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Publication numberUS3032919 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateMay 8, 1962
Filing dateAug 15, 1960
Priority dateFeb 22, 1960
Publication numberUS 3032919 A, US 3032919A, US-A-3032919, US3032919 A, US3032919A
InventorsMax Amsler
Original AssigneeMax Amsler
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Building elements for toys, replicas and like articles
US 3032919 A
Abstract  available in
Images(2)
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

BUILDING ELEMENTS FOR TOYS, REPLICAS AND LIKE ARTICLES Filed Aug. 15, 1960 M. AMSLER May 8, 1962 2 Sheets-Sheet 1 INVENTOR. /7 Mx 44/5252 M. AMSLER 3,032,919

BUILDING ELEMENTS FOR TOYS, REPLICAS AND LIKE ARTICLES May 8, 1962 2 Sheets-Sheet 2 mw E Z 5 6 m m2 H F F fay United States This invention relates to structural toy elements and more particularly to toy building and like elements, which may be manufactured from two different types of elastic or flexible materials, if desired.

It is one of the primary objects of the present invention to provide means facilitating assembly and disassembly of at least two elements preferably made of same or different plastic materials, whose inherent properties are taken advantage of to bring about a variety of structural configurations.

It is another object of the invention to provide means aiming at specific shapes of at least two elementary or basic members, which are light in weight, may be manufactured by injection molding and extrusion, respectively, are inexpensive and may offer contrasting colors, so that a plurality of such basic members or elements may lend themselvesto educational and esthetic structural compositions useful as toys, replicas and similar articles.

It is still another object of this invention to provide means contributing to the creation of very sturdy as wellas elastic basic members or elements, which have grooves and reinforcing ribs, ledges and like extensions affording easy and convenient assembly of such elements through frictional engagement and Without the'employment of any auxiliary or additional connecting pieces.

Yet a further object of the invention resides in the provision of means rendering the possibility of slidingly displacing a plurality of assembled elements relative to one or more of other assembled elements, to bring about certain symmetrical and asymmetrical effects in accordance with the individual wishes of a person using the assembled elements for demonstration and like purposes.

A still further object of'the present invention is to provide means conducive to setting up a great variety of replicas (of houses, machines and like units), as well as of my articles, to which further elements may be added, which are similar-to or dissimilar from the aforesaid two basic members or elements.

Yet a further object of the present invention is to provide means instrumental to stimulating the: imagination andthecreative faculties of a child or adult and envisioning compositions of varying and different kinds of objects for reproduction of the outlines, replicas and like configurations of such objects of great interest to human beings.

Still another object of the present invention is t provide means contributing to increased sturdiness of the aforesaid basic elements which may be made of springy or flexible materials and which permit not only sliding engagement of said elements with each other but also snap-in engagement and snap-out'disengagement' with respect to each other without any damage to such elements and parts thereof;-

These and other objects of the invention will become further apparent from the following detailed description, reference being made to the accompanying drawings showing preferred embodiments of theinvention.

In the drawings:

FIG; 1 is a perspective view of a toy in the form of a vehicle and embodying the. invention;

FIG. 2 is a bottom plan view of the toy of FIG. 1';

FIG. 3 is-a topplanview of one of the elements, representing a hollow body element constructed according to'the invention;

atent ice FIG. 3a is a section on an enlarged scale taken alongline 3a3a of FIG. 3;

FIG. 4 is a bottom view, somewhat in perspective, of the element of FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is an elevational view of two identical elements, one of which being seen from the open bottom thereof and in the process of being attached to a coupling piece or connector with which the other element with its exposed top surface is frictionally engaged;

FIG. 5a is a sectional view taken along line 5a5a of FIG. 5;

FIG. 6 is a somewhat perspective view of a connector or second element indicated in FIGS. 1, 2 and 5;

FIG. 7 is a top plan view of a first element made in accordance with the invention, somewhat modified;

FIG. 8 is an end view of the element of FIG. 7;

FIG. 9 is an elevational view of a modified second element made in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 10 is an end view thereof;

FIG. 11 is an elevational view of a further modified second element made in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 12 is an end view thereof;

FIG. 13 shows a second element according to the invention in the stage of being disengaged from a first element by swinging the latter transversely of an elongated groove of said second element, and

FIG. 14 shows, somewhat in perspective, a fragmentary view of a structural setup (toy house) demonstrating a composition of first and second elements, as specifically seen in FIGS. 3, 4 and 6.

Referring now more particularly to the annexed drawings, there is disclosed in FIG. 1 in a perspective view a three-dimensional building block arrangement, such as a toy article 10 forming a vehicle or carriage 10a equipped with wheels 11. As more specifically illustrated, carriage 10a consists of two rows 12 of elements 15, each of the latter presenting a hollow, bottomless body with a front or top wall 14 located to form the outer boundary of said element 15. The bottom 13 of said carriage is also made up of elements 15 and these bottom-forming elements are interconnected by means of another type of. elements, namely coupling and column-shaped elements 25 which releasably interconnect a plurality of elements 15 in a manner, as will be later explained.

Each element 15 which has a substantially fiat top portion or Wall 14 consists further of a lateral or skirt portion 16 depending from the perimetrical boundary of each top portion or wall 14. From this skirt portion projects a horizontally directed, relatively thin ledge portion 17 encircling the skirt portion, if desired, and located about midway the height of said skirt portion 16.

In the embodiment illustrated, each element 15 is square-shaped having corners about which the ledge portion 17 extends and includes corners 18. Theseledge portion corners 18 may be cut off, for example, at an angle of 45", if desired, but in the present case these corners 18 have rounded ends 18a.

The ledge portion or part 17 is thus divided in four sections, each having a top face 17a and a bottom-face 17b which are respectively provided at their outermost edges with elongated bosses or projections 19, 19a (preferably tw'o bosses 19) on the top face of each ledge section and staggered thereto three bosses19a on the bottom face (s'e'e FIGS. 3 and 4). These bosses orprojections are arranged a predetermined distance from each other, as shown, and form together with the ledge portion 17 a first male part of a detachable joint structure;

At'the' underface 14:; of each element 15 and at the inner face 23 of theskirt portion 16, there extend a plurality of rib means 20. Each of said rib means hasa' web 22 terminating'in an enlarged or circular-shaped end 221".

3 The web 22 of each rib abuts the inner face 23 of the upright skirt portion 16 and there are disposed two ribs 2t) adjacent each corner section 24 of each element 15, a

further median rib 20a being equidistantly spaced from the respective adjacent rib 20 of each corner section.

. It is to be noted that the dimensions and shape of the aforesaid top portion 14, of the skirt portion 16, of the ledge portion 17, bosses 19, 19a thereon and of the ribs 20, 20a of element 15 may be chosen in accordance with the desired structure to be built or set up (such as a toy, a house replica and the like). All these parts may be manufactured from a single piece of moldable plastic material either by injection molding or extrusion or any suitable process. Such material should have a certain springiness and not be liable to break so that it lends itself to composing a great variety of structural configurations in accordance with a persons idea and imagination.

The ribs 20, 20a contribute to the reinforcement of the hollow building block bodies or elements 15 and simultaneously form a second male part employable with female parts of connector or column-shaped elements or members 25 about to be described.

These elements 25 are shaped and constructed to interconnect adjacent elements 15 either at the ledge portions of the latter and/or at the rib means thereof.

To this end, each connector or coupling element 25 has a corner 26, as seen in perspective in FIG. 6.

Each element 25 has four elongated grooves 27 extending the entire length of the element 25 and being equally distributed over the circumference of the latter. These grooves 27 include each an undercut portion 27a located adjacent the median axis or center 28 of the element, so that the bosses 19, 19a and/ or enlarged rib ends 21 may engage said undercut portions 27a of the grooves, whereas the remainder of the walls 27b defining said grooves 27 frictionally embrace the substantially straight webs 22 of the ribs 20 or 20a and inner end 170 of ledge portion 17, which is devoid of bosses, as clearly seen in FIG. 3a. The aforesaid bosses 19, 19a are only grouped near the free end of the ledge part 17, whereas the remaining or inner end 170 is rather smooth to facilitate a slidable engagement of any of the grooves 27 of element 25 therewith.

Element 25 is like element 15, in the present instance, made of an extrudable plastic material or plastic composition. It has been found that polyethylene produced at low pressure by means of injection molding has demon-. strated to be of excellent suitability and has still sufficient flexibility or spn'nginess for the purposes of the invention.

The above described elements 15 and 25, their specific materials from which they are manufactured (polyamides, polyvinylchloride, spring steel etc.) and the particularly shaped parts thereof contribute to a very eflicacious and strong juncture or interconnection, which may be established by sliding elements 15 into respective grooves 27 of element 25 so that a strong frictional engagement is achieved.

If this interconnection or joint of elements 25 and 15 is to be released or disengaged, it is only required to bend element or elements 15 (due to their springy ledge portions 17) relative to and transversely of groove walls 27b of element 25 to easily bring about separation of the building blocks or elements. Consequently, elements 15 of FIG. 5 may he slid into respective opposite grooves 27 of element 25 in accordance with arrows B and C, or may be snapped under application of pressure into the respective grooves 27 in accordance with arrows D and E.

As can be further visualized from FIG. 2, the anchorage of each wheel 11 may be readily effectuated by frictionally forcing first hollow axle parts 11a, 11b, into engagement, whereby said wheel is rotatably held between said parts, as shown, and then the assembled wheel and axle parts 11a, 111; are force-fitted by means of pinshaped projection 110 in undercut portion 27a of the respective groove 27 of a transversely extending connector or coupling piece 25, whereas adjacent coupling pieces 25, which extend lengthwise of carriage 10a, are sutficiently spaced from each other to afford access for the insertion of axle part projection in said undercut hollow por tion 27a, as shown in the upper right hand end of FIG. 2.

In FIG. 2 the wheel units 11 are partly shown in section (at the upper right hand end) and partly in the process of being assembled (at the lower right hand end).

It is further to be noted, that rows 12 of assembled elements 15 may be displaced not only singly, but also together along respective registering grooves 27 of adjacent lower coupling or connector elements 25, as is well understood from FIGS. 1 and 2.

It is to be noted that the aforementioned rib means 20, 23a, terminating in thickened or enlarged ends 21, as well as the ledge means 17 carrying end bosses 19, 19a mutually contribute to inner and outer reinforcements for the dependent skirt 16 (FIG. 3a), said rib means being connected to the inner face 23 of the skirt and to the underface 14a of the top wall of element 15 on the one hand, said ledge means being reinforced by said bosses and in turn stiffening said skirt 16 therewithout on the other hand.

Referring now in particular to FIGS. 7 and 8, there is shown a first element 30 (similar to element 15) having a plurality of separate corner ledge means 31. Each ledge means 31 has an oblique cut-off edge 32 and bears respective end boss means 33. Otherwise, element 30 is made in accordance with the element of FIG. 3 having a skirt portion 34 beyond which said ledge means 31 extend. With each element 30 may be used either a second element of the type indicated by numeral 25, as seen in FIG. 6, or connector elements of the type shown in FIGS. 9 to 12.

Connector element 35 is similar in construction to that shown in FIG. 6 with the exception that the grooves 37 do not extend the entire length of the connector element 35 as do the grooves 27 of FIG. 6. The opposed partial grooves 37 of FIG. 9 terminate rather short of the middle portion 36 of said connector 35 and for assembly purposes may be pressed against adjacent ledges 31 so that the latter, according to arrow F, snap into the grooves 27 for location on and engagement with element 30 from which element 35 may be again readily disengaged in a manner as later referred to.

As seen in FIGS. 9 and 10, the ends of grooves 37 are hollowed at 37a in order to control and afford flexibility or springiness for the partial grooves 37 which extend from the outermost ends 35a of connector element 35 towards the middle 36 thereof.

Connector element 45 of FIG. 11 is somewhat simi=- larly constructed as the connector element 25 of FIG. 6 with the exception that grooves 47 also extend only from the outermost ends 45a toward the solid center 46 of connector element 45, said grooves 47 being undercut at 47a in a similar manner as the undercut portions 27a'of the connector element 25 of FIG. 6.

The walls 47b defining the respective grooves 47 of connector 45 embrace respective bosses 33 of ledge sections 31, as indicated in phantom lines in FIG. 7 in regard to element 35 or 45, as the case may be. Such-element 35 is snapped onto respective ledge section 31 by exerting a pressure in accordance with arrow F.

In this way connector elements 35 and 45 may be snapped onto the ledge means 31 of elements 30, as it is well understood (FIG. 7). the former embodiments shown, ledge portions 17 or 31 may be readily separated from the connector piece 25, 35, or 45, as the case may be, by bending or flexing the elements in transverse direction of the grooves 27, 37, or 47, according to arrow A, as clearly demonstrated in FIG. 13.

FIG. 14 shows the application of the'invention in connection with a combined structural set-up 5Q demonstrat- In these cases, as well as in ing aportion of a replica of a building, thereby clarifying simultaneously the great variety to which the aforedescribed elements may be subjected or are capable of being employed.

It can thus be seen, that, there has been disclosed, according to the invention, a. building block system which employs, in. combination, a plurality of hollow bodies open at the bottom and forming a series of first elements of substantially identical shape, respectively, with at lea-st one elongated coupling piece forming a second element and adapted to interconnect said first elements with and for-removal from eachother, said first elements and said second elementbeing made of materials having different inherent springy properties, each of said first elements including an upper portion presenting a substantially planar surface, a skirt portion depending from and located at the perimetrical boundary of said upper portion, a ledge portionlocated about midway the height of said skirt portion and at the outer surface thereof, said ledge portion having upper and lower faces and extending beyondsaid skirt portion and said upper portion, said upper and lower faces of said ledge portion being provided with projections, thereby to form a first male part, rib means.

each provided with an enlarged free end and confined within each hollow body, each of said rib-means extending from the inner surface of said skirt portion and perpendicular thereto and forming a second male part, said coupling pieces being provided with a plurality of parallel grooves extending lengthwise of and into said coupling piece, said grooves forming respective female parts and having each an undercut portion for engaging either first and second male parts, the springiness of said male parts being relatively different from that of the female parts, so that said hollow bodies when engaged with said coupling piece may be bent at their rib means and their ledge portions across and relative to the respective grooves of said coupling piece without causing any breakage thereat, thereby efiectuating removal of the bodies from said coupling piece.

Various changes and modifications may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention and it is intended that such obvious changes and modifications be embraced by the annexed claims.

Having thus described the invention, what is claimed as new and desired to be secured by Letters Patent is:

1. In a building block system for use as a threedimensional toy and like article, the combination of a plurality of hollow bodies open at the bottom and forming a series of first elements of substantially identical shape, respectively, with at least one elongated coupling piece forming a second element and adapted to interconnect said first elements with and for removal from each other, said first elements and said second element being made of materials having different inherent springy properties, each of said first elements including an upper portion presenting a substantially planar surface, a skirt portion depending from and located at the perimetrical boundary of said upper portion, a ledge portion located about midway the height of said skirt portion and at the outer surface thereof, said ledge portion having upper and lower faces and extending beyond said skirt portion and said upper portion, said upper and lower faces of said ledge portion being provided with projections, thereby to form a first male part, rib means each provided with an enlarged free end and confined within each hollow body, each of said rib means extending from the inner surface of said skirt portion and perpendicular thereto and forming a second male part, said coupling piece being provided with a plurality of parallel grooves extending lengthwise of and into said coupling piece, said grooves forming respective female parts and having each an undercut portion for engaging either first or second male parts, the springiness of said male parts being relatively different from that of the female parts, so that said hollow bodies when engaged with said coupling piece 6 may be bent at their rib means and their ledge portions across and relative to the respective grooves of said coupling piece without causing any breakage thereat, thereby effectuating removal of the bodies from said coupling piece.

2. A building block structure employable in toys and similar articles for educational and like purposes; comprising at least three elements, two ofsaid elements being identical in shape and springiness, the other of said elements being of different springiness and adapted to interconnect said two elements with each other, each of said two elements including a plate portion, a skirt portion depending from said plate portion, a ledge portion having upper and lower surfaces integral with said skirt portion, said ledge portion projecting from and beyondthe skirt portion and being located about midway of said skirt portion, said ledge portion forming a tongue and being. provided with a plurality of bosses located on the upper and lower surfaces of said ledge portion, said other of said elements forming a. lengthy piece of material having a plurality of longitudinal grooves provided with undercut parts located near the longitudinal center line of said lengthy piece and adapted to frictionally engage and retain the respective bosses of said ledge portions of either of said two elements, whereby the latter may be slid by means of the ledge portions lengthwise of said grooves for location of said bosses in said undercut parts, said ledge portions being disengageable from said grooves of said other element by bending said two elements relative" to said other element in transverse direction of the length of said grooves without destroying said ledge portions and said grooves due to the difference in springiness of the materials of said two elements and of said other element and upright rib means'extending from the inner surface of said skirt portion and the underface of said plate portion, said rib means being substantially coex-' tensive in height with the respective skirt portion and being each provided with a thickened end part for insertion in and retention by one of the grooves and cor responding undercut part of said other element.

3. A structure according to claim 2, each of said two elements being square-shaped and provided with ledge portion sections terminating at the respective corners of said square-shaped element.

4. A structure according to claim 2, said rib means being located adjacent each corner of said square-shaped elements and about intermediate two adjacent corners thereof, whereby one or more grooves of said other element may be brought into engagement with said rib mean, selectively.

5. A structure according to claim 4, the length of said other element corresponding substantially to the length of one of said ledge portion sections.

6. The combination, in a toy building block, of one or more polygonal, hollow blocks open at the underface thereof and provided with a smooth top portion, with a skirt portion depending from said top portion and with a ledge portion projecting beyond said skirt portion and extending in a plane substantially parallel to said top portion, with at least one column-forming lengthy connecting member for frictional engagement with the ledge portion of said block, said member being provided with a plurality of grooves extending lengthwise of and into the surface of said member, so as to frictionally embrace the ledge portion of one of said blocks and to interconnect the latter with the ledge portion of another of said blocks via another groove of said member, projecting means forming parts of said ledge portions of said blocks, said grooves of said member being provided with undercut parts located adjacent the center line of said member and adapted to engage said projecting means of said ledge portions to retain said blocks on said member, said ledge portions and the walls defining the grooves of said member being made of sufficiently springy material to permit disengagement of said blocks from said connecting member by bending said blocks in transverse direction of said grooves, so that said ledge portions free themselves from the retention in said grooves Without breakage of said ledge portions and said walls of said grooves, and rib means provided with thickened ends and located within the confines of said hollow blocks, said thickened ends being shaped and positioned to extend a predetermined distance from the inner surface of said skirt portion, so that an end of one of said grooves may slidably engage one of said rib means with its thickened end.

7. A toy building block system comprising a plurality of hollow first elements constituting when interconnected to each other a predetermined area configuration, a plurality of elongated second elements constituting means for interconnecting said first elements, respectively, each of said first elements being made of a single piece of material and including a substantially flat plate, skirt means having an inner and an outer face and depending from said plate at right angles to the latter, said plate having an outer face and an underface, a plurality of rib means each extending from and perpendicular to said underface of said plate and being connected to the inner face of said skirt means, thereby to reinforce the latter at the inner face thereof, said ribmeans forming first male parts for each of said first elements, ledge means projecting from the outer face of said skirt means approximately midway thereof and a predetermined distance beyond said skirt means, thereby to reinforce the latter at the outer face thereof, and boss means located on said ledge means and forming second male parts for said first elements, each of said second elements being provided with at least partial parallel groove means, said groove means extending in axial direction of each of said elongated second elements and having a cross section corresponding to the shape of said rib means and said boss means of said ledge means, thereby to facilitate frictional engagement with said rib means and with the boss means of said ledge means, selectively, and to establish interconnection between said first and second elements, which may be released by moving said elements in transverse direction of said groove means.

8. A toy system according to claim 7, said boss means being disposed at the top and bottom surfaces of said ledge means at the outermost end of the latter, the boss means on the top surface of said ledge means being arranged in staggered relation to the boss means on the bottom surface of said ledge means.

9. A toy system according to claim 7, said rib means including each enlargements located at the ends of said rib means and distanced from said inner face of said skirt means.

10. A toy system according to claim 7, said rib means being stiffened by enlargements located at the ends of said rib means and a distance away from the inner surface of said ledge means, said boss means extending directly at the ends of said ledge means.

11. A toy system according to claim 7, the walls defining the grooves of said second elements being of greater flexibility than said rib means and said ledge means.

References Cited in the file of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,426,087 Metcalfe Aug. 15, 1922 2,035,081 Lower Mar. 24, 1936 2,388,297 Slaughter Nov. 6, 1945 2,800,743 Meehan et al. July 30, 1957 2,968,118 Paulson Jan. 17, 1961 FOREIGN PATENTS 553,682 Germany June 29, 1932' 780,230 France Jan. 26, 1935 1.l80,3l6 France Dec. 29, 1958

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Classifications
U.S. Classification446/112, 446/116, 446/95, 446/124
International ClassificationA63H33/04, A63H33/08
Cooperative ClassificationA63H33/084
European ClassificationA63H33/08G