US20060009116A1 - Self-propelled figure - Google Patents

Self-propelled figure Download PDF

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Publication number
US20060009116A1
US20060009116A1 US11034210 US3421005A US2006009116A1 US 20060009116 A1 US20060009116 A1 US 20060009116A1 US 11034210 US11034210 US 11034210 US 3421005 A US3421005 A US 3421005A US 2006009116 A1 US2006009116 A1 US 2006009116A1
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Patent type
Prior art keywords
appendage
toy
torso
embodiment
drive
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
US11034210
Inventor
Rudolph Vap
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Vap Creative Ltd
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Vap Creative Ltd
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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63HTOYS, e.g. TOPS, DOLLS, HOOPS, BUILDING BLOCKS
    • A63H23/00Toy boats; Floating toys; Other aquatic toy devices
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63HTOYS, e.g. TOPS, DOLLS, HOOPS, BUILDING BLOCKS
    • A63H29/00Drive mechanisms for toys in general
    • A63H29/02Clockwork mechanisms
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63HTOYS, e.g. TOPS, DOLLS, HOOPS, BUILDING BLOCKS
    • A63H29/00Drive mechanisms for toys in general
    • A63H29/22Electric drives

Abstract

A figure includes a torso, an appendage coupled to the torso and a drive configured to move the appendage with respect to the torso. The figure is configured to be propelled through a liquid. In one embodiment, the figure also includes an activation mechanism configured to activate the drive when the figure is at least partially disposed in a liquid such as water.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCES TO OTHER APPLICATIONS
  • [0001]
    This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/167,410, entitled “Self-Propelled Figure,” filed Jun. 13, 2002, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0002]
    This invention relates generally to a self-propelled toy figure, and in particular, to a water toy, such as, a fish or a sea turtle, that can traverse through a liquid, such as water.
  • [0003]
    Children generally enjoy toys that simulate animals. Children also generally enjoy toys that can be used in aqueous environments, such as pools or lakes. Thus, water toys that simulate animals have been developed.
  • [0004]
    Some conventional water toys that simulate animals include moving appendages that propel the toy through liquids. For example, some conventional water toys simulate fish and include moving tails that propel the fish though water. However, the appendages of these conventional water toys, do not have life-like motions.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0005]
    A toy figure includes a torso, an appendage coupled to the torso, and a drive. The toy figure is configured to be placed in a liquid, such as water. The drive is configured to produce a force sufficient to move the appendage with respect to the torso. The appendage is configured to flex while the appendage is moving with respect to the torso. The relative motion and the flex of the appendage effectively propel the toy figure through the liquid and provide the appendage with life-like movements. In one embodiment, the figure includes an activation mechanism configured to activate the drive when the figure is at least partially disposed in a liquid such as water.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0006]
    FIG. 1 is a schematic top view of a toy having a torso and a movable appendage according to an embodiment of the invention.
  • [0007]
    FIG. 2 is a schematic top view of the toy of FIG. 1 disposed in a liquid with the appendage in a rest position.
  • [0008]
    FIG. 3-7 are schematic top views of the toy of FIG. 1 disposed in a liquid with the appendage moving.
  • [0009]
    FIG. 8 is a side view of a toy reef fish according to an embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0010]
    FIG. 9 is an exploded view of the toy reef fish of FIG. 8.
  • [0011]
    FIG. 10 is a cut-away side view of the toy reef fish of FIG. 8.
  • [0012]
    FIG. 11 is a front view of the tail of the toy reef fish of FIG. 8.
  • [0013]
    FIG. 12 is a top view of the tail of the toy reef fish of FIG. 8.
  • [0014]
    FIG. 13 is a side view of a toy koi fish according to an embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0015]
    FIG. 14 is a perspective view of a toy turtle according to an embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0016]
    FIG. 15 is a cut-away top view of the toy turtle of FIG. 14.
  • [0017]
    FIG. 16 is a side view of an axle of the toy turtle of FIG. 14.
  • [0018]
    FIG. 17 is a schematic view of a toy figure having a torso and a movable appendage according to an embodiment of the invention.
  • [0019]
    FIG. 18 is a side view of a toy figure according to an embodiment of the invention.
  • [0020]
    FIG. 19 is a schematic view of the actuation mechanism of the toy figure of FIG. 18.
  • [0021]
    FIGS. 20 and 21 are schematic views of actuation mechanisms according to embodiments of the invention.
  • [0022]
    FIGS. 22 and 23 are partial breakaway views of a toy figure according to an embodiment of the invention.
  • [0023]
    FIG. 24 is a partial breakaway view of a toy figure according to an embodiment of the invention.
  • [0024]
    FIG. 25 is a partial breakaway view of a toy figure according to an embodiment of the invention.
  • [0025]
    FIG. 26 is a cross-sectional view of the toy figure of FIG. 25 taken along line 26-26 of FIG. 25.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • [0026]
    A toy figure includes a torso, an appendage coupled to the torso, and a drive. The toy figure is configured to be placed in a liquid, such as water. The drive is configured to produce a force sufficient to move the appendage with respect to the torso. The appendage is configured to flex while the appendage is moving with respect to the torso. The relative motion and the flex of the appendage effectively propel the toy figure through the liquid and provide the appendage with life-like movements.
  • [0027]
    As illustrated schematically in FIG. 1, the toy FIG. 100 includes a torso 120, an appendage 160 coupled to the torso 120, and a drive 140 that is coupled to torso 120. A link 124, such as a drive shaft, operatively couples the drive 140 to the appendage 160. Drive 140 generates a force that is sufficient to move the appendage 160 with respect to the torso 120. The relative motion can be any type of relative motion, such as reciprocating pivotal motion or reciprocating linear motion. The appendage 160 includes a rigid portion 162 and a flexible portion 164.
  • [0028]
    The toy FIG. 100 can be configured to be placed in a liquid. The drive 140 is configured to move the appendage 160 with respect to the torso 120 when the toy figure is placed in the liquid. When the appendage 160 moves with respect to the torso 120, the flexible portion 164 of the appendage flexes or bends in a direction opposite to that of the movement of the appendage during at least a portion of the range of motion of the appendage. The motion of the appendage 160 with respect to the torso 120 and the flexing of the flexible portion 164 effectively propel the toy FIG. 100 through the liquid and give the toy FIG. 100 the appearance of realistic-looking motion.
  • [0029]
    FIG. 2 illustrates the toy FIG. 100 in a rest position. In this position, the appendage 160 is not moving with respect to the torso 120. FIGS. 3-7 illustrate the toy FIG. 100 disposed in a liquid at different stages of the relative movement between the torso 120 and the appendage 160. In this embodiment, the relative motion is a reciprocating pivotal motion with the appendage 160 pivoting about an axis 126 that is located at the rear of the torso. FIG. 3 shows the toy FIG. 100 in a first stage of the relative motion. In the first stage, the appendage 160 is pivoting in a first direction A with respect to the torso 120. As the appendage 160 pivots in the first direction A, both the flexible portion 164 and the rigid portion 162 of the appendage move in direction A. The flexibility of the appendage 160 and the resistance of the liquid, however, cause the flexible portion 164 of the appendage 160 to flex or bend in a direction opposite to that of the movement of the appendage.
  • [0030]
    FIG. 4 shows the toy FIG. 100 in a second stage of the relative motion between the torso 120 and the appendage 160. In the second stage, the appendage 160 has reversed its direction and is pivoting in a second direction B with respect to the torso 120. The rigid portion 162 of the appendage 160 has also reversed its direction and is moving in the second direction B. The flexible portion 164 of the appendage 160, however, is still moving in the first direction A. In this second stage, the flexible portion 164 of the appendage 160 is flexing or bending in the same direction as that of the motion of at least a portion of the appendage. FIG. 5 shows the toy FIG. 100 in a third stage of the relative motion. In the third stage, the appendage 160 is still pivoting in the second direction B. The rigid portion 162 of the appendage 160 is also still moving in the second direction B. The flexible portion 164 of the appendage 160, however, has changed its direction and is moving in the second direction B. The flexible portion 164 of the appendage 160 is also flexing or bending in an direction opposite to that of the movement of the appendage.
  • [0031]
    FIG. 6 shows the toy FIG. 100 in a fourth stage of the relative motion between the torso 120 and the appendage 160. In the fourth stage, the appendage 160 has changed its direction and is again pivoting in the first direction A. The rigid portion 162 of the appendage 160 has also changed its direction and is again moving in the first direction A. The flexible portion 164 of the appendage 160, however, is still moving in the second direction B. In this fourth stage, the flexible portion 164 of the appendage 160 is flexing or bending in the same direction as that of the motion of at least a portion of the appendage. FIG. 7 shows the toy figure in a fifth stage of relative motion between the torso 120 and the appendage 160. In the fifth stage, the appendage is still pivoting in the first direction A. The rigid portion 162 is also still moving in the first direction A . The flexible portion 164 of the appendage 160, however, has changed its direction and is again moving in the first direction A. The flexible portion 164 of the appendage 160 is also flexing or bending in an direction opposite to that of the movement of the appendage.
  • [0032]
    Because the flexible portion 164 of the appendage 160 flexes and bends as the appendage 160 moves with respect to the torso 120, the movement of the flexible portion constantly lags the motion of the rigid portion 162 of the appendage. Thus, when the appendage 160 moves with respect to the torso 120 the appendage moves in a wave-like, whipping motion.
  • [0033]
    FIGS. 3-7 show the relative movement between the appendage 160 and the torso 120 as a pivotal motion rotating about the axis 126 that is located at the rear of the torso, it is not necessary that that the axis be located at a rear portion of the torso. In alternative embodiment, the axis of rotation is located at a front portion of the torso. In a further embodiment, the axis of rotation is located at a side portion of the torso.
  • [0034]
    In another embodiment, the appendage of the toy figure is configured such that the appendage flexes or bends in more than one direction when the appendage moves with respect to the torso. For example, the appendage may flex or bend in an “S” shape when the appendage moves with respect to the torso.
  • [0035]
    In another embodiment, the appendage does not include a rigid portion, rather the entire appendage is flexible.
  • [0036]
    An implementation of the invention described and illustrated schematically above is illustrated in FIGS. 8-12. In this embodiment, a toy reef fish 200 includes a torso 220 that simulates a fish torso and an appendage 260 that simulates a fish tail. The torso 220 of the toy reef fish 200 includes a surface that defines an enclosure or a cavity 222. As best viewed in FIG. 9, the cavity is the space located between the two molded halves 220 a and 220 b of the torso 220. In this embodiment, the molded halves 220 a and 220 b of the torso are made of acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene plastic. In other embodiments, the molded halves of the torso are made of any other type of material that will retain the shape and configuration of the torso, such any other type of plastic.
  • [0037]
    The appendage 260 is disposed outside of the cavity 222 and is coupled to the torso 220 for relative pivotal movement between the appendage and the torso. In the illustrated embodiment, the appendage 260 includes a first opening 266 located on the top portion of the appendage (see FIGS. 9 and 12) and a second opening (not shown) that is located on the bottom portion of the appendage. Projections (not shown) that are coupled to the torso 220 engage with the openings 266 to pivotally couple the appendage 260 to the torso 220. In alternative embodiments other coupling mechanisms, such as brads, rivets, etc., are used to pivotally couple the appendage to the torso.
  • [0038]
    The toy reef fish 200 also includes a drive 240, which is housed within the cavity 222. The drive 240 is coupled to the torso 220 and to the appendage 260 of the toy reef fish 200. The drive 240 is configured to pivot the appendage 260 with respect to the torso 220 and thereby propel the toy reef fish though a liquid, such as water.
  • [0039]
    In the illustrated embodiment, the drive includes a power source 242 and a motor 244. The power source 242 can be a power source, such as a battery. The power source 242 is operatively coupled to the motor 244 to provide power to the motor. As illustrated in FIGS. 9 and 10, the drive 240 also includes a set of gears 246, 248, 250, and 252, a shaft 254, and a crank 256. The motor 244 is operatively coupled to the set of gears 246, 248, 250, and 252, the shaft 254, and the crank 256. When the motor 244 is activated, the motor operates to rotate these items.
  • [0040]
    Although the drive 240 is illustrated as being a battery powered motor, the drive need not be such a mechanism. In an alternative embodiment, the drive is a wind-up type motor, a spring biased gear rack, or any other mechanism that will produce a force sufficient to move the appendage 260 of the toy reef fish 200 with respect to the torso 220 of the toy reef fish. Additionally, although the drive 240 is illustrated as including several gears 246, 248, 250, and 252, any number of gears may be used in the drive.
  • [0041]
    The crank 256 includes a projection 258 that is offset from the center of the crank. Thus, when the crank 256 rotates, the projection 258 moves in a circular path. The projection 258 extends from the cavity 222 and engages a vertical slot 268 located on the front side of the appendage 260. In the illustrated embodiment, the height H of the slot 268 is greater than the diameter of the circle defined by the movement of the projection 258. The width W of the slot 268 is less than the diameter of the circle defined by the movement of the projection 258. Thus, as the projection 258 moves in its circular path, the projection will not contact the upper portion 270 or the lower portion 272 of the slot 268. The projection 258 will, however, contact the side portions 274 and 276 of the slot 268 as the projection moves in its circular path. The contact between the projection 258 and the side portions 274 and 276 of the slot 268 force the appendage 260 to move in a reciprocating pivotal motion with respect to the torso 220.
  • [0042]
    Similar to the above-described embodiments, the appendage 260 includes a rigid portion 262 and a flexible portion 264. The flexible portion 264 is configured to bend or flex when the toy reef fish 200 is placed in a liquid and the appendage 260 pivots with respect to the torso 220. Thus, the appendage 260 has substantially the same wave-like whipping motion that is described above and illustrated in FIGS. 3-7. In this embodiment, the pivoting motion combined with the bending and flexing of the flexible portion 264 of the appendage 260 provides the appendage with life-like fish tail movements.
  • [0043]
    The rigid portion 262 of the appendage 260 is located proximate to a front end 282 of the appendage. The flexible portion 264 of the appendage is located proximate to a rear end 284 of the appendage. In the illustrated embodiment, the appendage 260 has a tapered cross-section with the front end 282 of the appendage 260 being thicker than the rear end 284 of the appendage. In this embodiment, the appendage is made of a single type of flexible material, and the thickness of the material determines whether the particular portion of the appendage is rigid or flexible. The flexible material is rigid enough to retain the shape and form of the appendage, yet is flexible enough to bend and flex when the appendage 260 moves with respect to the torso 220.
  • [0044]
    The particular material from which the appendage is made can be selected so that the appendage maintains a life-life motion similar to that described above in FIGS. 3-7. More specifically, the particular material selected for the appendage depends on, at least in part, the specific shape of the appendage and the size of the self-propelled figure. For example, a thicker width appendage is made from a more flexible material than the material used to make a thinner width appendage. Similarly, a larger self-propelled figure will typically have an appendage with a less flexible material than the material used to make an appendage for a smaller self-propelled figure. In sum, an appendage for any given type of self-propelled figure can be made from a material having a shore A durometer hardness, for example, between substantially 10 and 70. For example, in one embodiment, the appendage of the toy reef fish 200 shown in FIGS. 8-12 is made of a polyvinyl chloride with a shore A durometer hardness in the range of 50 to 60. In another embodiment, the appendage is made of a polyvinyl chloride with a shore A durometer hardness of 50.
  • [0045]
    In an alternative embodiment, the appendage does not have a tapered cross-section, and the rigid portion and the flexible portion of the appendage are made of different types of materials. The particular hardness of those different types of materials can be selected from shore A durometer hardness in the range of 10 to 70.
  • [0046]
    In the illustrated embodiment, the toy reef fish 200 is configured to be substantially neutrally buoyant. Thus, when the toy reef fish 200 is placed in water, the toy reef fish remains near the surface of the water but vacillates between being entirely submerged in the water and being only partially submerged in the water. In another embodiment, the toy reef fish is configured to be substantially negatively buoyant so that the fish sinks when the it is placed in water. In a further embodiment, the toy reef fish is configured to be substantially positively buoyant so that the fish floats when it is placed in water.
  • [0047]
    In the illustrated embodiment, the toy reef fish 200 also includes a top fin 290, a bottom fin 292, and side fins 294 (only one shown). In one embodiment, the fins 290, 292, and 294 are made of a polyvinyl chloride with a shore A durometer hardness of 50. In an another embodiment, the fins 290, 292, 294, and 296 are made of a polyvinyl chloride with a shore A durometer hardness in the range of 50 to 60. In alternative embodiments, the toy reef fish includes any combination of the fins. For example, in one embodiment the toy reef fish includes only a top fin. In another embodiment, the toy reef fish includes a top fin and a bottom fin.
  • [0048]
    FIG. 13 illustrates a second implementation of the present invention. In this embodiment, a toy koi fish 300 includes a torso 320 that simulates the torso of a koi fish and an appendage 360 that simulates a tail of a koi fish. The toy koi fish also includes a drive (not shown) that is coupled to the torso 320 and to the appendage 360. The torso 320, the appendage 360, and the drive can be structurally and functionally equivalent to the torso, appendage, and drive described in toy reef fish embodiment.
  • [0049]
    The toy koi fish 300 can function in a manner that is substantially similar to the manner in which the toy reef fish functions. The drive is configured to produce reciprocating pivotal motion between the appendage 360 and the torso 320. When the toy koi fish 300 is placed in a liquid, such as water, and the appendage 360 pivots with respect to the torso 320 a flexible portion 364 of the appendage 360 flexes and bends to produce a wave-like whipping motion substantially similar to the wave-like whipping motion described in the above embodiments. The pivotal motion and the whipping motion effectively propel the toy koi fish 300 through the water and provide the appendage 360 with life-like fish tail movements.
  • [0050]
    Similar to the toy reef fish embodiment, the toy koi fish 300 can be configured to be substantially neutrally buoyant. Thus, when the toy koi fish 300 is placed in water, the toy koi fish remains near the surface of the water but vacillates between being entirely submerged in the water and being only partially submerged in the water. In another embodiment, the toy koi fish is configured to be negatively buoyant so that the toy koi fish sinks when the toy koi fish is placed in water. In a further embodiment, the toy koi fish is configured to be positively buoyant so that the toy koi fish floats when the toy koi fish is placed in water.
  • [0051]
    Although in the illustrated embodiment, the toy koi fish 300 includes a top fin 371, small bottom fins 373 (only one shown), large bottom fins 375 (only one shown), and whiskers 377 (only one shown), it is not necessary that the toy koi fish include these items. In this embodiment, the top fin 371, the small bottom fins 373, the large bottom fins 375, and the whiskers 377 are made of a flexible material, such as a polyvinyl chloride with a shore A durometer hardness in the range of 50 to 60. Alternatively, the fins and the whiskers are made of a rigid material, such as plastic.
  • [0052]
    FIGS. 14-16 illustrate a third implementation of the present invention. In this embodiment, a toy turtle 400 includes a torso 420 that is configured to simulate a body of a turtle, arm appendages 510 and 520 that are configured to simulate arms of a turtle, leg appendages 530 and 540 that are configured to simulate legs of a turtle, and a head appendage 550 that is configured to simulate a head of a turtle. The torso 420 of the toy turtle 400 includes a front portion 427, a rear portion 425, and side portions 421 and 423. The outer surface of the torso 420 defines an enclosure or cavity 422.
  • [0053]
    The arm appendages 510 and 520, the leg appendages 530 and 540, and the head appendage 550 are disposed outside of the enclosure or cavity 422 and are pivotally coupled to the torso 420. In the illustrated embodiment, the arm appendages 510 and 520 are coupled to a front axle 512 that extends though the torso 420 and is pivotally coupled to the torso. Similarly, the leg appendages 530 and 540 are coupled to a rear axle 532 that extends through the torso 420 and is pivotally coupled to the torso. In the illustrated embodiment ends of each of the axles 512 and 532 are disposed within a portion of the appendages 510, 520, 530, and 540 to couple the appendages to the axles. In another embodiment another mechanism, such as an adhesive, is used to couple the appendages to the respective axles.
  • [0054]
    The torso includes projections 552 and 554 that communicate with the openings on the side of the head appendage 550 to pivotally couple the head appendage to the torso 420. In another embodiment, another method is used to pivotally couple the head appendage to the torso of the turtle.
  • [0055]
    The toy turtle 400 also includes a drive 440 that includes a power source 442, a motor (not shown), a shaft 454, and a crank 456. The drive 440 is structurally and functionally equivalent to the drive described in the toy reef fish embodiment. However, in an alternative embodiment the drive is a wind-up type motor, a spring biased gear rack, or any other type of mechanism that would produce forces sufficient to move the appendages with respect to the torso.
  • [0056]
    Similar to the above-described embodiments, the crank 456 includes a projection 458 that is offset from the center of the crank. Thus, when the crank 456 is rotated by the motor, the projection moves in a circular path. As best viewed in FIGS. 15 and 16, the projection 458 communicates with a slot 468 located on axle 512. The length L of the slot 468 is greater than the diameter of the circle defined by the movement of the projection 458. The height H of the slot 468 is less than the diameter of the circle defined by the movement of the projection 458. Thus, as the crank 456 rotates and the projection 458 moves in its circular path, the projection 458 contacts the upper side portion 467 and the lower side portion 469 of the slot 468. The contact between the projection 458 and the side portions 467 and 469 force the axle 512 to move in a reciprocating pivotal motion with respect to the torso 420.
  • [0057]
    Axle 512 is coupled to the head appendage 550 via a linkage 556 and to axle 532 via a linkage 560. Thus, as axle 512 is pivoted, the head appendage 550 is also pivoted with respect to the torso 420 about an axis of rotation defined by the projections 552 and 554. Similarly, as axle 512 pivots with respect to the torso 420, axle 532 also pivots with respect to the torso.
  • [0058]
    As the axles 512 and 532 pivot with respect to the torso 420, the arm and leg appendages 510, 520, 530, and 540 also pivot with respect to the torso. Similar to the above described embodiments, the arm appendages 510 and 520 and the leg appendages 530 and 540 include flexible portions 518, 528, 538, and 548. The flexible portions 518, 528, 538, and 548 flex and bend when the toy turtle 400 is placed in a liquid, such as, water and the appendages 510, 520, 530, 540, respectively, pivot with respect to the torso 420 to produce the substantially the same wave-like whipping motion that is described above and illustrated in FIGS. 3-7. The pivoting motion and the flexing of the flexible portions 518, 528, 538, and 548 of the appendages 510, 520, 530, and 540, respectively, propel the toy turtle 400 through the liquid and provide the appendages with life-like turtle arm and leg movements.
  • [0059]
    The flexible portion 518, 528, 538, and 548 of the appendages 510, 520, 530, and 540, respectively, can be made of any type of flexible material. In the illustrated embodiment the appendages 510, 520, 530, and 540 are made of a polyvinyl chloride with a shore B durometer hardness in the range of 40 to 50.
  • [0060]
    In this embodiment, the head appendage 550 of the toy turtle 400 is made of a rigid material, such as a molded polyvinyl chloride. In another embodiment, the head appendage is made of a flexible material, such as a polyvinyl chloride with a shore A durometer hardness of 40 to 50.
  • [0061]
    In the illustrated embodiment, toy turtle 400 is configured to float when the it is placed in water. In another embodiment, the toy turtle is substantially neutrally buoyant. In another embodiment, the toy turtle is configured to sink when placed in water. In a further embodiment, the toy turtle is configured to be suspended at a range of depths when the toy turtle is placed in water.
  • [0062]
    FIGS. 17 is a schematic illustration of a toy FIG. 700 according to another embodiment of the invention. The toy FIG. 700 includes a torso 720, an appendage 760 coupled to the torso 720, and a drive 740 coupled to torso 720. A link 724, such as a drive shaft, operatively couples the drive 740 to the appendage 760. The drive 740 produces a force that is sufficient to move the appendage 760 with respect to the torso 720. The relative motion can be any type of relative motion, such as reciprocating pivotal motion or reciprocating linear motion.
  • [0063]
    The toy FIG. 700 also includes an actuation mechanism 770 configured to activate the drive 740. Accordingly, when the actuation mechanism 770 activates the drive 740, the drive 740 causes the appendage 760 to move with respect to the torso 720. The actuation mechanism 770 may be configured activate the drive 740 in response to different actions or conditions. For example, in one embodiment, the actuation mechanism is configured to activate the drive when the torso is placed or at least partially disposed within a liquid such as water. In another embodiment, the actuation mechanism is configured to activate the drive when the torso is placed or otherwise disposed in a particular orientation, such as an upright orientation.
  • [0064]
    FIGS. 18 and 19 illustrate a toy FIG. 800 according to another embodiment of the invention. The toy FIG. 800 includes a torso 820, an appendage 860 coupled to the torso 820, and a drive 840 that is coupled to torso 820. The drive 840 is configured to produce a force that is sufficient to move the appendage 860 with respect to the torso 820. Specifically, in the illustrated embodiment, the relative motion is a reciprocating pivotal motion.
  • [0065]
    As best illustrated in FIG. 19, the toy FIG. 800 also includes an actuation mechanism 870 configured to activate the drive 840. Accordingly, when the actuation mechanism 870 activates the drive 840, the drive 840 causes the appendage 860 to move with respect to the torso 820. In the illustrated embodiment, the actuation mechanism 870 is configured to activate the drive 840 when the toy 800 is at least partially disposed within a liquid, including an ionic liquid, such as water.
  • [0066]
    In the illustrated embodiment, the drive 840 and the actuation mechanism 870 are disposed within a cavity defined by the torso 820. The actuation mechanism includes an electrical circuit 871 that is operatively coupled to a power source 842, such as a battery, and the drive 840. The electrical circuit includes a first contact 872, a second contact 873, a first transistor 874, a second transistor 875, and a third transistor 876. Each of the components of the electrical circuit 871, including the first and second contacts 872 and 873 and the three transistors 874, 875, and 876 are operatively coupled together.
  • [0067]
    The electrical circuit 871 is activated when the first and second contacts 872 and 873 are bridged, for example by water, or otherwise electrically coupled. In other words, current passes through the electrical circuit 871 to activate the drive 840 when the first and second contacts 872 and 873 are bridged. In one embodiment, the transistors 874, 875, and 876 act as amplifiers to increase the amount of current that passes through the electrical circuit 871. Specifically, in one embodiment, the first transistor 874 activates when it detects or determines that current is passing through the contacts 872 and 873. The first transistor 874 also amplifies the signal, which activates the second transistor 875. The second transistor 875 amplifies the signal such that the third transistor 876 is activated to allow current to activate the drive 840.
  • [0068]
    Accordingly, in the illustrated embodiment, when the first and second contacts 872 and 873 are disposed in a liquid, the first and second contacts 872 and 873 are bridged, current passes through the electrical circuit 871, and the drive 840 is activated to cause the appendage 860 to move with respect to the torso 820.
  • [0069]
    Additionally, the electrical circuit 871 of the toy FIG. 800 includes several resistors 895 and a capacitor 897. The resistors 895 are bias resistors and are configured to set the amount of gain for the transistors 874, 875, and 876. The capacitor 897 is a filtering capacitor and is configured to reduce noise in the electrical circuit 871.
  • [0070]
    In an another embodiment, the three transistors are configured to divert current from the drive when the contacts are not bridged. Once the contacts are bridged or otherwise electrically coupled, the transistors are configured to direct current to the drive. Accordingly, when the contacts are bridged, the drive is is activated to cause the appendage to move with respect to the torso.
  • [0071]
    In such an embodiment, the electrical circuit has a low current portion and a high current portion. The low current portion is configured to detect small amounts of current. Accordingly, the low current portion is configured to determine when the contacts are bridged or otherwise electrically coupled. The high current portion of the electrical circuit is configured to direct a relatively large amount of current to the drive. Accordingly, once the low current portion determines that the contacts have been bridged, the high current portion directs a large amount of current to the drive.
  • [0072]
    Specifically, in such an embodiment, the first transistor and the second transistor are more sensitive than the third transistor. The first transistor and the second transistor are configured to detect small amounts of current. Thus, the first transistor and the second transistor are configured to determine when the contacts are bridged or otherwise electrically coupled. The third transistor is configured to direct a relatively large amount of current to the drive to activate the drive when the first transistor and the second transistor determine that the contacts are bridged.
  • [0073]
    In the illustrated embodiment, the contacts 872 and 873 extend from the interior of the torso 820 to the exterior of the torso 820 and are configured to be bridged or otherwise operatively coupled together when the contacts are disposed in water. Although the contacts 872 and 873 are illustrated as extending from a side of the torso 820, in other embodiments, the contacts are disposed at another location that is accessible to water when the torso 820 is disposed in water. Such locations can include, for example, the appendage and within the cavity defined by the torso.
  • [0074]
    FIG. 20 is a schematic illustration of an actuation mechanism 970 according to another embodiment of the invention. The actuation mechanism 970 includes an electrical circuit 971 that is operatively coupled to a power source 942, such as a battery, and the drive 940. The electrical circuit 971 includes a first contact 972, a second contact 973, a first transistor 974, and a second transistor 975. Each of the components of the electrical circuit 971, including the first and second contacts 972 and 973 and the first and second transistors 974 and 975, are operatively coupled together.
  • [0075]
    The first and second transistors 974 and 975 are configured to divert current from the drive 940 when the contacts 972 and 973 are not bridged. Once the contacts 972 and 973 are bridged or otherwise electrically coupled, the first and second transistors 974 and 975 are configured to direct current to the drive 940. Accordingly, the drive is 940 is activated to cause the appendage 960 to move with respect to the torso 920.
  • [0076]
    FIG. 21 is a schematic illustration of an actuation mechanism 1070 according to another embodiment of the invention. The actuation mechanism 1070 includes an electrical circuit 1071 that is operatively coupled to a power source 1042, such as a battery. The electrical circuit 1071 includes a first contact 1072, a second contact 1073, a first transistor 1074, a second transistor 1075, and a relay switch 1079. Each of the components of the electrical circuit 1071, including the first and second contacts 1072 and 1073, the first and second transistors 1074 and 1075, and the relay switch 1079 are operatively coupled together.
  • [0077]
    The relay switch 1079 includes a coil 1081 and a mechanical switch 1083. The mechanical switch 1083 is operatively coupled between the drive 1040 and the power source 1042. Accordingly, when the mechanical switch 1083 is in an “on” position, current is provided to the drive 1040 to activate the drive 1040. Conversely, when the mechanical switch 1083 is in an “off” position, current is not supplied to the drive 1040 and the drive is 1040 is not active or is deactivated.
  • [0078]
    The coil 1081 and the mechanical switch 1083 are positioned such that when current passes through the coil 1081, the coil 1081 becomes magnetized and causes the mechanical switch 1083 to be moved from its “off” position to its “on” position. Additionally, the first and second transistors 1074 and 1075 are configured to divert current from the coil 1081 of the relay switch 1079 when the contacts 1072 and 1073 are not bridged. Once the contacts 1072 and 1073 are bridged or otherwise electrically coupled, the first and second transistors 1074 and 1075 are configured to direct current to the coil 1081 of the relay switch 1079. Accordingly, when the contacts 1072 and 1073 are bridged, current is supplied to the coil 1081 to magnetize the coil 1081 and the mechanical switch is moved via a magnetic force, from its “off” position to its “on” position to activate the drive 1040.
  • [0079]
    In the illustrated embodiment, the mechanical switch is biased into its “off” position. In other words, the mechanical switch 1083 will stay in its “on” position for as long as a sufficient amount of current is passing through the coil 1081. Specifically, once the contacts 1072 and 1073 cease to be bridged, the transistors 1074 and 1075 will divert the current from the coil 1081 and the mechanical switch 1083 will return to its “off” position to deactivate, or otherwise turn off, the drive 1040.
  • [0080]
    In another embodiment, the mechanical switch is not biased into either its “on” position or its “off” position. In such an embodiment, once the mechanical switch is moved to its “on” position, another force, such as another magnetic force or another mechanical force, must act on the mechanical switch to return the mechanical switch to its “off” position. Thus, once a sufficient amount of current has passed through the coil to move the mechanical switch to its “on” position, it is not necessary for current to continue to pass through the coil to retain the mechanical switch in its “on” position.
  • [0081]
    FIGS. 22 and 23 each illustrate a partial breakaway side view of another toy FIG. 1100 according to another embodiment of the invention. The toy FIG. 1100 includes a torso 1120, an appendage 1160 coupled to the torso 1120, and a drive (not illustrated) that is coupled to torso 1120. The drive is configured to produce a force that is sufficient to move the appendage 1160 with respect to the torso 1120. Specifically, in the illustrated embodiment, the relative motion is a reciprocating pivotal motion.
  • [0082]
    The toy FIG. 1100 also includes an actuation mechanism 1170 that is operatively coupled to a power source (not illustrated), such as a battery, and the drive. In one embodiment, the actuation mechanism 1170 is disposed within a cavity 1121 defined by the torso 1120 of the toy FIG. 1100. The actuation mechanism 1170 includes a transmitter 1177, a receiver 1178, and an interrupter 1179. The transmitter 1177 is configured to transmit a signal S, such as an infra-red signal. The receiver 1178 is configured to receive the signal S transmitted by the transmitter 1178.
  • [0083]
    The interrupter 1179 is configured to move from a first position to a second position. As illustrated in FIG. 22, when the interrupter 1179 is in its first position, the interrupter 1179 is positioned such that the receiver 1178 receives the signal S transmitted by the transmitter 1177. As illustrated in FIG. 23, when the interrupter 1179 is in its second position, the interrupter 1179 is positioned between the transmitter 1177 and the receiver 1178 such that the receiver does not receive the signal S transmitted by the transmitter 1177.
  • [0084]
    In the illustrated embodiment, water is configured to enter at least a portion of the cavity 1121 defined by the torso 1120 when the toy FIG. 1100 is at least partially dispose in water. Accordingly, the interrupter 1179 is configured to float when disposed in a liquid such as water. Thus, when the toy FIG. 1100 is disposed outside of a liquid, the interrupter 1179 is configured to be disposed in its lower or first position. When the toy
  • [0085]
    FIG. 1100 is disposed in a liquid such as water, the interrupter 1179 floats to its upper or second position.
  • [0086]
    The actuation mechanism is configured to divert current from the drive when the receiver 1178 receives the signal S transmitted by the transmitter 1177. Once the signal S is not received, or is interrupted or otherwise modified by the interrupter 1179, the actuation mechanism 1170 is configured to direct current to the drive. Accordingly, the drive is activated to cause the appendage 1160 to move with respect to the torso 1120 when the toy FIG. 1100 is disposed in a liquid such as water and the interrupter 1179 is disposed in its upper or second position.
  • [0087]
    In another embodiment, the actuation mechanism is configured to divert current from the drive when the signal is not received, or is interrupted by the interrupter.
  • [0088]
    In the illustrated embodiment, the actuation mechanism includes a guide member 1191 that is configured to help guide the interrupter 1179 from its first position to its second position. Specifically, in the illustrated embodiment, the guide member 1191 is an elongate member. The interrupter 1179 is slideably coupled to the guide member 1191 such that the interrupter 1179 may slide from its first position to its second position. In other embodiments, the actuation mechanism does not include a guide member.
  • [0089]
    In the illustrated embodiment, the guide member 1191 is offset from the path of the signal S that is transmitted by the transmitter 1177. In other words, the signal S may be transmitted by the transmitter 1177, pass by the guide member 1191, and be received by the receiver 1178 without modification when the interrupter 1179 is disposed in its lower position.
  • [0090]
    FIG. 24 illustrates a toy FIG. 1200 according to another embodiment of the invention. The toy FIG. 1200 includes a torso 1220, an appendage 1260 coupled to the torso 1220, and a drive (not illustrated) that is coupled to torso 1220. The drive is configured to produce a force that is sufficient to move the appendage 1260 with respect to the torso 1220. Specifically, in the illustrated embodiment, the relative motion is a reciprocating pivotal motion.
  • [0091]
    The toy FIG. 1200 also includes an actuation mechanism 1270 that is operatively coupled to a power source (not illustrated), such as a battery, and the drive 1240. The actuation mechanism 1270 includes a mechanical switch 1285, such as a leaf switch, and a floatation or buoyant member 1287. The mechanical switch 1285 has an “on” position and an “off” position. The mechanical switch 1285 is configured to activate the drive when the mechanical switch 125 is in its “on” position.
  • [0092]
    The floatation member 1287 is configured float when disposed in a liquid such as water. Specifically, the floatation member 1287 is configured to move from a lower or first position to an upper or second position when the toy 1200 and the floatation member 1287 are at least partially disposed within a liquid such as water. The floatation member 1287 and the mechanical switch 1285 are positioned such that the mechanical switch 1285 is moved into its “on” position when the floatation member 1287 is in its second position. Thus, the mechanical switch causes current to be directed to the drive to activate the drive. Accordingly, when the toy is placed in a liquid such as water, the floatation member 1287 floats to its second position, the mechanical switch is moved to its “on” position, and the drive is activated.
  • [0093]
    In the illustrated embodiment, the actuation mechanism 1270 is configured such that the actuation mechanism 1270 does not activate the drive when the toy FIG. 1200 is inverted. In other words, the drive is activated when the toy FIG. 1200 is at least partially disposed in a liquid and is not activated when the toy FIG. 1200 is turned upside down.
  • [0094]
    Specifically, when the toy FIG. 1200 is at least partially disposed in a liquid, the toy FIG. 1200 may be placed in a first orientation, such as an upright orientation, and a second orientation different than the first orientation, such as an upside down orientation. Additionally, when the toy FIG. 1200 is disposed apart from the liquid, the toy FIG. 1200 may be placed in a third orientation, such as an upright orientation, and a fourth orientation different than the third orientation, such as an upside down orientation. The actuation mechanism 1270 is configured to activate the drive when the toy FIG. 1200 is in its first orientation. Conversely, the actuation mechanism 1270 is configured to deactivate the drive when the toy FIG. 1200 is in any one of its second orientation, its third orientation, and its fourth orientation.
  • [0095]
    In the illustrated embodiment, the actuation mechanism 1270 is disposed within a cavity 1222 defined by the torso 1220 of the toy 1200. The floatation member 1287 includes, first portion 1297 that is configured to engage the mechanical switch 1285, a second portion 1299, and a curved upper surface 1289. The first portion 1297 is lighter and more buoyant than the second portion 1299. For example, in one embodiment, a weight (not illustrated) may be coupled to the second portion 1299 of the floatation member 1287. Additionally, the curved upper surface 1289 of the floatation member 1287 is configured to engage a curved inner surface 1221 of the cavity 1222 of the torso 1220 when the floatation member is in its upper or second position. Accordingly, as the first portion 1297 of the floatation member 1287 is lighter than the second portion 1299, the first portion 1297 of the floatation member 1287 does not contact the mechanical switch 1285 to move the mechanical switch to its “on” position when the toy 1200 is inverted or upside down. Conversely, as the first portion 1297 of the floatation member 1287 is more buoyant than the second portion 1299, the first portion of the floatation member 1287 does contact the mechanical switch 1285 to move the mechanical switch 1285 to its “on” position when the toy 1200 is disposed in an upright position and in a liquid such as water.
  • [0096]
    In one embodiment, the curved inner surface of the cavity has a larger radius of curvature than the curved upper surface of the floatation member. Accordingly, the first portion or lighter portion of the floatation member rocks or pivots away from the mechanical switch when the toy is inverted. Accordingly, the mechanical switch is not actuated. Conversely, when the toy is disposed upright in a liquid, the first portion of the floatation member floats to contact and actuate the mechanical switch.
  • [0097]
    In another embodiment, the inner surface of the cavity includes a projection disposed on one side of the mechanical switch. The floatation member is configured to pivot about the projection when the floatation member is in its upper position. Specifically, when the toy is inverted, the first portion or lighter portion of the floatation member pivots away from the mechanical switch. Accordingly, the mechanical switch is not activated. Conversely, when the toy is disposed upright in a liquid, the first portion of the floatation member floats to contact and actuate the mechanical switch.
  • [0098]
    In another embodiment, the floatation member is not sufficiently heavy to activate the mechanical switch when the toy is inverted or upside down. The floatation member, however, is sufficiently buoyant to activate the mechanical switch when the toy is disposed in an upright position and in a liquid such as water.
  • [0099]
    In another embodiment, the floatation member is pivotally coupled within the cavity defined by the torso.
  • [0100]
    FIGS. 25 and 26 illustrate toy FIG. 1300 in accordance with another embodiment of the invention. The toy FIG. 1300 includes a torso 1320, an appendage 1360 coupled to the torso 1320, and a drive (not illustrated) that is coupled to torso 1320. The drive is configured to produce a force that is sufficient to move the appendage 1360 with respect to the torso 1320. Specifically, in the illustrated embodiment, the relative motion is a reciprocating pivotal motion.
  • [0101]
    The toy FIG. 1300 also includes an actuation mechanism 1370 that is operatively coupled to a power source (not illustrated), such as a battery, and the drive. The actuation mechanism 1370 includes a housing 1372, a conductive member 1374, a first contact 1376, and a second contact 1378. The actuation mechanism 1370 is configured to divert current from the drive when the contacts 1376 and 1378 are not bridged. Once the contacts 1376 and 1378 are bridged or otherwise electrically coupled, the actuation mechanism 1370 is configured to direct current to the drive. Accordingly, the drive is activated to cause the appendage to move with respect to the torso when the contacts 1376 and 1378 are bridged or otherwise electrically coupled.
  • [0102]
    In the illustrated embodiment, the housing 1372 is fixedly coupled within a cavity 1321 defined by a torso 1320 of the toy FIG. 1300. The conductive member 1374 is movably disposed within the housing 1372, and is, accordingly, configured to move within the housing 1372 when the orientation of the toy FIG. 1300 is changed. For example, the conductive member 1374 is configured to be disposed in a first position within the housing 1372 when the toy FIG. 1300 is placed in an upright orientation, and is configured to be disposed in a second position within the housing 1372 when the toy FIG. 1300 is inverted or is placed in an upside down orientation.
  • [0103]
    In the illustrated embodiment, the contacts 1376 and 1378 are fixedly disposed within the housing 1372. The contacts 1376 and 1378 are disposed such that the conductive member 1374 bridges or otherwise electrically couples the first contact 1376 to the second contact 1378 when the conductive member 1374 is in its first position. Thus, when the toy FIG. 1300 is disposed in an upright orientation, the actuation mechanism activates the drive. Conversely, when the toy FIG. 1300 is not disposed in an upright orientation, such as when it is in an inverted orientation, the contacts 1376 and 1378 are not bridged and the drive is not activated.
  • [0104]
    In the illustrated embodiment, the conductive member 1374 and the housing 1378 are spherical in shape. In other embodiments, the conductive member, the housing, or both are of a shape other than spherical. Additionally, in another embodiment, the housing is not disposed within the cavity defined by the torso.
  • [0105]
    Other embodiments of the invention are contemplated. The figure can simulate, for example, virtually any animal, human, or action figure. The appendage can be any appendage appropriate to the selected torso, including a leg, a tail, an arm, a head, or another body segment.
  • [0106]
    While the invention has been described in detail and with reference to specific embodiments thereof, it will be apparent to one skilled in the art that various changes and modifications can be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope thereof. Thus, it is intended that the present invention covers the modifications and variations of this invention provided they come within the scope of the appended claims and their equivalents.

Claims (1)

  1. 1. A figure, comprising:
    a torso;
    an appendage coupled to the torso;
    a drive coupled to the torso and to the appendage, the drive configured to move the appendage with respect to the torso; and
    an actuation mechanism configured to activate the drive when the torso is at least partially disposed in a liquid.
US11034210 2002-06-13 2005-01-13 Self-propelled figure Abandoned US20060009116A1 (en)

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US10167410 US6860785B2 (en) 2002-06-13 2002-06-13 Self-propelled figure
US11034210 US20060009116A1 (en) 2002-06-13 2005-01-13 Self-propelled figure

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US11034210 US20060009116A1 (en) 2002-06-13 2005-01-13 Self-propelled figure

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Country Link
US (1) US20060009116A1 (en)

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WO2015056224A1 (en) * 2013-10-17 2015-04-23 Xiaoping Lu A driving and controlling method for a biomimetic toy and a biomimetic toy
US20150217205A1 (en) * 2011-07-11 2015-08-06 Xiaoping Lu Driving and Controlling Method for Biomimetic Fish and a Biomimetic Fish
US9645181B2 (en) * 2014-02-13 2017-05-09 Innovation First, Inc. Aquatic toy

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US20150217205A1 (en) * 2011-07-11 2015-08-06 Xiaoping Lu Driving and Controlling Method for Biomimetic Fish and a Biomimetic Fish
US9701380B2 (en) * 2011-07-11 2017-07-11 Xiaoping Lu Driving and controlling method for biomimetic fish and a biomimetic fish
WO2015056224A1 (en) * 2013-10-17 2015-04-23 Xiaoping Lu A driving and controlling method for a biomimetic toy and a biomimetic toy
US9645181B2 (en) * 2014-02-13 2017-05-09 Innovation First, Inc. Aquatic toy

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