US 20040203314 A1
A toy building construction set has a plurality of molded support components. The three main types of support components include a column, a beam and a base. Each column includes a protrusion on one end to be accepted into a corresponding aperture in a base or underlying column. Each beam includes protrusions on each end adapted to be releasably received into corresponding slots located atop the columns. Each beam also includes panel-receiving prongs along the length of the beam to accommodate building panels. The building panels may have printing on one or both sides so as to appear as the exterior of a building, the interior of a building, or a combination thereof.
1. A toy building construction set comprising:
(a) one or more base components, each of said one or more base components comprising a top surface having one or more apertures;
(b) a plurality of beams, each beam of said plurality of beams having first and second end portions, an exterior surface area between said end portions, and defining a longitudinal axis, and further where said first end of each of said beams includes a protruding member substantially coaxial with said longitudinal axis and where said second end of each of said beams includes a protruding member substantially coaxial with said longitudinal axis, and further where said exterior surface area includes a one or more prongs;
(c) a plurality of columns, each column of said plurality of columns having first and second end portions, and defining a longitudinal axis and a perimeter, where said first end of each of said columns includes a protrusion substantially coaxial with said longitudinal axis of said column and where said second end of each of said columns includes a plurality of slots about said perimeter, each of said slots being adapted to releasably receive one of said protruding members of said beams, said second end of each of said columns further comprising a hole substantially coaxial with said longitudinal axis of said column adapted to receive a corresponding protrusion of an adjacent column; and
(d) a plurality of panels having apertures capable of being releasably received by said prongs of said beams;
wherein each of said protrusions of said columns may be selectively disposed in either a corresponding aperture of said one or more base components or in said hole of an adjacent column, and where said columns releasably receive said selected protruding member of said beams, and where said prongs of said beams releasably receive one or more of said panels so as to construct a toy building of predetermined configuration.
 The toy building construction set of the present invention relates generally to construction toys having releasably interlocking parts for building a model building, and, more particularly, to such construction toys that are adaptable to be formed into different toy buildings through the use of reversible building panels and molded support beam components.
 The building construction set of the present invention is most clearly understood with reference to the Figures on the following 19 pages. Generally, as mentioned previously, the concept of the present invention relates to those types of toys comprising several interlocking parts which may be used by an individual to “build” a predetermined building structure (such as an airport, firehouse, skyscraper, etc.) Building construction toys are well known in the art. Unlike the prior art toys, the building construction set of the present invention is more versatile as will be described and shown below.
 As best shown on pages 1-4, 10-13, and 17 the building construction set includes a plurality of preferably molded support beams. The beams are preferably molded plastic but may be made of any suitably durable material. The three main types of support components include a vertical column portion, a beam portion, and a base component (Figure Pg. 1). The column components preferably include a protrusion on one end to be accepted into a corresponding aperture of the base component or a corresponding aperture of an underlying column portion. Beam portions include locking protrusions adapted to be releasably received into corresponding slots of the column portions so as to facilitate the building process. As shown on pages 2-4 of the Figures, additional support and complementary structures may be used in addition to the three main building components to build buildings of different shapes and characteristics such as half columns, angled beams, curved beams, roof panels, gun turrets, etc.
 Beam portions also include one or more panel receiving prongs along the length of the beam to accommodate building panels. Typical building panels are shown in Fig. Pgs. 5-6. According to a novel aspect of the present invention, these building panels are readily removable by a user so that different scenes and/or buildings may be used. For example on one side of a set of building components there could be printed a segment of a fire station so a user can select all of the “fire station” sides of the panels to build a fire station. The panels could be flipped or reversed to reveal a different building. Or the panels could show an interior view on one side and an exterior view on another side. Preferably the panels are of die cut cardboard but may be molded plastic or may be comprised of any suitably durable material. As shown in Fig. Pgs. 10-12 and 17-19 the panels may be hung onto the beams after the support structure of the building has been erected. The reversible aspect of the invention is best shown in Fig. Pgs. 13-16. Fig. Pg. 13 depicts how one kit may be used to build either a firehouse and training tower or a police station. Similarly, another such kit possibility is shown in Fig. Pg. 14 showing a kit that may be used to construct a civil airport or a military air base. Fig. Pgs. 15-16 show yet another illustrative kit where either a high rise tower or a plaza center may be built by moving the support structure around and reversing the panels. As shown in FIGS. 7-9 additional components may be added to the toy sets to add to the versatility of the toy such as model cars or airplanes. The embodiments shown and described as potential toy kits are illustrative of the invention and should not be regarded as restrictive and it should be appreciated that other configurations of the invention may be employed that utilize the interchangeable and reversible panel and support beam structure concept of the present invention. Such other configurations are contemplated and are within the scope of the present invention.