Title:
Toy dart assembly and method
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Embodiments of the invention include a method for engaging a dart with a net. A dart is thrown toward a net. When the dart hits the net, the nose of the dart passes through an opening in the net for subsequently, lodging strands of the net in a recess situated behind the nose of the dart. Embodiments further include a recreational toy assembly having in combination a net and a dart. One or more strands of the net lodge in a recess behind the nose of the dart for coupling the dart to the net. The dart remains engaged to the net until the dart is removed from engagement with the net. For disengaging the dart from the net, the strand(s) is/are removed from the recess such that the nose of the dart may be passed out of opening in the net. The strands of the net provide the boundary or perimeter of the opening.



Inventors:
Leal, Hans (Stow, MA, US)
Leal, Jose (Stow, MA, US)
Eckhardt, Richard (Arlington, MA, US)
Application Number:
12/148477
Publication Date:
12/17/2009
Filing Date:
04/18/2008
Assignee:
Leal, Hans E. (Stow, MA, US)
Leal, Jose (Stow, MA, US)
Eckhardt, Richard (Arlington, MA, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
273/408, 473/578
International Classes:
A63B63/00; A63B65/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GRAHAM, MARK S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Law Offices of John W. Carpenter, LLC (Placida, FL, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A method for engaging a dart with a net comprising: (a) passing a conical section of a dart through an opening in a net; and (b) lodging one or more strands of the net in a recess situated behind the conical section of the dart.

2. The method of claim 1 additionally comprising bending the net in a direction; and subsequently moving the net in a direction opposite to the direction.

3. The method of claim 2 additionally comprising establishing the net in a generally stationary position; and tilting the dart downwardly tilting position the dart forms an oblique angle with the generally planar surface of the net.

4. The method of claim 3 additionally comprising removing the dart from engagement with the net.

5. The method of claim 4 wherein said removing of the dart from engagement with the net comprises moving a pair of strands in a direction opposite to each other.

6. The method of claim 4 wherein said removing of the dart from engagement with the net comprises moving a first pair of strands in a direction opposite to each other; and moving a second pair of strands in a direction opposite to each other.

7. The method of claim 6 wherein moving of the first pair of strands is generally simultaneous with the moving of the second pair of strands.

8. The method of claim 7 wherein said dart comprises a coupling member coupled to said conical section, and a truncated cylindrical base member coupled to the coupling member.

9. The method of claim 8 wherein said dart additionally comprises a weight member extending through the truncated cylindrical base member, through the coupling member and into the conical section.

10. The method of claim 8 wherein said dart additionally comprises a weight member disposed in said conical section.

11. The method of claim 8 wherein said dart additionally comprises a weight member disposed in said conical section and in said coupling section.

12. The method of claim 9 wherein said conical section comprises an elastomeric or smooth plastic coating.

13. A recreational toy assembly comprising in combination a net; a dart lodging in an opening in the net; and strands of the net lodging in a recess behind a nose of the dart.

14. The recreational toy assembly of claim 13 wherein said strands define the opening in the net.

15. The recreational toy of claim 14 wherein said dart comprises a coupling member coupled to said nose, and a truncated cylindrical base member coupled to the coupling member.

16. The recreational toy of claim 13 wherein said nose comprises an elastomeric or smooth plastic coating.

17. The recreational toy of claim 14 wherein said dart additionally comprises a weight member extending through the truncated cylindrical base member, through the coupling member and into the nose.

18. The recreational toy of claim 16 wherein said dart additionally comprises a weight member disposed in said nose.

19. The recreational toy of claim 16 wherein said dart additionally comprises a weight member disposed in said nose and in said coupling section.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

Embodiments of the present invention are related to a toy dart assembly. More specifically, embodiments of the present invention provide a toy dart assembly which includes a dart and a net. Embodiments of the present invention further provide a method for engaging a net with a dart.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

There are a number of assemblies available on the market which consist of a net assembly for stopping the movement of an airborne object (e.g., a golf ball), such as by way of example only: (a) the net assembly sold by Wilson Company that stops the movement of a golf ball after being hit; and (b) the hitting net assembly sold by Callaway for stopping the movement of a golf ball. However, none combine the features of a dart engaging a net assembly after being thrown against the net assembly.

SUMMARY OF EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION

Embodiments of the present invention provide a method for engaging a dart with a net. The method includes throwing a dart toward a net. When the dart hits the net after being thrown, the nose of the dart passes through an opening in the net. Subsequently, one or more strands of the net are lodged in a recess situated behind the nose of the dart.

Embodiments of the present invention also provide a recreational toy assembly having in combination a net and a dart. One or more strands of the net lodge in a recess behind the nose of the dart for coupling the dart to the net. The dart remains engaged to the net until the dart is removed from engagement with the net. For disengaging the dart from the net, the strand(s) is/are removed from the recess such that the nose of the dart may be passed out of opening in the net. The strands of the net provide the boundary or perimeter of the opening.

These provisions, together with the various ancillary provisions and features which will become apparent to those skilled in the art as the following description proceeds, are attained by the methods and assemblies of the present invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a pair of dart assemblies engaged to a net.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a dart moving towards a net.

FIG. 3 is a side elevational view of the assembly illustrated in FIG. 2 with the dart moving in direction of the arrow.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the dart moving into an opening of the net and illustrating strands, which define the border of the opening, lodged within a recess of the dart.

FIG. 5 is a side elevational view of the assembly illustrated in FIG. 4 showing the momentum of the dart causing the net to bend in direction of the arrow.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the position of the dart after the dart has stopped moving in direction of the arrow in FIG. 5, and being in the process of being sprung backward in a direction opposite to the direction of the arrow in FIG. 5, caused by the elasticity or tendency of the net after being bent to return to its position illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 3.

FIG. 7 is a side elevational view of the assembly illustrated in FIG. 6 showing the net being bent in direction of the arrow due to the elasticity of the net, and during the process of the net returning to its stationary illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 3.

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of the net in a stationary position with the dart lodged in the opening in the net.

FIG. 9 is a side elevational view of the assembly illustrated in FIG. 8 showing the dart tilting downwardly caused by the weight of the dart and forming an oblique angle with the generally planar surface of the net.

FIG. 10 is a top plan view of a pair of strands separated by a distance A and criss-crossing and/or binding with another pair of strands separated by distance B.

FIG. 11 is a side elevational view of an embodiment of the dart.

FIG. 12 is a top plan view of two pairs of elastic, stretched strands in a stretched position to accommodate the conical-shaped member when in the process of moving through the two pairs of stretched strands.

FIG. 13 is a side elevational view of another embodiment of the dart.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION

In the description herein, numerous specific details are provided, such as examples of components and/or methods, to provide a thorough understanding of the embodiments of the present invention. One skilled in the relevant art will recognize, however, that an embodiment of the invention may be practiced without one or more of the specific details, or with other apparatus, systems, assemblies, methods, components, materials, parts, and/or the like. In other instances, well-known structures, materials, or operations are not specifically shown or described in detail to avoid obscuring aspects of the embodiments of the present invention.

Referring in detail now to the drawings, wherein similar parts of the invention are identified by like reference numerals, there is seen in FIG. 1 a net assembly 10 having a structure 14. A net 18 is coupled to the structure 14. In an embodiment of the invention the net 18 comprises a plurality of strands 22 which criss-cross or integrally connect with each other such as to form a plurality of openings 26. As best shown in FIG. 10, an opening 26 is formed by a pair of generally parallel strands 22a-22a criss-crossing or binding to a pair of generally parallel strands 22b-22b. As further shown in FIG. 10, the distance between strands 22a-22a and between strands 22b-22b is A and B, respectively. Distances A and B may or may not be equal to each other. Preferably distance A is equal to distance B. In an embodiment of the invention, strands 22a and 22b are elastic and capable of stretching. It is to be understood that in the spirit and scope of the present invention, opening 26 may have any suitable shape, such as rectangular, square, or hexagonal. For the purpose of describing embodiments of the present invention, it will be assumed that opening 26 is rectangular in shape.

Embodiments of the invention include a dart, generally illustrated as 30. In an embodiment of the invention, dart 30 is not the type of dart that consists of a pin-like point which sticks in a dart board after being thrown. As shown in FIG. 11, dart 30 preferably comprises a fin assembly 34, a generally conical-shaped member (a nose) 38, and a coupling member 44 which is coupled or bound to the fin assembly 34 and to the conical-shaped member 38 such as to form a recess 42 between the fin assembly 34 and the conical-shaped member 38. The coupling member 44 is preferably cylindrical in shape.

In one embodiment of the invention and as best illustrated in FIG. 11, the fin assembly 34 has a truncated cylindrical base 48 that includes a circular surface 52 coupled to the coupling member 44, circular surface 54, and an outside surface 58 which tapers inwardly from circular surface 52 to circular surface 54. A plurality of fin members 62 connects to and is supported by the circular surface 54. In another embodiment of the invention, the fin assembly 34 has a smooth structure which initially tapers inwardly from the recess 42 and subsequently tapers outwardly toward a generally oval shaped end, as best shown in FIGS. 2-9.

In another embodiment of the invention and as best illustrated in FIG. 13, dart 30 preferably includes a weight member 90 (e.g., a steel or plastic weight) which lodges and/or extends into the conical-shaped member 38, through the coupling member 44 and through the truncated cylindrical base 48. Weight member 90, as will be further explained hereafter, increases the probability or chances of the dart 30 being captured (after being thrown) by the strands 22 of one of the openings 26 in the net 18.

The diameter of circular surface 52 at its circumferential edge 52a is approximately equal to or approximately greater than distances of about A and B such that after conical-shaped member 38 passes through opening 26 subsequently after the dart 30 is thrown against the net 18, the circular surface 52 contacts or engages strands 22a-22a and/or strands 22b-22b to prevent dart 30 from traveling any further and to allow the strands to lodge within the recess 42 (see dashed lines 22b and 22a in FIG. 11).

In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the diameter of the circular surface 52 is slightly greater than the largest circle or opening that can be formed by pulling or expanding the rectangular opening 26 into a circle or other opening. This assures that the dart 30 will not pass completely through the net.

The conical-shaped member 38 has an end 70 and a circular face 66 that couples to the coupling member 44. Circular face 66 has a circumferential edge 66a. The conical-shaped member 38 also includes an outside surface 74 that tapers from circular face 66 to the end 70. The diameter of circular face 66 at its circumferential edge 66a is approximately equal to or approximately greater than distances of about A and B. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the diameter of circular face 66 is greater than distances of about A and B, but less than the largest circle or opening that can be formed by pulling or expanding the rectangular opening 26 into a circle or other opening. As the, the conical-shaped member 38 passes through rectangular opening 26, opening 26 is typically distorted or skewed into a general circular shape. After the strands 22a-22a and/or strands 22b-22b pass over the circumferential edge 66a of the circular face 66, they lodge in recess 42 and the perimeter of the opening 26 formed by the strands generally returns to its original shape (i.e., rectangular shape).

In another embodiment of the invention, strands 22a-22a and/or strands 22b-22b are elastic such as being capable of stretching. Thus, at least one pair of strands is capable of being stretched. The degree of elasticity of the strands depends on the material from which the strands are made. For this embodiment of the invention, the circumference of the surface 66 at its circumferential edge 66a (circular perimeter 66a) is approximately equal to or approximately greater than at least the distances of about A or B. Preferably the circumference of surface 66 at its circumferential edge 66a is greater than distances of about A and/or B, but is less than the circumference of surface 52 at its circumferential edge 52a (circular perimeter 52a). For this embodiment of the invention, when dart 30 is thrown toward the net 18, the conical-shaped member 38 enters into one of the openings 26. Because the surface 66 at its circumferential edge 66a is greater than distances A and B respectively, both pair of elastic strands 22a-22a and 22b-22b stretch to allow the conical-shaped member 38 of the dart 30 to pass through the opening 26, as best shown in FIG. 12. After the conical-shaped member 38 passes through the opening 26, the stretched strands 22a-22a and 22b-22b release from engagement with the conical-shaped member 38 and subsequently contract back into the configuration illustrated in FIG. 10 and lodge in recess 42, as best show by the dashed line representation in FIG. 11. As previously indicated, in the event that strands 22a-22a and 22b-22b are not elastic, strands 22a-22a and 22b-22b will distort and/or expand from a rectangular shape into a general circular shape having a diameter that is greater than distances A and B.

Referring now to FIGS. 2-9 for operation of an embodiment of the invention, there is seen in FIGS. 2-3, a dart 30 moving in direction of the arrow and toward a net 18 after being thrown. When the dart 30 contacts the net 18, a conical-shaped member 38 of the dart 30 enters an opening 26 in the net 18, as best illustrated in FIGS. 4 and 5. As further illustrated in FIG. 5, the momentum of the dart 30 causes the net 18 to bend in direction of the arrow. After the dart 30 has stopped moving in direction of the arrow in FIG. 5 (see FIG. 6), the dart 30 commences to start springing or moving backwardly in a direction opposite to the direction of the arrow shown in FIG. 5, as best illustrated in FIGS. 8 and 9. The movement of the dart 30 in the opposite direction is caused by the elasticity or tendency of the net 18 to return to its stationary position illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 3. In its stationary position the dart 30 lodges in an opening 26 while tilting downwardly caused by the weight of the dart 30. In the downwardly tilting position the dart 30 forms an oblique angle with the generally planar surface of the net 18, as best illustrated in FIG. 9. The dart 30 may be removed from engagement with the net 18 by any suitable manner, such as moving each strand of the pair of strands 22a-22a away from each other or moving each strand of the pair of strands 22b-22b away from each other. The movement of respective strands 22a-22a and strands 22b-22b may be done generally simultaneously.

For various embodiments of the invention, if the dart, particularly the dart shown in FIG. 13, strikes off-center in the opening, a net strand on one side of the opening engages the cone of the dart before the strands on the other side(s). This results in a sideways force on the cone and imparts a rotational torque on the dart, causing it to rotate about its center-of-gravity and move into the net at an acute angle, rather than perpendicular to the net. For some embodiments of the invention, the dart is typically rotating sideways (i.e., not perpendicular) when it hits one of the strands which partly defines the opening. The momentum of the dart causes one or more strands to bend and/or expand rearward without the dart being captured by any of the openings in the net,

In an embodiment of the invention and as best illustrated in FIG. 13, the probability of any opening in the net capturing the dart is increased due to the weight member 90 disposed in the conical section of the dart. While the weight member 90 in FIG. 13 is shown as lodging and/or extending into the conical-shaped member 38, through the coupling member 44 and through the truncated cylindrical base 48, it is to be understood that the spirit and scope of the invention includes the weight member disposed only in the conical-shaped member, or disposed in both the conical-shaped member and the truncated cylindrical member by extending through the truncated cylindrical base and into the conical-shaped member.

The probability of any opening in the net capturing the dart is also increased by increasing both the size of the tail fins and the length of the recess. As previously suggested, adding the weight member to the nose of the dart increases the inertia of the dart and causes any net strand contacting the nose of the dart to be pushed and/or stretched farther to the side. The weight member also moves the center-of-gravity of the dart towards the nose or conical section. The farther the center-of-gravity is moved forward, the lever arm of the rotational torque from the net strand becomes shorter which causes less rotation of the dart. If the center of gravity is past the net strand, the rotational torque is acting in the direction of restoring the dart to perpendicular. The larger-area tail fins create additional air drag against the rotation and keep the dart closer to perpendicular.

Increasing the length (in the direction of nose-to-tail) of the recess in the dart also increases the probability of any opening in the net capturing the dart. The length of the recess is indirectly proportional to the angle that the dart contacts the net. Stated alternatively, the farther off perpendicular (i.e., 90 degrees) the dart is when hitting or contacting the net, the greater the length of the recess needs to be, assuming that the circular face 66 is to pass completely through an opening in the net before movement of the dart is stopped by circular surface 52.

In preferred embodiments of the present invention, the dart is manufactured from soft foam (i.e., polyurethane or EVA foam having a density of about 3½ pounds per cubic foot). When the conical section of the dart consists of soft foam, the end of the conical section is typically not very durable and tends to be flexible. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the end of the cone is preferably coated with a smooth flexible elastomeric or plastic material to prevent the point or end of the conical section from bending when striking the net and causing the dart to rotate sideways, or bounce off the net. The plastic material for coating the end of the cone may be any suitable plastic material, such as polypropylene, polyethylene, etc. The elastomeric or plastic material reduces the friction against the net strands as the dart enters the net, and makes the cone point more durable. The elastomeric material may be any suitable elastomeric material, such as by way of example only, flexible PVC, fluorosilicone (chloroprene), cast polyurethane, silicone, Neoprene® (chloroprene), and Viton® (fluorocarbon). Viton® and Neoprene® are registered trademarks of DuPont Performance Elastomers.

Reference throughout this specification to “one embodiment”, “an embodiment”, or “a specific embodiment” means that a particular feature, structure, or characteristic described in connection with the embodiment is included in at least one embodiment of the present invention and not necessarily in all its embodiments. Therefore, the respective appearances of the phrases “in one embodiment”, “in an embodiment”, or “in a specific embodiment” in various places throughout this specification are not necessarily referring to the same embodiment. Furthermore, the particular features, structures, or characteristics of any specific embodiment of the present invention may be combined in any suitable manner with one or more other embodiments. It is to be understood that other variations and modifications of the embodiments of the present invention described and illustrated herein are possible in light of the teachings herein and are to be considered as part of the spirit and scope of the present invention.

Additionally, any arrows in the drawings/figures should be considered only as exemplary, and not limiting, unless otherwise specifically noted. Furthermore, the term “or” as used herein is generally intended to mean “and/or” unless otherwise indicated. Combinations of components or steps will also be considered as being noted, where terminology is foreseen as rendering the ability to separate or combine is unclear.

As used in the description herein and throughout the claims that follow, “a”, “an”, and “the” includes plural references unless the context clearly dictates otherwise. Also, as used in the description herein and throughout the claims that follow, the meaning of “in” includes “in” and “on” unless the context clearly dictates otherwise.

The foregoing description of illustrated embodiments of the present invention, including what is described in the Abstract, is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise forms disclosed herein. While specific embodiments of, and examples for, the invention are described herein for illustrative purposes only, various equivalent modifications are possible within the spirit and scope of the present invention, as those skilled in the relevant art will recognize and appreciate. As indicated, these modifications may be made to the present invention in light of the foregoing description of the illustrated embodiments of the present invention and are to be included within the spirit and scope of the present invention.

Therefore, while the present invention has been described herein with reference to the particular embodiments thereof, a latitude of modification, various changes and substitutions are intended in the foregoing disclosures, and it will be appreciated that in some instances some features of the embodiments of the invention will be employed without the corresponding use of other features without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention as set forth. Therefore, many modifications may be made to adapt a particular situation or material to the essential scope and spirit of the present invention. It is intended that the invention not be limited to the particular terms used in following claims and/or to the particular embodiment disclosed as the best mode contemplated for carrying out this invention, but that the invention will include any and all embodiments and equivalents falling within the scope of the appended claims.