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Mattel Major Matt Mason Patents

Here you will find patent information as registered with the United States Patent Office by Mattel and inventors working for Mattel (most notably Jack Ryan). Note that only those patents that have been found are included and there is an active search for additional Patent numbers.

These Patents were found during a juxtaposition of time, energy and people - sort of a Star Trekian "Nexus" moment. A member of the Major Matt Mason email list (Graeme Walker in Canada) sent out some information about three Patents being available on a pay site, where you could order copies for framing (these included the Space Crawler, the Space Sled and the never produced Space Rover - which eventually made it into production rather mutated as the Astro Trac). The information contained was enough for another list member (Pat LeBlanc) to do some research on the US Patent Office website, where he found the original downloadable files (free downloads, I might add). When Graeme saw the originals on the USPT website, it set him to research under Patents issued to Mattel. Unfortunately only patents filed after 1975 are available for searching by name and attributes. However, while looking around at some of these later Patents, there are often references to earlier patents - looking for references in the 1965-1971 range and especially under the principal inventor, John W. Ryan, he found the original patent for the MMM figure! Inspired by this luck, I began doing the same hit-or-miss research and have uncovered patents for Capt Lazer, the Moon Suit, Supernaut Power Limbs, the Or Orbitor and others. I've attributed those who took the time to find these below each listing.

During our search we found two types of patents, sometimes covering the same toy:
  • Design patents (D prefix to the patent number) cover how an item -looks- and not much more. These are relatively simple, and therefore useful in obtaining some basic patent protection for any toy as soon as possible (within 12-18 months, judging by the dates on Mattel patents).
  • Regular patents (no prefix to the number) cover how an item -works- and are therefore much more elaborate, detailing both the mechanical and innovative aspects of a new invention. (A nice example of this type of patent is the one for the Gamma Ray Gard - 3,515,212). These patents take a lot more effort to prepare properly, and also take longer to be evaluated by the Patent Office (some 2-3 years).
However, in both cases it is required to refer to previous inventions or other sources (books, magazines, catalogues etc) to illustrate the "state of the art," compared to which the new invention is to be judged for originality and uniqueness.

Right mouse click on the Pages below - they are saved in the same .tif format as you would find on the USPT website - there's a free tif viewer available here or the better image manipulation programs (such as Photoshop) can also let you view them. They are saved in 300 dpi format for better print quality but the actual files are quite small. Enjoy!
3,325,939 June 20, 1967 Filed Nov 21, 1966
J. W. Ryan Et Al "A simulated spaceman doll has a soft, pliable body supported by a soft wire armature which is encompassed by rigid stiffeners embedded in the limbs of the doll between its joints and in its body for preventing bending of the limbs and body between the joints. The stiffeners have a non-cylindrical shape and the portions of the wires which are encompassed by the stiffeners are flattened to a non-cylindrical shape for preventing relative rotation between the limbs of the toy and the stiffeners and between the stiffeners and the wires, respectively."
Found by Graeme Walker
It's interesting to note that on the patent document, the figure originally was to have magnets in the boots so the figure could attach to surfaces, like the sled shown (you would pull the sled with a string to have the figure move). Sounds like the beginning of the Space Sled concept to me, and probably pre-dates the Space Station with the boot tabs for holding the figures to the platforms.
3,346,989 Oct 17, 1967 Filed Nov 14 1966
J. W. Ryan Et Al "A rigid hollow casing having two hinged halves with opposed notches in their edges so that a doll may be placed in the casing with its legs extending through the openings defined by the notches when the casing is closed. A pair of flexible, hollow, resilient arm members extending from the casing and communicating with a bladder chamber in the casing, and pump means connected to the bladder chamber to apply air pressure in the arm members to cause them to change shape or position."
Found by John Eaton
D209,220 Nov. 14, 1967, Filed Dec. 21, 1966
J. W. Ryan Et Al "The ornamental design for a crawler-type toy vehicle, as shown."
Found by Pat LeBlanc after Graeme Walker
D209,764 Jan 2, 1968, Filed Feb 1, 1967
J. W. Ryan Et Al No abstract provided.
Found by Paul Vreede
HOOP LAUNCHING TOY (Satellite Launch Pak)
D209,765 Jan 2, 1968, Filed Feb 1, 1967
J. W. Ryan Et Al No abstract provided.
Found by Paul Vreede
D210,085 Feb 6, 1968, Filed Jan 19, 1967
J. W. Ryan Et Al "The ornamental design for a outer space vehicle toy, as shown."
Found by Pat LeBlanc after Graeme Walker
This is that crazy prototype that appeared in the Star Log Guide to SF Toys and on the back cover of the 1967 Mattel Toy Fair Catalog (for retailers). This eventually made it into production as the Astro Trac. See "String Monorail" below for the detailed Technical Explanation - Amazing!
D210,398 Mar 5, 1968, Filed Feb 1, 1967
J. W. Ryan Et Al No abstract provided.
Found by Paul Vreede
D210,610 Mar. 26, 1968, Filed Feb. 1, 1967
J. W. Ryan Et Al "The ornamental design for a sled-type toy for dolls, as shown."
Found by Pat LeBlanc after Graeme Walker
Note that the Control Column is backwards in the illustration.
3,439,448 April 22, 1969, Filed Feb 8, 1967
J. W. Ryan Et Al "A three-wheeled toy vehicle may be driven over a suitable surface by an electric motor having output shafts engaging the outer periphery of the rear wheels while the vehicle is steered by a child-user manipulating a string attached to the single front wheel. Alternatively, the vehicle may be driven on an elevated string forming a rail engageable by a pulley on the vehicle. The pulley is driven through a gear train including a pinion gear affixed to one of the output shafts. Upon elevation of the vehicle the rear wheels drop out of driving engagement with the output shafts."
Found by Paul Vreede
It's hard to imagine this toy actually making it into production - the complexity of set up would be daunting to most kids of my era.
3,475,854 Nov. 4, 1969, Filed Feb 3, 1966
J. W. Ryan Et Al "A fuselage-shaped body has ground-contacting tail and carries a powered axle transversely across a front portion thereof. The ends of the axle extend outwardly from the sides of the body and carry radially extending spokes having ground-engaging ends inscribing a circle extending substantially forwardly of the body facilitating movement of the toy over rough terrain. The toy carries a winch which is selectively driven in clockwise and counterclockwise directions by an electric motor through a gear train and clutch arrangement which also supplies power to the axle."
Found by Paul Vreede
3,515,112 June 2, 1970 Filed Oct 16, 1968
A. R. Baginski Et Al "A gun toy of the type including a multi-chamber rotatable cylindrical magazine, in which each chamber is adapted to hold an energy-storing projectile. The energy stored in each projectile causes the projectile to be ejected up to several feet out of the toy's barrel when the projectile chamber is aligned with the barrel's bore. The energy-storing projectile comprises a helical, spirally wound strip by compressing it endwise and then inserting it into a chamber of the magazine."
Found by Paul Vreede
Notice page two - a helmet for Captain Lazer??!!
3,529,479 Sept 22, 1970, Filed Feb 3, 1967
J. W. Ryan Et Al "A gear train and clutch arrangement may be operated manually to shift the output of a winch-carrying electric toy vehicle having wheel substitutes from the wheel substitutes to the winch. The clutch includes axially slidable members having protuberances which are biased into engagement with matching detents carried by clutch members fixed to the axle. The clutch automatically shifts the output from the winch to the wheel substitutes when the winch encounters a predetermined load."
Found by Paul Vreede
3,531,891 Oct 6, 1970 Filed March 18, 1968
A.E. Goldfarb Et Al "Flow of electric current to electrically-operated animation means, such as light bulbs and a buzzer, is controlled by switch means including a vibratile contact which may be caused to vibrate by flicking a weight carried thereby."
Found by John Eaton
The original Lazer concept was quite different - the helmet lit up instead of the eyes, and there were cross-braces across the chest that had small lights as did the belt. Instead of a backpack, the controls and power came from a base. Note that Marvin Glass is also attributed as one of the inventors - he was also attributed to creating both GI Joe and Captain Action - I did not know that he had ever done work for Mattel.
Spaceman Carrier Toy (Supernaut Power Limbs)
3,594,947 July 27, 1971 Filed Nov 29, 1968
Donald C. Hartling Et Al "A toy for a spaceman doll to provide the effect of amplification of the stride and reach of the doll. The carrier comprises a pair of adjustable stilts with clamps for holding the boots of a spaceman doll. A frame which simulates a backpack for the doll, pivotally joins the stilts near their top to enable movement of the stilts apart and together to simulate giant doll strides. Long grasping tools on each side of the doll simulate apparatus for extending its reach."
Found by Graeme Walker
What a complicated toy - amazingly the production model varied little from the design patent illustration.
3,599,363 Aug 17, 1971 Filed Nov 29, 1968
A. R. Baginski Et Al "A toy comprising an astronaut figure, a space capsule around the upper portion of the figure, pneumatically operated tools mounted on the capsule, an air pump, and tubes for coupling the pump to the tools, the tubes passing through the capsule to provide the appearance that the astronaut figure is controlling tool operation. One grasping tool has jaws operated by a bellows that is expanded by air pressure. Another tool includes a thrust element mounted on t eh inner turn of a spirally wound band, the spiral expanding lengthwise when pressure air is applied to it."
Found by Paul Vreede
ROTOR LAUNCHING TOY (Orbitor and Launcher)
3,605,328 Sept 20, 1971 Filed Dec 10, 1969
E.J. Kilroy, Jr. "A toy which facilitates the launching of a large rotor, comprising an elongated frame with a launching end having a drive dog for receiving the rotor and an operating end where a handle is located that can be pulled by a child to rotate the drive dog and launch the rotor. The axis of the drive dog is angled away from the vertical so that the rotor will not hit a child at the operating end. The launching mechanism includes a cable having one end normally wound around a spool fixed to the drive dog, and an opposite end extending through the frame to the operating end, where it is attached to a handle. A child launches a rotor by placing his feet on a pair of foot rests at the operating end of the frame, and pulling up on the handle which is attached to the cable."
Found by John Eaton
WOW! What a great toy! Too bad it never went into distribution.
STRING PROJECTING Toy (Callisto and his Sensor)
3,605,326 Sept 20, 1971 Filed Jan 30 1969
A. R. Baginski Et Al "A spaceman toy comprising a spaceman figure and a pneumatically powered space probe or gun mounted on him, which projects and retracts a string. The gun includes a chamber with a long narrow passageway through which the string extends, and a hand pump is coupled by a tube to the chamber to apply compressed air or a vacuum to the chamber to project or retract the string."
Found by John Eaton
TOY AIRPLANE (XRG-1 Space Glider)
D219,042 Oct 27, 1970 Filed Nov 13, 1969
N.C. Thompson Et Al "The ornamental design for a toy airplane, as shown."
Found by Bill Bulloch
3,540,152 Nov 17, 1970 Filed Aug 22, 1968
J. Beny Et Al "A motion-producing toy such as a vehicle or crane which automatically shifts temporarily from high to low speed operation to obtain a corresponding increase in torque for overcoming obstacles or heavy loads. The toy includes an output gear with ratchets at its side which can shift axially for engagement with either a high speed gear at its periphery or a low speed gear at its side, and an inclined coupling member for axially shifting the output gear when a predetermined torque is reached."
Found by John Eaton
VOICE UNIT BACKPACK (Voice Command Flight Pak)
3,614,110 Oct 19, 1971 Filed Nov 13, 1969
James E. M. Westminster Et Al "Apparatus in the form of a backpack for holding an astronaut figure, which plays a recorded saying as the pack and figure are lowered to the ground. The pack as a phonograph with a turntable that is rotated to play the record by pulling a string out of the pack. The string is pulled out by holding an outer end of the string and allowing the pack to slowly fall to the ground. The phonograph is contained in a housing, and the housing is supported on a pair of elongated members representing struts, the members having an integral strap for holding the toy figure to the housing."
Found by John Eaton
SPACE GLIDER (XRG-1 Space Glider)
3,619,937 Nov. 16, 1971 Filed Dec 10, 1969
N.C. Thompson Et Al "A toy airplane with a capsule at the front for holding a medium size toy figure of a type which a child may play with independently of the airplane. The airplane is vacuum formed from a sheet of plastic, with a recess near the front for holding the figure in a backwardly reclining position to more easily accommodate the figure. The figure-holding recess formed on the top of the airplane creates a protuberance on the underside, which serves as a hand hold for use in launching the airplane. The airplane walls are of single thickness, except for a pair of vertical stabilizers that have double walls to facilitate their formation during the vacuum forming process."
Found by Graeme Walker
3,621,608 Nov 23, 1971 Filed March 2, 1970
D. V. Bosley Et Al "A toy vehicle which can be programmed to move in a desired course, by inserting plugs into appropriate holes in a programming wheel. The programming wheel has three concentric groups of holes, to receive plugs to designate a left turn, right turn, or straight-ahead movement. The programming wheel is slowly turned so that it makes one revolution while the vehicle makes one complete run along its route, the wheel bringing the plugs successively into position to direct the course of the vehicle. Two sets of cams positioned below the programming wheel are moved by the plugs to turn the vehicle wheels, each set of cams including a turning cam which can steer the vehicle at a predetermined angle, and a return cam which is struck by a plug a predetermined time after the turning cam is struck, to return the vehicle to its straight-ahead position after the vehicle has turned approximately 90 degrees from its previous direction."
Found by Paul Vreede
3,695,148 Oct 3, 1972 Filed June 9, 1971
A. R. Baginski Et Al "A thrust element mounted on the inner turn of a spirally-wound band, the spiral expanding lengthwise when pressured air is applied to it."
Found by John Eaton
Click for Details FIGURE TOY OR THE LIKE (Scorpio)
D221,008 Jun 29, 1971, Filed Feb 2, 1970
Richard W. Irons, Torance Calif., assignor to Mattel, Inc, Hawthorne, Calif. No abstract provided.
Found by Bill Bulloch

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