Title:
STUFFED ANIMAL WITH REMOVABLY ATTACHABLE TAIL
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention discloses a stuffed animal having a releasably attachable tail. The stuffed animal includes a body, a tail releasably attached to the body and attachment means carried by at least one of the body and the tail. The attachment means releasably attaches the tail to the body and may include a plurality of hook and loop fastener elements. In another embodiment, the attachment means includes at least one attachment ear and at least one corresponding attachment member. The at least one attachment ear is attached to the at least one attachment member via hook and loop fastener elements for releasably securing the tail to the body. A customer or seller can dress the stuffed animal with changeable clothing after removing the tail, which can be handled with ease by even young children.



Inventors:
Cardinale, Carolyn (Princeton, NJ, US)
Stephens, Danielle D. (St. Charles, MO, US)
Application Number:
12/196268
Publication Date:
02/25/2010
Filing Date:
08/21/2008
Assignee:
Build-A-Bear Retail Management, Inc. (St. Louis, MO, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
446/99, 446/369
International Classes:
A63H3/08; A63H3/02; A63H3/16
View Patent Images:
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20090091116Vehicle-shaped bookApril, 2009Legrand
20090036219Interactive, thematically-related entertainment system including universally-interchangeable, attachable, design-bearing ornamentsFebruary, 2009Crouch et al.
20100056015Vehicle Track SetMarch, 2010Nuttall
20030203702Large-size toy brickOctober, 2003Germerodt et al.
20080268743TOY TRACK SET AND RELAY SEGMENTSOctober, 2008O'connor et al.
20060240738Power and sail boat docking amusement deviceOctober, 2006Culp et al.
20060079150Toy for collecting and dispersing toy vehiclesApril, 2006Filoseta et al.



Primary Examiner:
BALDORI, JOSEPH B
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HUSCH BLACKWELL LLP (St. Louis, MO, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A stuffed animal comprising: a body having a shell, the shell being stuffed with a resilient material, the body including a torso portion having a lower end portion and an upper end portion; a tail adapted for being releasably attached to the body; and attachment means with portions carried by at least one of the body and the tail, the attachment means releasably attaching the tail to the body.

2. The stuffed animal defined in claim 1 wherein said attachment means comprising first and second attachment devices in vertically spaced relation.

3. The stuffed animal defined in claim 2 wherein the second attachment device comprising at least one attachment ear and at least one corresponding attachment member, the attachment ear including a hook or loop element and the attachment member including the other of a hook or loop element.

4. The stuffed animal defined in claim 3 wherein the first attachment device comprising first and second attachment members, the first attachment member including a hook element and the second attachment member including a loop element.

5. The stuffed animal defined in claim 4 wherein said stuffed animal is configured as a simulated turkey.

6. The stuffed animal defined in claim 4 wherein said tail including a portion configured to be folded such that the portion of the tail covers at least a portion of said attachment means.

7. A toy kit for constructing a stuffed animal, the toy kit comprising: a shell configured to be a body having a plurality of portions for receiving resilient stuffing material; a tail separated from the body, the tail being adapted for being releasably attached to the body; attachment means for releasably attaching the tail to the body; and an article of clothing adapted for selective mounting to the body.

8. The toy kit defined in claim 7 wherein said attachment means comprising at least one hook element and at least one loop element.

9. The toy kit defined in claim 8 wherein said attachment means comprising at least one attachment ear having at least one of a hook or fastener element and an attachment member having the other of the hook or loop fastener element, the at least one attachment ear being releasably attached to the attachment member for releasably securing the tail to the body.

10. The toy kit defined in claim 9 wherein said stuffed animal is configured as a simulated turkey.

11. The toy kit defined in claim 9 wherein said tail including a portion configured to be folded such that the portion of the tail covers at least some of said attachment means.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to stuffed toys and, more particularly, to customizable stuffed animals and animal-like figurines. The present invention includes a removably attachable component that facilitates dressing the stuffed animal or animal-like figurine.

Animal toys stuffed with fibrous, foam or other resilient materials are well known. Stuffed animals and toys are typically formed by filling a shell with a resilient material such as polyester-cellulose fibers alone or along with polystyrene beads or other suitable filler materials and thereafter closing the shell by suitable closing means, thereby creating a three-dimensional soft and resilient representation of an animal or other toy. Some stuffed animals are very old—home made cloth dolls stuffed with straw go back to at least the 1830s, perhaps much older. The most well known type of stuffed toy is the teddy bear originated in approximately 1902. Over the years, teddy bears have come in many sizes and shapes and have evolved beyond the simple stuffed bear. As the form of the stuffed toy has evolved, the ways of making and marketing stuffed toys have also evolved.

In recent years, activities have been made available for children to participate in workshops that allow the child to make a personalized stuffed toy. For example, the company Build-a-Bear Workshop, Inc. sells customizable stuffed animals and conducts parties and events at which a participant can select a type of stuffed toy by choosing a plush shell, filling it with resilient material and a padded heart, closing the shell, and customizing it by adding clothing, sound chips and other accessories. In this particular store, a customer is shown a variety of finished stuffed toys and the customer picks a particular empty toy shell to be stuffed. The unstuffed shell is taken to a stuffing machine. An employee of the store will place a tube into an opening in the unstuffed toy shell. A customer may be invited to press the foot pedal to control the flow of stuffing material from the stuffing machine into the toy shell. As the foot pedal is employed, compressed air blows a fibrous filling material into the shell which gradually fills the shell to give the finished stuffed toy a satisfactory amount of stuffing. The process may include enclosing within the now stuffed toy a red, heart shaped, small cushion. After the stuffing and selected components are placed inside the shell, the opening through which the toy was filled is closed. There are several methods for closing the existing shell including using thread, zippers and other closing means. The customer then has the opportunity of going to a computer station and entering information into a set of fields on the computer screen which then produces a printed certificate that memorializes the purchase of the stuffed toy and which is called a “Birth Certificate.”

The customer will then be given an opportunity to dress the stuffed toy and to buy accessories for the toy. This process allows the participant to feel as though he or she had brought the stuffed animal to life, resulting in a stronger association with the toy. Further, this method builds upon and utilizes the desire of a customer, especially a child, to be a part of the overall experience and to feel that their particular stuffed toy is unique. However, dressing of stuffed toys with a large interfering component such as a tail requires skills of the children. Particularly, clothing for stuffed toys which include a large tail, such as simulated animals or animal-like figurines, is generally designed to be fitted onto or around a narrow connecting portion of the tail. Depending upon the size and shape of the tail, it is difficult even for adults to dress stuffed animals with a large tail by pushing the large tail into or around the relatively small openings of the clothing for the tail.

It is therefore desirable to provide a stuffed toy construction that facilitates efficient dressing of the stuffed toys with a large body component without the requirement of skills or elaborate clothing constructions to be used in dressing the stuffed toys. It is also desirable to provide a stuffed toy with changeable clothing which can be handled with ease by even young children, and which affords sufficient novelty so as to entertain children and provide creative satisfaction.

Specific advantages and features of the invention will be apparent from the attached drawings and description of an illustrative embodiment of the present invention.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to various embodiments of a stuffed toy having a releasably attachable tail. The present invention overcomes many of the shortcomings and limitations of the prior art devices discussed above and teaches the construction and operation of several embodiments of stuffed toys for dressing by using removably attachable body components. In one aspect of the present invention, a stuffed animal includes a body, a tail releasably attached to the body and attachment means carried by at least one of the body and the tail. The attachment means releasably attaches the tail to the body. A customer or seller can dress the stuffed animal with changeable clothing after removing the tail. Dressing can be handled with ease by even young children. The term “stuffed animal,” as used in this application includes stuffed animal toys and animal-like figurines.

The body of the present stuffed toy includes a torso portion, a head portion and a plurality of limb portions, and is formed by a shell which can be stuffed with a resilient material. The attachment means is associated with an appropriate tail or other portion of the particular animal selected and can include a plurality of hook and loop fastener elements. In another embodiment, the attachment means may include at least one attachment ear and a corresponding attachment member, one on the tail and the other on the body. The at least one attachment ear is attached to the attachment member for releasably securing the tail to the body.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a stuffed animal in the form of a simulated turkey with a removably attachable tail constructed in accordance with the teachings of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a side elevational view of the stuffed animal of FIG. 1 with a removably attachable tail constructed in accordance with the teachings of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is an exploded side elevational view of the stuffed animal of FIG. 1 with a removably attachable tail constructed in accordance with the teachings of the present invention.

FIG. 4 is an exploded rear view of the stuffed animal of FIG. 1 with a removably attachable tail, showing the inner side of the tail.

FIG. 5 is a rear view of the removably attachable tail, showing the outer side of the tail.

It should be understood that the drawings are not necessarily to scale and that the embodiments disclosed herein are sometimes illustrated by fragmentary views. In certain instances, details which are not necessary for an understanding of the present invention or which render other details difficult to perceive may have been omitted. It should be understood that the invention is not necessarily limited to the particular embodiments illustrated herein. Like numbers utilized throughout the various Figures designate like or similar parts or structure.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is generally embodied in a stuffed animal with a large tail for dress-up. The stuffed animal includes a removably attached tail for facilitating dressing of the stuffed animal. The tail can be easily removed for the dressing of the stuffed animal and easily reattached to the stuffed animal thereafter. The stuffed animal can be provided in a kit including clothing or other accessories.

Referring now to the drawings, one embodiment of the present invention is designated generally at numeral 10 of FIGS. 1 and 2. FIGS. 1-5 are various views of one embodiment of a stuffed animal with a large tail constructed in the form of a simulated turkey and in accordance with the teachings of the present invention. Although the present invention is illustrated herein in the form of a simulated stuffed turkey animal, it is recognized and anticipated that the present invention can be incorporated into or can take on the shape of any simulated animal having a tail or other similar structure associated therewith.

The present soft, sculptured, stuffed animal 10 comprises a body with a torso portion 12, a head portion 14 connected to the torso portion 12, wing portions 16, 18 connected to the torso portion 12, and lower limb portions 20, 22 also connected to the torso portion 12. The illustrated stuffed animal 10 includes a beak 25 protruding outwardly from the head portion 14 and respective feet portions 21, 23 protruding outwardly from the limb portions 20, 22. Preferably, all of the aforementioned body portions are provided as a unitary structure. While the stuffed animal 10 illustrated in FIGS. 1-4 is a simulated turkey, other animals or animal-like figurines with a tail can likewise be provided. As used herein, upper, lower and other position terms are used to describe the present invention as oriented in the drawings.

The stuffed animal 10 has a fabric, e.g., knit, woven and/or felted fabric, or plastic shell which encloses a stuffing material (not shown) within the body. The stuffing material is preferably constituted of a resilient material such as natural or artificial fiber, foam and/or other filler materials, but may also be made of any other material used for stuffing toys.

The stuffed animal 10 further includes a removably attachable tail 24. The tail 24 is shown in detail in FIGS. 3-5. The tail 24 is removably attached on the back side of the torso portion 12 and extends upwardly from the seat area of the body toward or even past the head portion 14. The head portion protrudes upwardly and outwardly from the upper end of a neck portion 26 which is connected to the torso portion 12. While the stuffed animal 10 illustrated in FIGS. 1-4 is in a seated configuration, other configurations can likewise be provided.

The tail 24 is provided with attachment means 28. The tail 24 includes respective padded portions 30, 32 in the form of sewn segments attached to a center portion 34 which in turn is removably attached to the torso portion 12 by the attachment means 28. The attachment means 28 is adapted to releasably secure the tail 24 to the torso portion 12 in any suitable manner. A portion of the attachment means 28 is positioned on the inside of the tail 24 adjacent the middle and a portion of the attachment means 28 is positioned on the outside of the tail 24 for both easily securing and releasing the tail 24. In one embodiment, the attachment means 28 includes a first attachment device 36, 38 and a second attachment device 40, 42. The first attachment device 36, 38 is provided to hold the upper portion of the tail 24 in an upright position and includes hook and loop fastener elements (such as a VELCRO® fastener). One of the hook or loop elements 36 is positioned on the back surface of the torso portion 12 and the other of the hook or loop elements 38 is positioned on the inner surface of the tail 24 as best shown in FIG. 4 such that the hook and the loop elements 36 and 38 engage each other so as to releasably secure the tail 24 to the torso portion 12. It is recognized that a plurality of hook and loop elements can be used in addition to the first attachment device 36, 38 to hold the upper portion of the tail in an upright position. The attachment device 36, 38 by being vertically spaced from attachment device 40, 42 prevents lateral rotation of the tail 24 thereabout.

The second attachment device 40, 42 is provided to removably attach the tail 24 to the torso portion 12 and includes a pair of flexible attachment ears 40 each of which include either a hook element or a loop element, and a pair of attachment members 42 each of which includes the corresponding hook or loop element for attachment to the attachment ears 40. The attachment ears 40 are secured to the torso portion 12 as best shown in FIGS. 3 and 4 and are provided to assist in attaching the tail 24 to the torso portion 12. The attachment ears 40 are shown as webs or tabs working in combination with either hook or loop attachment element 42 as shown in FIGS. 4 and 5. The tail 24 includes an opening 44 (FIGS. 4 and 5) adjacent the middle thereof for receiving the attachment ears 40 therethrough. Once positioned through the opening 44, the attachment ears 40 can be moved into engagement with the corresponding attachment members 42 on the outer surface of the tail 24 as shown in FIGS. 2, 3, and 5. The attachment device 40, 42 can also be used to secure or mount an article of clothing on the torso portion 12. The attachment ears 40 may also utilize a snap fastener or other connector (not shown) to permit removal of a portion thereof. Use of hook and loop fastener elements allows for adjustment of the position of the attachment of the tail 24. The first attachment device 36, 38 keeps the tail 24 upright and is spaced vertically above the attachment ears 40 to help the tail 24 resist drooping and rotation. Other attaching means can likewise be used to releasably secure the tail 24 to the body (torso portion 12) of the stuffed animal 10 without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention.

The tail 24 comprises an upper portion 46 and lower portion 48 extending downwardly therefrom. The lower portion 48 can be folded up and releasably secured in overlying relationship to a back side portion of the upper portion 46 by additional hook and loop fastener elements 50 as shown in FIGS. 2 and 5 to cover and hide the attachment ears 40 and other attaching means.

A customer or seller can dress the stuffed animal 10 with changeable clothing 52 after removing the tail 24 and can easily reattach the tail 24 to the torso portion 12 by the attachment means 28. The clothing 52 may be provided with a through opening (not shown) for receipt of the ears 42 therethrough to help secure or mount the clothing to the torso portion 12.

Other variants are, of course, contemplated. Virtually any stuffed animal or fanciful creature with a tail can be created in accordance with the teachings of the present invention, the only limitation being a child's imagination.

Thus, there has been shown and described several embodiments of a novel 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. Many changes, modifications, variations and other uses and applications of the present constructions will, however, become apparent to those skilled in the art after considering the specification and the accompanying drawings. All such changes, modifications, variations and other uses and applications which do not depart from the spirit and scope of the invention are deemed to be covered by the invention and the scope of the present disclosure is not intended to be limited solely to the embodiments shown herein. All structural and functional equivalents to the elements of the various embodiments described throughout this disclosure that are known or later come to be known to those of ordinary skill in the art are expressly incorporated herein by reference and are intended to be encompassed by this disclosure.