Title:
Means of simulating natural movement and poses in posable figures
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention is directed to a posable toy figure having realistic articulation, the ability to hold a pose and be repeatedly posed at multiple joints in the legs, head and/or neck, and longevity with resistance to failure. The toy figure includes a posable internal skeletal structure having a main body and at least one appendage. The appendage is attached to said main body using a flexible joint that allows the appendage to be posed into a variety of configurations. The flexible joint further allows the posable figure to be fixed in a particular configuration. The skeletal structure is covered with an outer overmolded material having sufficient flexibility to allow the figure to be posed in a variety of configurations. Finishing details may also be provided.



Inventors:
Pennington, Amy (Greenwich, CT, US)
Application Number:
11/899330
Publication Date:
08/14/2008
Filing Date:
09/05/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
446/373
International Classes:
A63H3/20; A63H3/46
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
YOUNG, SCOTT E
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Michael G. Crilly, Esquire (Hatboro, PA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A posable figure having at least one appendage wherein said appendage may be posed into a variety of configurations, said figure comprising a posable internal skeletal structure and means for maintaining said posable figure in said configuration.

2. The posable figure of claim 1, further including an over-molded skin for covering said rigid internal structure.

3. The posable figure of claim 2, wherein said appendage comprises at least two rigid internal armatures joined by a flexible joint.

4. The posable figure of claim 3, wherein said rigid internal structure is composed of plastic.

5. The posable figure of claim 3, wherein said over-molded skin is composed of PVC.

6. A posable figure comprising a posable internal skeletal structure having a main body and at least one appendage, wherein said appendage is attached to said main body by means of a flexible joint that allows said appendage to be posed into a variety of configurations, wherein said flexible joint further includes means for maintaining said posable figure in said configuration, and wherein said skeletal structure is covered with an outer overmolded material having sufficient flexibility to allow said at least one appendage to be posed in said variety of configurations.

7. The posable figure of claim 6, wherein said appendage comprises at least two armatures attached by means of a flexible joint.

8. The posable figure of claim 7, wherein said flexible joint comprises a ratchet and post system.

9. The posable figure of claim 8, wherein said ratchet and post system further includes at least one pin and corresponding molded cavity detail.

10. The posable figure of claim 9, wherein said ratchet and post system further includes at least one protruding bar and corresponding recessed channel which cooperate to direct the motion of said armatures relative to each other.

11. The posable figure of claim 7, wherein said flexible joint comprises a protrusion on said armature and a corresponding opening in said main body.

12. The posable figure of claim 6, wherein said main body includes internal posts and corresponding internal sockets to provide structural support.

13. The posable figure of claim 6, wherein said appendages are selected from the group consisting of arms, legs, necks, heads and tails.

14. The posable figure of claim 6, further including finishing details.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCES TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This is a non-provisional patent application claiming benefit of priority of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/900,482, filed on Feb. 9, 2007 in the name of Amy Pennington for “Posable Figure Having a Rigid Internal Structure.”

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

A. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to posable toy figures, and more particularly to a posable toy figure having a realistic skinned surface covering a skeletal structure including a plurality of armatures design to simulate real movement and poses in the toy figure, such that the exterior of the figure appears as a realistic and lifelike representation of the figure without any visible mechanical parts.

B. Description of Prior Art

Toys and devices designed to look and move realistically have long been known in the prior art. Many of these devices are designed to realistically and convincingly emulate the appearance and movements of babies or animals. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 1,189,585, which issued to Kruse on Jul. 4, 1916 for “Dummy Model for Reproducing All Movements of the Human or Animal Body” discloses a jointed doll having a frame composed of wound wire coils except at the joints to allow flexion.

In many of these devices, particular attention is paid to the movable elements in the devices, and, in particular, the joint systems used to simulate lifelike motion. Several different types of joints are disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 3,284,947, which issued to Dahl on Nov. 15, 1966 for “Adjustable Doll Having Degassed Malleable Core”—including bendable wire elements wherein the metallic material has been degassed and sealed, another with a degrees-of-freedom-limiting and constraining means, another with a spine-simulating skeletal structure, and another having a framework including bended metal portions. U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,325,939; 3,624,691; 4,932,919; and 5,017,173 also disclose various means for allowing dolls and posable figures to flex only at certain joints.

It is also known to include an internal skeletal structure to more realistically capture the realistic appearance of the object being modeled, and to simulate the actual joint system of the animal itself For example, U.S. Pat. No. 6,800,016, which issued to Wittenberg et al. on Oct. 5, 2004 for “Flexible Dolls and Posable Action Figures” specifically refers to a posable figure having an inner skeleton.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is a primary object of the present invention to provide a posable figure comprising an internal skeletal structure including armatures to simulate realistic movement and poses covered by a flexible and realistic material designed to simulate the skin or external structure of the figure.

It is an object of the present invention to provide an improved interior armature for an over molded posable figure.

A further objective is to provide a realistic life-like posable overmolded figure that will maintain a pose until further manipulated.

An additional purpose is to enhance the playability of this inanimate figure by providing an improved posable overmolded figure with life-like articulation in the legs and neck at multiple points and a durable internal armature.

Still another object of the present invention is to provide a posable figure in which the degree of movement at the joints is restricted such that a natural motion is achieved such that the limbs cannot hyper-extend beyond a normal range.

But another object of the present invention is to provide an armature designed to simulate real movements in the corresponding real parts of an animal or human.

A further purpose is to provide an improved posable over molded figure that will not fail over time or through prolonged use.

Still another purpose of the present invention is to provide a posable interior armature that can be manufactured economically.

A yet further objective is to provide an improved posable armature with a flexible outer skin that will not tear through the respective limbs.

Still another objective of the present invention is to provide a fabricated injection-molded skeleton with limbs, such as a horse leg with joint members.

An object is to provide a posable interior armature with the least amount of weight.

An object is to provide a posable interior armature that has evenly distributed weight so that it can stand solidly on its own.

A further object is to provide an armature with an internal body cavity that will embrace the over molded material so that the over molded material can attach itself to the skeleton providing a better bond between the skeletal member and the outer covering of molded plastic which completes the figure.

Another object is to provide a body design that provides a mechanism through the embedded holes that will allow the over molded material to retain its shape and resiliency and not separate from the inner skeleton, thus, sagging and distorting the original shape of the posable figure.

Still another object of the present invention is to provide a posable figure wherein the pins on the legs of the armature allow the over molded material to retain its shape and resiliency and not separate from the inner skeleton, thus, sagging and distorting the original shape of the posable figure.

A yet further object is to have even PVC flow around the internal armature so that there is a consistent thickness of the PVC wall surrounding the internal armature.

But another object of the present invention is to provide recessed longitudinal channels on the internal body cavity designed to help direct the flow of PVC during the over mold process.

To accomplish these and other objects, the invention provides an improved posable figure having realistic articulation, the ability to hold a pose and be repeatedly posed at multiple joints in the legs, head and/or neck, and longevity with resistance to failure.

The internal body is a thin-walled, molded unit that provides the required shape and strength with the least amount of weight. The design of the internal body cavity provides a low center of gravity to help improve stability for the figure when standing. The longitudinal ribs improve the strength and stiffness of the armature. In addition, the recessed longitudinal channels of the internal body cavity are designed to help direct the flow of PVC during the over mold process so that there is an even distribution of PVC during the over mold process insuring that the external PVC wall has an even thickness. The holes in the internal body cavity create the internal posts and sockets that help to hold the two halves of the body together and they provide areas where the over molded material can attach itself to the skeleton. The body cavity contains holes to provide a better bond between the skeletal member and the outer covering of molded plastic which completes the figure. The internal posts prevent the internal body cavity from becoming distorted due to the high temperature and pressure created by the over molding process. Without the internal posts, the internal body armature would collapse causing the internal cavity to fill with the over molding material. This result would also increase the weight of the over molded figure.

The ratchet joint and stops reduce the forces that cause resistance to the leg movement, forces that result from the PVC outer skin being too thick. The pin above the ratchet joint clicks into the two or three holes (molded in details) which lock the joint in various poses and hold the poses against the resistance of the outer skin. In addition, the molded in two holes limit the range of motion, preventing the joint from breaking when it is pushed past the bendable point. The protruding bar located above the ratchet is designed to hit the end of the corresponding slot before the pin that holds the posable position takes any of the over-bending force exerted on the index pin. Thus, this feature prevents the joint from breaking when it is manipulated past its bendable point. When the joint is rotated the protruding bar comes into contact with the corresponding slot so that it cannot bend further.

The molded leg elements bend only at the appropriate joints. The leg armature is designed so that the joints are very tight. The joints fit together with very little gap or clearance between the components which prevents the over molded material from getting into the joints.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is an exploded perspective view of the posable figure of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a left side isometric view of the posable figure of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a front isometric view of the posable figure of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a rear isometric view of the posable figure of FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a top plan view of the posable figure of FIG. 1;

FIG. 6 is a left side perspective view of the posable figure of FIG. 1;

FIG. 7A is a left side isometric view of the upper leg portion of the posable figure of FIG. 1;

FIG. 7B is a right side isometric view of the upper leg portion of the posable figure of FIG. 1;

FIG. 7C is a front isometric view of the upper leg portion of the posable figure of FIG. 1;

FIG. 7D is a rear isometric view of the upper leg portion of the posable figure of FIG. 1;

FIG. 7E is a left side perspective view of the upper leg portion of the posable figure of FIG. 1;

FIG. 8A is a left side isometric view of the middle leg portion of the posable figure of FIG. 1;

FIG. 8B is a right side isometric view of the middle leg portion of the posable figure of FIG. 1;

FIG. 8C is a front side isometric view of the middle leg portion of the posable figure of FIG. 1;

FIG. 8D is a rear side isometric view of the middle leg portion of the posable figure of FIG. 1;

FIG. 8E is a left side perspective view of the middle leg portion of the posable figure of FIG. 1;

FIG. 9A is a left side isometric view of the lower leg portion of the posable figure of FIG. 1;

FIG. 9B is a right side isometric view of the lower leg portion of the posable figure of FIG. 1;

FIG. 9C is a front isometric view of the lower leg portion of the posable figure of FIG. 1;

FIG. 9D is a rear isometric view of the lower leg portion of the posable figure of FIG. 1;

FIGS. 10A through 10C are various perspective views of the upper neck component of the posable figure of FIG. 1;

FIGS. 11A is a top plan view of the middle neck component of the posable figure of FIG. 1;

FIGS. 11B through 11D are various perspective views of the middle neck component of the posable figure of FIG. 1;

FIGS. 12A is a top plan view of the lower neck component of the posable figure of FIG. 1;

FIGS. 12B through 12C are various perspective views of the lower neck component of the posable figure of FIG. 1;

FIGS. 13A is a left side isometric view of one of the head components of the posable figure of FIG. 1;

FIGS. 13B is a right side isometric view of one of the head components of the posable figure of FIG. 1;

FIGS. 13C is a top plan view of one of the head components of the posable figure of FIG. 1;

FIGS. 13D is a perspective view of one of the head components of the posable figure of FIG. 1;

FIGS. 14A is a left side isometric view of one of the body components of the posable figure of FIG. 1;

FIGS. 14B is a right side isometric view of one of the body components of the posable figure of FIG. 1;

FIGS. 14C is a top plan view of one of the body components of the posable figure of FIG. 1;

FIGS. 14D is a perspective view of one of the body components of the posable figure of FIG. 1; and

FIGS. 14E and 14F are perspective views of one of the body components of the posable figure of FIG. 1 showing the channels for the overmolded material.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF INVENTION

Referring to the drawings and, in particular, to FIG. 1 thereof, the posable toy figure of the present invention is provided and is referred to generally by reference numeral 10. The posable FIG. 10 comprises an internal skeletal structure 100 which, in turn, comprises a main body interconnected with one or more appendages 104 of the type generally consistent with posable toys and figures, such as arms, legs, heads, tails, etc. For the purposes of this specification, particular reference will be made to the posable horse figures illustrated in the various Figures. It should, however, be appreciated that the various systems and methods disclosed herein may be easily applied to any number of other designs and shapes, such as humans (adults and infants), animals of all types, monsters, and even inanimate objects having one or more movable parts.

In the preferred embodiment, the main body is manufactured in two complementary parts 106 which are then securely attached to each other. This embodiment was primarily chosen for manufacturing purposes and for the ease of attaching the appendages 104 thereto, but it could be easily manufactured as one or more than two separate parts 106.

The exterior surface 108 of the posable toy FIG. 10 comprises a resilient outer overmolded material 110. The overmolded material 110 serves several functions, including protection for the internal skeletal structure 110 and to assist in the posing of the various appendages 104. However, the primary purpose of the overmolded material 110 is to simulate the “skin” of the object being modeled. In the preferred embodiment, the overmolded material 110 comprises a rubberized material that can easily withstand repeated deformation without losing any elasticity, so as to allow the various appendages 104 to be moved and positioned repeatedly without any loss of elasticity to the material 110. Furthermore, the overmolded material 110 should capable of being dyed various colors so as to simulate the “skin” tone of the creature or object being modeled, and preferably be able to accept paint or dye so that additional ornamental designs, such as spots, tattoos, etc. can be applied thereto.

In the preferred embodiment, the shape and configuration of the internal skeletal structure 100 is based on the actual skeletal structure of the object being modeled. Using the example of the horse illustrated in the Figures, the skeletal structure 100 is essentially an simplified version of the skeletal structure of an actual horse.

In the preferred embodiment, one or more of the appendages comprise a plurality of armatures 112 interconnected with each other and with the main body 102. For example, each of the horses legs illustrated in the Figures is three separate armatures 112 which cooperate to reproduce realistic movement to each of the legs both relative to each other and to the main body 102.

Once again using the example of the horse, two of the appendages 104 comprise front legs 114 and two of the appendages 106 comprise hind legs 116. Each of these legs 114, 116 comprise three separate molded parts: the upper leg 118, the mid leg 120 and the lower leg 122. Of course, the shape of each of these components will differ depending upon whether the component is situated in the front right leg or the rear left leg, for example.

Each of the appendages 104 and the main body 102 include attachment means 124 for attaching the appendage 104 to the main body 102. Furthermore, for those appendages 104 that include multiple armatures 112, attachment means 124 are also provided for attaching adjacent armatures to each other. While various attachment means 124 are contemplated, it has been found that the preferred means for providing realistic movement to the appendages 104 as well as allowing a user to fix an appendage 104 in a specific pose comprises a ratchet and post system of the type illustrated in FIGS. 7A through 7D. For example, the upper leg 118 has a ratchet post 128 that attaches to a corresponding ratchet hole 130 on the body armature 132 and is secured by a screw 134 or other similar such means that is inserted into the hole on the outside of the leg 118 on the body armature 132. A screw boss 134A may also be provided at the center of each joint to limit the amount of tension force that the screw 134 used to assemble the two parts together will apply to the joint.

At least one pin 136 on the upper leg 118 fits into a corresponding molded cavity detail 138 on the body armature 132 and has three joint locking positions 140 which limit the rotational range of motion of the upper leg 118 relative to the main body 102. Of course, more or less joint locking positions 140 may be provided so as to allow for a greater or smaller range of motion, or for various different angles. It has been found that two such pins 136 serve to add to the strength of the assembled armatures 112, and prevent breaking if over-bent.

The range of rotational motion of the upper leg 118 is further limited by a protruding bar 142 located above the ratchet 144. When rotated or posed to the fullest degree, the protruding bar 142, which fits inside a corresponding channel 146, hits the end of the recessed channel 146 and takes the pressure off of the pin 136, thus preventing the joint from breaking. This feature is present at all the joint sites and helps to prevent the joint from breaking when it is manipulated past the bendable point.

The upper leg 118 also includes two spacing pins 148 which help to center the leg armature 112 in the mold used during the overmold process.

The mid leg 120 attaches to the upper leg 118 by means of a ratchet post 128 located on the upper leg 118 which fits into a receiving ratchet hole 130 in the mid leg 120. The two parts are secured by a screw 134 that is inserted into the mid leg 120. The pin 136 attached to the ratchet post 128 moves inside of the molded cavity detail 138 of the ratchet hole 130 such that there are two locking positions 149. The mid leg 120 includes four spacing pins 148 that help to center the leg armature in the mold used during the overmold process. The lower leg 122 attaches to the mid leg 120 with a ratchet post 128 located on the mid leg 120 which fits into a receiving ratchet hole 130 in the lower leg 122. The two parts are secured by a screw 134 that is inserted into the lower leg 122. The pin 136 attached to the ratchet post 128 moves inside of the molded cavity detail 138 of the ratchet hole 130 such that there are two locking positions 140.

The various armatures 112 of the front legs 114 and hind legs 116 are illustrated in FIGS. 7A through 9D.

In the preferred embodiment, a head 150 and neck 152 are also provided as armatures 112 to the posable toy FIG. 10. As with the legs 114, 116, in the preferred embodiment the head 150 and neck 152 are provided as internal skeletal structures 100 which are then covered by the resilient outer overmolded material 110. The skeletal structure 100 of the head 150 can best be compared to a skull 154, which, in the preferred embodiment is manufactured as two separate skull sides 156 which are then attached together. Also in the preferred embodiment, the neck 152 comprises one or more neck components 156 which cooperate to allow the neck 152 to bend and the head 150 to turn. The head 150 and neck 152 are constructed by attaching the two skull sides 156 together with the upper neck component 160. In the preferred embodiment, the upper neck component 160 includes a protrusion 162 which fits between and is retained by the skull sides 156 when the latter are assembled. The interior of the skull sides 156 include internal posts 164 and sockets 166 that help to hold the two halves 156 together when assembled. These interior posts 164 and sockets 166 of the skull 154 also act as stiffeners like trusses that counteract the pressure of the over molding process.

In the preferred embodiment, the skull sides 156 are glued and ultrasonically sealed together. The main body parts 106 may also be attached by such means. Also in the preferred embodiment, tongue and groove joints 167 are provided around the perimeter of the main body parts 106 and skull parts 156 where the two come together. The purpose for such joint 167 is to set off the high injection pressures that are used during the over-molding process. The tongue and groove joint 167 adds strength to the joint and helps to prevent distortion to the body 102 and head 150 that would otherwise result from the high injection forces of the over-molding process. It also helps to prevent the over-molded material 110 from being forced through the joint and into the internal cavity of the body 102 or head 150 during the molding process, the result of which would add unwanted weight to the toy FIG. 10 and increase the cost due to the additional use of the overmolded material 110.

In the example of the horse, the neck 152 comprises three separate components 156—the upper neck component 160, the middle neck component 168 and the lower neck component 170. It should be appreciated that multiple middle neck components 168 may be provided to lengthen the neck 152 (such as for a giraffe or for an elephant's trunk), or the middle neck component 168 may be removed entirely to shorten the neck 152. In the horse example, the three components 158 of the neck 152 are assembled by placing two cylindrical pivot pins 172 into the adjacent components 158 or between the neck component 158 and the main body 102. The neck 152 can pivot left and right at both points where the pivot pins 172 intersect the adjacent parts. A particular pose can be held in place as a result of the ratchet areas 174 at either end of the neck component 158.

The neck 152 is attached to the main body 102 by means of a protrusion 162 which is accepted by and retained within an upper opening 176 in the main body parts 106 when assembled. In the construction process, the two main body parts 106 are attached together with the upper opening 176 snapping over the inserted protrusion 162 of the neck assembly 152. The interior of the body cavity 178 of each main body part 106 has posts 164 and sockets 166 that help hold the two halves 106 of the body 102 together. As with the skull 154, these interior posts 164 and sockets 166 also act as stiffeners like trusses that counteract the pressure of the over molding process and provide areas where the overmolded skin 110 can attach itself to the skeletal structure 100.

In the preferred embodiment, the internal skeletal structure 100 is composed of a molded plastic or similar material. However, other materials may be used, such as a hardened rubber or a light metal such as aluminum.

Once the entire internal skeletal structure 100 has been assembled, it is placed in an injection mold tool so that the outer overmolded material 110 can be molded around the structure 100. As discussed, the structure 100 includes various spacing pins 148 disposed thereon which are used to accurately locate the armature in the mold. The pins 148 on the legs 114, 116 are used to center the skeletal structure 100 in the mold. However, they are constructed so that they are not apparent in the finished figure. After the skeletal structure 100 is in place, the mold is closed and the outer overmolded material 110 is injected into the mold. The covering mold has a cavity which covers the entire skeletal structure 100; therefore a single injection of material covers the whole posable toy FIG. 10. A flexible material is used for the outer overmolded material 110 so that it can facilitate articulation. In the preferred embodiment, this flexible material is PVC or the like.

Finishing components 180 such as hair, hands, feet, etc. may be attached to the posable toy FIG. 10 either before or after the overmolded material 110 has been applied. For example, to finish a horse, molded hoof like parts 182 are inserted into the bottom of the horse's feet 184. These parts 182 also serve the purpose of covering the holes left by the pins of the mold. Synthetic hair 186 is then manually inserted and glued into the slots in the neck 152 and body 102 of the horse. A cut is made in the horse's mouth so that the mouth can open. Lastly, the horse is painted using a flexible paint.

Having thus described the invention with particular reference to the preferred forms thereof, it will be obvious that various changes and modifications can be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention as defined by the appended claims.