Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS20050245167 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/878,585
Publication dateNov 3, 2005
Filing dateJun 28, 2004
Priority dateApr 28, 2004
Publication number10878585, 878585, US 2005/0245167 A1, US 2005/245167 A1, US 20050245167 A1, US 20050245167A1, US 2005245167 A1, US 2005245167A1, US-A1-20050245167, US-A1-2005245167, US2005/0245167A1, US2005/245167A1, US20050245167 A1, US20050245167A1, US2005245167 A1, US2005245167A1
InventorsDiana Sinisi
Original AssigneeDiana Sinisi
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Building toy set
US 20050245167 A1
Abstract
A plurality of elongated beams is provided having central bodies and a plurality of terminal ends. A plurality of connectors is provided, each of the connectors adapted to removeably connect to at least two of the plurality of terminal ends. At least one panel is provided having at least two faces, the panel shaped to be removeably and engageably received by at least two of the elongated beams. The panel is formed with a material selected from a group of foams and plastics. At least one edge is on each of the panels. A cross-section of the edge is consistent along the length of the edge and the edge is engageably received by at least one of the elongated beams.
Images(8)
Previous page
Next page
Claims(19)
1. A building toy set comprising:
a plurality of elongated beams having central bodies and a plurality of terminal ends;
a plurality of connectors, each of the connectors adapted to removeably connect to at least two of the plurality of terminal ends;
at least one panel having at least two faces, the panel shaped to be removeably and engageably received by at least two of the elongated beams wherein the panel is formed with a material selected from a group consisting of foam and plastic; and
at least one edge, having a length, on each of the panels, wherein a cross-section of the edge is consistent along the length of the edge and wherein the edge is engageably received by at least one of the elongated beams.
2. The building toy set of claim 1 wherein the plurality of elongated beams includes straight, curved and angled beams.
3. The building toy set of claim 1 further comprising a plurality of protrusions substantially along the central bodies of the elongated beams for engaging the panels.
4. The building toy set of claim 1 further comprising a groove along the length of the edge of the panel for engaging the central bodies.
5. The building toy set of claim 1 further comprising an image imprinted on at least one of the faces of the panel.
6. The building toy set of claim 1 wherein the panel further comprises a shape to be engageably received by each elongated beam within a closed circuit of elongated beams.
7. The building toy set of claim 1 wherein the panel is pressure fit between the elongated beams.
8. The building toy set of claim 1 wherein the panel slides in between elongated beams.
9. The building toy set of claim 1 wherein at least one of the faces of the panel is a writeable surface whereby children may draw on the surface with pencils, crayons or marker.
10. The building toy set of claim 1 wherein at least one of the panels has a face material adhesively attached to at least one of the faces of the panel.
11. The building toy set of claim 1 wherein the elongated beam further comprises four beam sides and all four beam sides are structured to receive the edge of a panel.
12. A method of using a building toy set, said method comprising the steps of:
assembling a frame using elongated beams and connectors; and
fitting a panel within the frame wherein the panel is formed with a material selected from a group consisting of foam and a flexible plastic.
13. The method of claim 12 further comprising:
inserting the panel within the frame before the frame is completed; and
finishing the frame.
14. The method of claim 12 further comprising completing the frame before fitting the panel within the frame.
15. The method of claim 12 wherein the frame is a closed circuit of the elongated beams and connectors.
16. The method of claim 12 further comprising combining multiple frames to create an object.
17. The method of claim 12 further comprising drawing on the panels.
18. The method of claim 12 further comprising applying stickers, glitter or other applicators to the panels.
19. A building toy set comprising:
a plurality of elongated beams having central bodies and a plurality of terminal ends;
a plurality of connectors, each of the connectors adapted to removeably connect to at least two of the plurality of terminal ends;
at least one panel having at least two faces and at least one edge, the panel shaped to be removeably and engageably received by at least one of the elongated beams.
Description
CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims benefit of U.S. application Ser. No. 10/833,514 filed Apr. 28, 2004, the entire disclosures of which are incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is generally related to toys of children and, more particularly, is related to an apparatus and method for providing and using a building toy set.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

A variety of toy building sets are currently produced worldwide. One genre of these toy building sets can be described as “stick and connector” sets. These sets have a number of stick pieces, which are interconnected using connectors. One of the first such stick and connector sets was the TINKER TOY, which features cylindrical stick and puck-shaped connectors with a series of holes for receiving the cylindrical sticks, and was developed in the early 1900s by Charles Pajeau and Robert Petit while watching children assemble various objects using sticks and pencils connected with old spools of thread. Many building sets have since been constructed based on this stick and connector theme.

A more modern stick and connector building toy 10 is shown in FIG. 1. The toy features sticks 12, some of which are linear and some of which are curved, interconnected with six-sided connectors 14 to form a helicopter. While the helicopter is a fairly recognizable model, the incorporeal nature of the building toy diminishes the appearance of the toy. Furthermore, when more corporeal, realistic appearing, model kits are available in most stores, building your own less realistic, incorporeal version of the helicopter can be less satisfying. This deficiency for stick and connector building toys is true for many other models as well.

The stick and connector building systems are not only limited by their less satisfying incorporeal appearance, but in function as well. An assembled stick and connector model has limited play value. Unlike building blocks and panel systems where the child can create levels or enclosed spaces to further his play, the stick and connector models do not allow such opportunities because they are mostly open spaces. For example, by creating levels in a building toy, a child can integrate other toys, such as: toy cars and figurines, to enhance his play. Stick and connector models do not create such opportunities, because they are mostly open spaces.

Some have attempted to use cardboard pieces inserted between the sticks to create a corporeal appearance. The cardboard pieces fail for a variety of reasons. Toys must withstand the rigorous play of children. Cardboard is not a resilient material, so the perimeter of the cardboard pieces tends to become worn and unusable quickly. Further, cardboard pieces that are flexible enough to be wedged within the sticks of a building toy lack the strength to support the weight of dolls, action figures, or other toys.

Thus, a heretofore unaddressed need exists in the industry to address the aforementioned deficiencies and inadequacies.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Embodiments of the present invention provide an apparatus and method for providing and using a toy building set.

Briefly described in architecture, one embodiment of the system, among others, can be implemented as follows. A plurality of elongated beams is provided having central bodies and a plurality of terminal ends. A plurality of connectors is provided, each of the connectors adapted to removeably connect to at least two of the plurality of terminal ends. At least one panel is provided having at least two faces, the panel shaped to be removeably and engageably received by at least two of the elongated beams. The panel is formed with a material selected from a group of foams and plastics. At least one edge is on each of the panels. A cross-section of the edge is consistent along the length of the edge and the edge is engageably received by at least one of the elongated beams.

The present invention can also be viewed as providing methods for using a toy building set. In this regard, one embodiment of such a method, among others, can be broadly summarized by the following steps: assembling a frame using elongated beams and connectors; and engaging a panel within the elongated beams of the frame, wherein the panel is formed with a material selected from a group of foams and plastics.

Other systems, methods, features, and advantages of the present invention will be or become apparent to one with skill in the art upon examination of the following drawings and detailed description. It is intended that all such additional systems, methods, features, and advantages be included within this description, be within the scope of the present invention, and be protected by the accompanying claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Many aspects of the invention can be better understood with reference to the following drawings. The components in the drawings are not necessarily to scale, emphasis instead being placed upon clearly illustrating the principles of the present invention. Moreover, in the drawings, like reference numerals designate corresponding parts throughout the several views.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view diagram of an assembled stick and connector building toy in the prior art.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a first exemplary embodiment of the present invention shown in a disassembled form.

FIGS. 3 a-3 e are cross-sectional views of a variety of exemplary designs for elongated beams and the panels with which the beams engage.

FIG. 4 is a front view of the first exemplary embodiment of the present invention from FIG. 2, shown in a first assembled form.

FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of the first exemplary embodiment of the present invention from FIG. 2 and FIG. 4, shown in the first assembled form.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the first exemplary embodiment of the present invention from FIG. 2, shown in a second assembled form, without the panels.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the first exemplary embodiment of the present invention from FIG. 6, shown in a second assembled form, with panels.

FIG. 8 is a flow chart of the present invention according to FIG. 2, FIG. 4, and FIG. 5.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

A building toy set 10, as shown in disassembled form in FIG. 2, includes a plurality of elongated beams 12, a plurality of connectors 14, and at least one panel 16. The plurality of elongated beams 12 is provided with each elongated beam 12 having a central body 18 and a plurality of terminal ends 20. A plurality of connectors 14 is provided, each of the connectors 14 adapted to removeably connect to at least two of the plurality of terminal ends 20. At least one panel 16 is provided having at least two faces 22 and at least one edge 24, the panel 16 shaped to be removeably and engageably received by at least two of the elongated beams 12.

Many prospective configurations exist for the shape of the elongated beams 12. As shown in FIG. 2, the elongated beams 12 may include straight beams 26, curved beams 28, angled beams 30, and/or alternative beams 32 having more than two terminal ends 20. The elongated beams 12 may have enough sides to hold one panel 16 independently, while remaining connectable to connectors 14 and other elongated beams 12. Many variations and modifications may be made to the above-described elongated beam 12 configurations without departing substantially from the spirit and principle of the invention. All such configurations and variations are intended to be included herein within the scope of the disclosure and the present invention and protected by the claims contained herein.

Many prospective design configurations exist for the connectors 14. The connectors 14 removeably connect to the elongated beams 12 and there are a variety of ways to design the connectors 14 and elongated beams 12 to allow them to removeably connect. The connectors 14 may pressure fit into the terminal ends 20 of the elongated beams 12 or the terminal ends 20 may pressure fit into the connectors 14. The connectors 14 and the terminal ends 20 may be threaded to allow them to removeably connect. Many variations and modifications may be made to the above-described connectors 14 and the removeable connection between the connectors 14 and the terminal ends 20 without departing substantially from the spirit and principle of the invention. All such configurations and variations are intended to be included herein within the scope of the disclosure and the present invention and protected by the claims contained herein.

Many prospective configurations also exist for the cross-sectional shape of the elongated beams 12 and, in particular, the central bodies 18. FIGS. 3 a-3 e depict the cross-sectional view of four possible elongated beam 12 configurations. FIG. 3 a depicts the cross-sectional view of a generally cylindrical elongated beam 34. FIG. 3 b and FIG. 3 c depict the cross-sectional view of an X-shaped elongated beam 36. FIG. 3 d depicts the cross-sectional view of an elongated beam 12 having two u-shaped protrusions 38. This design could include greater or fewer U-shaped protrusions 38 and the angle of the U-shaped protrusions 38 relative to each other may vary. FIG. 3 e depicts the cross-sectional view of an elongated beam 12 having two attachment elements 40 integral with the elongated beam 12. These configurations are four examples of the many possible designs for the elongated beam 12 configurations.

An important element of any selected cross-sectional shape of the elongated beams 12 is providing a panel 16 shaped to be removeably and engageably received by at least two of the elongated beams 12. Each panel 16 has at least one edge 24. The shape of the panel 16 determines the number of edges 24 on the panel 16. A circular panel 16 may have only one edge 24, while a square panel 16 has four edges 24. Each edge 24 may be designed such that a cross-section of the edge 24 is consistent substantially along the length of the edge 24. The cross-section of the edge 24 is formed with this consistency in some embodiments of the invention because in those embodiments, it is the length of the edge 24 that is received by the elongated beams 12. By designing the length of the edge 24 to engage the elongated beam 12, the chance of breaking off a critical piece of the engagement mechanism is diminished. Also, if the panel 16 is supported at every point along its circumference by one of the edges 24 engaging with an elongated beam 12, the panel 16 is held more sturdily than if the panel 16 were only held at a few select points along its circumference.

FIGS. 3 a-3 e depict panels 16 engageable with the corresponding elongated beams 12. FIG. 3 a depicts the cross-sectional view of a panel 16 having a concave edge 40 engageable with the generally cylindrical elongated beam 34. FIG. 3 b depicts the cross-sectional view of a panel 16 having a square edge 42 engageably received within beam gaps 44 in the X-shaped elongated beam 36. FIG. 3 c depicts the cross-sectional view of a panel 16 having a slotted edge 46 engageable with single protrusions 48 in the X-shaped elongated beam 36. FIG. 3 d depicts the cross-sectional view of a panel 16 having a square edge 42 engageable with beam gaps 44 in the elongated beam 12 having two u-shaped protrusions 38. FIG. 3 e depicts the cross-sectional view of a panel 16 having edges 24 engageable with the attachment elements 40 integral with the elongated beam 12. The attachment elements 40 may include fabrics having adhesive properties, such as hook and eye fabrics, magnets, chemical adhesives or other similar items known to those with skill in the art. Furthermore, the attachment elements may be integral with the elongated beams 12, the panels 16, or both. These configurations are four examples of the many possible designs for the edges 24 on the panels 16 and the configurations from making the panels 16 removeably engageable with the elongated beams 12.

The panels 16 include a wide variety of designs and configurations. The panels 16 are preferably constructed of a material selected from a group of foams and flexible plastics. Using one of these materials is intended to allow one the panels 16 to be pushed within an already closed circuit of elongated beams 12 and connectors 14. While being pushed into the closed circuit, the panel 16 is expected to bow, as a circumference of the panel 16 is slightly greater than an inner circumference of the closed circuit. Once pushed within the closed circuit of elongated beams 12 and connectors 14, the panel 16 engages with the elongated beams 12 in the closed circuit and resiliently returns to its original shape, making it pressure fit within the closed circuit. This assembly method would not be possible with a rigid plastic or with a less resilient material, such as cardboard.

The panels 16 may be formed in any shape that will fit on or within interconnected elongated beams 12. The panels may be any geometric shape or combination of shapes and may be planar or may be curved or angled, so long as the shape fits on or within interconnected elongated beams 12. The panels 16 may contain an image imprinted on at least one of the faces 22 of the panel 16. Having a set of panels 16 with a variety of images allows a child to build different environments in which to play with dolls or action figures. One or both of the faces 22 of the panel 16 may be blank to allow a child to draw their own image onto the faces 22. The panels 16 may also have paper, or a similar writeable face material, adhesively attached to at least one of the faces 22. Similarly, the faces 22 may be constructed to receive glitter, stickers or other applications. As further described herein, the panels 16 may be designed to be pressure fit within two or more elongated beams 12, may be attached to the elongated beams 12, may be interlocked within the elongated beams 12, or may be otherwise removeably engaged to the elongated beams 12. Many variations and modifications may be made to the above-described panel 16 configurations without departing substantially from the spirit and principle of the invention.

Using the elongated beams 12, connectors 14, and panels 16 as detailed, various forms can be constructed. An example of one form, based on the first exemplary embodiment, is shown in FIGS. 4 and 5. FIG. 4 is a front view of the first exemplary embodiment of the present invention from FIG. 2, shown in a first assembled form. FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of the first exemplary embodiment of the present invention from FIG. 2 and FIG. 4, shown in the first assembled form. The first assembled form is a simple rectangle. The sides of the rectangular shape are elongated beams 12. Connectors 14 interconnect the elongated beams 12 to complete a rectangular frame. A rectangular panel 16 is fitted with the rectangular frame. As shown in the cross-sectional view of FIG. 5, the panel 16 is fitted between two elongated beams 12 featuring u-shaped protrusions 38. From the simple assembled form in FIG. 4 and FIG. 5, more complicated forms may be created.

FIG. 6 and FIG. 7 show one possible object than can be assembled with the building toy set 10. FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the first exemplary embodiment of the present invention, shown in a second assembled form, without the panels 16. FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the first exemplary embodiment of the present invention, shown in the second assembled form of FIG. 6, with panels 16 inserted. This second assembled form is just one of the many objects that can be constructed with the building toy set 10. A child using the building toy set 10 may opt to insert only some of the panels 16, thereby allowing the child to use other toys within an interior of the assembled form.

The flow chart of FIG. 8 shows the architecture, functionality, and operation of a possible implementation of the building toy set 10 of FIG. 2, FIG. 4, and FIG. 5. In this regard, each block represents a module or segment for implementing the specified steps. It should also be noted that in some alternative implementations, the functions noted in the blocks may occur out of the order noted in FIG. 8. For example, two blocks shown in FIG. 8 may in fact be executed substantially concurrently or the blocks may sometimes be executed in the reverse order, depending upon the functionality involved, as will be clarified herein below.

One method 200 for constructing the assembled form in FIGS. 4 and 5 is shown in FIG. 8. To construct the assembled form, a frame must be assembled (block 202), using the elongated beams 12 and connectors 14, and a panel 16 fitted within the frame (block 204). One way to accomplish this method is to first build a portion of the rectangular frame first using the elongated beams 12 and connectors 14. The panel 16 is then fitted within the partially assembled frame. Then the rest of the frame is built, enclosing the panel 16 on all sides by elongated beams 12. Another way to begin to construct the assembled form in FIGS. 4 and 5 is to build the entire rectangular frame first using the elongated beams 12 and connectors 14. Then the panel 16, which can be made of a flexible material, selected from a group of foams and plastics, is pressure-fit into the rectangular frame.

While the closed circuit of elongated beams 12 and connectors 14 shown in FIG. 4 and FIG. 5 is rectangular and having only four sides, other closed circuits may be constructed of having any number of sides and the sides of the frame may be of any elongated beam 12 shape. Also, as shown in FIG. 7, a collection of closed circuits with panels 16 fitted therein may be combined to construct larger objects. Another possibility in constructing an assembled form would be to make the frame of elongated beams 12 and connectors 14 an open circuit instead of a closed circuit, as the circuit of elongated beams 12 need only have enough sides so as to retain the panel 16. Many variations and modifications may be made to the above-described methods of using the building toy set 10 without departing substantially from the spirit and principle of the invention.

It should be emphasized that the above-described embodiments of the present invention are merely possible examples of implementations, merely set forth for a clear understanding of the principles of the invention. Many variations and modifications may be made to the above-described embodiment(s) of the invention without departing substantially from the spirit and principles of the invention. All such modifications and variations are intended to be included herein within the scope of this disclosure and the present invention and protected by the following claims.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US8382548Dec 23, 2009Feb 26, 2013Mattel, Inc.Toy building blocks
US8429874Apr 4, 2011Apr 30, 2013David G. SchneiderDouble-Y modular framing rhombicuboctahedron construction system
Classifications
U.S. Classification446/85
International ClassificationA63H33/04, A63H33/08
Cooperative ClassificationA63H33/08
European ClassificationA63H33/08