Title:
FLEXIBLE MECHANICAL APPENDAGE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A flexible mechanical appendage is provided to include a predetermined length positioned between head and tail ends, and having two sides disposed along the length. Arms extending outwardly from both sides of the flexible spine, and having an aperture positioned through each arm. A cable extends along both sides of the flexible spine through each of the apertures and terminates about the tail end of the flexible spine. A pulley system is positioned about the head end and has a spool rotatably driven by a reciprocating motor. The spool has a fastener for securing the cable thereto, wherein when the pulley system rotates the spool in a single direction reeling on cable, one side of the flexible spine bends in an arc.



Inventors:
Greenley, Peter (Lake Geneva, WI, US)
Grisolia, Nick (Lake Geneva, WI, US)
Application Number:
12/498753
Publication Date:
01/07/2010
Filing Date:
07/07/2009
Assignee:
G2 INVENTIONS (Lake Geneva, WI, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63H3/20
View Patent Images:
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20080125007Novelty device having braided sleeve body and its associated method of operationMay, 2008Walterscheid
20080200094Light show controller for an inflatable dollAugust, 2008Hsu
20040077268Linkable clipApril, 2004Wainohu
20100015880Smoke production system for model locomotiveJanuary, 2010Grubba
20030082988Reeded sound-making deviceMay, 2003Gendron et al.
20090017719Structure of hula hoopJanuary, 2009Lin
20080070470Based structure with changeable colorful figuresMarch, 2008Lai
20060270310Transformation accessoriesNovember, 2006Campbell et al.



Primary Examiner:
KLAYMAN, AMIR ARIE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ADAM K. SACHAROFF (CHICAGO, IL, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A flexible mechanical appendage comprising: a flexible spine having a predetermined length positioned between a head end and a tail end, and having two sides disposed along the predetermined length; a plurality of arms extending outwardly from both sides of the flexible spine, each arm of the plurality of arms includes an end distal to the side of the flexible spine to which it extends, and includes an aperture through said distal end; a cable extending along both sides of the flexible spine through each of the apertures of said arms and terminating about the tail end of the flexible spine; and a pulley system positioned about the head end of the flexible spine and having a spool rotatably driven by a reciprocating motor, the spool having a fastener for securing the cable thereto, wherein when the pulley system is activated the reciprocating motor rotates the spool in a single direction reeling on cable extending along one side of the flexible spine and releasing cable extending along the other side of the flexible spine such that the flexible spine bends in an arc.

2. The appendage of claim 1, wherein the flexible spine is comprised of a uniform material extending from the head end to its tail end and which is a rigid flexible material having a resiliently straight disposition such that when the flexible spine is bent and then released, the flexible spine tends to return to a substantially straight disposition.

3. The appendage of claim 1, wherein the spool is positioned within a spool cover and the distance between the spool and the spool cover has a tolerance measured to be less than a diameter of the cable to substantially reduce unraveling of the cable.

4. The appendage of claim 3, wherein the spool cover includes a pair of apertures extending from a top edge of the spool cover downwardly to permit cable to pass through the spool cover.

5. The appendage of claim 1, wherein: the flexible spine further includes a top portion and a bottom portion extending along the predetermined length, and the top and bottom portions further include plurality of secondary arms extending outwardly from the flexible spine, each of the plurality of secondary arms having an aperture positioned there through about an end distal to the flexible spine, a secondary pulley system includes a secondary reciprocating motor for rotating a secondary spool having cable fastened there to and the cable extending from the secondary spool through the apertures on the plurality of secondary arms extending outwardly from the top and bottom portions of the flexible spine and terminating about the tail section.

6. The appendage of claim 5, wherein the flexible spine has a substantially consistent thickness.

7. The appendage of claim 5, wherein the flexible spine has a tapered thickness defined by having a head larger than a tail.

8. The appendage of claim 1 further comprising along a region of the flexible spine a crossing of cable such that cable positioned along a first side of the flexible spine moves to a second side of the flexible spine and cable positioned along the second side moves to the first side, whereby when cable along one side of the flexible spine is reeled by the spool the flexible spine curves inwardly from the head end up to the region and then curves outwardly from the region to the tail end.

9. The appendage of claim 1 further comprising: a outer covering encasing the appendage and having an covering end around the tail end of the flexible spine, the covering end further including a first section movable with respect to a second section and wherein and end of cable extends from the tail end and is attached to the first section such that when said cable is reeled by the spool the flexible spine curves and the end of cable pulled by the spool moves the first section with respect to the second section.

10. The appendage of claim 1 further comprising: a secondary flexible spine extending outwardly from said pulley system and having a secondary predetermined length positioned between a secondary head end and a secondary tail end, and having two secondary sides disposed along the secondary predetermined length; a plurality of secondary arms extending outwardly from both secondary sides of the secondary flexible spine, each secondary arm of the plurality of secondary arms includes a secondary end distal to the secondary side of the secondary flexible spine to which it extends, and includes a secondary aperture through said secondary distal end; a secondary cable extending along both secondary sides of the secondary flexible spine through each of the secondary apertures of said secondary arms and terminating about the secondary tail end of the secondary flexible spine; and the secondary cable being fastened to said spool defined by the pulley system.

11. The appendage of claim 1 further comprising at least two sets of wheels separately positioned along the flexible spine, each set of wheels includes an axles extending there and wherein one of the at least two sets of wheels being driving by a motor.

12. A flexible mechanical appendage comprising: a flexible spine having a predetermined length terminating at a pair of tail ends distal to each other, the flexible spine having a first side disposed along the predetermined length; a plurality of arms extending outwardly from the first side of the flexible spine, each arm of the plurality of arms includes an end distal to the side of the flexible spine to which it extends, and includes an aperture through said distal end; cable extending along the first side of the flexible spine through each of the apertures of said arms and terminating about the tail ends of the flexible spine; and a pulley system positioned intermediate of the tail ends of the flexible spine and defining a pair of head ends on flexible spine about either side of the pulley system, the pulley system having a spool rotatably driven by a reciprocating motor, the spool having a fastener for securing the cable thereto, wherein when the pulley system is activated the reciprocating motor rotates the spool in a single direction reeling on cable extending along the first side of the flexible spine such that the flexible spine bends moving the tail ends in an arc.

13. The flexible appendage of claim 12 wherein the flexible spine further having a second side being opposed from the first side and disposed along the predetermined length, the second side having a second plurality of arms extending outwardly there from, each second arm of the second plurality of arms having an aperture there through, and cable extending along the second side of the flexible spine extending through the apertures of the second plurality of arms and being attached to the spool.

13. The appendage of claim 12, wherein about one of the head ends of the flexible spine the cable crosses such that cable positioned along a first side of the flexible spine moves to a second side of the flexible spine and cable positioned along the second side moves to the first side.



14. A flexible mechanical appendage comprising: a flexible spine having a predetermined length positioned between a head end and a tail end, and having two side portions a top portion and a bottom portion all disposed along the predetermined length; a plurality of arms extending outwardly from the side portions and the top and bottom portions of the flexible spine, each arm of the plurality of arms includes an end distal to the side of the flexible spine to which it extends, and includes an aperture through said distal end; cable extending along the side portions and the top and bottom portions of the flexible spine through each of the apertures of said arms and terminating about the tail end of the flexible spine; a first pulley system positioned about the head end of the flexible spine and having a first spool rotatably driven by a first reciprocating motor, the first spool having a first fastener for securing cable extending along the two side portions, wherein when the first pulley system is activated the first reciprocating motor rotates the spool in a single direction reeling on cable extending along one of the side portions and releasing cable extending along the other side portion such that the flexible spine bends in an arc; and a second pulley system positioned about the head end of the flexible spine and having a second spool rotatably driven by a second reciprocating motor, the second spool having a second fastener for securing cable extending along the top and bottom portions, wherein when the second pulley system is activated the second reciprocating motor rotates the spool in a single direction reeling on cable extending along one of the top or bottom portions and releasing cable extending along the other top or bottom portions such that the flexible spine bends in an arc, and wherein the first and second pulley systems are capable of pulling/releasing cable to bend the flexible spine in a 360 degree range of motion defined along an axis extending along the flexible spine when the flexible spin is substantially straight.

15. The appendage of claim 14, wherein the flexible spine has a substantially consistent thickness.

16. The appendage of claim 14, wherein the flexible spine has a tapered thickness defined by having a head larger than a tail.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present invention claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application 61/078,676 filed Jul. 7, 2008.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The background of the invention relates to moveable appendages used and incorporated in toys. Toys have been developed for many years and the ability to fully enjoy such toys is often left to the child's imagination. One such type of enjoyment is having the toy with movable appendages. While most toys already have some form of moveable appendage, it has been difficult to employ flexible mechanical appendages because of the complexity of the structural elements necessary to provide various types of curling and flexible movement. There is a need to provide for various types of flexible mechanical movement in an appendage. Such a need is addressed by one or more of the embodiments provided herein.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

One or more of the embodiments provided in the present invention relates to the flexible movement of a mechanical appendage. The appendage is provided with in one embodiment a flexible spine having a predetermined length positioned between a head end and a tail end, and having two sides disposed along the predetermined length. A plurality of arms extend outwardly from both sides of the flexible spine. Each arm of the plurality of arms includes an end distal to the side of the flexible spine to which it extends, and includes an aperture through the distal end. A cable extends along both sides of the flexible spine through each of the apertures of the arms and terminating about the tail end of the flexible spine. A pulley system is positioned about the head end of the flexible spine and has a spool rotatably driven by a reciprocating motor. The spool has a fastener for securing the cable thereto. When the pulley system is activated, the reciprocating motor rotates the spool in a single direction reeling on cable extending along one side of the flexible spine and releasing cable extending along the other side of the flexible spine such that the flexible spine bends in an arc.

In another embodiment, the flexible spine is comprised of a uniform material extending from the head end to its tail end and which is a rigid flexible material having a resiliently straight disposition such that when the flexible spine is bent and then released, the flexible spine tends to return to a substantially straight disposition. In another embodiment, the spool is positioned within a spool cover and the distance between the spool and the spool cover has a tolerance measured to be less than one half the diameter of the cable to substantially reduce unraveling of the cable.

In another embodiment, the flexible spine further includes a top portion and a bottom portion extending along the predetermined length, and the top and bottom portions further include a plurality of secondary arms extending outwardly from the flexible spine. Each of the plurality of secondary arms has an aperture positioned there through about an end distal to the flexible spine. In addition, a secondary pulley system is provided and angled substantially 90 degrees from the pulley system and includes a secondary reciprocating motor for rotating a secondary spool having cable, string, filament (referred to herein as cable) fastened there to and the cable extending from the secondary spool through the apertures on the plurality of secondary arms extending outwardly from the top and bottom portions of the flexible spine and terminating about the tail section.

In yet other embodiments, the flexible spine has a substantially consistent thickness or has a tapered thickness defined by having a head diameter larger than a tail diameter.

In yet another embodiment, the appendage includes along a region of the flexible spine a crossing of cable such that cable positioned along a first side of the flexible spine moves to a second side of the flexible spine and cable positioned along the second side moves to the first side, whereby when cable along one side of the flexible spine is reeled by the spool the flexible spine curves inwardly from the head end up to the region and then curves outwardly from the region to the tail end. In similar aspects, the appendage may include an outer covering encasing the appendage and having an covering end around the tail end of the flexible spine, the covering end further including a first section movable with respect to a second section and wherein and end of cable extends from the tail end and is attached to the first section such that when the cable is reeled by the spool the flexible spine curves and the end of cable pulled by the spool moves the first section with respect to the second section.

In still yet other embodiments, there is provided a flexible mechanical appendage having a flexible spine with a predetermined length terminating at a pair of tail ends distal to each other. The flexible spine having a first side disposed along the predetermined length. A plurality of arms extend outwardly from the first side of the flexible spine, each arm of the plurality of arms includes an end distal to the side of the flexible spine to which it extends, and includes an aperture through said distal end. Cable extends along the first side of the flexible spine through each of the apertures of the arms and terminates about the tail ends of the flexible spine. A pulley system is positioned intermediate of the tail ends of the flexible spine and defines a pair of head ends on the flexible spine about either side of the pulley system, the pulley system has a spool rotatably driven by a reciprocating motor. The spool has a fastener for securing the cable thereto, wherein when the pulley system is activated the reciprocating motor rotates the spool in a single direction reeling on cable extending along the first side of the flexible spine such that the flexible spine bends moving the tail ends in an arc. Based on such embodiments, the flexible appendage may further have a second side being opposed from the first side and disposed along the predetermined length, the second side having a second plurality of arms extending outwardly there from, each second arm of the second plurality of arms having an aperture there through, and cable extending along the second side of the flexible spine extending through the apertures of the second plurality of arms and being attached to the spool.

In yet still other embodiments, there is provided a flexible mechanical appendage having a flexible spine with a predetermined length positioned between a head end and a tail end, and having two side portions a top portion and a bottom portion all disposed along the predetermined length. A plurality of arms extend outwardly from the side portions and the top and bottom portions of the flexible spine. Each arm of the plurality of arms includes an end distal to the side of the flexible spine to which it extends, and includes an aperture through the distal end. Cable extends along the side portions and the top and bottom portions of the flexible spine through each of the apertures of the arms and terminates about the tail end of the flexible spine. A first pulley system is positioned about the head end of the flexible spine and has a first spool rotatably driven by a first reciprocating motor. The first spool has a first fastener for securing cable extending along the two side portions, and wherein when the first pulley system is activated the first reciprocating motor rotates the spool in a single direction reeling on cable extending along one of the side portions and releasing cable extending along the other side portion such that the flexible spine bends in an arc. In addition, a second pulley system is positioned about the head end of the flexible spine and having a second spool rotatably driven by a second reciprocating motor. The second spool has a second fastener for securing cable extending along the top and bottom portions, and wherein when the second pulley system is activated the second reciprocating motor rotates the spool in a single direction reeling on cable extending along one of the top or bottom portions and releasing cable extending along the other top or bottom portions such that the flexible spine bends in an arc. Furthermore, when the first and second pulley systems are positioned at a 90 degree angle with respect to one another, such that bending of the flexible spine by only the first pulley system is at a 90 degree angle to the bending of the flexible spine by only the second pulley system but when both the first and second pulley systems bend the flexible spine, the flexible spine is bent substantially between the two at about a 45 degree angle.

Numerous other advantages and features of the invention will become readily apparent from the following detailed description of the invention and the embodiments thereof, from the claims, and from the accompanying drawings.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

A fuller understanding of the foregoing may be had by reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1a is a top view of a flexible mechanical appendage in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 1b if a side perspective view of FIG. 1a;

FIG. 1c is a side perspective view of FIG. 1a illustrating partial rotation of a spool used to pull one side of a flexible spine;

FIG. 1d is a side perspective view of FIG. 1d illustrating substantially 100% rotation of a spool used to pull one side of a flexible spine;

FIG. 2a is an exploded view of a pulley system used in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2b is a top view of an assembled pulley system;

FIG. 2c is a perspective view of FIG. 2b;

FIG. 2d is a sectional view of FIG. 2c taken along line 2d;

FIG. 3a is a top graphic illustration of a flexible mechanical arm with 0 degree rotation of the spool;

FIG. 3b is a top graphic illustration of a flexible mechanical arm at partial rotation of the spool;

FIG. 3c is a top graphic illustration of a flexible mechanical arm at a rotation of the spool greater than the rotation illustrated in FIG. 3b;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of another embodiment of a flexible mechanical appendage having two pulley systems;

FIG. 5a is a perspective view of another embodiment of a flexible mechanical appendage having two pulley systems and a tapered flexible spine;

FIG. 5b is a sectional view of FIG. 5a;

FIG. 5c is an exploded view of FIG. 5a;

FIG. 6a is a perspective view of a flexible mechanical appendage having two pulley systems and a tapered flexible spine, illustrating the appendage when a first pulley is at 100% rotation and the second pulley is at 0% rotation;

FIG. 6b is a perspective view of the flexible mechanical appendage from FIG. 6a, illustrating the appendage when a first pulley and the second pulley are at 100% rotation;

FIG. 6c is a perspective view of the flexible mechanical appendage from FIG. 6a, illustrating the appendage when a first pulley is at 0% rotation and the second pulley is at 100% rotation;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a flexible mechanical appendage having at least one pulley system and includes a crossing of the cable sections to create an s pattern when the at least one pulley system is activated;

FIG. 8 shows a flexible mechanical appendage inserted through a character formed as a dinosaur and including a pair of flexible spines controlled by a single pulley system;

FIG. 9a shows a flexible mechanical appendage inserted through a character formed as a doll and including a single flexible spine with two ends by a single pulley system positioned between the two ends;

FIG. 9b is a perspective view of the flexible mechanical appendage without the character casing of FIG. 9a;

FIG. 9c is an illustration of the flexible mechanical appendage of FIG. 9a without the character casing;

FIG. 10a is a perspective view of a flexible mechanical appendage embedded in a vehicle;

FIG. 10b is a top view of FIG. 10a;

FIG. 10c is a side view of FIG. 10a; and

FIG. 10d is a top perspective view of the vehicle from FIG. 10a illustrating the flexible mechanical appendage in a curved position.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENTS

While the invention is susceptible to embodiments in many different forms, there are shown in the drawings and will be described herein, in detail, the preferred embodiments of the present invention. It should be understood, however, that the present disclosure is to be considered an exemplification of the principles of the invention and is not intended to limit the spirit or scope of the invention and/or the embodiments illustrated.

Referring now FIGS. 1a-1d, there is shown in a first embodiment a flexible mechanical appendage 100 illustrated from various angles and in various flexed positions. The flexible mechanical appendage referred to in the various embodiments will be more commonly referenced as an appendage. The appendage 100 includes a flexible spine 110 traveling from a head 120 of the appendage 100 to a tail 130 of the appendage. The spine 110 is preferably a flexible but uniform element, and may be made from a plastic material that would exhibit such qualities. The term uniform is meant to infer that it is a single element and that the spine is not a plurality of smaller elements jointed together end to end. The spine 110 also has a resiliently straight disposition such that while the spine may be bent or flexed, it has a tendency to return to a straight position when no forces are acting on it.

The spine 110 includes arms 140 extending outwardly from each side 112, 114 of the spine 110. Each arm 140 includes an aperture 142 about an end 144 of the arm 140 that is opposed to the spine 110. A cable 150 travels through the apertures 142 and is secured about its ends 152, 154 separately to the arms 140 that are furthest from the head 120 of the spine 110 or the last arms. It is not material to the scope of the embodiment if excess cable is hanging from the last arm. In addition, it is contemplated throughout the embodiments that two cables can also work rather than a single cable 150. Thus, for clarity purposes only, since a single cable version also includes two sections will have the same effect as having two cables, reference in the embodiments will be to a first section 156 and a second section 158.

The appendage 100, in one or more embodiments, includes a pulley system 160 that when activates pulls on one side or the other side of the spine by pulling on one of the sections of cable, illustrated in FIGS. 2a-2d. The pulley system 160 includes spool 162, one or more cables 150, a spool cover 164, and a reciprocating motor assembly 166.

The first and second sections 156, 158 of cable 150 are secured to a fastener 170 positioned on the spool 162. In one aspect of this embodiment, the spool 162 includes apertures (not shown) that permit the first and second sections of cable to pass from an external centered section 172 to an internal section 174 of the spool 162 such that the cable may be secured to the fastener 170 that is also positioned in the internal section. The spool 170 further includes a pin 176 extending away from the base 178 of the spool 170 and is fastened to a gear (not shown) that is driven by reciprocating motor assembly 166.

It has also been determined that a tolerance 179 between the spool 170 and a spool cover 164 may be smaller than one half the cable diameter to prevent the cable from unraveling and possible become tangled during use. The spool cover 164 further includes a pair of apertures 165 that extend from a top edge of the spool cover downwardly, but not necessarily extending to a bottom edge of the spool cover. The apertures 165 permit the first and second sections of cable 150 to pass through the spool cover to be inserted through the arms 140 of the appendage 100.

Referring now to FIGS. 3a through 3c, there is shown in accordance to one or more of the above embodiments an appendage 100 having a pulley system 160 and a flexible spine 110. As the pulley system 160 rotates the spool 162 counter clockwise the first section of cable 156 pulls on its end 152 and through the other arms causing the flexible spine to bend from a straight position to a bent position, and will create an arc. The more the spool is rotated the more the flexible spine 110 bends. In addition, as the spool is rotated to pull the first section 156 of cable 150, a portion of the second section 158 of cable unwinds from the spool such that the flexible spine does not bend against resistance from the second section 158 of cable and is freely able to bend in the direction of the pulled section of cable. As the spool is rotated in the opposite direction, from a bent flexible spine, the section of cable pulling and bending the spine releases slack allowing the flexible spine to resiliently return back to a substantially straight position.

Referring now to FIG. 4, there is shown in accordance to another embodiment an appendage 400 having two pulley systems 160a and 160b that are angled 90 degrees from each other. Each pulley system has a cable 150a and 150b with two sections (first sections 156a, 156b and second sections 158a, 158b) that travel through openings 142a, 142b in arms 140a, 140b that extend from a single flexible spine 110. As will be discussed in further embodiments, when the flexible spine 110 has a consistent thickness pulling on a cable will cause a consistent arc. The function of the two pulley systems will be discussed in greater detail below.

Referring now to FIGS. 5a through 5c, it has been found that a tapered flexible spine 510 causes the flexible spine to bend into a spiral configuration, referred to as an appendage 500. As shown in FIGS. 5b, a head 512 of the flexible spine 510 is secured to the pulley system 160. In addition, the shape of the curve may also changed by changing the distance, size or a combination thereof of the flexible spine or by changing the distance between arms or the length of the arms. As illustrated, the arms are equally spaced and have an equal length. The tapering in one embodiment has a greater thickness at the head 512 of the flexible spine 510 than at the tail 514 of the spine 510.

The arms 140a, 140b may either extend from the flexible spine 510 or may be part of an arm assembly 520. The arm assembly 520 includes a centered bore 522 to allow the arm assembly 520 to slide along the flexible spine 510, during assembly only. The centered bore size would be different depending on the thickness of the flexible spine. The arms 140a, 140b would extend outwardly from the centered bore region 524. Alternatively, the entire flexible spine and arm assemblies can be a uniform single molded piece.

The appendage 500 having four sections of cable allow for different types of movement depending upon which section(s) are pulled. For example and as shown in FIGS. 6a through 6c, when only one pulley system is activated, the spine will bend at a relatively zero degree offset from the activated pulley system. Thus if the pulley systems 160a and 160b were separately positioned substantially at a vertical and horizontal position, then movement of only the horizontal pulley system will cause the flexible spine to bend and spiral along a horizontal plane. And when movement of only the vertical pulley system is activated, the flexible spine will bend and spiral along a vertical plane. However, when the two pulley systems are activated the flexible spine will bend at an angle relative to the degree of movement of each system. Therefore, if both pulley systems pull their respective cables at the same rate the flexible spine will bend along a plane that is angle 45 degrees from each plane of the pulley system. Such that when the two pulley systems coil the cables to a maximum 100% the flexible spine will spiral along a plane that is 45 degrees offset from each other (FIG. 6b); occurring when cable 156a and 156b are pulled. However, a release of one of the pulley systems will cause the flexible spine to move towards the opposite plane. Thus, when the vertical pulley system is at 100% maximum coil and the horizontal pulley system is at 0%, the flexible spine will spiral along a vertical plane (FIG. 6c); occurring when cable 156b is pulled and 156a/158a are released. When the horizontal pulley system was at 100% and the vertical pulley system was at 0% the flexible spine would spiral along a horizontal plane (FIG. 6a); occurring when cable 156a is pulled and cable 156b/158b is released. Similarly, when the opposite cables are pulled from what is illustrated, the flexible spine is capable of bending 180 degrees from what is shown and if the percent of the pull is less than that which is illustrated one can easily imagine that a full range of motion of the flexible spine is 360 degrees from an axis extending along a substantially unbent flexible spine.

Referring now to FIG. 7, it is further shown that when the sections of cable are crossed, the resulting configuration of the flexible spine when pulled will create a sinuous shape or an S pattern. The appendage 700 includes at least one pulley system 702 and a pair of cable sections 704, 706. The cable sections are positioned through the apertures in the arms 708. At least along one point 715 on the flexible spine 710 the cable sections cross and are thread through the openings on the opposite arms to which it was originally being thread. In addition, the appendage 700 is illustrated with a covering or skin 720 such that the appendage may be defined as a tail, arm, head, or any other type of appendage for a figure.

Referring now to FIG. 8, a flexible mechanical appendage 800 is shown embedded in a character 805. The mechanical appendage 800 includes a pulley system 810 used to control two flexible spines 815 and 820 directed on either side of the pulley system 810. A cable 825 with two segments 830 and 835 connect the pulley system 810 to the flexible spines 815 and 820. When the two segments 830 and 835 connect to the pulley system 810, the cables cross around the spool 813 and continue to extend on opposite sides of the center of the spines, such that one segment that was connected to the top of one flexible spine is connected to the bottom of the opposite flexible spine. This also allows the appendage 800 to use a single motor to control the movement of the two flexible spines 815 and 820.

As further illustrated in FIG. 8, the second flexible spine 820 also includes a cross-over section 840, similar to the region 715 in FIG. 7. This permits the second flexible spine 820 to exhibit an S shape movement when the pulley system 810 is pulling up on the flexible spine 820. Lastly, an end 845 of one of the cable sections 830 extends past the last arm section 850 and is attached to a lower jaw 855 of a mouth 860. When the cable section 830 is pulled or released, the end 845 will pull or release to move the lower jaw 855 and act to either shut the mouth 860 or allow it to open (if biased in an closed position).

Referring now to FIGS. 9a through 9c, a flexible mechanical appendage 900 is inserted into a doll 950 to simulate movement of its arms. The flexible mechanical appendage 900 includes a single flexible spine 902. A pulley system 904 is placed in the middle of the flexible spine 902 with a 906 having a first section 906a and a second section 906b extending outwardly to the ends 908 of the flexible spine 902. The cable travels through openings in arm members 910 that extend from the flexible spine 902.

Referring now to FIGS. 10a through 10d, a similar flexible mechanical appendage 900 is illustrated for use with a vehicle 950. The vehicle includes multiple sets of wheels, a first set of wheels 952 are powered by the motor assembly used in the pulley system 904, while two sets of end wheels 954 may either be powered or freely rotating. Except in this section the pulley system 904 uses two cables 956 and 958 that crisscross about the pulley system 904 to continue traveling along the opposite bank of flexible spine. To turn the vehicle the pulley system curves the flexible spine. While FIG. 10d shows the vehicle in a complete flexed position and the vehicle would travel in circles, a less curved position would turn the vehicle in specified direction. As one can foresee, in order to have the cables extend through different directions, the spool cover would includes multiple pairs of apertures to permit the sections of cable to pass through the spool cover and to be inserted through the arms of the appendage.

While other more complicated types of flexible appendages require a push/pull system, one or more of the present embodiments use a pull/pull system, meaning that the pulley system pulls on both sides of the spine and does not at any time have to push on a side.

From the foregoing and as mentioned above, it will be observed that numerous variations and modifications may be effected without departing from the spirit and scope of the novel concept of the invention. It is to be understood that no limitation with respect to the specific methods and apparatus illustrated herein is intended or should be inferred.