US 3648404 A
In a toy building set, connector units have a plurality of relatively angularly disposed connector arms radiation from a common center for each unit with each arm having a generally cylindrical or spherical male connector portion, or both, which serve as releasable connecting members for press-fitting insertion through openings in sheets of selected shapes and tubes of selected lengths. The tubes are constructed to expand when fitted over the spherical male portions to provide a tenacious grip with a substantial degree of angular movement therebetween. Shoulder portions on the connector arms may be provided to limit the extent of movement of the sheets and tubes along the connector arms for square corners and resulting structures which conform to a selected scale.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent Ogsbury et al. 1 Mar. 14, 11972  CONNECTOR UNIT HAVING RADIAL 3,458,949 8/1969 Young ..46/29 x ARMS F R STRAIGHT 0R ANGULAR 3,469,339 9/1969 Thomas ..46/28 CONNECTIONS  Inventors: Charles S. Ogsbury, Gold Hill; Don C. Witte, Salina Star Route, Boulder, both of C010.
 Filed: Apr. 14, 1969  Appl. No.: 815,605
 U.S.Cl ..46/29,46/31  Int. C1 ..A63h 33/10, A63h 33/12  Field of Search ..46/22, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 46/31; 35/18.5
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,414,716 1/1947 Carson ..46/31 3,176,428 4/1965 Slingluff ....46/29 X 1,817,775 8/1931 Sipe 46/29 UX 2,410,874 1 1/1946 Greenberg et al. ..46/29 2,810,233 10/1957 .lakobsen ....46/28 2,920,400 1/ 1960 Subluskey.. .35/ 18.5 2,972,833 2/1961 Grutta ..46/25 3,195,266 7/1965 Onanian..... ....46/29 R 3,405,479 10/ 1968 Paulson ..46/27 X FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS 246,854 9/1963 Australia...
643,875 7/1962 Canada ...46/28 1,401,015 4/1965 France... ....46/3l 832,726 7/1938 France ..46/29 Primary Examiner-F. Barry Shay Attorney-John E. Reilly  ABSTRACT when fitted over the spherical male portions to provide a tena cious grip with a substantial degree of angular movement therebetween. Shoulder portions on the connector arms may be provided to limit the extent of movement of the sheets and tubes along the connector arms for square corners and resulting structures which conform to a selected scale.
7 1 Claim, 12 Drawing Figures PATENTEDMAR 14 I972 SHEET 1 OF 2 IN VE NTOR S. OGSBURY DON C. W/TTE CHARLES A TTORNE Y PATENTEBMAR 14 m2 5 INVENTOR. CHARLES S. OGSBURY DON C. WI TTE BY l,
A'TTOZIY CONNECTOR UNIT IIAVING RADIAL ARMS FOlR STRAIGHT R ANGULAR CONNECTIONS This invention relates to construction toys and more particularly to toys adapted for releasable connection with tubes and apertured sheets and is related to our copending application entitled Releasably Interlocking Toys and Connectable Members Therefor.
As noted in our copending application, toy construction sets may challenge the creative ability of the user according to the possible interconnection between units and of necessity the toys require a high degree of mechanical strength. In the past construction toys have generally been composed of relatively complex parts with a limited degree of versatility as to possible combinations and the results have been unnecessarily expensive in manufacturing and generally prior sets have not had adequate flexibility with full ease of assembly and disassembly.
Accordingly, it is an object of this invention to provide a plurality of simple and durable toy connector units which may be connected to other apertured toys in a variety of ways and are relatively easy to assembly and disassemble.
Another object of this invention is to provide a plurality of connector units which are inexpensive to manufacture and combinable with other relatively inexpensive members, such as, rods, tubes and apertured sheets in a manner to afiord versatility as well as high mechanical strength.
Yet a further object of this invention is to provide a combination connector unit and tube assembly whereby a terminal spherical end portion expands the tube upon insertion therein to form a strong and versatile flexible connection therebetween.
Still a further object of this invention is to provide a toy construction set including connector units having a plurality of relatively angularly disposed terminal spherical or cylindrical connector portions or both, usable as comer-type pieces for releasably connecting with pliable tubes or apertured sheets to form desired shapes.
It is still a further object of this invention to provide a toy construction set composed of relatively inexpensive tubes and apertured sheets having openings of uniform diameter and connector units having a plurality of relatively angularly disposed connector arms having generally spherical or cylindrical male connector portions of uniform sizes to press-fit into the openings to make up a variety of structures.
In accordance with the present invention, a construction set has a plurality of connector units having relatively angularly disposed connector arms with terminal spherical or cylindrical male connector portions arranged about a common center for interconnection with a tube of selected size and lengths, or apertured sheet material of selected shapes, or a combination of both, the openings in the tubes and sheets being of a uniform diameter. These connector units serve as connecting members for the tubes or apertured sheets to establish different angular connections and arrangements in the formation of toy structures. The tubes are pliable and proportioned in size to expand when fitted over a terminal spherical male connector portion for a tenacious grip along with a flexible connection therebetween. Shoulder portions inwardly of the ends of the terminal male connector portions limit inward movement of the tubes and sheet material to form square corners and result in harmonious structures which will conform to a required scale.
Other objects, advantages and capabilities of the present invention will become more apparent as the description proceeds taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:
FIG. I is a perspective view of an assembly of toy connector units, tubes and a rod embodying features of the present invention.
FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view taken through one of the toy connector units of FIG. 1.
FIG. 3 is a perspective view of another form of connector unit having a tube fastened to one of its terminal spherical connector portions.
FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of FIG. 3 with the tube being moved inwardly from that shown in FIG. 3 and forced over the cylindrical connector portion.
FIG. 5 is a perspective view of an assembly of two similar connector units with cylindrical connector portions joined side by side with a tube.
FIG. 6 is a sectional view taken along lines 6-6 of FIG. 5.
FIG. 7 is a perspective view of an assembly of a pair of similar connector units of a modified form with shoulders for limiting the movement of a tube along the male connector portions, the tube connecting the units being together with a second tube at right angles to the first.
FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view taken along lines 8--8 of FIG. 7.
FIG. 9 is a perspective view of an assembly having apertured sheets connected with the connector unit of a modified form.
FIG. 10 is a side elevation view of the toy assembly shown in FIG. 9;
FIG. 11 is a perspective view of another modified form of cylindrical connector unit shown attached to an apertured sheet; and
FIG. I2 is a cross-sectional view of a modified form of shaping for the connector arms.
Referring now to FIG. I, there is shown an illustrative assembly composed of four typical tubes III, I2, I3 and I4 connected at their ends by typical connector units I6, I7, I8 and I9; the units having portions hereafter described fully pressfitting into the ends of the tubes to make up a four-sided structural assembly together with a rod 20 shown as secured within unit 17 which may support this unit and the assembly.
Connector unit I7 is exemplary of one preferred embodiment and generally comprises a hollow cylindrical hub 22 having four connector arms 23 radiating outwardly from the hub at equally spaced intervals from a common center. Each connector arm 23 is of an identical size and shape and includes a narrower base or spoke portion 23a attached to the hub and an enlarged male connector portion 23b of spherical shape formed at the outer end of the spoke portion.
Unit 19 is exemplary of another form of toy for a set and generally comprises a hollow cylindrical hub 24 similar in construction and size to hub 22 having connector arms 25 radiating outwardly from the hub from a common center at equally spaced, 90 intervals; the connector arms 25 being of an identical size and shape. Each connector arm 25, in contrast to those of connector unit 17 above described, has a constant cross section throughout its length and is generally cylindrical with the basic cylindrical shape being modified to the extent of having a longitudinal slot at 25a for added yieldability when forced into the tube or apertured sheets hereafter described to provide easier assembly and disassembly of the parts.
The connector arms of units I7 and I9 are similar in that each arm has a male portion of generally circular cross section to provide friction surfaces which are sized to press fit into the tubes and apertured sheets. The term generally as applied to the spherical, cylindrical and circular shapes referred to herein is intended to characterize the connector arms and male portions which are modified to the: extent of having radial segments or portions removed from these shapes such as the longitudinal slots, being hollow or having radial segments removed to save material as described hereinafter.
In a set of toy connector units the openings of all the tubes and of the external dimension of the male connector portions of the plural angularly disposed connector arms of both forms of connector units are dimensionally related and proportioned so as to press-fit one with the other. In addition, the external diameter of the hub is essentially the same as that of the spherical and cylindrical male connector portions so that the tubes will press-fit over the hub in a similar manner as illustrated in FIG. I between the hub unit I8 and tube I3. Preferably, the hub will extend outwardly from the center of the unit an equal distance on each side and approximately the same distance as the radiating connectors to provide two additional cylindrical male connector portions at right angles to the others for added flexibility and permit the unit to be used as a six-way connector for tubes to form molecular type structures and the like, as it is readily apparent from the assembly of FIG. 1 that similar tubes may be press-fitted on the other exposed angularly disposed connector arms and hubs.
Toy unit 17 with spherical terminal connector portions 23b advantageously permits considerable flexibility in the angular relationship between the end of the assembled tubes. As best shown in FIG. 2 the tube 13 is of a relatively thin-walled construction and has an internal diameter slightly less than the outer diameter of the spherical portion 23b so that the end of the tube will expand as it is moved thereover. The resulting connection between the tube and spherical portion is a tenacious gripping action so that the structure formed will hold to its configuration even when supported from one part such as the single rod 20. At the same time this gripping action permits the structure to be reshaped with a wide degree of flexural movement between the tubes and the spherical portions. 7
For example, in the event the four tubes shown in FIG. 1 were connected at each of the four comers to terminal spherical portions the configuration would be capable of being reshaped to a wider variety of configurations and without breaking the corner connections between the tubes and the connector units. It is also noted that the narrower portion 23a permits the tubes to turn or move through wider angles when the tube does not extend all of the way onto the connector but only far enough to have a firm grip on the spherical portion as is best shown in FIG. 2.
Toy unit 19 having the plurality of generally cylindrical male connector portions 25 will serve to hold the adjacent ends of the tubes in a particular angular relation as shown in FIG. 1 at right angles or end-to-end a particular distance apart and will normally be slid all the way onto the connector arm and abut the hub. Although the cylindrical male connector portions are shown in FIG. 1 to join tubes, they are more advantageously used in association with apertured sheets in the manner described hereafter. As illustrated in FIG. 1 each connector unit preferably will be provided with all of connector arms of a similar type, i.e., all spherical or all cylindrical male portions, with the spherical more advantageously connected with the tubes and the cylindrical more advantageously connected with sheet material hereafter described.
The hub of unit 17 is shown as having a slot at one end at 27 and also has a pair of interiorly disposed, opposed lips 28 and 29 which restrict the sizes of one end of the opening through the hub. This arrangement permits the rod 20 suitably proportioned in size to be slidably inserted into the opposite end of the hub and the unit rotates freely on the rod until it is moved between the lips which secure the hub firmly to the rod. In this manner the unit may be supported in an upright position on a rod or a plurality of these connector units may be stacked endto-end on a common rod.
An alternative form of connector unit 31 shown in FIGS. 3 and 4 comprises a hollow cylindrical hub 32 with horizontal slots 32a and 32b in the ends having four identical connector arms 33 radiating outwardly from the hub with a common center at 90 intervals. Each connector arm 33 has a cylindrical male portion 33a attached to the hub, an intermediate narrow portion 33b and a terminal generally spherical male portion 330 at the outer end of the narrowed portion, all of which are arranged along a common center line or axis. Each generally spherical male portion 33c has a slot 34 disposed along its length at 34 for added yieldability thereof when the tube is inserted thereon. In this form a tube 35 will fit over the terminal spherical portion 330 to provide a flexible connection as best shown in FIG. 3 and may be advanced further along the connector arm 33 to fit over the cylindrical male connector portion 33a to form a rigid connection. In this manner connector unit 31 provides the combination of advantages of both fixed and yieldable connections for tubes.
The toy assembly of FIGS. and 6 has similar connector units 38 and 39 which are of generally the same construction as unit 19 above described; the units 38 and 39 having a hollow, slotted hub 41 and four connector arms 42 of generally cylindrical shape radiating from the hub at intervals. Adjacent connector arms 42 of the two units are held joined endto-end by a short length of tubing 45 which is press-fitted thereover and corresponding connector arms of each unit are sligned with one another. It is readily apparent from FIGS. 5 and 6 that successive lengths of tubes on the opposite connector arms may be used to join a series of connector units arranged along a common center line. The aligned connector arms radiating from this common line ma be used to support a series of tubes reasonably close to one another in an essentially common planar arrangement to make a roof structure or the like.
The toy assembly of FIGS. 7 and 8 has identical connector units generally designated 47 and 48 having their hubs 49 joined end-to-end by a short section of tubing 50. These connector units are provided with four connector arms 51 radiating outwardly from the hub at 90 intervals with narrower spoke portions of terminal spherical male portions and are of a construction generally similar to a unit as 17 above described. A generally spherical male portion is shown with concave dimples or removed segments 51a in each quadrant which will save material and remain generally spherical. These units are also modified in that they are provided with a pair of bumps or shoulders 52 and 53 formed on the hub on each side of the narrowed part of the connector arm 51, each shoulder being of the same height and length so that the ends of four of these shoulders limit the movement of the tube 50 to a predetermined distance from the center C of the connector unit. In addition, these shoulder portions will limit a tube 54 placed over the radiating connector arm 51 to a predetermined distance from the center. The shoulders are proportioned in size so that the comer of the tube 54 radiating from the terminal spherical ball will form a clean right-angle connection when the tubes are advanced all the way over the terminal spherical ball and narrowed part and against the hub with the distance from the end of the tube to the center of the unit always being the same. These shoulders are particularly beneficial when the connector units are used to make structures with square comers and permit the provision of a toy set having several selected lengths of tubing and connector units of a uniform width to form structures which will conform to a selected scale.
In the assembly shown in FIGS. 9 and 10 a connector unit 61 again has a hollow slotted cylindrical hub 62 and four connector arms 63 radiating outwardly from the hub at 90 intervals, one end portion of the hub 62 and one connector serving to join two apertured sheets 64 and 65 at right angles to one another. These sheets have a plurality of openings 66 of a uniform diameter which are disposed inwardly of the comers to permit the cylindrical hub portion 62 to be press-fitted on one aperture in sheet 64 and adjacent male portion of connector arm 63 to be press-fitted in an aperture in sheet 65 to dispose the sheets at right angles to one another in a harmonious manner with corners of the sheets abutting. A third sheet will also fit on the adjacent connector arm 63 so that a threedimensional structural comer is formed but this third sheet has been omitted for clarity. This connector unit 61 also has a relatively large square shoulder 67 and 68 on each side of the connector arm which will limit the inward movement of the sheets on the hub and connector arm to a selected distance from the center of the unit and serves as a supporting surface for the sheets. The modified form of connector unit 71 illustrated in FIG. 11 is also usable to connect with apertured sheets and is generally similar to that shown in FIGS. 9 and 10. In addition the four cylindrical connector arms 72 disposed at 90 intervals are modified in that the cylinder is formed with a plurality of similarly dimensioned circumferential recess 74. The recesses are spaced at particular intervals along the length thereof. The cylinder hub 73 is smooth and hollow. In the assembly the apertured sheet will be force-fitted over the end of the connector or hub and snap-fit into the recess. The sheet may be held at one of several selected distances from the center of the unit.
It is apparent from the foregoing that the cylindrical and spherical shapes which provide a circular cross section for press-fitting insertion into round apertures in tubes and sheets will provide the greatest contact area. It is appreciated however that in molding these connector units that peripheral segments or portions may be removed to save material and still provide similar results for some applications. For example, the basic circular cross section of an illustrative connector arm 81 shown in force-fitted 12 has radial segments 82 removed and the remaining peripheral friction surfaces 83 disposed in a Y- shaped configuration will press-fitinto the tubes and apertured sheets. For the terminal spherical portions these recesses or removed sections are in the form of circular dimples as shown at 51a in FIG. 7 and for the cylindrical shapes longitudinal slots leaving sufficient surface areas to afford a substantial frictional engagement with the tubes and apertured sheets.
The arrangement and number of connector arms for one unit will be two or more such as two, three, four, five or six at equally spaced circumferentially arranged intervals for a complete set. More than six are possible but for most structures not required. The four connector arm arrangement disposed at 90 intervals about the hub as is illustrated herein is a preferred basic item which gives the greatest versatility since two will at 90 provide right angle connections and endto-end provide two-way connections.
The above-described connector units may be readily injection-molded in a simple mold without coring and composed of a hard-surfaced, slightly resilient material such as polypropylene. The tubes would preferably be extruded from material such as polyethylene and cut to one of several selected lengths for a toy set. A typical thickness for the tube would be one thirty-second inch. The apertured sheets may be easily made from polypropylene and injection-molded in a simple mold. The connector units and particularly the combination of tubes and spherical connector portions enables the user to build structures having a very high strength to weight ratioand provides a toy which is practically indestructible. When the spherical connector portions are pulled apart there is an audible popping sound which may also be entertaining to the child.
While the present invention has been described with reference to particular structure and preferred components, there is no intent to limit the spirit of the present invention to these structures and components and it will be understood that various modifications and changes may be made without departing from the spirit of the present invention.
What is claimed is:
ll. in a toy construction set, a three-dimensional connector unit comprising a body having connecting means including a hollow generally cylindrical hub with an external surface at each end of the hub and an internal surface within each external surface providing releasable external and internal connectors respectively on both ends of the hub, a plurality of relatively angularly disposed connector arms radiating from the hub in a common plane perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of said hub, each said connector arm having a narrower base portion and an enlarged generally spherical terminal male portion with peripheral friction surfaces of both ends of said hub and male portion having the same external dimension and sized for press-fitting insertion through a correspondingly sized opening in a member to be connected, each said connector arm including an inner generally cylindrical, male portion radially inwardly of said narrower base portion and axially aligned therewith, the external dimension of said cylindrical male portion being the same as said spherical terminal male portion, each said cylindrical and spherical male portions of said connector arms being in alignment to allow for pressfitting insertion of said cylindrical portion through a correspondingly sized opening of said member to be connected.