Title:
Collapsible play box
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A child's play box includes a pliable base piece and four semi- rigid, planar sidewalls. The base piece has four edges, and each sidewall is joined to the base piece by a folding joint that permits the sidewall to pivot with respect to the base piece. Furthermore, each sidewall is joined to adjacent sidewalls by folding joints that permit the adjacent sidewalls to pivot with respect to each other. The folding joints collectively allow the play box to be manipulated between an open configuration in which the sidewalls extend perpendicularly from the base piece to define an internal cavity and a closed configuration in which all of the sidewalls are arranged in a stack.



Inventors:
Strunk, Linda M. (Cape Elizabeth, ME, US)
Application Number:
10/741950
Publication Date:
06/23/2005
Filing Date:
12/18/2003
Assignee:
STRUNK LINDA M.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47D13/06; A63H33/00; (IPC1-7): A63H33/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
NGUYEN, KIEN T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PATENT ADMINISTRATOR (PRETI FLAHERTY BELIVEAU & PACHIOS LLP 60 State Street Suite 1100, Boston, MA, 02109, US)
Claims:
1. A child's play box comprising: a pliable base piece having four edges; and four semi-rigid planar sidewalls, wherein each sidewall is joined to a respective one of said edges of said base piece by a folding joint that permits said sidewall to pivot with respect to said base piece, and wherein each sidewall is joined to adjacent sidewalls by folding joints that permit said adjacent sidewalls to pivot with respect to each other, said folding joints collectively allowing said play box to be manipulated between an open configuration in which said sidewalls extend perpendicularly from said base piece to define an internal cavity and a closed configuration in which all of said sidewalls are arranged in a stack.

2. The play box of claim 1 wherein said base piece can be wrapped around said stack of sidewalls when said play box is in said closed configuration.

3. The play box of claim 2 further comprising means for retaining said base piece in a position wrapped around said stack of sidewalls.

4. The play box of claim 3 wherein said means for retaining comprises a fastener attached to said base piece.

5. The play box of claim 1 further comprising means for anchoring said play box to a support surface.

6. The play box of claim 5 wherein said means for anchoring comprises a plurality of suction cups attached to said base piece.

7. The play box of claim 1 further comprising a drain formed in one of said sidewalls or said base piece.

8. The play box of claim 1 wherein said base piece is rectangular.

9. The play box of claim 1 wherein two of said sidewalls are shorter than the other two of said sidewalls.

10. The play box of claim 1 wherein said base piece comprises a sheet of waterproof material.

11. The play box of claim 1 wherein each one of said sidewalls comprises a semi-rigid panel enclosed by a waterproof material.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates generally to play equipment for children and more particularly to a play box capable of holding various play media.

Parents of young children have long sought ways to keep their children amused and entertained. Playpens and similar enclosures are widely used to allow a child to play with minimal supervision. However, most currently available playpens are relatively large and inconvenient to store when not in use. While collapsible playpens are available, they still tend to be bulky and difficult to set up and collapse, which limits their portability. Moreover, playpens are confining by nature and do not provide much stimulation to the child.

Other items available for child play include sand boxes and wading pools. While these devices provide a medium (i.e., sand or water) for children to play in, they are generally limited to outdoor use and not typically used in a variety of locations.

Accordingly, there is a need for a versatile, portable play device that allows children to explore many play media.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The above-mentioned need is met by the present invention, which provides a child's play box having a pliable base piece and four semi-rigid, planar sidewalls. The base piece has four edges, and each sidewall is joined to a respective edge of the base piece by a folding joint that permits the sidewall to pivot with respect to the base piece. Furthermore, each sidewall is joined to adjacent sidewalls by folding joints that permit the adjacent sidewalls to pivot with respect to each other. The folding joints collectively allow the play box to be manipulated between an open configuration in which the sidewalls extend perpendicularly from the base piece to define an internal cavity and a closed configuration in which all of the sidewalls are arranged in a stack.

The present invention and its advantages over the prior art will be more readily understood upon reading the following detailed description and the appended claims with reference to the accompanying drawings.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The subject matter that is regarded as the invention is particularly pointed out and distinctly claimed in the concluding part of the specification. The invention, however, may be best understood by reference to the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawing figures in which:

FIG. 1 is a top perspective view of a collapsible child's play box in its open configuration.

FIG. 2 is a bottom perspective view of the play box in the open configuration.

FIG. 3 is a partial sectional view of the play box taken along line 3-3 of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a top view of the play box being folded into its closed configuration.

FIG. 5 is another top view of the play box being folded into its closed configuration.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the play box in a partially folded condition.

FIG. 7 is a top view of the play box in the closed configuration.

FIG. 8 is a side view of the play box in the closed configuration.

FIG. 9 is another side view of the play box in the closed configuration.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring to the drawings wherein identical reference numerals denote the same elements throughout the various views, FIGS. 1 and 2 show a play box 10 for young children. The play box 10 is designed to hold various materials, such as water, sand or paints to name a few, that children can sit and play in. Children can also sit or stand next to the play box 10 and play with the material. The play box 10 includes a flat, rectangular base piece 12 and four connected sidewalls 14, 16, 18 and 20 joined to the base piece 12. The sidewalls 14, 16, 18 and 20 are flat or planar pieces and rectangular in shape. In one possible embodiment, the base piece 12 is a 20-inch by 20-inch square and each sidewall 14, 16, 18 and 20 is a 4-inch by 20-inch rectangle, although other sizes are possible. Furthermore, each of the sidewalls 14, 16, 18 and 20 need not have the same length, as will be discussed in more detail below.

Each one of the sidewalls 14, 16, 18 and 20 is joined along one edge to a respective edge of the base piece 12 by a corresponding folding joint that permits the sidewall to pivot with respect to the base piece 12. In addition, each sidewall 14, 16, 18 and 20 is joined at both ends to corresponding ends of two adjacent sidewalls by folding joints that permit adjacent sidewalls to pivot with respect to each other, thereby defining four corners A, B, C and D. All of the folding joints (i.e., those between the sidewalls 14, 16, 18 and 20 and the base piece 12 and those between adjacent sidewalls) are design to provide a full range of pivoting motion between the connected elements. For example, the folding joint between the base piece 12 and the first sidewall 14 permits the first sidewall 14 to pivot through a substantially 360 degree angle relative to the base piece 12. The folding joints act collectively to allow the play box 10 to be manipulated between an open configuration (shown in FIGS. 1 and 2) and a closed configuration described in more detail below. In the open configuration, each sidewall 14, 16, 18 and 20 is arranged to extend perpendicularly upward from its respective edge of the base piece 12 and to be perpendicular to its adjacent sidewalls so as to form a box with an internal cavity for holding a play medium (e.g., water, sand or the like) and having an opening at the top.

The play box 10 includes a set of suction cups 22 attached to the underside of the base piece 12 for anchoring the play box 10 to a support surface. Alternative anchoring means, including but not limited to hooks, straps, adhesive pads and magnets, could be used instead of the suction cups. The play box 10 can also be provided with a closeable drain 24 formed in one of the sidewalls 14, 16, 18 and 20, preferably near the base piece 12. Opening the drain 24 would allow play material to drain from the play box 10. The drain 24 could be alternatively located in the base piece 12.

The base piece 12 is preferably a pliable sheet of material that is capable of being freely and repeatedly bent or folded without breaking. On the other hand, the sidewalls 14, 16, 18 and 20 are semi-rigid pieces. As used herein, “semi-rigid” means that the sidewalls 14, 16, 18 and 20 generally will not bend under their own weight or light forces but are sufficiently flexible so as to bend when a moderate force is applied. Both the base piece 12 and the sidewalls 14, 16, 18 and 20 are made from waterproof and durable materials. For example, the base piece 12 can be made of a sheet of an acrylic-coated fabric, vinyl or another suitable plastic material. As shown in FIG. 3, the sidewalls 14, 16, 18 and 20 can be constructed of a semi-rigid, relatively thick panel 26 made of plastic or cardboard or the like enclosed by two thin sheets of a waterproof material, which is preferably the same material that the base piece 12 is made of.

As mentioned above, the play box 10 is collapsible and can be manipulated between an open configuration for use and a closed configuration for storage when not in use. When in the open configuration, the play box 10 can be converted to the closed configuration by pushing one of the four corners, for example corner B, to its opposing corner, corner D in this example. As corner B is pushed towards corner D with sufficient force, the sidewalls 14, 16, 18 and 20 will flex or bow inwardly as shown in FIG. 4. Eventually, the folding joint at corner B will “flip” so that the inside angle defined between the first and second sidewalls 14 and 16 flips from an acute angle to an obtuse angle and the first and second sidewalls 14 and 16 become bowed outward as shown in FIG. 5. Corner B can then be positioned to abut the inside of corner D as shown in FIG. 6. In this position, the first sidewall 14 is located flat against the fourth sidewall 20, and the second sidewall 16 is located flat against the third sidewall 18. The base piece 12 is folded in half along a line between corners A and C to form a triangular shape.

Next, corners A and C are pushed together so that folding joints of corners B and D fold inward. This results in the play box 10 assuming its closed configuration in which all of the sidewalls 14, 16, 18 and 20 are arranged in a stack with the first and second sidewalls 14 and 16 being positioned between the third and fourth sidewalls 18 and 20, as shown in FIG. 7. Specifically, the fourth sidewall 20 is located flat against, or superposed with, the first sidewall 14, the first sidewall 14 is superposed with the second sidewall 16, and the second sidewall 16 is superposed with the third sidewall 18. The base piece 12 is folded in half again to form another triangular shape extending outward from one edge of the sidewall stack as shown in FIG. 8. This extension of the base piece 12 can then easily be wrapped around the sidewall stack as shown in FIG. 9. The play box 10 can be provided with a fastener 28 for retaining the base piece 12 in position wrapped around the sidewall stack. Any suitable fastener can be used, such as a hook-and-loop (Velcro) fastener having mating pieces attached to the base piece 12 in appropriate positions so that the outer tip can be secured as shown in FIG. 9. Various other snaps and clasps could also be used. The above process is simply reversed to return the play box 10 to the open configuration.

While the sidewalls 14, 16, 18 and 20 can have equal lengths, as mentioned above, it is noted that providing two of the sidewalls with a slightly shorter length than the other two sidewalls facilitates the folding process. By way of example, the first and second sidewalls 14 and 16 could be 19% inches long and the third and fourth sidewalls 18 and 20 could be 20 inches long.

While specific embodiments of the present invention have been described, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that various modifications thereto can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as defined in the appended claims.