Title:
Toy Bat and Ball Set
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A toy bat and ball set is provided. The bat may include a shell having a proximate portion formed as a handle, and a distal portion formed in the shape of a barrel with an outer hitting surface, the distal portion including an opening on a distal end leading to a void formed in an interior region of the shell of the bat, the opening being bounded at least partially around a perimeter of the opening by a lip. The ball may be a resiliently deformable ball able to be deformed to a reduced diameter that is smaller than the opening, such that the ball can be inserted through the opening into the void in the shell of the bat, and expanded within the void, to thereby be secured within a ball-receiving region of the void by the lip.



Inventors:
Silverglate, David E. (Santa Cruz, CA, US)
Application Number:
12/347334
Publication Date:
07/02/2009
Filing Date:
12/31/2008
Assignee:
RHINO TOYS, INC. (Santa Cruz, CA, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
446/69, 473/612
International Classes:
A63B59/06; A63B39/00; A63B43/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GRAHAM, MARK S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ALLEMAN HALL MCCOY RUSSELL & TUTTLE LLP (PORTLAND, OR, US)
Claims:
1. A toy bat and ball set, comprising: a bat including a shell having a proximate portion formed as a handle, and a distal portion formed in the shape of a barrel with an outer hitting surface, the distal portion including an opening on a distal end leading to a void formed in an interior region of the shell of the bat, the opening being bounded at least partially around a perimeter of the opening by a lip extending a distance into the opening from a sidewall of the barrel of the shell, such that the opening has an opening diameter that is smaller than an inner diameter of the barrel of the distal portion bordering the void; and a resiliently deformable ball being able to be deformed from an original diameter that is larger than the opening diameter to a reduced diameter that is smaller than the opening diameter, such that the ball can be inserted through the opening into the void in the shell of the bat when deformed to the reduced diameter, and expanded within the void to an expanded diameter that is larger than the opening diameter, to thereby be secured within a ball-receiving region of the void by the lip.

2. The toy bat and ball set of claim 1, wherein the original diameter of the ball is smaller than the inner diameter of the barrel bordering the void, and wherein the expanded diameter is substantially equal to the original diameter of the ball.

3. The toy bat and ball set of claim 1, wherein the resiliently deformable ball is one of a plurality of resiliently deformable balls of the bat and ball set, and the bat is configured to simultaneously store the plurality of resiliently deformable balls in the ball-receiving region of the void.

4. The toy bat and ball set of claim 1, wherein the lip extends around substantially an entire inner perimeter of the opening.

5. The toy bat and ball set of claim 1, wherein one or more gaps are formed in the lip around the opening.

6. The toy bat and ball set of claim 1, wherein the lip is formed at a distal end of the sidewall of the barrel.

7. The toy bat and ball set of claim 1, wherein the opening is formed in the distal end of the barrel so as to open toward a top side of the bat.

8. The toy bat and ball set of claim 1, wherein the resiliently deformable ball is made of a material having durometer hardness between 70 A and 90 A.

9. The toy bat and ball set of claim 1, wherein the bat is at least partially made of a vacuum-formed plastic.

10. The toy bat and ball set of claim 1, wherein the inner diameter of the barrel is between about 3.9 and 4.7 inches, adjacent a ball-receiving region of the void.

11. The toy bat and ball set of claim 1, wherein the opening diameter defined by the lip of the bat is between about 3.6 and 4.4 inches.

12. The toy bat and ball set of claim 1, wherein the resiliently deformable ball includes a mesh including a plurality of loop structures, each loop structure having a curved inside perimeter surface, the loop structures forming the surface of the ball.

13. A toy bat, comprising: a shell with a proximate portion formed in the shape of a handle and a distal portion formed in the shape of a barrel with an outer hitting surface; an opening formed in a distal end of the barrel so as to open toward a top side of the bat; a void formed in an internal region of the shell in communication with the opening; and a lip formed at least partially around the opening, and extending a distance into the opening from a sidewall of the barrel.

14. The toy bat of claim 13, wherein the void is sized to accommodate at least one resiliently deformable ball, and the lip is sized to constrain passage of each ball into and out of the void by deforming the ball as the ball passes over the lip, to thereby releasably retain the ball in the void in the shell.

15. The toy bat of claim 13, wherein the lip extends around substantially an entire inner perimeter of the opening.

16. The toy bat of claim 13, wherein one or more gaps are formed in the lip around the opening.

17. The toy bat of claim 13, wherein the lip is formed at a distal end of the sidewall of the barrel.

18. The toy bat of claim 13, wherein the void is sized to receive a plurality of resiliently deformable balls constrained from exiting the shell by the lip.

19. The toy bat of claim 18, wherein the void is sized to receive three resiliently deformable balls constrained from exiting the shell by the lip.

20. The toy bat of claim 16, wherein the shell includes reinforcing ribbing in the handle and/or on the outer hitting surface of the barrel.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority under 35 U.S.C. §119 to U.S. provisional patent application, Ser. No. 61/018,478, entitled A BAT AND BALL SET, filed on Jan. 1, 2008, the entire disclosure of which is herein incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND

Bat and ball sports can benefit a child's development by improving their hand and eye coordination. One problem with conventional bat and ball sets is that the bats and the balls are relatively hard and can be dangerous if they hit a person or an item that may be easily damaged. Another problem is that the bats and the balls are relatively heavy, making them difficult to handle by a young child. An additional problem is that the bat of a conventional bat-and-ball set may be too narrow for a beginner, such as a toddler, to easily hit a ball with. A further problem is that a bat and the ball may often be separated from each other during storage, making it difficult to find a complete bat and ball set once the individual pieces are stored or played with. Another problem is related to the effort required to bend over to pick up a ball by hand.

SUMMARY

A toy bat and ball set is provided. The bat may include a shell having a proximate portion formed as a handle, and a distal portion formed in the shape of a barrel with an outer hitting surface, the distal portion including an opening on a distal end leading to a void formed in an interior region of the shell of the bat, the opening being bounded at least partially around a perimeter of the opening by a lip. The ball may be a resiliently deformable ball able to be deformed to a reduced diameter that is smaller than the opening, such that the ball can be inserted through the opening into the void in the shell of the bat, and expanded within the void, to thereby be secured within a ball-receiving region of the void by the lip. Loop patterns of reinforcing ribbing may be provided on the barrel and handle of the bat to provide the bat with a visual similarity to the ball, and to make the bat sufficiently strong in the handle and barrel, even with the opening formed in the distal portion.

This Summary is provided to introduce a selection of concepts in a simplified form that are further described below in the Detailed Description. This Summary is not intended to identify key features or essential features of the claimed subject matter, nor is it intended to be used to limit the scope of the claimed subject matter. Furthermore, the claimed subject matter is not limited to implementations that solve any or all disadvantages noted in any part of this disclosure.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 illustrates a toy bat and ball set according to one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2 is a schematic drawing of the toy bat of the bat and ball set of FIG. 1, showing a plurality of balls fit into a void in the bat.

FIG. 3 is a detail partial cross sectional view taken as indicated in FIG. 2, showing details of an opening of a distal portion of the bat with a ball positioned therein.

FIG. 4 is a partial cross sectional view of another embodiment of a lip of the distal portion of the bat of FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 is a top view of the bat of FIG. 1, showing the opening in the distal end of the bat, without any balls positioned therein.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

FIG. 1 illustrates an embodiment of a bat and ball set 100 according to the present disclosure. The toy bat and ball set 100 may include a bat 102 including a shell 106 having a proximate portion formed as a handle 108, and a distal portion formed in the shape of a barrel 110 with an outer hitting surface 108. As shown in FIG. 2, the distal portion may include an opening 112 on a distal end leading to a void 114 formed in an interior region of the shell 106 of the bat 102. As shown in detail in FIG. 3, the opening 112 may be bounded at least partially around a perimeter of the opening by a lip 118 extending a distance into the opening 112 from a sidewall 113 of the barrel 110 of the shell 106, such that the opening 112 has an opening diameter A that is smaller than an inner diameter C of the barrel 110 of the distal portion bordering a ball-receiving region 115 of the void 114.

Returning to FIG. 2, the ball-receiving region 115 of the void 114 is typically sized to accommodate at least one resiliently deformable ball 104, and the lip 118 is sized to constrain passage of each ball 104 into and out of the void 114 by deforming the ball 104 as the ball passes over the lip 118, to thereby releasably retain the ball 104 in the ball receiving region 115 of the void 114 in the shell 106.

As shown in FIG. 3, the resiliently deformable ball 104 may be able to be deformed from an original diameter B that is larger than the opening diameter A to a reduced diameter D that is smaller than the opening diameter A, such that the ball 104 can be inserted through the opening 112 into the void 114 in the shell 106 of the bat 102 when deformed to the reduced diameter D, and expanded within the void 114 to an expanded diameter that is larger than the opening diameter A. In this manner, the ball 104 may be secured within the ball-receiving region 115 of the void 114 by the lip 118. In the depicted embodiment, the original diameter B of the ball 104 is smaller than the inner diameter C of the barrel 110 bordering the void 114, and the expanded diameter is substantially equal to the original diameter B of the ball 104. Alternatively, the original diameter A of the ball 104 may be larger than the inner diameter C, and once inserted into the void 114 the ball may expand to contact the inner surface of the sidewall 113 of the shell 106. In this case, the expanded diameter of the ball may be substantially equal to the inner diameter C.

As shown in FIG. 2, the resiliently deformable ball may be one of a plurality of resiliently deformable balls, illustrated at 104, 104A and 104B, of the bat and ball set 100, and the bat 102 may be configured to simultaneously store the plurality of resiliently deformable balls 104, 104A, and 104B in the ball-receiving region of the void. For example, two, three, or more, balls may be received in the void of the shell and constrained from exiting the shell by the lip. A lower end of the barrel 110 may include a tapered region 117 that tapers inward, resulting in a reduction of an inner diameter of the sidewall of the shell 106 from the ball-receiving region 115 to the handle 108. As a result, the inward most ball 104A is constrained from further ingress by the tapered region 117 of the shell 106, the outward most ball 104B is constrained from egress by the lip 118, and the inward most ball 104A and outward most balls 104B and are resiliently biased against each other, the lip, the tapered region, and any intermediate balls, to be snugly secured within the void 114. Since the balls 104 are not free to rattle around within the void 114, such a configuration may promote a secure hold on the balls when constrained, so that they do not unintentionally come out.

As shown in FIG. 5, the opening 112 is typically formed in the distal end of the barrel so as to open toward a top side of the bat 102. The lip 118 may extend around substantially an entire inner perimeter of the opening 112, and may be a continuous structure. Alternatively, as shown in dashed lines, a lip 118B may be provided with one or more gaps 125 are formed in the lip around the opening.

As shown in FIG. 3, the lip 118 may be formed to extend from a distal end of the sidewall 113 of the barrel 110. Alternatively, as shown in FIG. 4, a lip 118A may be provided that extends into the opening 112 from an inner surface of a sidewall 113 of the barrel 110.

A wide variety of materials may be used for the ball 104 and bat 102. For example, the resiliently deformable ball 104 may be made of a material, such as plastic, rubber or foam. The material of the ball 104 may have a durometer hardness between about 70 A and 90 A, allowing the ball 104 to be crushed or deformed to the reduced diameter by the hand of even a child. Further, the bat 102 is typically formed of a plastic. Specifically, the bat 102 may be at least partially made of a vacuum-formed plastic such as polyethylene. For example, the bat 102 may be vacuum-formed from a single piece of plastic and then a hole may be cut in the end to form opening 112, making it relatively inexpensive to fabricate.

The bat 102 and ball 104 may be produced in a wide variety of sizes. In one example, the inner diameter C of the barrel 110 is between about 3.9 and 4.7 inches, adjacent a ball-receiving region 115 of the void 114. The inner diameter A defined by the lip 118 may be sized to be large enough to allow the resiliently deformable ball 104 to enter the void 114, yet small enough to be able to secure the resiliently deformable ball 104 within the void 114. Thus, in one example, the opening diameter A defined by the lip 118 of the bat 102 may be formed to be between about 3.6 and 4.4 inches. The outer diameter of the barrel 110 of the shell 106 may be relatively wide, making it easier for a beginner or a toddler to hit a ball. Thus, in some embodiments, the outer diameter of the barrel 110 of the bat 102 may be between about 4.6 and 5.6 inches adjacent the ball receiving region 115 of the void, but other embodiments are not so limited. Further, in some embodiments, the overall longitudinal length of the bat may be between about 22 and 28 inches, or about 25 inches, but other embodiments are not so limited. Such a length enables a taller child or parent, for example, to pick up the resiliently deformable balls 104 using opening 112 on the distal end of the bat 102 without having to bend over as far otherwise would be required to retrieve the ball 104.

Regarding the properties of the resiliently deformable balls 104, the resiliently deformable ball 104 is formed of a structure that may change in shape and substantially or completely return to an original shape. For example, resiliently deformable ball 104 may be crushed by a hand, and after the hand releases the ball 104, the ball may return to its previous shape. In the depicted embodiment, the resiliently deformable ball 104 includes a mesh including a plurality of loop structures 121, each loop structure having a curved inside perimeter surface, the loop structures forming the surface of the ball. The plurality of loop structures may have cooperative mating surfaces 123 disposed at least partially around an outer perimeter of each loop structure. The plurality of loop structures 121 typically have substantially curved inside perimeter surfaces, to facilitate gripping by the hand, for example, of a child. The cooperative mating surfaces 123 of adjacent loop structures are configured to couple together for a distance along their lengths. It will be appreciated that the loop structures form the surface of the ball 104 when the cooperative mating surfaces 123 are coupled with each other. Examples of suitable balls that may be used with the subject bat and ball set 100 are described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,729,984, entitled TOY BALL APPARATUS, which issued May 4, 2004, the entire disclosure of which is herein incorporated by reference. It will be appreciated that other resiliently deformable balls 104, such as foam balls or rubber balls may also be used with the bat 102.

As shown in FIG. 1, the shell 106 may include reinforcing ribbing 119 in the handle 108 of the proximate portion and/or on the outer hitting surface 108 of the barrel 110 of the distal portion. In the depicted embodiment, in the handle 108 the reinforcing ribbing is formed in horizontally stacked loops 119B that are coaxial with an axis of revolution of the shell of the bat, and in the barrel 110 a loop mesh 119A adorns the outer hitting surface of the bat and an axis of revolution of the loops in the loop mesh 119A is orthogonal to the axis of revolution of the bat. This pattern of reinforcing ribbing 119 provides structural reinforcement to prevent buckling or deformation of the shell 106 of the bat 102 during use, even with the hole cut in the end of the bat 102 to form opening 112. The pattern of reinforcing ribbing 119 also improves the appearance of the toy bat 102. Further, when used with a resilient deformable ball 104 having loop structures 123, the circular loop shapes 119A in the reinforcing pattern of the bat 102 provide a visual cue to the user that the bat 102 and ball 104 are a set meant to be used together.

In one example use of the toy ball 104 and bat 102 set, it will be appreciate that a user may swing the bat 102 to cause the ball 104 to exit the void 114 in the bat 102. In such embodiments, the lip 118 may be sized such that if enough momentum is imparted to the resiliently deformable ball 104 in the void 114 during a swing of the bat, the ball 104 can overcome the gripping strength of the lip 118 and exit the opening 112 of the bat 102 in a desired direction.

In another example use of the toy ball and bat set, the resiliently deformable ball 104 may be pitched from one player to a second player with a second bat 102. A game similar to tennis may be played with two (or more) players, each with their bat 102, where the resiliently deformable ball 104 may be struck by the second player after it is pitched from the bat 102 of the first player. The resiliently deformable ball 104 may be returned by the second player hitting the resiliently deformable ball 104 with the bat 102 to the first player either before it hits the ground (a “volley”) or after it has bounced off the ground.

The above described toy ball and bat set may be used for solo play or group play as described above, and further offers the advantages of convenient storage of balls within the bat and ease of picking up of balls with the bat for taller users.

It should be understood that the embodiments herein are illustrative and not restrictive, since the scope of the invention is defined by the appended claims rather than by the description preceding them, and all changes that fall within metes and bounds of the claims, or equivalence of such metes and bounds thereof are therefore intended to be embraced by the claims.