Title:
CONVERTIBLE TOY TRUCK
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A modular toy vehicle design having a universal mating system between the main chassis body and front end of the vehicle and the rear end body portion that is transformable such that multiple rear end body styles will interchangeably mate with one or multiple main chassis body and front end designs and where electrical interfaces can be automatically established between the main chassis body and front end and the rear end body portion simply by mating and aligning the two together. The design allows for an electrical connection to be made in the process of mechanically mating and aligning the main chassis body and front end of a toy vehicle to its rear end body portion. The main chassis body and front end can have what can be referred to as a flatbed portion, where the flat bed can have opposing longitudinally extending substantially upright side edges where each side edge can have a recessed groove or track extending along its length. The rear end body portion can have a cutout creating a forward and a bottom opening sufficiently large to receive the flatbed portion there through.



Inventors:
Amadio, Donald W. (Oaklyn, NJ, US)
Jabbour, Edward (Hastings-on-Hudson, NY, US)
Application Number:
11/740883
Publication Date:
10/30/2008
Filing Date:
04/26/2007
Assignee:
RETAIL ENTERTAINMENT CONCEPTS, LLC (Falls Church, VA, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
29/592
International Classes:
A63H17/05
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
RADA, ALEX P
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HUSCH BLACKWELL LLP (St. Louis, MO, US)
Claims:
1. A modular toy vehicle comprising: a simulated front end cab portion and main body chassis, where said cab portion has a rearwardly exposed rearward facing rim, said rearward facing rim having a first contour; a flat bed portion attached over a rearward chassis portion of the main body chassis rearward of said cab portion, where said flat bed has opposing substantially upright longitudinally extending side edges, where each of said side edges have lengthwise inwardly recessed grooves; and a back end body shell portion defining a cavity with an opening having a forward facing rim, said forward facing run having a second contour matingly conforming to said first contour and said opening sufficiently sized to receive the flat bed there in and said back end body shell portion having opposing substantially upright interior side wall portions space apart on opposing sides of said cavity to receive the opposing side edges of the flatbed there between and said interior side wall portions each having inwardly extending protrusions, where said protrusions are positioned and sized to slidably engage within and along the lengthwise inwardly recessed grooves, such that when the protrusions have traveled to the forward most portion of the groove, the second contour of the forward facing rim and the first contour of the rearward facing rim are adjacent.

2. The modular toy vehicle as recited in claim 1, where the lengthwise inwardly recessed grooves each have an outwardly extending detent along a front portion of said groove and within the groove for retaining the back end once the inwardly extending protrusion have traveled over the detent.

3. The modular toy vehicle as recited in claim 2, where the lengthwise inwardly recessed grooves each have an outwardly extending stop at a front most portion of said groove and within the groove for stopping the forward travel of the back end as the back end slidably engages the flat bed once the inwardly extending protrusions have traveled to the forward most portion of the groove.

4. A modular toy vehicle comprising: a simulated front end cab portion and main body chassis; a flat bed portion attached over a rearward chassis portion of the main body chassis rearward of said cab portion, where said flat bed has opposing substantially upright longitudinally extending side edges, where each of said side edges have lengthwise inwardly recessed grooves; and a back end body shell portion defining a cavity with an opening and said opening sufficiently sized to receive the flat bed there in and said back end body shell portion having opposing substantially upright interior side wall portions space apart on opposing sides of said cavity to receive the opposing side edges of the flatbed there between and said interior side wall portions each having inwardly extending protrusions, where said protrusions are positioned and sized to slidably engage within and along the lengthwise inwardly recessed grooves, such that when the protrusions have traveled to the forward most portion of the groove.

5. The modular toy vehicle as recited in claim 4, where the lengthwise inwardly recessed grooves each have an outwardly extending detent along a front portion of said groove and within the groove for retaining the back end once the inwardly extending protrusion have traveled over the detent.

6. The modular toy vehicle as recited in claim 5, where the lengthwise inwardly recessed grooves each have an outwardly extending stop at a front most portion of said groove and within the groove for stopping the forward travel of the back end as the back end slidably engages the flat bed once the inwardly extending protrusions have traveled to the forward most portion of the groove.

7. A method for making a modular toy vehicle comprising the steps of: providing a simulated front end cab portion and main body chassis and a flat bed portion attached over a rearward chassis portion of the main body chassis rearward of said cab portion, where said flat bed has opposing substantially upright longitudinally extending side edges, where each of said side edges have lengthwise inwardly recessed grooves; and providing a back end body shell portion defining a cavity with an opening and said opening sufficiently sized to receive the flat bed there in and said back end body shell portion having opposing substantially upright interior side wall portions space apart on opposing sides of said cavity to receive the opposing side edges of the flatbed there between and said interior side wall portions each having inwardly extending protrusions; slidably engaging the protrusions within and along the lengthwise inwardly recessed grooves, to the forward most portion of the groove.

8. The method as recited in claim 7, where the lengthwise inwardly recessed grooves each have an outwardly extending detent along a front portion of said groove and within the groove for retaining the back end once the inwardly extending protrusions have traveled over the detent.

9. The method as recited in claim 8, where the lengthwise inwardly recessed grooves each have an outwardly extending stop at a front most portion of said groove and within the groove for stopping the forward travel of the back end as the back end slidably engages the flat bed once the inwardly extending protrusions have traveled to the forward most portion of the groove.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF INVENTION

1. Field of Invention

This invention relates generally to toy vehicles and, more particularly, to toy vehicles having a convertible or transformable design.

2. Background Art

Radio-controlled (RC) cars and trucks as well as free wheel toy cars and trucks, have been very popular with children of various ages over the years. However, a disadvantage of many toy cars is that generally speaking they are fixed in design and cannot be changed. This means that a child can often become bored with them after a period of time. Yet, many radio-controlled cars and other toy cars have a complex construction and have components which are complicated and are not easily adapted for building or changing components. What is needed is a toy vehicle having universally and easily interchangeable components such that a child may be able to convert or transform their own toys.

Attempts have been made to design toy vehicles with interchangeable components, however, the interchangeable modules for a given vehicle design can each have a distinctly different attachment mechanisms. For example, for a given vehicle, there can be multiple types of attachment mechanisms for the front bumper area of the vehicle and a totally different set of attachment mechanisms for the sides and rear of the vehicle. A more simple design is needed for attachments where the attachment mechanisms are more universal and easy for children of all ages to install.

Attempts have been made to develop less complex designs and with more universal attachment mechanisms, however, the designs are quite convoluted. A design is needed where the attachment mechanism is universal. Further, many attempts to develop a design that addresses this need has resulted in a design with a less than appealing appearance having unsightly holes or contact points at locations that take away from the appearance of the vehicle, particularly when an accessory is not installed. This is particularly important when the owner of the toy vehicle is concerned about whether the appearance of the vehicle closely mimics the appearance of a full size vehicle. Unsightly holes or contact points all over the vehicle negates the attempt to mimic the appearance of a full size vehicle.

Given that younger children are typically less dexterous than older children or adults, simple attachment mechanisms are needed and designs having a minimal number of parts involved in the transformation are needed. Although, younger children may lack dexterity, they still have a desire to have toys that can be transformed thereby giving the toy a different look and feel.

Further, the attempts to develop a design having interchangeable accessories and attachments have not provided mechanisms for transforming a given toy vehicle type to another toy vehicle type, such as for example, transforming an emergency response vehicle into another type of vehicle. A better design is needed that addresses the above problems with existing designs.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF INVENTION

The invention is a modular toy vehicle design having a universal mating system between the main chassis body, including a front end of the vehicle and a rear tail end portion having a flat bed, and the back end body shell portion that is transformable such that multiple rear end body styles will interchangeably mate with one or multiple main chassis body designs, and where electrical interfaces can be automatically established between the main chassis body and the back end body portion simply by mating and aligning the two together. The design allows for an electrical connection to be established in the process of mechanically mating and aligning the main chassis body of a toy vehicle to its back end body portion thereby powering electronic features that are integral to the vehicle with the power source, which is housed in either the main chassis body or the back end body portion. When the main chasses body and the back end body shell portion are properly aligned and connected, the electrical interfaces can be automatically established and the body and chassis are automatically properly aligned. There is no separate step of plugging together mating connectors where one connector extends from a wire bundle electrically interfacing with the body and the mating connector extends from a separate wire bundle electrically interfacing with the chassis.

The main chassis body can have what can be referred to as a flatbed portion, where the flat bed can have opposing longitudinally extending substantially upright side edges where each side edge can have a recessed groove or track extending along its length. The back end body shell portion can have a cavity creating a forward and a bottom opening sufficiently large to receive the flatbed portion there through. The cavity can be defined by the interior of opposing substantially upright side walls, the interior of a rear wall and a top. The interiors of each of the opposing side walls can each have longitudinally extending raised ribs protruding inward toward the cavity and positioned for slidably engaging the rib within and along the recessed track. The raised rib can alternatively be one or more protrusions or tabs extending inward and where the multiple protrusions or tabs are aligned.

The present invention is designed for a business model where the toy vehicle main chassis body or front end, which can generally be referred to as the ‘front end’, can be sold separately from the back end shell portion of the body, which can be generally referred to as the ‘back end’, giving the customer a choice of several back ends for which to attach on a selected front ends. The vehicles can have built in working LED headlights and tail lights, and the power source can be housed in the front end or back end. The body can also have a sound initiation button such that when the button is depressed and the vehicle body and chassis are properly aligned, the initiation button will electrically contact a mating contact on the chassis to initiate a function, for example, a lighting/sound/motion sequence.

Traditionally, the connection between portions of the chassis and body are made by male and female connector clips which are attached to the power source and the wire leads for the lights, respectively. This is a practical solution for a business model where the chassis and body can be sold separately. This requires that the user be in direct contact with wiring and also results in loose hanging electrical wires within the vehicle housing, which can be unsightly and a potential shock hazard, and more susceptible to damage.

The purpose of the automatic mating of the power connector is three-fold; safety, aesthetics and, most importantly, to be integral with the proper alignment of the front end and the back end. The electrical interface can be established by capitalizing on the contact between the recessed groove or track in the edge of the flatbed and the raised longitudinally extending rib or protrusions. The recessed track and the protruding ribs or protrusions can have at least a portion of their surfaces that are conductive such that when the front and back ends are slidably engaged an electrical connection can be formed. The appropriate electrical connections can be made between each of the conductive surfaces and the respective power sources or components requiring electrical power.

The elimination of any exposed wires running from the power source greatly reduces the potential for shock. Also, there is no danger of shock by touching copper conductors on the male contact. The minimal number of interchangeable components, only the front end and back end, and the simple slidable connection mechanism provides a design that is easy to use. Please refer to the enclosed drawings for further details relating to this invention.

These and other advantageous features of the present invention will be in part apparent and in part pointed out herein below.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

For a better understanding of the present invention, reference may be made to the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a vehicle with only the front end including the flatbed;

FIG. 2 is a left-side plan view thereof;

FIG. 3 is a top plan view thereof;

FIG. 4 is a back plan view thereof;

FIG. 5 is a front plan view of a back end;

FIG. 6 is a rear-side perspective view of a back end;

FIG. 6A is a bottom perspective view of a back end;

FIG. 6B is an illustration of the back end engagement with the flat bed;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of an alternative back end; and

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of yet another back end.

While the invention is susceptible to various modifications and alternative forms, specific embodiments thereof are shown by way of example in the drawings and will herein be described in detail. It should be understood, however, that the drawings and detailed description presented herein are not intended to limit the invention to the particular embodiment disclosed, but on the contrary, the intention is to cover all modifications, equivalents, and alternatives falling within the spirit and scope of the present invention as defined by the appended claims.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF INVENTION

According to the embodiment(s) of the present invention, various views are illustrated in FIG. 1-8 and like reference numerals are being used consistently throughout to refer to like and corresponding parts of the invention for all of the various views and figures of the drawing. Also, please note that the first digit(s) of the reference number for a given item or part of the invention should correspond to the FIG. number in which the item or part is first identified.

One embodiment of the present invention comprising a main body chassis having a flatbed portion and a back end body shell teaches a novel apparatus and method for a toy vehicle having a universal mating system between the main body chassis front end of the vehicle and the back end body shell such that multiple back end body styles will interchangeably mate with multiple main body chassis designs and where electrical interfaces can be automatically established between the body and the chassis simply by mating and aligning the two together.

The details of the invention and various embodiments can be better understood by referring to the figures of the drawing. Referring to FIG. 1, a convertible truck 100 is shown. The main chassis body and front end 101 is shown having a front cabin portion 102 and a rear tail portion 104. The front cabin portion 102 includes a replicated passenger cabin 110. The rear tail portion 104 includes a flatbed 112 which slidably receives the back end of the convertible truck. The flatbed 112 has opposing substantially upright side edges 114. The side edges 114 extend longitudinally along the flatbed. The side edge 114 has a lengthwise recessed groove 116 or channel formed in the side edge. The groove 116 or channel is designed to slidably receive the back end body shell portion. The main chassis body and front end 101, which can be generally referred to as the front end, also includes the front and rear wheels 106 and 108 respectively. The front end 101 can also include the rear portion of the chassis 118. This main chassis body and front end of the convertible truck can be utilized independently of an installation of a back end portion.

Referring to FIG. 2, a left side view of the invention is shown. The side view of the front end 101 further reveals the side edge 114 and the lengthwise groove or channel 116 of the flatbed 112. Directional arrow 202 illustrates the line of engagement between the back end and the front end. A front portion of the lengthwise recessed groove is shown having an outwardly extending detent for retaining a back end as shown in FIGS. 6-8. The front most portion of the groove has a raised stop member for stopping the forward travel of the back end. Between the detent 208 and the stop 204 is a retention area 206 of the recessed groove where the inwardly extending protrusion of the back end is retained once the protrusion has slidably traveled forward along the groove and over the detent into the retention area.

Referring to FIGS. 3-4, various other views are provided for the vehicle. The top plan view shows the flatbed portion 112 having upward facing recesses 302. The rear view as shown in FIG. 4 reflects the opposing side edges 114 and the corresponding recessed grooves 116 for both sides of the flatbed 112. The right side plan view again shows the lengthwise groove 116 which extends along the side edges of the flatbed. The top surface 304 of the flatbed 112 can be recessed downward to better receive the back end portion. The flatbed top surface 304 can have a plurality of recesses 302 for receiving protrusions of the back end. The right side view reveals the opposing side edge including the lengthwise groove or channel. The rear elevation view of FIG. 4 also reveals the projection of the detents 208. The cab portion 110 has a rearwardly exposed rearward facing rim 402, where said rearward facing rim has a specific contour.

FIG. 5 shows a front elevation view of the back end as seen in FIG. 6. The back end has a cavity 506 defined by the a back end body shell 500 where the cavity has an opening with sufficient size to receive the flat bed there in. The back end has a forward facing rim 508, where said forward facing rim can have a second contour matingly conforming to said first contour. The shell can have an interior wall 502 from which the protrusion 504 inwardly extends. The protrusions 504 can be positioned to slidably engage the groove 116. The protrusion 504 can be a single tab like member or a lengthwise rib like member or there can be multiple in-line tab like members for guiding the slidable engagement. See in-line tab like members 504, 608, 606, and 604. The front tabs can slidably travel over the detent illustrated by item 208 of FIG. 2 and can be captured in the retention area as illustrated by item 206. FIG. 6B provides a sectional view illustration of how the back end body shell 500 slidably engages the recessed groove or channel 609 of the side edge 614 portion of the flatbed 112. The tab 604 is captured in the retention area 610, which is forward with respect to the raised detent 612. The rear tabs 608 and 606 can be used to assist alignment. Alternatively, a continuous raised rib can extend from the location of tab 604 or 504 to the location of tabs 608 or 606 respectively. However, each raised rib could have an inward notch for receiving and capturing the raised detent therein.

Referring to FIGS. 6-8, multiple back end portions 600, 700, 800 are shown that can be installed on the front end portion, thereby transforming the appearance of the vehicle. Each back end can have a cavity 602, 702 and 802 as indicated by the arrows. FIGS. 6A and 6B illustrate the interior cavity portion and the location of the protrusions and the slidable interface between the front end and the back end.

One embodiment of a modular toy vehicle can comprise a front end simulated cab portion 102 and rear tail portion 104 making main body chassis 101, where said cab portion has a rearwardly exposed rearward facing rim 402. The rearward facing rim can have a specific contour. A flat bed portion 112 can be attached over a rearward chassis portion or rear tail portion of the main body chassis rearward of said cab portion. The flat bed can have opposing substantially upright longitudinally extending side edges 114, where each of said side edges can have lengthwise inwardly recessed grooves 116. A back end body shell portion 500 can define a cavity 506 with an opening having a forward facing rim. The forward facing rim 508 can have a second contour for matingly conforming to said first contour and said opening can be sufficiently sized to receive the flat bed there in. The back end body shell portion can have opposing substantially upright interior side wall portions 502 space apart on opposing sides of said cavity to receive the opposing side edges of the flatbed there between and said interior side wall portions each having inwardly extending protrusions 504. The protrusions are positioned and sized to slidably engage within and along the lengthwise inwardly recessed grooves 116, such that when the protrusions have traveled to the forward most portion of the groove, the second contour of the forward facing rim and the first contour of the rearward facing rim are adjacent.

Optionally the protrusion 504 can have a conductive surface that is electrically connected to items on the back end requiring electrical power. The protrusion can be sized to electrically engage the groove which can have a mating electrical strip there in for electrically engaging the protrusion. The electrical strip can be electrically connected to a power source located in the main body chassis.

The various modular toy vehicle examples shown above illustrate a novel design for a vehicle having interchangeable bodies. A user of the present invention may choose any of the above modular vehicle embodiments, or an equivalent thereof, depending upon the desired application. In this regard, it is recognized that various forms of the subject modular vehicle invention could be utilized without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention.

As is evident from the foregoing description, certain aspects of the present invention are not limited by the particular details of the examples illustrated herein, and it is therefore contemplated that other modifications and applications, or equivalents thereof, will occur to those skilled in the art. It is accordingly intended that the claims shall cover all such modifications and applications that do not depart from the sprit and scope of the present invention.

Other aspects, objects and advantages of the present invention can be obtained from a study of the drawings, the disclosure and the appended claims.