Title:
COLLAPSIBLE PINATA DEVICES AND METHODS FOR MAKING SAME
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Collapsible piñata devices and methods to manufacture collapsible piñata devices are provided. According to some embodiments of the present invention, a piñata can comprise an exterior shell and one or more internal support frame members. The internal frame members can support the exterior shell when the exterior shell is fully expanded in an uncollapsed position to form a piñata. The internal frame members can also support the exterior shell during transition from expanded to collapsed position and from collapsed to expanded position. The piñata can also be collapsed into a state for storage, travel, and to preserve the exterior appearance of the piñata. Other embodiments are also claimed and described.



Inventors:
Wong, Richard (Canon, MA, US)
Application Number:
12/166423
Publication Date:
10/30/2008
Filing Date:
07/02/2008
Assignee:
NEW HOPE GREETINGS, LLC (ELKTON, MD, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
428/9, 493/267
International Classes:
A63H33/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CEGIELNIK, URSZULA M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
TROUTMAN PEPPER HAMILTON SANDERS LLP (ATLANTA, GA, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A piñata device adapted to contain a plurality of articles and capable of being collapsed, the piñata device comprising: a collapsible exterior comprising one or more extendable portions, the collapsible exterior having a collapsed state and an uncollapsed state, the collapsible exterior adapted to define an interior when uncollapsed, the interior substantially enclosed by the collapsible exterior, the collapsible exterior having a perimeter when collapsed, the perimeter defining a central axis; and a first framing member coupled to at least one of the extendable portions, the first framing member adapted to support the at least one of the extendable portions during collapsing and uncollapsing.

2. The piñata device of claim 1, the collapsible exterior comprising an inner containing member and an outer section, the inner containing member being spaced apart from the central axis, and the outer section being spaced apart from the inner containing member such that the inner containing member is disposed between the central axis and the outer section.

3. The piñata device of claim 2, the inner containing member adapted to be collapsible and to contain a plurality of articles when the inner containing member is uncollapsed.

4. The piñata device of claim 1, further comprising a second framing member, wherein the distance between the first and second framing members varies during collapsing and during uncollapsing.

5. The piñata device of claim 1, wherein the one or more extendable portions comprise a first extendable portion end and a second extendable portion end, the first and second extendable portion ends in proximity to each other and comprising opposing ends of the collapsible exterior in the collapsed state.

6. The piñata device of claim 5, further comprising a latch operatively connected to at least one of the first extendable portion end and the second extendable portion end, the first and second extendable portion ends in proximity to each other when the collapsible exterior is in the uncollapsed state, and the latch comprising a connector to connect the first extendable portion end and the second extendable portion end in the uncollapsed state.

8. The piñata device of claim 1, the collapsible exterior comprising a plurality of predetermined folds, the folds being open in the uncollapsed state and closed in the collapsed state.

9. The piñata device of claim 1, further comprising a second framing member, the first and second framing members rotatable about the central axis.

10. A piñata manufacturing method comprising: providing a first framing support member; and coupling a first collapsible outer wall to the first framing support member, the first collapsible outer wall proximate the first framing support member and adapted to contain a plurality of articles, the first framing support member adapted to support the first collapsible outer wall, and the first collapsible outer wall having a first perimeter defining a central axis.

11. The piñata manufacturing method of claim 10, further comprising disposing the first framing support member between an inner layer and an outer layer of the first collapsible outer wall such that the first framing support member is positioned between the inner layer and the outer layer.

12. The piñata manufacturing method of claim 10, further comprising providing a plurality of folds in the first collapsible outer wall such that the first collapsible outer wall can move between the collapsed state and the uncollapsed state.

13. The piñata manufacturing method of claim 10, further comprising: providing a second collapsible outer wall; providing an inner support wall; and coupling the first collapsible outer wall to a first side of the inner support member and the second collapsible outer wall to a second side of the inner support member.

14. The piñata manufacturing method of claim 10, further comprising providing a locking member coupled to a first outer end of the first collapsible outer wall such that the first outer end and a second outer end of the collapsible outer wall can be securely locked.

15. The piñata manufacturing device of claim 10, further comprising configuring the first collapsible outer wall to rotate about the central axis such that the first collapsible outer wall can move between a collapsed state and an uncollapsed state.

16. In a decorative piñata gaming system comprising a piñata capable of being collapsed in a portable carrying condition and expanded into an uncollapsed condition, the piñata comprising: an exterior shell configured to have a collapsed condition and an uncollapsed condition, the uncollapsed condition defining an interior substantially enclosed by the exterior shell; and a framing system comprising a plurality of elongated frame members coupled to the exterior shell, the elongated frame members to support and carry the exterior shell in the uncollapsed condition.

17. The piñata of claim 16, the exterior shell comprising an inner layer and an outer layer, the inner layer and the outer layer being coupled to the elongated frame members such that the elongated frame members are positioned between the inner layer and the outer layer.

18. The piñata of claim 16, the exterior shell defining a perimeter in the uncollapsed condition, and the elongated frame members having a geometrical shape substantially similar to the perimeter.

19. The piñata of claim 16, further comprising a second collapsible piñata suspended and disposed generally within the interior.

20. The piñata of claim 19, further comprising an inner support member, the second collapsible piñata having a second exterior shell carried by the inner support member.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS AND PRIORITY CLAIMS

This application is a Continuation-in-Part of, and claims priority to, pending U.S. Non-Provisional patent application Ser. No. 11/748,555, filed 15 May 2007, under 35 U.S.C. § 120; which claims priority under 35 U.S.C. § 119 to Chinese Patent Application Number 200620160545.X filed with the State Intellectual Property Bureau of the People's Republic of China on 28 Nov. 2006. This Application also claims priority to and the benefit of Chinese Patent Application Number 200820042655.5 under 35 U.S.C. § 119, filed with the State Intellectual Property Bureau of the People's Republic of China on 9 Jan. 2008. All of the above-listed Applications are hereby incorporated by reference in their entireties as if fully set forth below.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The various embodiments of the present invention relate generally to piñatas, and more specifically, to collapsible piñata devices and methods to make collapsible piñata devices.

BACKGROUND

Piñatas have long been popular for distributing gifts at children's parties and providing recreational activities at similar festive events. Traditional piñatas are typically formed of frangible material and items such as candy, toys, and money can be placed within piñatas. In typical games involving piñatas, participants are blindfolded and attempt to strike a suspended piñata. Typically, game participants use strong, rigid objects such as baseball bats, to break open piñatas. Breaking open a piñata can reveal items hidden within the piñata, and according to some piñata games participants win those items they successfully remove from the piñata by striking it.

Many conventional piñatas exist today. Indeed, known piñatas are generally made in many shapes, sizes, and colors. Conventional piñatas do have associated drawbacks, including their large size, inability to be compressed into a smaller size without causing damage, and possibility of being damage due to fragile manufacturing materials and methods. In addition, piñatas having a large, unchangeable size do not lend themselves to be easily transported.

Accordingly, what is needed are collapsible piñata devices and methods for making collapsible piñata devices that address the above and other needs. In addition, there is a need for collapsible piñata devices that take up small amounts of space when collapse, that can easily be uncollapsed, and that have sturdy exteriors not easily damaged. It is to the provision of such collapsible piñata devices and methods for making collapsible piñata devices that the various embodiments of the present invention are directed.

BRIEF SUMMARY

The various embodiments of the present invention include collapsible piñata devices and methods for making collapsible piñata devices. Advantageously, piñata devices according to embodiments of the present invention enable compact storage in a manner that does not damage or alter the exterior appearance of a collapsible piñata. In addition, piñata devices according to the present invention are easily collapsible for easy transport as well as expansion into full size.

Still yet, piñata devices according to some embodiments of the present invention are useful because the overall artistic and visual effect is stronger for piñata devices according to the present invention. Indeed, when extended from a collapsed condition to full size, the piñata will exhibit a different form the collapsed state and thus present a surprise for user. Other features according the present invention include efficient and easy production process, piñatas having large internal volumes, reduced amount of manufacturing materials, and ability to easily attach associated piñata decorative items.

Broadly described, and as discussed below in more detail, a piñata device according to various embodiments of the present invention is a specially designed and novel piñata. According to some embodiments, a decorative piñata gaming system comprises a piñata capable of being collapsed in a portable carrying condition and expanded into an uncollapsed condition. The piñata can generally comprise an exterior shell, an inner support, and a framing system. The exterior shell can have a collapsed condition and an uncollapsed condition. The uncollapsed condition can define an interior substantially enclosed by the exterior shell. The exterior shell can comprise one or more extendable portions. These portions can extend linearly or can rotate about a central axis of the piñata. The central axis can be defined by a perimeter of the exterior shell, when the shell is collapsed.

Piñatas according to the present invention can have various structural features. The inner support carries the exterior shell. The inner support member is located at least partially within the interior in the uncollapsed condition. The framing system comprises a plurality of elongated frame members. The frame members can extend from the inner support to the exterior shell. Alternatively or additionally, the frame members can extend along the exterior shell, when the shell is collapsed. The frame members can be comprised of many materials, including without limitation, metal wire or hardboard. The frame members can support the exterior shell as the shell is collapsed and uncollapsed. Additionally, the elongated frame members support and carry the exterior shell in the uncollapsed condition.

Piñatas according to embodiments of the present invention can have additional features. For example, the exterior shell can comprise an inner layer and an outer layer. The inner layer and the outer layer being can be coupled to the elongated frame members such that the elongated frame members are positioned between the inner layer and the outer layer. As another example, inner support can define a perimeter, and the elongated frame members of the framing system can have a geometrical shape substantially similar to the perimeter. As yet another example, a piñata can comprise a second collapsible piñata disposed generally within the interior to yield a piñata-within-a-piñata arrangement. Still yet as another example, the second collapsible piñata can have a second exterior shell carried by the inner support that also carries the piñata.

An exemplary piñata can also comprise an inner containing section. The inner containing section can be collapsible and can be capable of containing a plurality of articles. The contained articles can be the prize or prizes won when the piñata is burst during game play. While the inner containing section can be composed of the same collapsible material as the collapsible exterior, this is not required. For example and not limitation, the inner containing section can comprise a collapsible plastic bag or paper plate.

Other aspects and features of embodiments of the present invention will become apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art, upon reviewing the following description of specific, exemplary embodiments of the present invention in conjunction with the accompanying figures.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of a collapsed view of a piñata device according to some embodiments of the present invention.

FIG. 2 illustrates a perspective-side view of an uncollapsed piñata device according to some embodiments of the present invention.

FIG. 3 illustrates a cross-sectional view of an uncollapsed piñata device according to some embodiments of the present invention.

FIG. 4 illustrates a partial view of a piñata device having multiple spherical-shaped piñatas according to some embodiments of the present invention.

FIG. 5 illustrates a perspective view of a piñata device having multiple piñatas according to some embodiments of the present invention.

FIG. 6A illustrates a side view of a collapsed piñata implementing linear extension.

FIG. 6B illustrates a side view of an uncollapsed piñata implementing linear extension.

FIG. 7 illustrates a partial collapsed view of an oval-shaped piñata device according to some embodiments of the present invention.

FIG. 8 illustrates a perspective view of an oval-shaped piñata device according to some embodiments of the present invention.

FIG. 9 illustrates a partial collapsed view of a rectangular-shaped piñata device according to some embodiments of the present invention.

FIG. 10 illustrates a perspective view of a rectangular-shaped piñata device according to some embodiments of the present invention.

FIG. 11A illustrates a partial cross-sectional view of a piñata comprising a plastic bag inner section.

FIG. 11B illustrates a partial cross-sectional view of a piñata comprising a paper plate inner section.

FIG. 12 illustrates a logical flow diagram of a method to manufacture a piñata device according to some embodiments of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED & ALTERNATIVE EMBODIMENTS

Referring now to the figures, wherein like reference numerals represent like parts throughout the several views, exemplary embodiments of the present invention will be described in detail. Throughout this description, various components may be identified having specific values or parameters, however, these items are provided as exemplary embodiments. Thus, the exemplary embodiments do not limit the various aspects and concepts of the present invention as many comparable parameters, sizes, ranges, and/or values may be implemented.

FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of a collapsed view of a piñata device 100 according to some embodiments of the present invention. The piñata device 100 is capable of being in a collapsed state and expanded into an uncollapsed state. A range of expansion exists between a collapsed state and a fully expanded state. In FIG. 1, the piñata device 100 is shown in a collapsed state. In FIG. 2, the piñata device 100 is shown in a fully expanded state that forms a spherically-shaped piñata. A comparison of FIG. 1 to FIG. 2 illustrates the advantageous ability of the piñata device 100 to be collapsed from a fully expanded state to make transporting and storing the piñata device 100 easy. FIG. 3 also illustrates the piñata device 100 in a fully expanded state and FIG. 3 illustrates an interior cross-section of the piñata device 100 when fully expanded.

As shown in FIGS. 1-3, the piñata device 100 can generally comprise a collapsible exterior 105 and an inner support wall 110. The collapsible exterior 105 and the inner support wall 110 are connected together such that the collapsible exterior 105 can move relative to the inner support wall 110. This movement advantageously enables transition between a collapsed state and an uncollapsed state. According to some embodiments of the present invention, the collapsible exterior 105 is coupled to the inner support wall 110 at two attachment points 115, 120 on the inner support wall. Such an attachment configuration enables movement between expanded and collapsed states.

As best shown in FIG. 3, the collapsible exterior 105 can comprise one or more extendable portions. Indeed, the collapsible exterior 105, as illustrated, can comprise a first extendable portion 125 and a second extendable portion 130. The first extendable portion 125 and the second extendable portion 130 can be coupled to the inner support wall 110 on opposing sides of the inner support wall 110. If a single extendable portion is provided, it can be the case that no inner support wall 110 is desired or provided. Alternatively, if a plurality of extendable portions are implemented, multiple inner support walls, disposed between the extendable portions, can be provided.

The first extendable portion 125 and the second extendable portion 130 are preferably constructed from materials that are pre-folded. The folds can provide that, when the piñata device 100 is expanded or collapsed, the first extendable portion 125 and the second extendable portion 130 do not impede transition between the two states. Use of pre-folded paper enables the first extendable portion 125 and the second extendable portion 130 to be folded on itself in the collapsed position (FIG. 1), and provides the piñata device 100 with an exterior that is aesthetically pleasing and rigid (FIG. 2). Indeed, pre-folded paper such as between 110-gram to 70-gram offset printing paper may be used. Other paper materials such as card stock-type paper may also be used.

In addition to comprising extendable portions, the collapsible exterior 105 can be made with multiple layers or material sections. In some preferred embodiments, an inner layer and an outer layer are used. The inner layer faces the interior of the piñata device 100 and the outer layer is the exterior of the piñata device 100. The inner and outer layers can be of the same material and can be coupled to each other to form a piñata device 100 having a rigid body. The layers are preferably configured to have corresponding folds thereby enabling the collapsible exterior 105 to easily transition between collapsed and expanded states.

The inner support 105 carries the first extendable portion 125 and the second extendable portion 130. Also, the inner support wall 110 defines a central axis 135 of the piñata device 100. The central axis 135 is shown by line A-A in FIGS. 1-2 and is a line that enters the plane of the page of FIG. 3 in a perpendicular orientation. In the collapsed position (FIG. 1), the first extendable portion 125 and the second extendable portion 130 rest against the inner support wall 110 in a substantially flat manner and are situated proximate the inner support wall 110 in the collapsed state. In the fully extended position (FIGS. 2-3), the first extendable portion 125 and the second extendable portion 130 envelop the inner support wall 110 so that the inner support wall 110 is not viewable. This advantageous feature of the present invention provides a collapsible piñata having a sturdy interior support wall that is hidden from view within the interior of the piñata device 100 when the piñata device 100 is expanded for use.

As mentioned above, the first extendable portion 125 and the second extendable portion 130 are attached to the inner support wall 110. Preferably, the first extendable portion 125 and the second extendable portion 130 are rotatably or pivotally attached to the inner support wall 110 proximate the central axis 135 of the piñata device 100. More specifically, ends of the first extendable portion 125 and the second extendable portion 130 are attached to the inner support wall 110 to enable movement of the collapsible exterior 105 relative to the inner support wall 110 such that the first extendable portion 125 and the second extendable portion 130 rotate about the central axis 135. Alternatively, if a single extendable portion is used, the ends of the single extendable portion can rotate about the central axis 135.

The one or more extendable portions can comprise a first extendable portion end and second extendable portion end. These two ends may or may not be located on the same extendable portion. The extendable portion ends comprise opposing ends of the exterior shell. The ends can be in proximity to each other when the exterior shell is collapsed and can rotate about the central axes during uncollapsing. Alternatively, uncollapsing may comprise extension of the length of the piñata. In that case, the opposing extendable portion ends move linearly away from each other and the distance between the ends increases as the piñata is uncollapsed (see FIGS. 6A-6B).

The first extendable portion 125 and the second extendable portion 130 can be coupled to the inner support wall 110 in various manners. As shown in FIG. 1, ends 140, 145 of the first extendable portion 125 are coupled to the inner support wall 110. Also, although not visible in FIG. 1, the second extendable portion 130 (situated behind the first extendable portion 125 in this view) is also attached at its ends (not shown) to the inner support wall. Alternatively in other embodiments, the first extendable portion 125 and the second extendable portion 130 can be coupled to the inner support wall 110 at other locations of the inner support wall 110 proximate the axis 135.

The preferable attachment configuration of the first extendable portion 125 and the second extendable portion 130 to the inner support wall 110 includes each of the components having a common aperture extending therein. The common apertures can be aligned such that attachment mechanism used to secure the components together. Such an attachment mechanism can be a string inserted into the apertures. Also, the ends of the first extendable portion 125 and the second extendable portion 130 can then be taped at their ends. This attachment configuration advantageously enables a pivotal attachment so that the ends of the first extendable portion 125 and the second extendable portion 130 can rotate about the axis 135 in transition between a collapsed state and an expanded state.

The attachment configuration as shown in FIGS. 1-3 enables the inner support wall 110 to have various shapes and configurations. Indeed, while the inner support wall 110 can have a generally half-circular shape, portions of the interior can be cut away or removed since the first extendable portion 125 and the second extendable portion 130 are only attached to the inner support wall at opposing ends of the inner support wall. As shown in the figures of this application, the inner support wall 110 can take various shapes and its shape will depend on the desired shape of an expanded piñata since the inner support wall will generally have a shape corresponding to cross-section of the exposed piñata.

According to some embodiments, the collapsible exterior 105 can have a geometrical shape that corresponds to the interior support wall 110 in the uncollapsed state such that a cross section of the piñata device between the central axis and the collapsible exterior has the same the geometrical shape of the interior support wall. For example, in FIGS. 1-3, the general shape of the inner support wall 110 is that of a half-circle and the piñata device 100 has a spherical shape when expanded. Thus, the inner support wall 110 can be half of a planar cross-section of the spherically-shaped piñata device 100. Other piñata shapes can have differently shaped inner support walls.

The piñata device 100 can also comprise one or more framing support members 150, 155 (see FIG. 3). The support members 150, 155 can extend outwardly from the central axis 135 to the collapsible exterior 105, and be coupled to the inner support wall 110. The support members 150, 155 are preferably between and coupled to the central axis 135 and the collapsible exterior 105. Alternatively or additionally, the support members can extend along the perimeter of the collapsed exterior shell. The framing support members 150, 155 can couple together multiple layers of the exterior shell. Additionally, the framing support members can support the extendable portions of the exterior shell during collapsing and uncollapsing.

In certain embodiments, the piñata device 100 can comprise a first framing support member 150 and a second framing support member 155. The first framing support member 150 and the second framing support member 155 can be situated proximate each other in an uncollapsed state. As the piñata device 100 moves from the collapsed state to the uncollapsed state, a distance between the framing support members 150, 155 can change. For example and not limitation, the first and second framing support members 150, 155 can also be proximate each other when the piñata device 100 is collapsed. As the extendable portions 125, 130 rotate about the central axis, the first and second framing support members 150, 155 can first move away from each other and then return toward each other during the rotation. As a result, the distance between the first and second framing support members 150, 155 can be minimized when the piñata device 100 is in the completely uncollapsed state.

The framing support members 150, 155 of the piñata device 100 are best illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 3. FIG. 1 shows framing support member 150, and FIG. 3 shows both framing support members 150, 155. The framing support members 150, 155 are attached to the first extendable portion 125 and the second extendable portion 130, respectively. While FIGS. 1 and 3 only illustrate two framing support members, other embodiments of the present invention can include additional framing support members. The framing support members 150, 155 are preferably made from a lightweight, rigid material that is more rigid that the collapsible exterior 105. The framing support members 150, 155 can be disposed between layers of a piñata device 100 if the piñata device is constructed with an exterior 105 having multiple layers. Such configuration enables the framing support members 150, 155 to be hidden as to not detract from the aesthetic appearance of the piñata device 100.

Also, and as shown in FIG. 3, the framing support members 150, 155 are preferably located at an outer position of the first extendable portion 125 and the second extendable portion 130. This advantageous configuration provides a rigid frame that is rotatable relative to axis 135 and provides support for an expanded piñata device, such as the piñata device shown in FIG. 3. When the piñata device 100 is expanded the framing support members 150, 155 are rotated about the central axis and moved proximate each other thereby expanding the collapsible exterior 105.

As best shown in FIGS. 1-2, each of the framing support members 150, 155 can comprise coupling sections 160, 165. The coupling sections enable the members 150, 155 to be coupled to each other. For example, the coupling sections can 160, 165 can be latches so that the members 150, 155 can be securedly attached to each other. Preferably the coupling sections 160, 165 are configured to be detachably affixed to each other. Such a configuration advantageously enables the piñata device 100 to be fixed in an expanded state for use.

The coupling sections 160, 165 are preferably positioned in middle areas of the framing support members 150, 155. The coupling sections can have an angular shape with an apex extending beyond the surface of the collapsible exterior 105. The angular shapes enable users to easily hold the piñata device 100 and expand the piñata device 100 by moving the first extendable portion 125 and the second extendable portion 130 such that the piñata device 100 is expanded. In addition, the angular shape of the coupling sections 160, 165 with an apex raised above the surface of the collapsible exterior provide a connection point for hanging or suspending the piñata device. For example, when the piñata device 100 is expanded and the coupling sections 160, 165 are connected to fix the piñata in an expanded condition, the raised apex of the coupling sections 160, 165 can be connected to a string or rope and the expanded piñata device 100 can be suspended using the string or rope.

FIGS. 4-5 illustrate views of a piñata device 400 comprising multiple spherical-shaped piñatas 405, 410 according to some embodiments of the present invention. FIG. 4 shows a cross-section view of the piñata device 400 in the collapsed state and FIG. 5 shows the piñata device 400 in an uncollapsed state between collapsed and fully expanded states.

As shown, the piñata device comprises multiple piñatas 405, 410. The first piñata 405 has an interior volume greater than the second piñata 410. Thus, the second piñata 410 can be enclosed within the first piñata 405. This embodiment of the present invention thus advantageously provides a piñata within a piñata. Such a configuration provides users with additional gaming opportunities since after the first piñata 405 is opened users can then attempt to open the second piñata. Both of the piñatas can be constructed similar to the piñata device 100 as discussed above and for brevity repetition of these details are not provided again.

Due to the unique piñata-within-a-piñata arrangement, however, the piñata device 400 possesses numerous features. Indeed, the first and second piñatas 405, 410 both possess collapsible exteriors 415, 420. The first and second piñatas 405, 410 also utilize a common support wall 425 that carry the collapsible exteriors 415, 420. As such, a portion of the support wall 425 can be removed so that when expanded the first and second piñatas 405, 410 are spaced apart from each other. Also, as shown, the second piñata 410 can include two framing members, such as framing member 430, which have raised middle sections, such as middle section 435. The raised middle sections preferably have lengths that extend to framing members of the first piñata 405 and can contact the framing members of the first piñata as shown in FIG. 5. Such contact advantageously enables expansion of the piñatas 405, 410 in substantially simultaneous fashion.

As discussed above, the one or more extendable portions can extend linearly instead of rotationally. FIG. 6A illustrates a side view of a collapsed piñata implementing linear extension, and FIG. 6B illustrates the same piñata in the uncollapsed state. As shown, the collapsible exterior 105 can comprise a single extendable portion 125. The framing support members 150, 155 can support the extendable portion 125, particularly during collapsing and uncollapsing.

The piñata device 100 can comprise a cut region, cutout, or flap 160 on the first framing member 150. The flap 160 can define an aperture 165, which can serve dual purposes. First, the aperture 165 can serve to allow a medium, such as air, to flow into or out of the piñata device 100 as the piñata device 100 is collapsed or expanded. For example, the aperture 165 can deliver air to the piñata device 100 to allow the piñata device 100 to expand as the framing members 150, 155 are pulled away from each other. The aperture can also allow release of air from the piñata device 100 as the framing members 150, 155 are brought together to collapse the piñata device 100. Second, the aperture can serve as a means to deliver articles, such as prizes, into the uncollapsed piñata device 100. Articles can be placed through the aperture 165 into the interior of the piñata device 100.

The flap 160 and aperture 165 may be located on the first framing member 150, as shown. Alternatively or additionally, the flap 160 and aperture 165 can be located on many other portions of the piñata device 100, such as, for example and not limitation, on the extendable portion 125 or on the second framing member 155. Further, no flap 160 is required to define the aperture 165. The aperture may be defined by a framing member 150, 155 or by the extendable portion 125 without use of a flap 160.

Piñatas made according to the various embodiments of the present invention can have numerous shapes. As discussed above, FIGS. 1-5 illustrate piñatas having substantially spherical shapes, and FIGS. 6A-6B illustrate a piñata having a cylindrical shape. Other geometrical shapes, however, are also possible according to embodiments of the present invention. As an example, FIGS. 7-8 illustrate views of an oval-shaped piñata device 600 according to some embodiments of the present invention. FIG. 7 shows the oval-shaped piñata device 600 in a collapsed condition and FIG. 8 shows the oval-shaped piñata device 600 in a fully expanded condition. As another example, FIGS. 9-10 illustrate views of a rectangular-shaped piñata device 800 according to some embodiments of the present invention. Specifically, FIG. 9 shows the rectangular-shaped piñata device 800 in a collapsed condition and FIG. 10 shows the rectangular-shaped piñata device 800 in a fully expanded condition. It should be understood that the embodiments illustrated in FIG. 6-10 may be made in the same manner as the above-discussed embodiments only having different material shapes, and for brevity, these same details are omitted.

Certain embodiments of the present invention can further comprise an inner containing member, or inner section 190 (see FIGS. 11A-11B). The inner section 190 can comprise many materials and need not be composed of the same material as the collapsible exterior 105. For example and not limitation, the inner section 190 can comprise a plastic bag or a paper plate. Preferably, the inner section 190 can be collapsible. The inner section 190 can be adapted to contain a plurality of articles, which articles comprise the prize or prizes won when the piñata is burst during game play. FIG. 11A illustrates a partial cross-sectional view of a piñata comprising a plastic bag inner section 190. FIG. 11B illustrates a partial cross-sectional view of a piñata comprising a paper plate inner section 190.

FIG. 12 illustrates a logical flow diagram of a method 1000 to manufacture a piñata device according to some embodiments of the present invention. According to some method embodiments a piñata can be manufactured by hand, by machine, or a combination of both. It should be understand that the method 1000 is only one method embodiment of the present invention and that the method 1000 can have various additional actions or be performed in various orders.

The method 1000 includes various actions to assemble and manufacture a collapsible piñata. The method 1000 can initiate at 1005 by providing an interior support wall member. The interior support wall member can define a first surface, a second surface, a central axis, and an outer perimeter. The interior support wall can carry other portions of the piñata and provide a base from which other portions of the piñata can rotate to transition between a collapsed state and an expanded state. In a collapsed state other portions of the piñata can lay substantially flat and planar with the support wall and in an expanded state other portions of the piñata can enclose the support wall so that it is positioned within the interior of a piñata.

The method 1000 can continue by attaching other portions of to the support wall. For example, at 1010 a first collapsible outer wall can be attached to the first surface of the interior support wall. The first collapsible outer wall preferably has a first perimeter that generally corresponds to the outer perimeter of the interior support wall such that the two components have substantially equal perimeters. Also, a second collapsible outer wall can be coupled to the second surface of the interior support wall at 1015. The second collapsible outer wall can have a second perimeter that generally corresponds to the outer perimeter of the interior support wall such that all three components (interior support wall, first collapsible wall, and second collapsible wall) have substantially equal perimeters.

Next, the method 1000 can include supporting the collapsible walls. For example, at 1020 at least one frame support member can be disposed proximate at least one of the first collapsible outer wall and the second collapsible wall. The frame support member can support the collapsible outer walls to have a shape the generally conforms to the frame support members. Preferably both collapsible outer walls have an attached frame support member at the outer ends of the collapsible walls. The frame support members can be made from metal wire and provide a grasping point to expand the piñata to a fully expanded position. Also, the first collapsible outer wall and the second collapsible outer wall each comprise an inner layer and an outer layer. The frame support members can be disposed between the inner layer and the outer layer such at 1025. As such, the frame support members can be positioned between the inner layer and the outer layer of the collapsible outer walls. For example, a first frame member can be positioned within the first collapsible layer and a second frame member positioned within the second collapsible layer.

The method 1000 can also include additional features. For example, at 1030 the method can include providing a plurality of folds in the first collapsible layer and the second collapsible layer. The folds advantageously enable the first collapsible layer and the second collapsible layer to move between a collapsed state and an uncollapsed state. Indeed, the folds allow the collapsible walls to be collapsed in such a manner to not harm the exterior appearance of a piñata according to embodiments of the present invention. Another feature include providing a locking device at 1035. The locking device can be coupled to an outer end of at least one of the first collapsible outer wall or the second collapsible outer wall. The locking device enables the ends of the first collapsible outer wall and the second collapsible to be securedly locked to each other. The locking device can be a latch. The locking device enables the piñata to be fixed in the expanded state for use. Also, the method 1000 also preferably includes at 1040 configuring the first collapsible outer wall and the second collapsible outer wall to rotate about the central axis. This advantageous feature allows the outer walls to transition between a collapsed state and an uncollapsed state.

The embodiments of the present invention are not limited to the particular exemplary embodiments, process steps, and materials disclosed herein as such embodiments, process steps, and materials may vary somewhat. Moreover, the terminology employed herein is used for the purpose of describing exemplary embodiments only and the terminology is not intended to be limiting since the scope of the various embodiments of the present invention will be limited only by the appended claims and equivalents thereof.

Thus, while the various embodiments of this invention have been described in detail with particular reference to exemplary embodiments, those skilled in the art will understand that variations and modifications can be effected within the scope of the invention as defined in the appended claims. Accordingly, the scope of the various embodiments of the present invention should not be limited to the above discussed embodiments, and should only be defined by the following claims and all equivalents.