotton/polyester safety pouch 114 of toy 100 before attachment to the external fabric 111 according to some embodiments of the invention. (In some embodiments, the fabric is sewn to form a snug or tight pouch 114 around the magnet 113 to prevent the magnet 113 from being rotated to a position that does not attract the desired appendage.) The pouch 114 encasing the magnet 113 is attached adjacent and on the inner side of exterior fabric 111. In some embodiments, an additional layer of protective cushioning material 214 is placed between the pouch 114 and the exterior fabric 111. In some of these embodiments, the layer of material 214 has a foam-type or plush-type material 215 on one side, and a polymer-fiber mesh reinforced layer 216 (e.g., nylon-fiber reinforced in a criss-cross pattern) on the other side. The cushioning material further helps prevent magnet breakage and the polymer-fiber reinforced layer helps prevent the magnet from cutting or wearing through the cotton/polyester safety pouch 114 and the exterior fabric 111. In some embodiments, a similar type construction is used for magnet 123 with pouch 124, magnet 115 with pouch 116, and magnet 133 with pouch 134 to toy 100.

FIG. 2B is a cross-sectional view of a magnet 113 enclosed in cotton/polyester safety pouch 114 of toy 100 according to some embodiments of the invention. In some embodiments, the pouch 114 is attached adjacent and on the inner side of exterior fabric 111 by stitching 218. In some embodiments, a similar type construction is used for magnet 123 with pouch 124, magnet 115 with pouch 116, and magnet 133 with pouch 134 to toy 100.

FIG. 2C is a cross-sectional view of a magnet 113 enclosed in cotton/polyester safety pouch 114 of toy 100 according to some embodiments of the invention. In some embodiments, the pouch 114 is only on one side of the magnet 113 and is attached adjacent and on the inner side of exterior fabric 111 by stitching 218. In some embodiments, a similar type construction is used for magnet 123 with pouch 124, magnet 115 with pouch 116, and magnet 133 with pouch 134 to toy 100.

FIG. 2D is a cross-sectional view of a magnet 113 attached to the external fabric 111 of toy 100 according to some embodiments of the invention. In some embodiments, the magnet 113 is adhesively attached adjacent and on the inner side of exterior fabric 111 by an adhesive or heat fused to the external fabric 111. In some embodiments, a similar type construction is used for adhesively attaching magnet 123, magnet 115, and magnet 133 to toy 100.

FIG. 2E is a cross-sectional view of a magnet 113 attached to the external fabric 111 of toy 100 according to some embodiments of the invention. In some embodiments, the fabric 250 is only on one side of the magnet 113 and is attached adjacent and on the outer side of exterior fabric 111 by stitching 258. In some embodiments, a similar type construction is used for attaching magnet 123 with pouch 124, magnet 115 with pouch 116, and magnet 133 with pouch 134 to toy 100.

FIG. 2F is a cross-sectional view of a magnet 113 attached to the external fabric 111 of toy 100 according to some embodiments of the invention. In some embodiments, magnet 113 and is attached adjacent and on the outer side of exterior fabric 111 by one or more rivets 260 (e.g., a plastic rivet with its inner end passed through a plastic collar and melted to form a tight fit, or a suitable metal rivet, or nut(s) and bolt(s), or other suitable fastening means). In some embodiments, a backing plate 262 of metal or plastic or the like, and sized about the lateral dimensions of the magnet or larger, is placed on the inside surface of the exterior fabric 111 to provide additional support and to prevent any gap between the magnet 113 and the exterior fabric 111. In some of these embodiments, magnet 113 is covered with an exterior cushion material 265 (such as rubber, foam rubber or plastic), or flocking material 265 or a sewn cloth cover. In some embodiments, a similar type construction is used for attaching and covering magnet 123 (as shown in FIG. 1A) with pouch 124, magnet 115 with pouch 116, and magnet 133 with pouch 134 to toy 100. Thus, in some embodiments, the present invention provides a toy that includes a main body that has an exterior covering material and that includes a first ferromagnetic object attached within a constrained cushioned region of the main body's exterior covering material (i.e., which is considered to include fabric 111 and cushion material 213 in the embodiment shown in FIG. 2F); and a first appendage that has an exterior covering material and that includes a ferromagnetic object attached within a constrained cushioned region of the first appendage's exterior covering material (in some embodiments, also using the configuration shown in FIG. 2F, wherein the first appendage's exterior covering material is considered to include fabric 111 and cushion material 213 in the embodiment shown in FIG. 2F), wherein the first appendage is configured to be removably attached to the main body by magnetic attraction between the first ferromagnetic object of the body and the ferromagnetic object of the first appendage. In some embodiments, the cushion material 265 is considered to be part of the exterior covering material (e.g., exterior fabric 111) or the toy 100. In some embodiments, exterior cushion 265 is made of a material that complements, resembles or matches exterior fabric 111. For example, in some embodiments, exterior cushion 265 is made of layers that includes a rubber layer such as used for the inner ball of tennis balls and covered with (or laminated to) a felt material similar to that used for the exterior of tennis balls (or a cloth that matches the exterior plush fabric covering of the rest of the stuffed toy 100), wherein the rubber provides some of the cushioning and the felt material provides additional cushioning and a texture similar to that of the rest of the fabric covering 111.

In some embodiments, a flexible or pliable rubber magnet (sometimes referred to as a “refrigerator type” magnet) or the like is used as one or more of the permanent magnets in toy 100 (e.g., in place of magnet 113 and external cushion 265 of FIG. 2F, such a pliable or flexible rubber magnet can perform an integrated function providing magnetic force and cushioning). In some embodiments, such a rubber magnet is made by mixing magnet powder (e.g., ferrite or rare-earth mixtures well known in the art) with synthetic rubber or plastic formed into sheets or strips, wherein a strong magnetic field applied during solidification (or curing) of the rubber aligns the magnetic powder particles. A flexible rubber magnet can be cut from these sheets or strips. A rubber magnet can be attached to the exterior fabric by any of the previously described methods, or can be attached to the exterior fabric by sewing with large stitches.

FIG. 2G is a cross-sectional view of a rubber magnet 213 attached to the external fabric 111 of toy 100 according to some embodiments of the invention. In this embodiment, rubber magnet 113 is stitched to the interior side of exterior fabric 111 using large stitches 268. In other embodiments, plastic rivets, adhesives or other suitable attachment mechanisms are used to hold rubber magnet 213 to toy 100.

FIG. 2H is a cross-sectional view of a rubber magnet 213 attached to the external fabric 111 of toy 100 according to some embodiments of the invention. In this embodiment, rubber magnet 113 is stitched to the exterior side of exterior fabric 111 using large stitches and covered with a fabric cushion or flocking material 265 to present a soft surface external to the toy.

FIG. 3A is a perspective view of a head 120 of toy 100 showing head-to-body magnet placement according to some embodiments of the invention. FIG. 3B is a plan view of magnet-attachment portion 124 of head 120 showing magnet placement according to some embodiments of the invention. In some embodiments, magnet 123 is attached to the inside of the exterior covering 121 at a neck position of toy head portion 120.

FIG. 3C is a perspective view of a body 110 of toy 100 showing body-to-head magnet placement according to some embodiments of the invention. FIG. 3D is a plan view of magnet-attachment portion 114 of body 110 showing magnet placement according to some embodiments of the invention. In some embodiments, magnet 113 is attached to the inside of the exterior covering 111 at a neck position of toy body 110.

FIG. 3E is a perspective view of a body portion 110 of toy 100 showing body-to-tail magnet placement according to some embodiments of the invention. FIG. 3F is a plan view of magnet-attachment portion 116 of body 110 showing magnet placement according to some embodiments of the invention. In some embodiments, magnet 115 is attached to the inside of the exterior covering 111 at an attachment position of toy tail to body 110.

FIG. 3G is a perspective view of a tail portion 130 of toy 100 showing tail to body magnet placement according to some embodiments of the invention. FIG. 3H is a plan view of magnet-attachment portion 134 of tail 130 showing magnet placement according to some embodiments of the invention. In some embodiments, magnet 133 is attached to the inside of the exterior covering 131 of tail 130.

FIG. 4A is a perspective view of toy 100 showing magnet-polarity orientation according to some embodiments of the invention. In some such embodiments, the magnet polarity orientation is such that the head appendage 120 has a magnetic N-polarity adjacent to the external material 121, tail appendage 130 has a magnetic N-polarity adjacent to the external material 131, and the body has a magnetic S-polarity of both its magnets adjacent external material 111. In this configuration, the appendage magnets 123 and 133 each have a strong attraction to either of the body magnets 113 and 115. This results in both appendages having a strong magnetic attraction to the body at either position, with strong magnetic repulsion between appendages 120 and 130 (i.e., the head will not stick to the tail straight on, but may stick sideways at the edges). In other embodiments, all of the magnet polarities are reversed in their orientation.

FIG. 4B is a perspective view of toy 100 showing an alternative magnet-polarity orientation according to some embodiments of the invention. In some such embodiments, the magnet polarity orientation is such that the head appendage 120 has a magnetic S-polarity adjacent to the external material 121, tail appendage 130 has a magnetic N-polarity adjacent to the external material 131, and the body has a magnetic N-polarity adjacent external material 111 at the head position and a magnetic S-polarity adjacent external material 111 at the tail position. In this configuration, the head magnet 123 has a strong attraction only to the body magnets 113 in the head position and the tail magnet 133 has a strong attraction only to the body magnet 115 in the tail position. This results in the appendages having a strong magnetic attraction to the body only in the correct appendage to body position, but also having strong magnetic attraction between appendages 120 and 130 if directly connected to one another.

FIG. 5A is a front view of toy 100 showing head 120 attached to the body 110 according to some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 5B is a front view of toy 100 showing head 120 detached from and reattachable to the body 110, according to some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 5C is a side view of toy 100 showing head 120 and tail 130 attached to the body according to some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 5D is a side view of toy 100 showing head 120 and tail 130 detached from and reattachable to the body 110, according to some embodiments of the invention.

The toy animal may have a number of different exterior materials. In some embodiments, the exterior material is a plush fabric. In some other embodiments, the exterior material is a short-knap plush fabric. In some other embodiments, the exterior material is a velour fabric. In other embodiments, the exterior material is a vinyl, or other suitable toy external covering. In some embodiments, the external material is a molded polymer material such as vinyl and the like.

In some embodiments, the permanent magnets embedded in the toy body and appendages are of any suitable magnetic materials, in various sizes and shapes, and in various suitable polarity configurations. In some embodiments, the magnets used have sufficiently strong magnetic force relative to the weight of the stuffed toy that at least one of the appendages will have a sufficiently strong attraction to the body that they will support the toy's parts on opposite sides of a vertical pane of glass; for example, with the body on one side of the glass and the head on the other side of the glass such that the respective magnets hold to each other through the glass. In some embodiments, the magnets used are strong enough that the appendages and/or body will have a sufficiently strong attraction to a vertical steel surface (such as a refrigerator door) that any of the magnets will support the toy portions to which they are attached on a vertical sheet of steel, for example with the body on the refrigerator door and the head and tail next to it on the refrigerator door. In some embodiments, “refrigerator type” rubber magnets are used. In some other embodiments, instead of using two magnets, one permanent magnet is used (e.g., in the body) in conjunction with corresponding piece of magnetically attracted steel (e.g., in the appendage). For example, in some embodiments, the permanent magnet is embedded in the body of the toy, while the corresponding piece of magnetically attracted steel is embedded beneath the covering of the head.

In other embodiments, other appendage-attachment mechanisms are substituted for the magnets of a toy 100, while retaining other features of the invention. For example, various embodiments use hook-and-loop fasteners (e.g., Velcro®), releasable adhesives (e.g., of the type similar to or stronger than Post-it®-type adhesive), snaps, buttons, plastic ball-and-socket, or other suitable fastening or attachment mechanisms in place of or in addition to the magnets.

As used herein, a ferromagnetic material is any material that is attracted to a permanent magnet, including another permanent magnet, or steel, iron, nickel, cobalt or alloys or mixtures thereof, or other magnetically-attracted materials that are not permanent magnets. A ferromagnetic object is made of or includes ferromagnetic material.

In some embodiments, the invention provides a toy that includes a main body having an exterior covering material and at least one permanent magnet disposed beneath a predefined constrained region of the exterior covering material, and at least one appendage having an exterior covering material and a permanent magnet disposed beneath the exterior covering material, configured to be removably attached to the main body by magnetic force. In some embodiments, at least one appendage that represents a toy head, and the permanent magnet disposed beneath the exterior covering material of the head with a polarity oriented such that the magnet in the main body and the magnet in the appendage attract. In some embodiments, the toy further comprises at least one other appendage that represents a toy tail, and the permanent magnet disposed beneath the exterior covering material of the tail with a polarity oriented such that the magnet in the main body and the magnet in the appendage attract. In some embodiments, the toy covering material is a plush fabric. In some embodiments, the toy covering material is a short-knap plush fabric. In some embodiments, the toy covering material is a vinyl fabric. In some embodiments, the toy covering material is a molded vinyl material. In some embodiments, the toy covering material is a cast vinyl material. In some embodiments, the toy covering material is a molded polymer material. In some embodiments, the toy covering material is a cast polymer material. In some embodiments, at least one appendage of the toy has a metal plate embedded beneath the exterior covering material of the appendage that is magnetically attracted to the magnet in the toy figure body. In some embodiments, the magnet is within a pouch sewn onto an inner surface of and beneath the external covering material. In some embodiments, magnet is within a pouch having a substantially cushioned outer portion, the pouch sewn onto and beneath the external covering material, such that at least one pouch layer is between the magnet and the external covering. In some embodiments, the magnet is within a pouch having a substantially cushioned outer portion, the pouch sewn onto and beneath the external covering material, such that at least two pouch layers are between the magnet and the external covering material. In some embodiments, the magnet is within a pouch having a substantially cushioned outer portion, the pouch sewn onto and beneath the external covering material, wherein the cushioned outer portion is thicker than the external covering material. In some embodiments, the magnet is within a pouch having a cushioned outer portion and a thinner inner portion, the pouch sewn onto and beneath the external covering material. In some embodiments, the magnet is within a pocket sewn beneath the external covering material. In some embodiments, the magnet is adhesively attached beneath the external covering material. In some embodiments, the magnet is held to the inside of the external covering material such it resists flipping the direction magnetic attraction. In some embodiments, the body includes a protruding belly configured to support a portion of the head. In some embodiments, the magnets are strong enough to support the stuff toy when the body is connected to the appendage with a pain of glass between. In some embodiments, the magnets are strong enough to support the stuff toy when the body is connected to the appendage with a thick piece of cloth between. In some embodiments, the magnets are strong enough to support the stuff toy to a refrigerator. In some embodiments, the toy further comprises a leg attached to each of two opposing sides and configured to help support the body in upright position. In some embodiments, the magnet is held within a cloth packet sewn to the external covering. In some embodiments, the magnet is affixed to an interior surface of the external covering using an adhesive. In some embodiments, the magnet is affixed to an interior surface of the external covering using an adhesive. In some embodiments, the magnet is affixed to an interior surface of the external covering using a pressure sensitive adhesive. In some embodiments, the magnet is affixed to an interior surface of the external covering using a heat sensitive adhesive. In some embodiments, the magnet is affixed to an interior surface of the external covering using a heat fusion. In some embodiments, the magnets are configured such that the head sticks readily only to the head position body magnet, and the tail sticks readily only to the tail position body magnet. In some embodiments, the magnet is substantially a cylinder having an axis length shorter than a radius. In some embodiments, the magnet has a cylindrical shape, and the magnetization is configured that the N magnetic pole is at one end of the magnet's cylindrical axis and the S magnetic pole is at the other end of the axis.

In some embodiments, the invention provides a toy, comprising a main body having an outer surface and at least one permanent magnet disposed beneath a predefined constrained region of the outer surface, and at least one appendage having an outer surface and a permanent magnet disposed beneath the outer surface, configured to be removably attached to the main body by magnetic force. In some embodiments, the outer surface of the toy is a cushion material. In some embodiments, the outer surface is a resilient material. In some embodiments, the outer surface is a covering material substantially similar to the covering of a majority of the stuffed toy. In some embodiments, the outer surface is a rubber-type material. In some embodiments, the outer surface is a flocked material.

In some embodiments, the invention provides a toy, comprising a main body having an exterior covering material and at least one permanent magnet disposed beneath a predefined constrained region of the exterior covering material, and at least one appendage having an exterior covering material and a piece of steel or non-permanent magnet disposed beneath the exterior covering material, configured to be removably attached to the main body by magnetic force. In some embodiments, the toy includes at least one appendage that represents a toy head, and the piece of steel or non-permanent magnet disposed beneath the exterior covering material of the head such that the magnet in the main body and the steel or non-permanent magnet in the appendage attract. In some embodiments, the toy further comprises at least one other appendage that represents a toy tail, and the piece of steel or non-permanent magnet disposed beneath the exterior covering material of the tail such that the magnet in the main body and the steel or non-permanent magnet in the appendage attract.

In some embodiments, the invention provides an apparatus comprising a main body having an exterior covering material and at least one permanent magnet disposed beneath a predefined constrained region of the exterior covering material, and cushioned means disposed beneath an exterior covering material of an appendage for magnetically attaching the appendage to the main body. In some embodiments, the cushioned means includes the external covering material. In some embodiments, the cushioned means includes a rubber material. In some embodiments, the external covering material is a fabric. In some embodiments, the cushioned means for magnetically attaching includes a permanent magnet. In some embodiments, the cushioned means for magnetically attaching the appendage includes a permanent magnet, and wherein the at least one permanent magnet in the body and the permanent magnet have sufficiently strong attraction to each other to support each other on a fixed position when adjacent but on opposites sides of a vertically oriented pane of glass. In some embodiments, the cushioned means for magnetically attaching the appendage includes a permanent magnet, and wherein the at least one permanent magnet in the body and the permanent magnet have sufficiently strong attraction to support both of themselves to a vertical sheet of steel such as a refrigerator.

In some embodiments, the invention provides a method providing a main body having an exterior covering material and at least one permanent magnet disposed beneath a predefined constrained region of the exterior covering material, and removably magnetically attaching at least one appendage having an exterior covering material and a permanent magnet disposed beneath the exterior covering material to the main body. In some embodiments, the method includes configuring the at least one appendage to represent a toy head, and disposing the permanent magnet beneath the exterior covering material of the head with a polarity oriented such that the magnet in the main body and the magnet in the appendage attract. In some embodiments, the method includes configuring the at least one other appendage to represent a toy tail, and disposing the permanent magnet beneath the exterior covering material of the tail with a polarity oriented such that the magnet in the main body and the magnet in the appendage attract. In some embodiments, the covering material is a plush fabric. In some embodiments, the covering material is a short-knap plush fabric. In some embodiments, the covering material is a vinyl fabric. In some embodiments, the method further includes embedding a metal plate, which is magnetically attracted to the magnet in the toy figure body, into at least one appendage beneath the exterior covering material of the appendage. In some embodiments, the method further includes sewing the magnet within a pocket beneath the external covering material. In some embodiments, the method further includes adhesively attaching the magnet beneath the external covering material. In some embodiments, the method further includes holding the magnet to the inside of the external covering material such it resists flipping the direction magnetic attraction. In some embodiments, the method further includes configuring the body to include a protruding belly to support a portion of the head. In some embodiments, the magnets are strong enough to support the stuff toy when the body is connected to the appendage with a pain of glass between. In some embodiments, the magnets are strong enough to support the stuff toy when the body is connected to the appendage with a thick piece of cloth between. In some embodiments, the magnets are strong enough to support the stuff toy to a refrigerator. In some embodiments, the method further includes attaching a leg to each of two opposing sides and configured to help support the body in upright position. In some embodiments, the method further includes holding the magnet within a cloth pocket sewn to the external covering. In some embodiments, the method further includes holding the magnet within a pouch having a substantially cushioned outer portion, the pouch sewn onto and beneath the external covering material, such that at least one pouch layer is between the magnet and the external covering. In some embodiments, the method further includes holding the magnet within a pouch having a substantially cushioned outer portion, the pouch sewn onto and beneath the external covering material, such that at least two pouch layers are between the magnet and the external covering material. In some embodiments, the method further includes holding the magnet within a pouch having a substantially cushioned outer portion, the pouch sewn onto and beneath the external covering material, wherein the cushioned outer portion is thicker than the external covering material. In some embodiments, the method further includes holding the magnet within a pouch having a cushioned outer portion and a thinner inner portion, the pouch sewn onto and beneath the external covering material. In some embodiments, the method further includes holding the magnet within a pocket sewn beneath the external covering material. In some embodiments, the method further includes affixing the magnet to an interior surface of the external covering using an adhesive. In some embodiments, the method further includes affixing the magnet to an interior surface of the external covering using an adhesive. In some embodiments, the method further includes affixing the magnet to an interior surface of the external covering using a pressure-sensitive adhesive. In some embodiments, the method further includes affixing the magnet to an interior surface of the external covering using a heat-sensitive adhesive. In some embodiments, the method further includes affixing the magnet to an interior surface of the external covering using a heat fusion. In some embodiments, the method further includes configuring the magnets such that the head sticks readily only to the head position body magnet, and the tail sticks readily only to the tail position body magnet. In some embodiments, the magnet is substantially a cylinder having an axis length shorter than a radius. In some embodiments, the magnetization is configured that the N magnetic pole is at one end of the axis and the S magnetic pole is at the other end of the axis. In some embodiments, the covering material is a cushion material.

In some embodiments, the present invention provides a toy that includes a main body that has an exterior covering material and that includes a first ferromagnetic object disposed beneath a predefined constrained region of the main body's exterior covering material, and a first appendage that has an exterior covering material and that includes a ferromagnetic object disposed beneath the first appendage's exterior covering material, wherein the first appendage is configured to be removably attached to the main body by magnetic attraction between the first ferromagnetic object of the body and the ferromagnetic object of the first appendage.

In some embodiments of the toy, the first appendage represents a toy head, and at least one of the first ferromagnetic object of the main body and the ferromagnetic object of the first appendage that represents the toy head is a permanent magnet that has a polarity oriented such that the first ferromagnetic object in the main body and the ferromagnetic object in the first appendage that represents the toy head attract one another.

Some embodiments of the toy further include a second appendage that represents a toy tail that has an exterior covering material and that includes a ferromagnetic object disposed beneath its exterior covering material, and wherein the main body further includes a second ferromagnetic object disposed beneath a predefined constrained region of its exterior covering material, and at least one of the first ferromagnetic object of the main body and the ferromagnetic object disposed beneath the exterior covering material of the second appendage that represents the toy tail is a permanent magnet that has a polarity oriented such that the second ferromagnetic object in the main body and the ferromagnetic object in the appendage that represents the toy tail attract one another.

In some embodiments of the toy, the first ferromagnetic object of the main body, the second ferromagnetic object of the main body, the ferromagnetic object of the first appendage that represents the toy head, and the ferromagnetic object of the second appendage that represents the toy tail are all permanent magnets.

In some embodiments of the toy, of the first ferromagnetic object of the main body, the second ferromagnetic object of the main body, the ferromagnetic object of the first appendage that represents the toy head, and the ferromagnetic object of the second appendage that represents the toy tail, two are permanent magnets and two are made of material that is magnetically attracted to the permanent magnets.

In some embodiments of the toy, the external covering of the toy is a plush fabric, and the toy includes a plurality of magnetically detachable and re-attachable appendages including the first appendage and a second appendage each of which includes a ferromagnetic object attached inside the exterior covering material of each respective appendages, and wherein the main body includes the first ferromagnetic object and a second ferromagnetic object attached inside two separate constrained regions of the main body's exterior covering material, at least one of the first ferromagnetic object of the main body and the ferromagnetic object disposed beneath the exterior covering material of the first appendage is a permanent magnet that attracts its respective opposite ferromagnetic object, and at least one of the second ferromagnetic object of the main body and the ferromagnetic object disposed beneath the exterior covering material of the second appendage is a permanent magnet that attracts its respective opposite ferromagnetic object.

In some embodiments of the toy, the first appendage represents a toy head, and the first ferromagnetic object of the main body is a first permanent magnet and the ferromagnetic object of the first appendage that represents the toy head is a third permanent magnet that has a polarity oriented such that the first permanent magnet in the main body and the third permanent magnet in the first appendage that represents the toy head attract one another, the toy further comprising a second appendage that represents a toy tail that has an exterior covering material and that includes a fourth permanent magnet disposed beneath its exterior covering material, and wherein the main body further includes a second permanent magnet disposed in a pouch sewn to an inside surface of a predefined region of the main body's exterior covering material, and wherein the fourth permanent magnet has a polarity oriented such that the second permanent magnet in the main body and the fourth permanent magnet in the appendage that represents the toy tail attract one another, wherein the exterior covering material of the body and of the first appendage that represents the toy head includes a plush fabric that covers at least half of the toy's exterior surface, and wherein the main body is stuffed primarily with a polymer-fiber material, wherein the first permanent magnet is positioned such that a pole surface of the first permanent magnet is at an angle sloping downward toward a front of the main body and wherein the first permanent magnet is attached to a location on the main body at least about halfway or further to a rear of the main body and such that when the first appendage that represents the toy head has its third magnet magnetically attached to the main body at the first magnet, a front portion of the first appendage that represents the toy head is supported in an upright position by a frontal portion of the main body, and wherein the main body includes two permanently attached legs that extend to two sides of the main body such that the body and the two legs are configured to form at least three points of contact to a horizontal plane for holding the toy in an upright position.

In some embodiments of the toy, the covering material includes a short-nap plush fabric, and wherein the first ferromagnetic object is a permanent magnet that is held within a fabric pouch, and wherein the pouch is sewn to the exterior covering with an additional cushioning layer of fabric between the pouch and the external covering material, such that at least two layers of fabric are located between the permanent magnet and the external covering.

In some embodiments, another aspect of the present invention provides a method that includes providing an exterior covering material of a main body of a toy, providing an exterior covering material of a first appendage of the toy, attaching a first ferromagnetic object to the exterior covering material of the main body within a first predefined constrained region, stuffing the main body with a squeezably compressible polymer-fiber stuffing material to firmly fill the exterior covering material to substantially maintain an angled orientation of the first ferromagnetic object relative to main body, attaching a third ferromagnetic object to the exterior covering material of the first appendage within a predefined constrained region, stuffing the first appendage with a squeezably compressible polymer-fiber stuffing material to firmly fill the exterior covering material to substantially maintain an angled orientation of the second ferromagnetic object relative to first appendage, removably magnetically attaching the first appendage to the main body by positioning their respective ferromagnetic objects adjacent one another.

In some embodiments of the method, the first appendage represents a toy head, and at least one of the first ferromagnetic object of the main body and the ferromagnetic object of the first appendage that represents the toy head is a permanent magnet, and the method further includes orienting a polarity of the at least one permanent magnet such that the first ferromagnetic object in the main body and the ferromagnetic object in the first appendage that represents the toy head attract one another.

Some embodiments of the method further include providing an exterior covering material of a second appendage that represents a toy tail, attaching a second ferromagnetic object to the exterior covering material of the main body within a second predefined constrained region, attaching a fourth ferromagnetic object to the exterior covering material of the second appendage that represents a toy tail, stuffing the second appendage with a squeezably compressible polymer-fiber stuffing material to firmly fill the exterior covering material of the second appendage, wherein at least one of the second ferromagnetic object of the main body and the fourth ferromagnetic object of the second appendage that represents the toy tail is a permanent magnet, and orienting a polarity of the at least one permanent magnet such that the second ferromagnetic object in the main body and the fourth ferromagnetic object in the second appendage that represents the toy head attract one another.

In some embodiments of the method, the first ferromagnetic object of the main body, the second ferromagnetic object of the main body, the ferromagnetic object of the first appendage that represents the toy head, and the ferromagnetic object of the second appendage that represents the toy tail are all permanent magnets.

In some embodiments of the method, of the first ferromagnetic object of the main body, the second ferromagnetic object of the main body, the ferromagnetic object of the first appendage that represents the toy head, and the ferromagnetic object of the second appendage that represents the toy tail, two are permanent magnets and two are made of material that is magnetically attracted to the permanent magnets.

In some embodiments of the method, the attaching of the respective ferromagnetic objects to their respective exterior covering material further includes holding each one of the respective ferromagnetic objects within a substantially closed pouch, and sewing the pouch to an inner surface of the external covering material.

In some embodiments of the method, once the toy is completed, the first appendage represents a toy head, and the first ferromagnetic object of the main body is a first permanent magnet and the ferromagnetic object of the first appendage that represents the toy head is a third permanent magnet that has a polarity oriented such that the first permanent magnet in the main body and the third permanent magnet in the first appendage that represents the toy head attract one another, the toy further comprising a second appendage that represents a toy tail that has an exterior covering material and that includes a fourth permanent magnet disposed beneath its exterior covering material, and wherein the main body further includes a second permanent magnet disposed in a pouch sewn to an inside surface of a predefined region of the main body's exterior covering material, and wherein the fourth permanent magnet has a polarity oriented such that the second permanent magnet in the main body and the fourth permanent magnet in the appendage that represents the toy tail attract one another, wherein the exterior covering material of the body and of the first appendage that represents the toy head includes a plush fabric that covers at least half of the toy's exterior surface, and wherein the main body is stuffed primarily with a polymer-fiber material, wherein the first permanent magnet is positioned such that a pole surface of the first permanent magnet is at an angle sloping downward toward a front of the main body and wherein the first permanent magnet is attached to a location on the main body at least about halfway or further to a rear of the main body and such that when the first appendage that represents the toy head has its third magnet magnetically attached to the main body at the first magnet, a front portion of the first appendage that represents the toy head is supported in an upright position by a frontal portion of the main body, and wherein the main body includes two permanently attached legs that extend to two sides of the main body such that the body and the two legs are configured to form at least three points of contact to a horizontal plane for holding the toy in an upright position.

In some embodiments, the present invention provides an apparatus that includes a first stuffed toy having a main body and a plurality of appendages, and magnetic means for removably attaching the plurality of appendages to the main body of the first stuffed toy.

In some embodiments of the apparatus, a first one of the plurality of appendages represents a toy head, and the magnetic means for attaching includes a plurality of permanent magnets, and the apparatus further includes means for maintaining orientation of a polarity of the magnetic means for removably attaching, means for supporting the main body in an upright position on a surface, and means for holding the first appendage that represents a toy head upright on the main body.

Some embodiments further include means for cushioning the means for magnetically attaching.

In some embodiments of the apparatus, magnetic means for removably attaching of the main body, and magnetic means for removably attaching of the appendages are all permanent magnets.

Some embodiments further include a second stuffed toy having a main body and a plurality of appendages that are of a different form and color than those of the first stuffed toy, and magnetic means for removably attaching the plurality of appendages to the main body of second stuffed toy, wherein the plurality of appendages of the second toy are configured to attach to the main body of the first toy in place of the plurality of appendages of the first toy.

In some embodiments, the first appendage represents a toy head, and the magnetic means for removably attaching includes a first permanent magnet and a second permanent magnet in the main body and a third permanent magnet in the first appendage that represents the toy head that has a polarity oriented such that the first permanent magnet in the main body and the third permanent magnet in the first appendage that represents the toy head attract one another, wherein a second one of the plurality of appendages represents a toy tail that has an exterior covering material and that includes a fourth permanent magnet disposed beneath its exterior covering material, and wherein the fourth permanent magnet has a polarity oriented such that the second permanent magnet in the main body and the fourth permanent magnet in the appendage that represents the toy tail attract one another, wherein the exterior covering material of the main body and of the first appendage that represents the toy head includes a plush fabric that covers at least half of the toy's exterior surface, and wherein the main body is stuffed primarily with a polymer-fiber material, wherein the first permanent magnet is positioned such that a pole surface of the first permanent magnet is at an angle sloping downward toward a front of the main body and wherein the first permanent magnet is attached to a location on the main body at least about halfway or further to a rear of the main body and such that when the first appendage that represents the toy head has its third magnet magnetically attached to the main body at the first magnet, a front portion of the first appendage that represents the toy head is supported in an upright position by a frontal portion of the main body, and wherein the main body includes two permanently attached legs that extend to two sides of the main body such that the body and the two legs are configured to form at least three points of contact to a horizontal plane for holding the toy in an upright position.

In some embodiments, the first magnet is held within a substantially closed pouch sewn to an inner surface of the external covering material.

It is to be understood that the above description is intended to be illustrative, and not restrictive. Although numerous characteristics and advantages of various embodiments as described herein have been set forth in the foregoing description, together with details of the structure and function of various embodiments, many other embodiments and changes to details will be apparent to those of skill in the art upon reviewing the above description. The scope of the invention should be, therefore, determined with reference to the appended claims, along with the full scope of equivalents to which such claims are entitled. In the appended claims, the terms “including” and “in which” are used as the plain-English equivalents of the respective terms “comprising” and “wherein,” respectively. Moreover, the terms “first,” “second,” and “third,” etc., are used merely as labels, and are not intended to impose numerical requirements on their objects.