US 3717948 A
A universal block unit for interengagement with conventional toy blocks comprising a panel having normally offset rims along the longitudinal edges. The rims are provided with elements conforming to those of the toy blocks and interlocking therewith. The universal block has a height equal to a multiple of the toy blocks and a length equal to a multiple of the distance between the centers of the interlocking elements.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent i1 1 Schnabel [451 Feb. 27, 1973 UNIVERSAL UNIT FOR TOY BLOCKS  Inventor: Walter Schnabel, lm Wolfsgalgen 25, 7141 Schwieberdingen, Germany  Filed: Feb.22, 1971 211 Appl. No.: 117,238
 Foreign Application Priority Data March 13, 1970 Germany ..P 20 ll 878.9
 U.S. Cl ..46/25  Int. Cl. ..A63h 33/08  Field of Search ..46/23, 24, 25, 26, 30
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS l,207,504 12/l9l6 Converse "46/25 l2/ 1 964 Christiansen ..46/25 3,481,068 12/1969 Paulson ..46/25 3,546,807 12/1970 Howe ..46/30 X Primary Examiner-Louis G. Mancene Assistant Examiner-Robert F. Cutting Attorney-Richard Low and Murray Schaffer  ABSTRACT A universal block unit for interengagement with conventional toy blocks comprising a panel having normally offset rims along the longitudinal edges. The rims are provided with elements conforming to those of the toy blocks and interlocking therewith. The universal block has a height equal to a multiple of the toy blocks and a length equal to a multiple of the distance between the centers of the interlocking elements.
5 Claims, 4 Drawing; Figures UNIVERSAL UNIT FOR TOY BLOCKS BACKGROUND OF INVENTION The present invention relates to toy blocks, and in particular to a universal block unit for use in the interconnection of blocks which are equipped on two opposite surfaces with at least two rows of mating interlocking elements.
Many types of interlocking toy blocks are known.
Such blocks differ from each other by the kind of interlocking systems employed and thus by the shape and arrangement of the interlocking elements on each unit. In assembling a model structure of substantial size many units of different lengths, widths and also color,
may be required and the assembly of any relatively large model requires considerable time and effort to accomplish.
In an effort to simplify construction, it has been attempted to match interlocking units of different size in such a manner that they can be assembled with each other. Because such interlocking units enlarge or diminish the structure in all three dimensions, no model v resembling a real structure can be arranged whose minimum details are determined by the smallest type of units and which, nevertheless, must use relatively large interlocking units. In such structures the largest type of block used, determines the overall appearance. Only small additions to the structure can be made by means volume without changing the resolution of the model built. These objects as well as others will be observed from the following description.
SUMMARY OF INVENTION According to the present invention a universal block unit is provided comprising a flat planar panel characterized in that it has a height which is a multiple of the height of the conventional block to which it is to be attached and a length which is a multiple of the distance between two interengaging elements of the convent ional block with which it interconnects. The universal block unit is further provided with a pair of horizontally opposed peripheral rims extending normally or perpendicularly to the edge of the panel. The rims are provided with a single row of engaging elements arranged and shaped to conform to the interengaging elements on the conventional block towhich it is attached. In such a manner there is provided a universal structural element or block unit which can be assembled in the normal manner with the conventional interengaging blocks without changing the resolution or stacking mosaic which is provided by the conventional blocks. The new structural elementis used to best advantage in constructing walls havinglarge areas'because it permits the quick assembly of flat portions having large areas.
Two identical structural unit block elements having differing colored panels may be used facing each other and connected by a bridging conventional engagingblock to form a wall of uniform thickness, having two desirable faces, each of which may be provided with different colors or texture.
Corners areassembled with the new universal structural unit by providing it with opposed vertical edges havingsmooth rim surfaces. Theserims will provide, furthermore, additional rigidity to the structural unit elements.
The large front face of the panels of the new struc-' tural unit blocks may be textured, roughened or contoured to simulate natural brick or similar material. It may carry a recess or projecting pattern in order to increase the number of variations available.
The universal structural unit blocks of the present invention can be assembled with particular ease with conventional interlocking blocks when both the universal structural element and interlocking blocks have conforming projecting pins and mating receptacles or sockets.
ployed. The distribution of the engaging elements in the universal unit is preferably the same as in the conventional interengaging block to which it is attached.
It is preferable that the universal block unit be large enough so that the receptacles have a depth sufficient to correspond to and to receive the engaging pins. The receptacles in the perpendicular rim of the plate may therefore, be through-bores or holes into which the pins from the conventional block extend. The engaging pins projecting from the surface of the rim edges are preferably hollow cylinders in order to facilitate manufacture.
The universal interengagability of the new structural unit with the conventional interengaging blocks is achieved by locating the engaging elements (receiptacles and pins) on the rim edges by onehalf the space between their centers from the adjacent neighboring edges. Thus, each row is located along the longitudinal center of the edge. The universal unit may then be as- BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS The invention will now be described in greater detail with reference to the drawings wherein:
FIG. 1 shows the universal structural element infront elevation, the element being intended for assembly with conventional interlocking blocks,
FIG. 2 shows the element according to FIG. 1, in the rear view,
FIG. 3 shows two smaller structural elements which face each other and which are intended to be assemrows of interlocking elements, and
FIG. 4 is top plan view of the interlocking rim edge of the new structural unit block showing the distribution of the interlocking elements.
DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION In FIG. 3, a conventional prior art toy block 22 is seen for comparison and later for the purpose of indicating the function and use of the universal block unit of this invention. The block 22 is rectangular having a height h, a width B and a length determined by the number of interlocking elements, such as receptacles 23 and pins 24 in a single row. The interlocking elements are uniformly spaced along their row with their centers uniformly spaced. The receptacles 23 and the pins 24 are aligned, with respect to each other, on opposite sides or faces of the toy blocks. When two or more rows are employed each row is aligned in rank and file and offset from its adjacent row by a distance equal to the distance between the centers of the interlocking elements. Each element in the end rank, or file or row is spaced from the edge of the block a distance equal to half the distance between the centers of the interlocking elements. Thus, each block and its interlocking elements are symmetrical and capable of interlocking with each other block similarly made, although not necessarily of the same length or height.
The new universal structural unit for use with such interlocking toy blocks, which themselves, have at least two rows of interlocking elements, comprises, as is seen in FIGS. 1 and 2, an upright flat planar panel 10. This panel has a height H which is x times the height h of a conventional interlocking block 22 and a length L which is y times the spacing a between the centers of adjacent interlocking elements on the conventional interlocking block as is shown in FIG. 4. With this relationship of the height and length dimensions, the universal structural element of the present invention fits easily into the size resolution determined by the conventional interlocking blocks. Care must only be taken that thesepanel shaped units have interengaging elements which can be assembled with the selected conventional interlocking blocks.
The opposed longitudinal edges of the panel 10 which conform to the size or division created by the interlocking blocks carry perpendicularly extending or normally offset rims 11 and 13 which have a width t corresponding to one-half of the width B of the interlocking toy block 22 which carries two rows of interlocking elements. This width 2 therefore, corresponds also to the spacing a between each of the individual interlocking elements of the block. The angularly offset rims 11 and 13 each carry a row of interlocking elements which are adapted to mate with the elements of the engaging block. Thus, a conventional interlocking block 22, as shown in FIG. 3 has cylindrical receptacles 23 on one side and conformingly shaped and arranged interlocking circular pins 24 on the other side (which are, of course, not visible in the assembled condition of the block). Analogously, the universal unit has a rim 1 1 which carries corresponding receptacles l2 and a rim 13 which carries corresponding pins 14.
As is seen in FIG. 2, the receptacles 12 have a depth which is at least the height of the interlocking pins 24 (of the block 22) of of the corresponding interlocking pins 14 on the opposed rim 13. To obtain this, it is hole and may even pass entirely through the rim 11.v
preferable that the thickness d of the rim ll be at least equal to or greater than the length of the pines 24 or 14. The receptacle 12 may also be a through-bore or The diameter of the receptacle 12 should, however, be at least such that the pins 24 or 14 are received therein and held with adequate strength for an interlocking connection.
The interlocking pins 14, which project from the rim 13 may be solid, however, they are also preferably hollow cylinders. The bores of the pins 14 may pass all the way through the rim 13 which need not be as rim 11.
The vertical edges of the structural element 10 are bounded by vertical perpendicular extending smooth rims 15 and 16 which tend, also, to reinforce the blocks. Thus, rims ll, 13, 15 and 16, provide a peripheral boundary surrounding an open interior.
As is shown in FIG. 3, two structural units 17 and 18 formed, according to the invention, are assembled in face to face relationship to each other with a conventional interlocking block 22 having two rows of interlocking elements. The panels of both units face outwardly so these assembled units 17 and 18 then appear closed. Obviously, the facing assembled elements 17 and 18 may be of different color or may carry on their outer surfaces, different patterns, such as a recess simulating bricks, windows, holes etc. The surface may be produced by applying a plastic coating or a mosaic-like pattern on the visible face. The two structural elements 18 and 17 are so assembled that their receptacles 19 and 20 and their extending pins 21 are all facing in the same direction. In this position the structural elements 17 and 18 can be assembled with an interlocking toy block 22 with the pins 21 secured in the receptacles 23 of the block 22. The receptacles 19 and 20 of the structural elements 17 and 18 may, in turn, accept the projecting pins 24 of another conventional toy block 22. In this manner, conventional interlocking blocks and universal structural units of the invention, may be assembled into a unitary structure. Advantageously panels 10 of different lengths (and consequently providing a different number of interlocking elements having different center spacings a) can be assembled in a set so thatthe varying conventional blocks systems may readily be accommodated with universal interconnections. The height of these universal structural elements may also, but not necessarily be chosen to have the same varying values.
' It will be observed that the dimensions of the universal block, in particular, its length and depth depend upon the spacing of the interlocking elements. This is illustrated in FIG. 4, which is a top plan view of the rim of one of the structural elements 10 or 18, showing the distribution of the interlocking elements which in this case, are the receptacles 12,18 and 19. The rim of the panel block structure carries only one row of interengaging elements. The centers of each of the interengaging elements are spaced from the adjacent edges of the rim by one-half of an interlocking element spacing a. The total width of the unit is equal to twice a/2 or I. Since each of the end elements are spaced from the ends of the unit a distance equal also to onehalf of a, the length of the total unit is therefore, a multiple of a. The multiples of height and length are of course chosen as whole intergers or proper fractional parts so that a single universale block may be made to cover one or more conventional toy blocks or a fraction of said toy blocks. ln this manner odd sized pieces and non-conforming pieces are avoided. This arrangement makes it possible for a structural unit 18 to be assembled flush in both directions with the corresponding facing surface and interlocking toy block 22, according to FIG 3.
It is obvious that the shape of the interlocking ele-- ments in cross section, is not limited to the illustrated circular embodiment, they may be square or triangular, if desired. The invention is applicable to all types of interlocking systems having suitable shape and corresponding adaptation of rim structures.
. What is claimed:
1. A universal block unit for interengagement with three dimensional structural toy blocks which have at least two rows of correspondingly uniformly spaced first and second interlocking elements on a pair of opposed surfaces respectively, said first interlocking elements comprising receptacles and said second interlocking elements comprising pins conforming to and axially aligned with said receptacles, said universal block comprising, a flat panel having a length equal to a multiple of the distance between the centers of two adjacent interlocking elements and a height equal to a multiple of the height of said toy blocks, said panel having formed along each of its opposed longitudinal edges a transverse integral surface extending perpendicular to one of the frontal faces of said panel, each transverse surface having a width equal to the distance between the centers of said interlocking elements, and a single row of first interlocking elements formed on one of said transverse surfaces and a single rowof second interlocking elements formed on the other of said transverse I surfaces, said interlocking elements on each of the transverse surfaces being offset from the adjacent edges of said transverse surfaces by one-half the distance between the centers of adjacent elements to mate with the interlocking elements on said toy block.
2. The universal block unit according to Claim 1, wherein the frontal face of said panel is contoured.
3. The universal block unit according to claim 1 wherein the transverse surface provided with the receptacles has a thickness at least corresponding to the height of the pins.
4. The universal block unit according to claim 3, wherein the receptacles are through-bores extending through the transverse surface.
5. A toy comprising a plurality of three dimensional structural toy blocks, each having at least two rows of uniformly spaced interlocking elements on a pair of opposed surfaces, said interlocking elements on one surface comprising receptacles and said interlocking elements on the other surface comprising mating pins, and a plurality of universal block units for interengagement therewith, each of said universal block units comprising a flat panel having integrally formed, along each its opposed longitudinal edges, side walls perpendicular to one frontal face of said panel, each of said sides having respectively a single row of interlocking elements of one type adapted to conformingly mate with the interlocking elements of said toy blocks, each of said universal block units having a predetermined height and a length selectively redetermined as a multiple of the dis ance between he centers of the interlocking elements and the interlocking elements being arranged offset from the peripheral edges of said surface by onehalf the distance between the centers of the interlocking elements.