US 3518786 A
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July 7, 1970 J. H. HOLTVOIGT 3,513,785
BLOCK WITH RESILIENT FOAM CORE AND PLASTIC COVER Filed April 30, 1968 JOHN H. HOLTVOIGT ATTORNEYS United States Patent 3,518,786 BLOCK WITH RESILIENT FOAM CORE AND PLASTIC COVER John H. Holtvoigt, Tipp City, Ohio, assignor to The Dolly Toy Co., Tipp City, Ohio, a corporation of Ohio Filed Apr. 30, 1968, Ser. No. 725,366
Int. Cl. A63h 33/06 US. CI. 46-24 2 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A childs safety toy block constructed of resilient and flexible materials so that the child will not be injured if he falls on or attempts to bite into the block. The block includes a flexible outer shell of vinyl plastic having the configuration of a cube which surrounds a similarly shaped cube of polyurethane open cell foam which always returns the configuration of the block to its original shape.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION One of the most popular toys for young children is building blocks made of wood and colorfully painted with numbers, animal pictures, etc. These blocks have aided the development of the childs ability to utilize its hands, as well as the recognition of the material painted on the blocks. In addition, they permitted the child to play by himself and to be occupied for substantial periods of time.
However, these blocks often caused injury to the child when he would fall on the blocks causing painful bruises and sometimes cuts. Moreover, young children, while they are teething, frequently insert the block in the mouth and attempt to chew on the wood. As a result, slivers and small pieces of wood were frequently swallowed, as well as the paint chipped from the blocks, creating sickness of the child. A further disadvantage of these blocks is that they are rather heavy so that when the child threw the block it could do substantial damage when hitting a piece of Wooden furniture or another child or adult.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION Accordingly, this invention provides a safety toy block which will not normally create injuries when a child falls on, chews, or throws it. The block includes an outer shell having a predetermined configuration and constructed from a relatively thin flexible material which can be printed. The shell surrounds a core of resilient foam having an outer shape substantially identical to the predetermined configuration of the outer shell for maintaining the configuration of the outer shell while permitting the block to be resilient.
In the preferred embodiment, the block is a cube, the outer shell is composed of a soft vinyl plastic and the foam material is polyurethane open cell foam. In addition, in the preferred embodiment, the outer shell is substantially sealed so that it is air tight and the air provides a portion of the resilience of the block. The block is also light weight, inexpensive, free from sharp edges, and colorfully printed.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a plurality of stacked blocks in accordance with the invention;
FIG. 2 is a larger perspective view of one of the blocks;
FIG. 3 is an exploded view showing the various components of the block before assembly;
FIG. 4 is a sectional view taken along the line 4-4 of FIG. 2;
FIG. 5 is an enlargement of one corner of the block;
FIG. 6 is a fragmentary view of a portion of the polyurethane open cell foam; and
FIG. 7 is a perspective view showing the manner in which the block deforms under pressure.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT FIGS. 1 and 2 illustrate the toy blocks 10 in accordance with the invention in form of cubes having the outer shell or cover 11 with four side Walls 12, 13, 14 and 15 and the top and bottom walls 16 and 17. Each of the Walls is colorfully printed so that the blocks 10 are attractive to children and so they provide an educational purpose when the child begins to recognize the letters and the animal figures thereon.
The shell 11 can be cut from an endless strip of material having a width equal to the height of the block so that the four side walls 12-15 are formed integrally and the extreme ends 18 of the strip are secured together to form a short tubular section (FIG. 3). The top and bottom walls 16 and 17 can likewise be cut from the strip and be secured to the top edges 21 and the bottom edges 22 of the block 10 in a conventional manner.
The outer shell 11 is preferably made of a soft flexible vinyl plastic which allows the seams or edges 18, 21 and 22 to be sealed dielectrically by the use of high frequency current. In addition, it is desirable to form a crease at each of the corners 23 of the block to facilitate formation and maintenance of the square corners and edges on the blocks 10. Moreover, the outer shell may be provided with a vent to prohibit bursting thereof when a substantial force is applied thereto.
The inner core 25 (FIGS. 3 and 4) is likewise a cube having dimensions substantially identical to the inner dimensions of the outer shell 11 so that the core always provides the resilience for returning the outer shell to its original configuration. As shown in the greatly enlarged view of FIG. 6, the preferred material is polyurethane open cell foam which is composed of uniformly distributed interconnecting strands 26 which form a three-dimensional structure of openings or pores, without a covering membrane or surface of the type often found in foam rubber materials. The random arrangement of the pores eliminates straight channels through this material so that air flows readily therethrough with minimum resistance. While the pores are not precisely the same size, they are predominately within a range of similar sizes so that the air flow therethrough is uniform throughout.
Thus, when the block 10 is properly formed, the open cell foam core 25 permits the travel of air from one portion of the block to another without any substantial restriction as would occur with conventional closed cell foams. The block 10 therefore acts as if it is filled with air with the foam providing little resistance to deformation, but providing the force for always returning the block to its original configuration.
The numerous safety features make the block 10 exceptionally suited for use by a child. Because the block is light in weight, it can be easily lifted by the child, and will do little or no damage to furniture or another child if thrown. The light weight allows the block to be made larger, e.g. 34 inches on a side, whereas a wooden block of the same size would be too heavy for a young child. Likewise, the child will not be injured if he falls on the block and, in fact, the block will cushion his fall. Because of the flexible outer shell 11, the child cannot puncture the block or otherwise be harmed by attempting to chew on the block. The use of vinyl outer shell permits each of the walls 1217 to be printed continuously, e.g. by a web press, if so desired thereby reducing the cost of manufacturing.
While the block has been shown as a cube, it is within the scope of the invention to use other configurations, such as pyramids, cones, spheres, etc. Likewise the materials used for the outer shell 11 can be varied without departing from the scope of the invention so long as they provide a soft flexible exterior for the core 25, which also may be formed of other foam materials so long as the necesary resilience is provided to the block.
While the form of apparatus herein described constitute a preferred embodiment of the invention, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited to this precise form of apparatus, and that changes may be made therein without departing from the scope of the invention.
What is claimed is:
1. A childs safety toy block comprising a unitary core of resilient foam formed in a symmetrical geometric three-dimensional configuration including at least two substantially planar surfaces defining respectively the top and bottom thereof, said foam having interconnected pores so that air may move without substantial restriction from one portion of the core to another thus providing little resistance to deformation upon the application of a distorting force to one or more of the surfaces thereof while providing a constant restoring force tending to return the block fully to its original configuration upon the removal of such distorting force, and side surfaces connecting said top and bottom surfaces, and a soft, thin, flexible and printable heat sealable plastic covering formed about said core and closely conforming to the shape of said core including surfaces corresponding to said core surfaces in closely spaced but non-adhesive relation thereto, said plastic covering being heat sealed without substantial overlap about two perimeters of said core corresponding to the junctions of the sides thereof with its top surface thereof and its bottom surface fully l'il References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,451,075 6/1969 Woodard 5-355 X 1,465,637 8/1923 Goss. 2,713,746 7/1955 Haugh. 2,968,104 1/ 1961 Ito. 3,185,476 5/1965 Fechner 27358 1,314,541 9/1919 Seeger 46-24 FOREIGN PATENTS 920,161 3/1963 Great Britain.
OTHER REFERENCES Gerber Toy Lines, Mar. 10, 1966, p. 835, Alphabet Blocks.
Foamcraft Specialties Inc., Mar. Blocks.
10, 1966, Foam F. BARRY SHAY, Primary Examiner US. Cl. X.R. 5355; 273-58