Search International and National Patent Collections
Some content of this application is unavailable at the moment.
If this situation persists, please contact us atFeedback&Contact
1. (WO1992009350) PERCUSSION CAP FIRING TOY VEHICLE AND LAUNCHER
Note: Text based on automatic Optical Character Recognition processes. Please use the PDF version for legal matters
PERCUSSION CAP FIRING TOY VEHICLE AND LAUNCHER

SPECIFICATION

Field of the Invention

This invention relates generally to toy vehicles and particularly to those utilizing a vehicle launcher.

Background of the Invention

Toy vehicles have become one of the more pervasive types of toys and have been developed in many types and forms. For example, toy vehicles have been provided for use both on and off various confining tracksets or playsets. Toy vehicles have been developed in both powered and unpowered conf gurations as well as
freewheeling or remotely controlled. The shapes and configurations of such toy vehicles are virtually endless in variety.

One of the more exciting types of toy vehicles which have been developed are those utilizing
conventional percussion caps to increase the play value action and excitement of the various vehicle play features.

One example of such percussion cap interactive toy vehicles is found in U.S. Patent 4,534,745 issued to Jones, et al. which sets forth a PERCUSSION CAP FIRING TOY VEHICLE AND TRACK ASSEMBLY in which a toy vehicle includes an internal percussion cap detonating system and support system. A trackset is provided which includes a spring launcher and various ramps and other track features are provided. The percussion cap detonating mechanism is capable of being triggered externally by appropriately placed appendages within the trackset mechanism. In one configuration, the track provides a simulated jump of the vehicle through a ring of fire or the like. One of the triggering appendages is located on the upward slope of the ramp to trigger the percussion cap firing as the vehicle passes through the ring of fire.

U.S. Patent 1,617,480 issued to Fourcher sets forth a TOY AUTO DEVICE in which a simulated car backfire is produced by a cap firing mechanism using a roll of percussion caps and a mechanically sequenced firing mechanism. As the vehicle is rolled along on a play surface, the caps within the roll of percussion caps are sequentially fired to simulate the vehicle backfire.

U.S. Patent 1,621,140 issued to Thompson, et al. sets forth a TOY AND OPERATING MECHANISM THEREFOR in which a pair of firing stations are supported between an extending wire or cable. Each of the firing stations includes a multiple celled drum and a revolver like mechanism for incremental rotation thereof. A plurality of percussion caps are supported within each of the drum cells and a generally cylindrical slide member is slidably supported upon the cable. The mechanism operates to sequentially fire the percussion caps each time the slide member strikes the cell within the drum. In its intended operation,, the slide is repeatedly driven back and forth between the drum members as the caps are fired.

U.S. Patent 2,137,159 issued to Fischer sets forth a TOY VEHICLE which replicates a military tank having an upper portion which is removable from the remainder of the tank body. A percussion cap detonating
mechanism is spring loaded within the tank body and is driven by the tank propulsion treads. As the toy tank is moved along a play surface, the mechanism operates to detonate a percussion cap and cause the upper portion of the tank to be launched away from the remainder of the toy vehicle.

U.S. Patent 3,000,127 issued to Vine sets forth a SELF UPSETTING TOY VEHICLE in which a plurality of spring loaded mechanisms within the toy vehicle are triggered by frontal impact to flip the vehicle and simulate a crash event.

U.S. Patent 1,859,100 issued to Lewis sets forth an EXPLOSIVE TOY in which a toy vehicle boat is
equipped with a conventional mousetrap supported within the vehicle hull and coupled to an external trigger pad below the vehicle water line. A deck portion
supporting a cabin superstructure is removably placed upon the hull portion. In its intended function, the trigger pad is struck by a projectile and releases the spring force of the mousetrap causing the deck and superstructure to be driven from the remainder of the ship simulating an explosion.

While the foregoing described prior art devices have provided improved excitement and play action for toy vehicles, there remains a neverending need in the art for evermore exciting and entertaining toy
vehicles.

Summary of the Invention

Accordingly it is a general object of the present invention to provide an improved percussion cap toy vehicle . It is a more particular object of the present invention to provide an improved percussion cap toy vehicle having enhanced safety of operation. It is a still more particular object of the present invention to provide an improved percussion cap toy vehicle and launcher which effectively protect against hazardous misuse by the user.

In accordance with the present invention, there is provided for use in a percussion cap launched toy vehicle playset, a toy vehicle and launcher comprises: a vehicle launcher having a cylinder member defining an internal cylinder bore and a closed end; a shield having top and side surfaces extending from the
launcher; a Tollable toy vehicle having a rearwardly extending piston rod having a cross section
substantially less than the cylinder bore; a piston having an outer edge slightly smaller in cross section than the cylinder bore and supported upon the piston rod; cap support means for supporting a percussion cap within the cylinder bore between the closed end of the cylinder member and the piston; and impact means for applying a sharp impact force to the cylinder member to ignite a percussion cap supported by the cap support means, the toy vehicle being at least partially
received within the shield and the piston and piston rod being received within the cylinder bore in a first alignment in which a minimum gap is created between the outer edge of the piston and the cylinder bore and a second alignment in which an increased gap is created therebetween.

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:

Figure 1 sets forth a perspective view of a toy vehicle and launcher constructed in accordance with the present invention;

Figure 2 sets forth a perspective view of the toy vehicle and launcher of Figure 1 following percussion cap ignitions;

Figure 3 sets forth a section view of the present invention toy vehicle and launcher taken along section lines 3-3;

Figure 4 sets forth a section view of the present invention toy vehicle and launcher taken along section lines 3-3 in Figure 1 prior to percussion cap firing;

Figure 5 sets forth a section view of the present invention toy vehicle and launcher taken along section lines 3-3 in Figure 1 at the instant of percussion cap firing;

Figure 6 sets forth a partial section view of the present invention toy vehicle and launcher following percussion cap ignition;

Figure 7 sets forth a partial section view of the present invention toy vehicle and launcher operated in an incorrect manner;

Figure 8 sets forth a partial section view of an alternate embodiment of the present invention toy vehicle toy vehicle and launcher; and

Figure 9 sets forth a partial section view of the alternate embodiment of Figure 8 operated in a tilted manner .

Description of the Preferred Embodiments

Figure 1 sets forth a perspective view of a toy vehicle and launcher constructed in accordance with the present invention and generally referenced by numeral 10. A vehicle launcher 11 includes a generally
rectangular housing 13 having an outwardly extending generally cylindrical cylinder 30 and a rearwardly extending pull knob 14. Pull knob 14 supports an end knob 15. A shield 20 defines a pair of generally rectangular sides 21 and 22 and a generally rectangular top 23. In accordance with an important aspect of the present invention, shield 20 does not include a bottom surface opposite top 23. Further, shield 20 defines a frontal opening 30 at one end and is secured to housing 13 at the remaining end. An elongated beam spring 25 is secured at one end to housing 13 near the junction of shield 20 in housing 13. Beam spring 23 defines a free end 26 and is spring biased to urge end 26 in the direction indicated by arrow 34. As is set forth below in greater detail, cylinder 30 defines an internal cylinder bore 40 (seen in Figure 2) . Launcher 11 rests upon a generally planar play surface 24.

A toy vehicle 12 is constructed generally in accordance with conventional fabrication techniques with the exception of providing a rearwardly extending piston rod 41 and piston 42 (seen in Figure 2). In the position shown in Figure 1, vehicle 12 is received within the interior of shield 20 and rests upon the underlying play surface 24. When so positioned and in the manner described below in greater detail, piston rod 41 and piston 42 extend into cylinder bore 40 of cylinder 30 (seen in Figure 2). While not visible in Figure 1 but in accordance with the descriptions set forth below in greater detail, a standard percussion cap is captivated within cylinder 30 against piston 42. With vehicle 12 in the position shown, knob 15 is drawn outwardly from housing 13 along with pull rod 14 in the direction indicated by arrow 31 to cock the percussion cap striking mechanism set forth below in greater detail. Conventional locking means operative within housing 13 (not shown) are operative to lock the percussion cap striking member within housing 13 in the energized position better seen in Figure 3. Thus, in the position shown in Figure 1 , the striking mechanism is energized and vehicle 12 is maintained within the interior of shield 20 by the gentle retaining pressure of beam spring 25.

Figure 2 sets forth the operation of the present invention toy vehicle and launcher once the percussion cap within cylinder 30 has been ignited. Specifically, and as is set forth below in greater detail, knob 15 and pull rod 14 are moved inwardly upon housing 13 until the conventional lock mechanism operative upon the percussion cap striker shown below releases the striker and causes ignition of the percussion cap.
Thereafter, the explosive force of the percussion cap exerts a force against piston 42 which is coupled by piston rod 41 to vehicle 12. As a result, the spring force of beam spring 25 is overcome and beam spring 25 is bent upwardly in the direction indicated by arrow 33 while vehicle 12 is launched from within shield 20 in the direction indicated by arrow 32.

It should be noted that in accordance with an important aspect of the present invention, shield 20 provides a protective covering which virtually encloses cylinder 30 and protects the user against any flying debris or particles within cap explosion 43.
Thereafter, vehicle 12 simply rolls across play surface 24 and ultimately comes to rest. Thereafter, a
replacement percussion cap may be applied to piston 42 as described below and vehicle 12 may be returned to the position shown in Figure 1 within shield 20 and launched once again in the above described manner.

Figure 3 sets forth a section view of toy vehicle and launcher 10 taken along section lines 3-3 in Figure l. Launcher 11 includes a generally rectangular housing 13 defining an interior cavity 17. Housing 13 further defines an aperture 36 and an aperture 50. A shield 20 includes a top 23 and a side 22. Shield 20 forms an opening 30 and, in accordance with the
invention, does not include a bottom surface.

A cylinder 30 includes an elongated cylindrical bore 40 extending through aperture 36. Cylinder 30 further defines a flange 39 and a generally conical hammer end 37. End 37 further defines an internal cavity 38. An annular spring 29 encircles cylindrical bore 40 and is interposed between flange 39 and
aperture 36 of housing 13. In accordance with an important aspect of the present invention, aperture 36 is slightly oversized to permit cylinder 30 to be slightly movable within housing 13. This provides for an alignment adjustment as vehicle 12 is moved into the firing position shown in Figure 3.

Vehicle 12 is generally fabricated in accordance with conventional fabrication techniques and thus is freely Tollable upon a supporting surface 24. Vehicle 12 further includes an elongated generally cylindrical piston rod 41 extending outwardly from the rear portion of vehicle 12. A disk-shaped piston 42 extends
outwardly from piston rod 41 and is sized to be
received within cylinder 40 in a close but freely movable fit.. Piston rod 41 extends beyond piston 42 a short distance and provides a support for a
conventional plastic type percussion cap 45.

In the position shown in Figure 3, vehicle 12 bearing a percussion cap 45 has been backed into the interior of shield 20 upon support surface 24 such that piston rod 41 and piston 42 extend into and are
received within cylinder bore 40. Vehicle 12 is backed up into shield 20 until cap 45 is brought into contact with punch 46 of cylinder 30. When so positioned, beam spring 25 bends downwardly urging end 26 against vehicle 12 and maintaining vehicle position.

A generally cylindrical pull rod 14 extends through aperture 50 of housing 13 and terminates therein in a generally disk-shaped end flange 51. The outer end of push rod 14 supports a circular knob 15 and an outwardly extending wedge shaped cam 16. A striker 60 is movably supported within interior cavity 17 of housing 13 by conventional support means (not shown} . Striker 60 includes a generally cylindrical flange 62 defining a U-shaped downwardly extending notch 66. Striker 60 further includes a cylindrical flange 73 and a conical striker end 61. Flange 63 is coupled to flange 62 by a pair of rods 64 and 65.
Notch 66 receives pull rod 14 permitting rod 14 to extend through flange 62 to end flange 51. End flange 51 is substantially larger than the width of notch 66 for reasons set forth below in greater detail. A lock fork 53 is slidably supported within housing 13 and is movable between a first position shown in Figure 3 in which fork 53 engages flange 62 captivating striker 60 and a second position which clears flange 62 and releases striker 60. Fork 53 is spring-biased toward engagement with flange 62 by a conventional spring (not shown) . A helical spring 52 encircles pull rod 14 and is captivated between flange 62 of striker 60 and the interior surface of housing 13 surrounding aperture 50. Spring 52 is compressively maintained between the interior surface of housing 13 and end flange 62 such that striker 60 is urged by the spring force of spring 52 toward hammer end 37. In the position shown in Figure 3, pull rod 14 has been drawn outwardly from housing 13 which engages end flange 51 against flange 62 of striker 60. Thereafter, the continued outward motion of pull rod 14 overcomes the spring force of spring 52 and draws striker 60 away from hammer end 37 of cylinder 30. As flange 62 is forced against lock fork 53 at facets 55, the inclined shape of facets 55 cause the drawing movement of flange 62 to force lock fork 53 outwardly away from contact with flange 62.
Thus, flange 62 is drawn past lock fork 53. As flange 62 is drawn completely beyond lock fork 53, the spring force applied to lock fork 53 forces it inwardly to the position shown in Figure 3 which in turn locks striker 60 in the position shown in Figure 3. At this point, toy vehicle and launcher 10 are ready to launch vehicle 12. It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that a number of locking mechanisms may be utilized to perform the basic function of providing a releasable lock upon striker 60 against the force of a compressed spring such as spring 52. Accordingly, the basic function of lock fork 53, spring 52 and pull rod 14 is to provide a means by which a contained spring force may be asserted against striker 60 which, when
released, drives striker 60 into contact with hammer end 37 of cylinder 30. In the embodiment of the present invention set forth in Figure 3, push rod 14 is provided with release cam 16 which comprises an
outwardly extending wedge-shaped member configured to release lock fork 53 from flange 62 and thereby permit striker 60 to be driven against hammer end 37 of cylinder 30.

Figure 4 sets forth the configuration of Figure 3 at the point of operation in which knob 15 has been moved into housing 13 such that end flange 51 and push rod 14 advance into the interior of striker 60 between support rods 64 and 65. In the position shown in
Figure 4, cam 16 produces the above-mentioned outward force against lock fork 53 driving lock fork 53 away from flange 62 and releasing striker 60. Upon the release of striker 60, the captivated spring force of spring 52 accelerates striker 60 rapidly toward hammer end 37 of cylinder 30.

Figure 5 sets forth a section view of toy vehicle and launcher 10 at the moment of impact between striker 60 and hammer end 37 of cylinder 30. As set forth above, toy vehicle launcher 11 includes a closed housing 13 having an internal cavity 17. Housing 13 further defines an aperture 36. A cylinder 30 having a cylinder bore 40 therein extends through aperture 36. Cylinder 30 further defines an outwardly extending flange 39 and a generally conical hammer end 37. The latter defines an interior center cavity 38. Cylinder 30 further defines an extending generally cylindrical punch 46 while a spring 29 encircles cylinder 30 adjacent flange 39 to provide a resilient slightly loose support for cylinder 30 within aperture 36. A vehicle 12 generally constructed in accordance with conventional fabrication techniques is received within opening 30 of an encircling shield 20 and defines a rearwardly extending piston rod 41 having a generally disk-shape piston 42. Piston rod 41 and piston 42 are received within cylindrical bore 40 and a conventional plastic percussion cap 45 is supported upon the end portion of piston rod 41 in contact with punch 46. A beam spring 25 is supported by housing 13 and includes an end portion 26 which extends downwardly and is urged against the upper portion of vehicle 12 by the spring force of beam spring 25.

A striker 60 defines an end flange 63 and a conical striker end 61 together with a flange 62.
Flanges 62 and 63 are coupled by a pair of cylindrical support rods 64 and 65. A lock fork 53 described above is resiliently supported within housing 13. A coil spring 52 is captivated between the rear surface of housing 13 and flange 62 and provides the accelerating force which drives striker 60 from the position shown in Figure 4 to the impact position shown in Figure 5. A pull rod 14 extends through aperture 50 in housing 13 and notch 66 in flange 62 and terminates in an end flange 51. Push rod 14 further defines a knob 15 and a wedge-shaped cam 16 at its outer end.

In the position shown in Figure 5, the release operation described in Figure 4 has occurred and the spring force of spring 52 has driven striker 60 rapidly against hammer end 37. The combination of the force of spring 52 and the momentum of striker 60 produces a sharp impact against hammer end 37 which forces punch 46 against cap 45. Cap 45 is ignited by the percussion force of punch 46 forcing it against the end portion of piston rod 41.

It should be noted that in accordance with an important aspect of the present invention, the conical shape of striker end 61 and interior cavity 38 of hammer end 37 cause an automatic centering action for striker 60. This permits striker 60 to impart
substantial energy to cylinder 30 and assure proper detonation of percussion cap 45. With the ignition of percussion cap 45, an explosive force is created within cylinder bore 40 which exerts an outward force against piston 42 causing vehicle 12 to be accelerated away from toy vehicle launcher 10.

Figure 6 sets forth a partial section view of launcher 11 and vehicle 12 following the percussion cap explosion described above. As is seen in Figure 6, launcher 11 includes a housing 13 and an enclosing shield 20. Housing 13 and shield 20 rest upon a play surface 24 as does vehicle 12. As is described above, shield 20 is coupled to housing 13 and includes a toy surface 23 and a pair of side surfaces 21 and 22 (the former not shown) . An elongated beam spring 25 defines an end portion 16 which is urged downwardly against vehicle 12 by the spring force of beam spring 25.
Vehicle 12 is constructed in accordance with
conventional fabrication techniques and includes a piston rod 41 which supports a piston 42 extending into a cylinder bore 40 defined in cylinder 30. As
mentioned, Figure 6 depicts the position of vehicle 12 following the explosion of percussion cap 45 within cylinder bore 40 of cylinder 30. As is also mentioned above, the explosive force of cap 45 imparts a driving force against piston 42 which accelerates vehicle 12 in the direction indicated by arrow 67. Concurrently, the outward movement of vehicle 12 overcomes the spring force of beam spring 25 and end portion 26 thereof is forced upwardly in the direction indicated by arrow 68 thereby releasing vehicle 12. Thereafter, the energy imparted to vehicle 12 causes it to move rapidly across playing surface 24.

In accordance with the invention, several design aspects of the present invention structure are combined to enhance the safety of the present invention toy vehicle and launcher. Specifically, the structure of shield 20, beam spring 25, piston rod 41 and piston 42 are designed to frustrate any attempts to operate the present invention toy vehicle and launcher in any manner other than resting upon a play surface as described above. Thus, in the event launcher 11 and vehicle 12 are raised from the horizontal position shown in Figures 3 through 6, the absence of a bottom surface on shield 20 and the spring force of beam spring 25 cooperate to force vehicle 12 away from the aligned position shown in Figures 3 through 6. As result, launcher 11 and vehicle 12 s me the position shown in Figure 7. As can be seen, the absence of a bottom surface for shield 20 together with the spring force of beam spring 25 force vehicle 12 into an angled orientation or nonaligned orientation with launcher 11. In further accordance with the present invention, the angular disposition of vehicle 12 causes a
corresponding angular disposition between piston rod 41 and cylinder bore 40 of cylinder 30. With piston rod 41 angularly disposed with respect to cylinder bore 40, piston 42 is correspondingly tilted or angled within the cylinder bore. This angular position of piston 42 * creates substantial gaps between the outer edge of piston 42 and the interior surface of cylinder bore 40. With such gaps created, the explosive force of
percussion cap 45 is, for the most part, dissipated without imparting substantial energy to piston 42. As a result, attempts to operate the present invention system when raised from playing surface 24 are, for the most part, frustrated. Thus, potential hazardous activity such as launching vehicle 12 in an airborne fashion are, for the most part, avoided.

Figures 8 and 9 set forth an alternate embodiment of the present invention in which an alternate
configura ion is used in place of piston rod 41 and piston 42. The alternate embodiment set forth in
Figures 8 and 9 should be understood to correspond in all other respects to the above-described embodiment of the present invention.

Specifically, with reference to Figure 8, a cylinder 70 defines a cylindrical bore 71 terminating in a closed end 75. End 75 further defines an inwardly extending punch 72. A cylindrical piston rod 80 extends into and is received within cylindrical bore 71. Piston rod 80 further supports a generally
circular cross section piston 81. Piston 81 includes a circular outer edge 86, a conical surface 82 extending to piston rod 80, and a generally planar surface 83. Surface 83 further defines a generally cylindrical extension 85. A conventional plastic percussion cap 73 is received upon and supported by extension 85. Piston 81 is sized to fit within cylinder bore 71 in a
relatively close fit such that piston 81 is freely movable within cylindrical bore 71 and such that edge 86 is close to the interior surface of cylindrical bore 71. In the manner described above, a striking force is imparted to cylinder 70 causing punch 72 to impact percussion cap 73 and ignite it. The ensuing explosion produces a force against flat surface' 83 of piston 81 which imparts an accelerating force to piston rod 80 which is coupled to vehicle 12 (set forth above) and causes vehicle 12 to be accelerated across the playing surface in the manner described above. It should be noted that Figure 8 depicts the angular alignment of piston rod 80 within cylinder bore 71 which corresponds to the use of the present invention toy vehicle and launcher in the safe manner described above in Figures 1 through 6.

In accordance with an important aspect of the present invention, attempts to operate the toy vehicle and launcher apart from a playing surface produce the above-described angular displacement of the toy vehicle with respect to the launcher. As is also described - above, this angular displacement of the toy vehicle causes a corresponding angular displacement of piston rod 80 within cylinder bore 71.

Figure 9 sets forth the relative positions of piston rod 80, piston 81 and cylinder 70 which result when percussion cap 73 is ignited while vehicle 12 is angularly displaced from its proper aligned position. An explosive force 90 created by the ignition of percussion cap 73 produces an outward force against flat surface 83 of piston 81. However, the angled position of piston rod 80 causes a corresponding angular tilt for piston 81. This angled position of piston 81 produces substantial gaps 93 and 94 between the outer edge 86 of piston 81 and the interior surface of cylinder bore 71. Thus, in the manner depicted by arrows 93 and 94, a substantial portion of the force of explosion 90 resulting from ignition of cap 73 are inefficiently dissipated and permitted to pass around piston 81 without departing any significant energy thereto.

In addition to the safety qualities provided by the shapes of pistons 42 (seen in Figure 7) and piston 81 (seen in Figure 8), the use of a reduced diameter piston rod coupled to the extending shape pistons shown provide enhanced operation of the toy vehicle and launcher. This enhanced operation arises due to the system's ability to cope with the build up of
percussion cap debris which would otherwise collect on the interior surfaces of cylinder bore 40 and 71. Both pistons 42 and 81 provide outer edge surfaces which tend to produce a scraping action against the interior of the cylinder bores and thereby clear away excessive debris build up.

What has been shown is an improved percussion cap launched toy vehicle and launcher which provides substantial increase in safety of operation and which frustrates attempts to operate the toy vehicle and launcher in a hazardous or ill advised manner.

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.