US20050191938A1 - Gravity launcher and clamp for trackset - Google Patents

Gravity launcher and clamp for trackset Download PDF

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Publication number
US20050191938A1
US20050191938A1 US11/041,030 US4103005A US2005191938A1 US 20050191938 A1 US20050191938 A1 US 20050191938A1 US 4103005 A US4103005 A US 4103005A US 2005191938 A1 US2005191938 A1 US 2005191938A1
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US
United States
Prior art keywords
launcher
toy vehicle
launch
clamp
trackset
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Abandoned
Application number
US11/041,030
Inventor
David Sheltman
Joe Pohlman
Michael Finizza
Mark Mayer
Mike Andrews
Nelson Tam
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Mattel Inc
Original Assignee
Mattel Inc
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to US53885604P priority Critical
Application filed by Mattel Inc filed Critical Mattel Inc
Priority to US11/041,030 priority patent/US20050191938A1/en
Assigned to MATTEL, INC. reassignment MATTEL, INC. ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: ANDREWS, MIKE, FINIZZA, MICHAEL, MAYER, MARK, POHLMAN, JOE, SHELTMAN, DAVID, TAM, NELSON
Publication of US20050191938A1 publication Critical patent/US20050191938A1/en
Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

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Classifications

    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63HTOYS, e.g. TOPS, DOLLS, HOOPS, BUILDING BLOCKS
    • A63H17/00Toy vehicles, e.g. with self-drive; ; Cranes, winches or the like; Accessories therefor
    • A63H17/24Toy vehicles, e.g. with self-drive; ; Cranes, winches or the like; Accessories therefor shaped as sledges, sleighs, or bobsleighs with or without figures
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63HTOYS, e.g. TOPS, DOLLS, HOOPS, BUILDING BLOCKS
    • A63H18/00Highways or trackways for toys; Propulsion by special interaction between vehicle and track
    • A63H18/02Construction or arrangement of the trackway
    • A63H18/026Start-finish mechanisms; Stop arrangements; Traffic lights; Barriers, or the like
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63HTOYS, e.g. TOPS, DOLLS, HOOPS, BUILDING BLOCKS
    • A63H18/00Highways or trackways for toys; Propulsion by special interaction between vehicle and track
    • A63H18/02Construction or arrangement of the trackway
    • A63H18/028Looping; Jumping; Tilt-track sections
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63HTOYS, e.g. TOPS, DOLLS, HOOPS, BUILDING BLOCKS
    • A63H18/00Highways or trackways for toys; Propulsion by special interaction between vehicle and track
    • A63H18/02Construction or arrangement of the trackway
    • A63H18/04Up-and-down-hill trackways

Abstract

A toy vehicle launcher and supporting clamp are used in providing a gravity driven toy vehicle trackset. The clamp utilizes a ratcheting attachment member which facilitates the rapid sizing or adjustment for size for attachment to a table edge or the like. The launcher and clamp further provides a toy vehicle launcher having a trigger release for gravity driven launch of a toy vehicle down a coupled track segment. The angle of the toy vehicle launcher is adjustable to facilitate changes in launch angle and thereby changes in the amount of energy imparted to the toy vehicle.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application claims priority of Provisional Patent Application 60/538,856 entitled Gravity Launcher and Clamp for Trackset filed Jan. 23, 2005 on behalf of the applicants of the present application.
  • FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • This invention relates generally to toy vehicle tracksets and particularly to structure utilized in securing track segments and other active portions of the trackset to available surfaces such as table edge or the like.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • Toy vehicle tracksets are well known in the art and have been successfully produced and marketed for many years. Toy vehicle tracksets are fabricated using a variety of systems for propelling the toy vehicles. One of the earliest types of toy vehicle propulsion used on tracksets is powered by a simple gravity arrangement. Basically, gravity-driven toy vehicle tracksets utilize a raised portion of the trackset and inclined track segments extending downwardly therefrom to provide energy to the toy vehicle as it accelerates under the influence of gravity down the ramp.
  • Thus, a substantial number of toy vehicle tracksets have been provided by practitioners in the art which, in various ways, utilize a downwardly inclined or curved track segment upon which toy vehicles are launched and thereafter accelerate under the influence of gravity. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 4,575,350 issued to Hippely, et al. sets forth a TRACK FOR TOY VEHICLES having a track shaped generally to resemble a snake having a snake head at its lower end. The upper end of the toy vehicle track is secured to a convenient raised support such as a chair leg or the like using a removable clamp.
  • U.S. Pat. No. 3,735,923 issued to Brigham, et al. sets forth a LOOPED TRAFFIC ACCESSORY having a flexible track for toy vehicles which utilizes a removable C-clamp for securing the raised portion of a gravity-powered toy vehicle trackset.
  • U.S. Pat. No. Re. 15,900 issued to Hetzner sets forth TOY AMUSEMENT APPARATUS having a toy vehicle trackset supported by a base frame which includes a vertical riser. The vertical riser supports an elevated launch portion of the track and a downwardly inclined ramp.
  • U.S. Pat. No. 3,762,095 issued to Merino, et al. sets forth a TOY HILL-CLIMBING SYSTEM having an elongated flexible track which includes a launcher section together with an upwardly inclined track portion and a roadway portion simulating rough off-road terrain. The roadway portion is elevated to a greater height than the launcher providing an upwardly angled ramp which must be climbed by the toy vehicles.
  • U.S. Pat. No. 3,502,332 issued to Wolf sets forth a RACEWAY WITH OBSTACLES FOR TOY VEHICLES having a plurality of parallel toy vehicle tracks which undulate downwardly from a raised launch portion.
  • U.S. Pat. No. 1,725,536 issued to Marx sets forth an ACROBATIC TOY having a raised launch portion, a downwardly sloping ramp and a stunt loop which is traversed by toy vehicles under gravity power.
  • U.S. Pat. No. 1,703,117 issued to Marx sets forth an ACROBATIC RACING TOY having a pair of toy vehicle tracks arranged in parallel fashion and elevated at one end. The lower end of the toy vehicle tracks is coupled to a spring-loaded stunt device in each lane.
  • U.S. Pat. No. 1,561,633 issued to Bain sets forth a MECHANICAL TOY having a toy vehicle trackset including a raised end and a lower end and a vehicle accelerating loop therebetween.
  • U.S. Pat. No. 1,431,398 issued to Hetzner sets forth a TOY AMUSEMENT APPARATUS having a base frame supporting a toy vehicle track defining a loop and an upwardly extending launch ramp. The upper end of the launch ramp includes a launch station and is supported by a vertical support which in turn is coupled to the base frame.
  • U.S. Pat. No. 4,932,917 issued to Klitsner and U.S. Pat. No. 3,379,440 issued to Jaffe set forth similar products in which a rolling sphere or ball is substituted for the gravity-powered toy vehicles of the above-mentioned prior art tracksets.
  • A substantial number of prior art devices which may be collectively described as “clamps” or “C-clamps” are set forth in the art. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 6,089,556 issued to Whiteford; U.S. Pat. No. 6,296,241 issued to Harrison; U.S. Pat. No. 2,812,789 issued to Hutson; U.S. Pat. No. 870,761 issued to Benson; U.S. Pat. No. 2,368,843 issued to Kees and U.S. Pat. No. 4,627,604 issued to Choi variously set forth different structures which are representative of the clamp structure art.
  • Additional devices have been provided by practitioners in the art to meet various specialized clamping needs. These apparatus may be generally or commonly described as specialized clamping devices which are utilized in a particular and specialized clamp application. Thus, U.S. Pat. No. 4,078,756 issued to Cross; U.S. Pat. No. 2,301,230 issued to Smith; U.S. Pat. No. 972,480 issued to Southwick; U.S. Pat. No. 5,441,225 issued to Hall and U.S. Pat. No. 5,049,104 issued to Olsen are representative of such specialized clamping devices.
  • German published application DE19748130A1 sets forth a WORKPIECE CLAMP WITH ANGLED GUIDE LEG AND LATCHING LEG while French published application FR2789509A1 sets forth a CLAMP FOR ATTACHING PRICE TICKETS TO SHELVES.
  • While the foregoing described prior art devices have to some extent improved the art and have in some instances enjoyed commercial success, there remains nonetheless for a continuing need in the art for evermore improved functional and effective clamping apparatus for securing the gravity launcher of a toy vehicle trackset.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • Accordingly, it is a general object of the present invention to provide an improved toy vehicle trackset. It is a more particular object of the present invention to provide an improved gravity operated toy vehicle launcher.
  • The present invention provides a novel toy vehicle launcher and supporting clamp for use in providing a gravity driven toy vehicle trackset. The novel clamp utilizes a ratcheting attachment member which facilitates the rapid sizing or adjustment for size for attachment to a table edge or the like. The launcher and clamp of the present invention further provides a toy vehicle launcher having a trigger release for gravity driven launch of a toy vehicle down a coupled track segment. The angle of the toy vehicle launcher is adjustable to facilitate changes in launch angle and thereby changes in the amount of energy imparted to the toy vehicle.
  • In accordance with the present invention, there is provided a gravity launcher and clamp for trackset comprising: a launcher station for receiving a to-be-launched toy vehicle defining a launch path; a fixed jaw having a gripping surface; a movable foot aligned with the gripping surface; a frame supporting the fixed jaw; a ratchet mechanism secured to the frame; a threaded adjustment shaft movable within the ratchet mechanism supporting the foot for movement toward or away from the fixed jaw; and a pivot support coupling the frame to the launch station facilitating variation of the launch angle for the launch station.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • The features of the present invention, which are believed to be novel, are set forth with particularity in the appended claims. The invention, together with further objects and advantages thereof, may best be understood by reference to the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in the several figures of which like reference numerals identify like elements and in which:
  • FIG. 1 sets forth a perspective view of a toy vehicle trackset;
  • FIG. 2 sets forth a perspective view of an alternate toy vehicle trackset; and
  • FIG. 3 sets forth a perspective view of a gravity launcher and clamp for use in tracksets such as those shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 to provide a gravity launched entrance to the trackset.
  • DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT OF THE INVENTION
  • By way of overview, the present invention gravity launcher and clamp is utilized in providing a method for inserting a toy vehicle into a toy vehicle trackset. The inventive launcher may be used to provide the insertion of a toy vehicle into a booster-type toy vehicle trackset. Alternatively, the present invention gravity launcher and clamp may be utilized as the sole energy input to the toy vehicle trackset in which the toy vehicle is powered solely by the gravity energy imparted to the toy vehicle using the present invention gravity launcher and clamp. The gravity launcher and clamp of the present invention is conveniently securable to a table edge or the like to provide an elevated position. The launcher couples to a downwardly inclined track segment to allow the toy vehicle once released to travel from the launcher to the entrance ramp of the toy vehicle trackset. A clamp housing supports a ratcheting clamp utilized in securing the clamp to a table edge. A pivotal support is formed on the clamp housing and is coupled to a toy vehicle launch platform. The launch platform includes a releasable trigger which restrains the toy vehicle in an inclined position. The launcher is in turn coupled to the entrance ramp of the toy vehicle trackset. Once the trigger is released, a toy vehicle restrained thereby is allowed to roll downwardly onto the track segment and onto the remainder of the trackset.
  • FIG. 1 sets forth a perspective view of a toy vehicle trackset constructed in accordance with the present invention and generally referenced by numeral 10. Toy vehicle trackset 10 includes a scaffold-type support generally referenced by numeral 11. Support 11 includes a number of base elements such as base 12 which utilize a plurality of support rods such as rod 13. Trackset 10 further includes an intersection 30 supported by scaffold support 11. Intersection 30 includes an outer ring 31 pivotally supported upon support 11 and an inner ring 32. Inner ring 32 is small enough in diameter to fit within the interior of outer ring 31. Inner ring 32 is pivotally secured to outer ring 31. As a result, both outer ring 31 and inner ring 32 are pivotable both with respect to each other and with respect to support 11. Outer ring 32 is coupled to a pair of track portions formed by track loop 22 and track ramp 23. Similarly, inner ring 32 is coupled to one end of track loop 22 and to track segment 21. Because the end portions of track loop 22 are spaced from ramp 23 and track segment 21 respectively, a gap or “jump” is formed across outer ring 31 and inner ring 32. The angle between the jump paths thus formed within intersection 30 is determined by the pivotal positions of outer ring 31 and inner ring 32.
  • Trackset 10 further includes a booster 15 fabricated in accordance with conventional fabrication techniques which accelerates a toy vehicle passing downwardly upon ramp 23. Trackset 10 further includes a flexible multiple apertured panel 16 which in turn is supported by an adjustable support 17. The remainder of trackset 10 is coupled by a track segment 19 coupled to panel 16 and forming a U-shaped portion together with a straight track segment 20. Track segment 20 is coupled to track segment 21.
  • Track segment 21, loop portion 22 and ramp 23 are fabricated to provide a trackway which is highly flexible in use and readily adjustable to a variety of curves, loops and twists. Thus, for example, ramp 23 is formed of a track segment 18 comprising an elongated frame 33 supporting a plurality of guide rail posts such as posts 34 and 35. Posts 34 and 35 are supported along each side of frame 33. A pair of flexible generally rod-like rails such as rails 36 and 37 are secured within posts 34 and 35 as well as the remaining posts along frame 33. The utilization of frame 33 together with supporting posts such as posts 34 and 35 and flexible guide rails such as guide rails 36 and 37 provides a track structure which facilitates bending the resulting track into a variety of curves, loops, twists and the like which are maintained in shape due to the secure attachment of guard rails 36 and 37 on each side of the track frame. In the preferred fabrication of the track segments, the fit and attachment of the guard rails utilizes an extremely tight snap-fit attachment for secure holding of the guard rails. Conversely, the positioning of the guard rails after the track frame has been shaped as desired allows the snapped in guard rails to maintain the curvature or twist or other shaping of the track segment.
  • FIG. 2 sets forth a perspective view of a toy vehicle trackset constructed in accordance with the present invention and generally referenced by numeral 40. Trackset 40 differs from trackset 10 in its utilization in a different arrangement of components and a different combination of components but functions basically the same. Accordingly, trackset 40 includes a loop segment 41 supported by a support structure 42 together with a loop segment 44. Loop segment 44 is coupled between a curved panel 43 having a support 45 and a booster 15. Booster 15 is fabricated in accordance with conventional fabrication techniques and is used to accelerate a toy vehicle passing through the booster stage. An intersection 30 fabricated in the manner described above in FIG. 1 is positioned with an outer ring 31 and an inner ring 32 in a flat or coplanar relationship. Thus, outer ring 31 is coupled to track loop 41 and booster 15 while inner ring 32 is coupled to the remaining end of loop 41 and curved panel 43.
  • Loop portion 41 and loop portion 44 of trackset 40 are fabricated in the above-described manner in which a track frame supports a plurality of posts which in turn are secured to a pair of flexible guide rails. It will be noted by examination of FIGS. 1 and 2 that this track structure provides substantial flexibility and variability in shaping the contours of the trackset.
  • In the horizontal configuration of intersection 30 shown in FIG. 2, the jump portions formed by the respective track segments are generally coplanar and generally horizontal. This allows intersection 30 to provide a more conventional toy vehicle-intersecting jump.
  • FIG. 3 sets forth a perspective view of a launcher and clamp constructed in accordance with the present invention and generally referenced by numeral 210. Launcher and clamp 210 is shown secured to the edge of a conventional table 211. Launcher and clamp 210 includes a frame 212 formed of a rigid material such as molded plastic or the like. Frame 212 includes a fixed jaw 216 positioned upon the upper surface of table 211 and a ratchet assembly 215 secured beneath table 211 and supported by frame 212. Ratchet assembly 215 receives a threaded shaft 213 which in turn supports a foot 214 positioned beneath the lower surface of table 211. Ratchet 215 allows shaft 213 to be quickly moved in a direct sliding movement to place foot 214 against the undersurface of table 211. This avoids the need for extensive rotation of shaft 213 to position foot 214 for clamping attachment. Thereafter, threaded shaft 213 is rotated to assert the required gripping force upon table 211 by fixed jaw 216 and foot 214.
  • Launcher and clamp 210 further includes a launch station 218 having a releasable trigger latch 219 supported thereon. A toy vehicle 220 is received upon launcher station 218 and restrained against gravitational pull by latch 219. A pivot 217 couples launcher station 218 to frame 212 and allows the angle of launcher station 218 to be adjusted as desired. The pivotal movement of launcher station 218 pivots about pivot 217 as indicated by arrows 222. A track segment 221 is coupled to the exit end of launcher station 218. Toy vehicle 220, once released, travels downwardly in a launch path as indicated by arrow 218A.
  • Thus, with launcher station 218 angled at the desired angle, toy vehicle 220 is placed within station 218 and is restrained by latch 219. Once the desired angle of launcher station 218 has been set, the user releases trigger latch 219 and toy vehicle 220 rolls downwardly from launcher station 218 onto track segment 221 under the urging of gravity.
  • What has been shown is a convenient gravity launcher and clamp for use in a toy vehicle trackset. The gravity launcher and clamp shown is conveniently securable to a table edge or other convenient supporting surface. The angle of toy vehicle launch and, as a result, the amount of gravitational force applied to the launched toy vehicle is adjustable as desired.
  • While particular embodiments of the invention have been shown and described, it will be obvious to those skilled in the art that changes and modifications may be made without departing from the invention in its broader aspects. Therefore, the aim in the appended claims is to cover all such changes and modifications as fall within the true spirit and scope of the invention.

Claims (4)

1. A gravity launcher and clamp for trackset comprising:
a launcher station for receiving a to-be-launched toy vehicle defining a launch path;
a fixed jaw having a gripping surface;
a movable foot aligned with said gripping surface;
a frame supporting said fixed jaw;
a ratchet mechanism secured to said frame;
a threaded adjustment shaft movable within said ratchet mechanism supporting said foot for movement toward or away from said fixed jaw; and
a pivot support coupling said frame to said launch station facilitating variation of the launch angle for said launch station.
2. The gravity launcher and clamp set forth in claim 1 wherein said pivot limits pivotal movement to a single axis generally orthogonal to said launch path.
3. The gravity launcher and clamp set forth in claim 2 wherein said pivot includes a pivot lever coupled to said launch station used for said launch angle adjustment.
4. The gravity launcher and clamp set forth in claim 3 wherein said launcher station includes a trigger launch.
US11/041,030 2004-01-23 2005-01-21 Gravity launcher and clamp for trackset Abandoned US20050191938A1 (en)

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US53885604P true 2004-01-23 2004-01-23
US11/041,030 US20050191938A1 (en) 2004-01-23 2005-01-21 Gravity launcher and clamp for trackset

Applications Claiming Priority (1)

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US11/041,030 US20050191938A1 (en) 2004-01-23 2005-01-21 Gravity launcher and clamp for trackset

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Cited By (24)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US20070197127A1 (en) * 2005-11-07 2007-08-23 Eric Ostendorff Toy vehicle trackset
US20080268743A1 (en) * 2007-04-27 2008-10-30 O'connor Stacy Lynn Toy track set and relay segments
US20090075558A1 (en) * 2007-09-14 2009-03-19 Mattel, Inc. Toy vehicle track set
US20090072481A1 (en) * 2007-09-14 2009-03-19 Mattel, Inc. Play set for toy vehicles
US20090130946A1 (en) * 2007-11-13 2009-05-21 Mega Brands International, S.A.R.L., Luxembourg, Zug Branch Self-assembling toy, toy assembler, launcher, and track
US7690964B2 (en) 2006-05-04 2010-04-06 Mattel, Inc. Toy ramp devices
US20100096509A1 (en) * 2008-10-17 2010-04-22 O'connor Stacy Lynn Relay For Toy Track Set
US20100116049A1 (en) * 2008-11-07 2010-05-13 Lockheed Martin Corporation Gravimeter Launch Mechanism
US20100159800A1 (en) * 2007-04-27 2010-06-24 O'connor Stacy Lynn Toy track set and relay segments
US20100273394A1 (en) * 2007-04-27 2010-10-28 O'connor Stacy L Toy track set and relay segments
US20100291833A1 (en) * 2007-04-27 2010-11-18 O'connor Stacy L Toy track set and relay segments
US20100330873A1 (en) * 2008-10-10 2010-12-30 Mccafferty Jim Toy vehicle launcher
US20100330874A1 (en) * 2009-02-21 2010-12-30 Jakks Pacific, Inc. Toy vehicle rotational element for rotating a toy vehicle
US20110003532A1 (en) * 2008-10-10 2011-01-06 Mccafferty Jim Stunt figure for attaching with a mobile toy to allow for performance of a stunt
US20110021110A1 (en) * 2009-07-23 2011-01-27 Keith Hippely Ramp for a toy vehicle
US20110053456A1 (en) * 2007-09-14 2011-03-03 Ostendorff Eric C Toy vehicle track set
US7901266B2 (en) 2006-05-04 2011-03-08 Mattel, Inc. Toy vehicle collision set
US7946903B2 (en) 2006-05-04 2011-05-24 Mattel, Inc. Wheeled toy vehicles and playsets for use therewith
US20110124265A1 (en) * 2007-04-27 2011-05-26 O'connor Stacy Lynn Toy track set and relay segments
US8256721B2 (en) 2007-04-27 2012-09-04 Mattel, Inc. Toy track set and relay segments
US8267738B2 (en) 2010-04-30 2012-09-18 Mattel, Inc. Toy
US9586155B2 (en) 2013-10-03 2017-03-07 Mattel, Inc. Toy vehicle track with multiple toy vehicle launch
US9707490B2 (en) 2014-12-19 2017-07-18 Mattel, Inc. Convertible toy vehicle playset
US10188959B2 (en) 2016-10-18 2019-01-29 Mattel, Inc. Toy track sets

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US7794301B2 (en) 2005-11-07 2010-09-14 Mattel, Inc. Toy vehicle trackset
US20070197127A1 (en) * 2005-11-07 2007-08-23 Eric Ostendorff Toy vehicle trackset
US7690964B2 (en) 2006-05-04 2010-04-06 Mattel, Inc. Toy ramp devices
US7901266B2 (en) 2006-05-04 2011-03-08 Mattel, Inc. Toy vehicle collision set
US8465339B2 (en) 2006-05-04 2013-06-18 Mattel, Inc. Wheeled toy vehicles and playsets for use therewith
US9492759B2 (en) 2006-05-04 2016-11-15 Mattel, Inc. Wheeled toy vehicles and playsets for use therewith
US7946903B2 (en) 2006-05-04 2011-05-24 Mattel, Inc. Wheeled toy vehicles and playsets for use therewith
GB2462747A (en) * 2007-04-27 2010-02-24 Mattel Inc Toy track set and relay segments
US8801492B2 (en) 2007-04-27 2014-08-12 Mattel, Inc. Toy track set and relay segments
US8747180B2 (en) 2007-04-27 2014-06-10 Mattel, Inc. Toy track set and relay segments
US8690632B2 (en) 2007-04-27 2014-04-08 Mattel, Inc. Toy track set and relay segments
US9504926B2 (en) 2007-04-27 2016-11-29 Mattel, Inc. Toy track set and relay segments
WO2008134663A1 (en) * 2007-04-27 2008-11-06 Mattel, Inc. Toy track set and relay segments
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