Title:
Figural puzzle
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A puzzle comprises plurality of figural puzzle pieces surrounded by a border. Each one of the plurality of puzzle pieces is the silhouette of a shape found in a particular class of objects.



Inventors:
Clerc, Daryl G. (Dexter, MI, US)
Clerc, Pamela A. (Dexter, MI, US)
Application Number:
09/852518
Publication Date:
12/20/2001
Filing Date:
05/10/2001
Assignee:
CLERC DARYL G.
CLERC PAMELA A.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/10; (IPC1-7): A63F9/10
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
WONG, STEVEN B
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Adam R. Stephenson, Esq (Scottsdale, AZ, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A puzzle comprises a plurality of figural puzzle pieces surrounded by a border, each one of the plurality of puzzle pieces being the silhouette of a shape found in a particular class of objects.

2. The puzzle of claim 1 wherein the particular class of objects is animals.

3. The puzzle of claim 1 wherein the plurality of puzzle pieces is size consistent with the sizes of the particular class of objects.

4. The puzzle of claim 3 wherein the plurality of puzzle pieces are positioned uniformly throughout the puzzle.

5. The puzzle of claim 1 wherein the particular class of objects includes a plurality of subsets of the objects wherein no particular one or more of the plurality of subsets is designated to fill particular types of spaces between the plurality of puzzle pieces.

6. The puzzle of claim 1 wherein the border does not interlock with any of the plurality of puzzle pieces positioned adjacent thereto.

7. The puzzle of claim 1 further comprising a key showing the user the location of the plurality of puzzle pieces in the puzzle.

8. A puzzle comprises plurality of figural puzzle pieces surrounded by a border, the border not interlocking with any of the plurality of puzzle pieces positioned adjacent thereto, each one of the plurality of puzzle pieces being the silhouette of a shape found in a particular class of objects, the plurality of puzzle pieces being size consistent with the sizes of the particular class of objects and positioned uniformly throughout the puzzle and further wherein the particular class of objects includes a plurality of subsets of the objects wherein no particular one or more of the plurality of subsets is designated to fill particular types of spaces between the plurality of puzzle pieces.

9. The puzzle of claim 7 wherein the particular class of objects is animals.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This is a continuation-in-part of co-pending application Ser. No. 29/137,505 filed Feb. 22, 2001, which is a continuation-in-part of Ser. No. 29/121,305 filed Apr. 5, 2000.

TECHNICAL FIELD

[0002] This invention relates in general to jigsaw puzzles, and, more particularly, to jigsaw puzzles which use figurals exclusively.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] Jigsaw puzzles originated circa 1760 when European cartographers pasted maps onto wood and then cut them into small pieces for educational purposes. Children still learn geography by using such dissected maps. Puzzles have evolved over the years to encompass entertainment as well as education. Puzzles for adults emerged about 1900, and, by 1908, a full fledged puzzle craze had evolved in the United States.

[0004] Early puzzles were very challenging because the puzzles tended to be cut along color lines with no transition pieces to show, for example, where a blue sky met a brown roof. Further, such puzzles did not interlock. Thus, an inadvertent sneeze or a bump of a table could ruin a night's work. Further, the early puzzles were made of wood which whose pieces were individually sawn and thus tended to be very expensive.

[0005] Some early innovations were the introduction of some figural pieces into puzzles by Parker Brothers about 1909. Second, Parker Brothers and its competition introduced interlocking pieces to prevent the inadvertent loss of a night's work as previously described.

[0006] While the craze of 1908-1909 eventually diminished, puzzles continued to be an adult diversion for the next two decades. With the onset of the Great Depression, a second puzzle craze arose about 1929 with a peak about 1933 with sales reaching almost 10 million puzzles per week. The craze of the early 1930s was fueled by several innovations making puzzles cheaper, specifically, the introduction of mass produced die cut cardboard puzzles. Other innovations included puzzle rentals via drugstores or libraries, manufacturers giveaways of puzzles touting their own products, and even weekly jigsaw puzzles from news stands.

[0007] The introduction of the die cut puzzle has resulted in a decline in the market for hand cut wood puzzles. Parker Brothers discontinued its Pastime® puzzles in 1958, Par and Straus left the market in 1974 and the English “Victory” puzzles almost completely vanished. While a small market still remains for the custom wood cut puzzle, it is dwarfed by the market for die cut mass produced cardboard puzzles.

[0008] One feature of some hand cut puzzles has been the use of one or more figurals in such a puzzle. The term “figural” refers to a puzzle piece whose shape corresponds to an object such as an animal. Some puzzles incorporate one or more figurals into a total puzzle. However, making a puzzle completely out of figurals has been an elusive goal.

[0009] The present invention has met this goal.

[0010] Furthermore, the puzzle pieces of the present invention exclusively depict members of a single class of objects, in one example, the class of animals. Importantly, no particular subset of the puzzle pieces is designated, or preferentially used, to fill irregular spaces that occur adjacent to the other pieces.

[0011] All puzzle pieces of the present invention possess only one of two functions: (1) to serve as border pieces (pieces adjacent to the outer perimeter of the plurality of puzzle pieces), or (2) to serve as interior pieces. Puzzle pieces of prior art also possess one of these two functions.

[0012] However, in prior art puzzles, one or more subsets of the puzzle pieces also possess an additional function, namely, to serve as fill for irregular spaces. For example, the present invention contains many puzzle pieces that represent standing animals such as a horse, a deer, a dog, and so forth. The outline of these animals are generally smoothly curvilinear except for the more angular irregular region underneath the torso and between the legs of the animals. Other irregular regions may also occur between two or more abutting pieces. In the present invention, no particular subset of the puzzle pieces is used to preferentially fill irregular regions.

[0013] In contrast, prior art puzzles contain two or more classes (for example, animals, plants, and rocks), where one or more of the classes (plants or rocks) is used to fill the irregular spaces. Thus, in addition to restricting the puzzle pieces to a single class, the present invention also does not preferentially employ any subset of the puzzle pieces to fill irregular spaces. As a result, the labor associated with designing and assembling the present invention is significantly increased, compared to prior art.

[0014] The step of designing the puzzle of the present invention is more difficult because the irregular spaces that occur between abutting pieces cannot be filled by a member of a different class that conveniently possesses that shape. For example, the irregular spaces between the legs of a horse cannot be filled by pieces that correspond to a plant or other non-animal member of an ecosystem. Instead, the horse and all adjacent animals must be modified so that the outline of the irregular space resembles another animal.

[0015] The step of assembling the puzzle of the present invention is more difficult for two reasons. First, the puzzle pieces of the present invention belong to a single class of objects, the class of animals. The characteristic shape of other classes, for example plants, tools, or rocks, is different from the characteristic shape of animals. Consequently, including another class would introduce differently-shaped edges, on the puzzle pieces of the first class, thereby providing clues to the assembler that the neighboring pieces belong to a different class. Because the present invention contains only one class, the difficulty associated with assembling the puzzle is increased, compared to prior art.

[0016] Secondly, the present invention does not preferentially employ any of the families of animals, or any other subset of the puzzle pieces, to fill irregular regions. Although the entire set of puzzle pieces can be grouped into families such as horses, cats, or birds, these subsets are not used to preferentially fill irregular spaces. As a result, the assembler does not experience the consistent use of a particular subset of puzzle pieces to fill irregular regions, and therefore the difficulty associated with assembly increases.

[0017] As one example, when the assembler attempts to fill the region underneath a standing animal, he (she) is not aided by the presence of a different class (such as plants) to be used as fill, or by the consistent use of a subset of the puzzle pieces (such as squirrels) to fill the irregular space.

[0018] The increased difficulty associated with assembling the present invention arises from a larger set of puzzle pieces from which correct pieces must be chosen. The increased quantity of suitable puzzle pieces, in turn, decreases the probability that the correct piece will be chosen, which by definition increases the difficulty of assembly.

[0019] For example, consider a puzzle that contains two classes of figurals, plants and animals, where irregular spaces are filled by plant pieces. When an irregular space is encountered in this type of puzzle, the assembler is alerted that the correct piece must be chosen from the plant class, which generally contains fewer members than the total number of remaining (unused) puzzle pieces. In the present invention, by contrast, pieces that fill irregular spaces must be chosen from the entire set of remaining puzzle pieces—a set whose size is generally larger than the size of any of its subsets. As a result, the probability associated with choosing the correct piece is decreased in the present invention, thus making it more difficult to assemble. The paragraphs below demonstrate that this feature increases the difficulty of assembly by approximately a factor of two, compared to prior art.

[0020] As a quantitative demonstration, probabilities are calculated below for two particular figural puzzles that are both composed of N pieces. Here, puzzle “PA” represents prior art and puzzle “PI” represents the present invention.

[0021] Let puzzle “PA” contain two figural classes, where half of the pieces (N/2) belong to the animal class and the remaining pieces belong to the plant class. Here, the plant pieces are used to fill irregular spaces. Prior to assembling puzzle PA, visual inspection should enable the assembler to separate the pieces into two groups, animals pieces and plant pieces, because of their characteristic dissimilar shapes. Consider the first irregular space that occurs during assembly. This space may occur, for example, underneath the torso of a standing horse. The probability p(PA) of randomly choosing the correct piece is equal to the reciprocal of the number of plant pieces, namely, p(PA)=1/(N/2)=2/N.

[0022] In contrast, let puzzle “PI” contain only one figural class, animals, and let no particular subset of this class be preferentially used to fill irregular spaces. Consider a puzzle piece that is equivalent to the example given for puzzle PA, namely, a standing horse. Here, the irregular space is not filled by one member of a subset of the remaining pieces. Instead, it is filled by one member of the entire set of remaining pieces. For puzzle PI, the probability p(PI) of randomly choosing the correct piece is equal to the reciprocal of the total number of remaining pieces, namely, p(PI)=1/(N−1).

[0023] Values of the ratio R=p(PA)/p(PI) larger than 1 indicate that p(PI) is smaller than p(PA), or equivalently, that puzzle PI is more difficult to assemble than puzzle PA. Here, this ratio is R=2(N−1)/N=2(1−1/N). For puzzles containing more than a few pieces, 1/N is approximately zero, and the ratio becomes R=2. More exactly, using the value of N corresponding to the present invention, N=78, yields a ratio of R=2(1−1/78)=1.974 which is essentially equal to 2. Therefore, puzzle “PI” is twice as difficult to assemble as puzzle “PA”.

[0024] The above arguments and calculations can be generalized to show that the present invention is more difficult to assemble that any figural puzzle that employs more than a single class of objects as puzzle pieces. The above arguments and calculations can be further generalized to demonstrate that the present invention is more difficult to assemble than any figural puzzle that preferentially utilizes one or more subsets of puzzle pieces to fill irregular regions. The present invention, therefore, is a novel and significant improvement over puzzles of the prior art.

[0025] U.S. Pat. No. 5,720,481 entitled “educational Toy Set” which issued on Feb. 24, 1998 to Graham a figural jigsaw puzzle whereby all pieces represent figures including the border. However, Graham employs a theme consisting of a multiplicity of differing classes of objects. For example, instead of employing all figurals from one class of objects, for example, animals, a different class of objects, such as plant, toys, tools, ecosystem and other objects commonly found in real life in association with the animals and plants (See Graham, col. 2, line 58 et seq.) are employed as puzzle pieces to fill the irregular spaces that occur between the limbs of animals and between the extremities of proximate animals as well as fill for the border of the puzzle.

[0026] Further, to enhance the educational aspects of Graham, the figural animals depicted therein are drawn with pictorial representations of the physical characteristics of the particular animal depicted thereon, specifically, the skin, teeth, eyes, joints, and other physical characteristics thereof Further, the outline of the pictorial representation is sometimes not consistent with the outline of the shape of the puzzle pieces. Also, Graham does not attempt to maintain size consistency with respect to individual figurals. Thus, a cat may be the same size as a horse in the Graham puzzle.

[0027] Thus, there is a need for a puzzle comprising only figurals from a single class of objects to enhance the challenge of assembling a particular puzzle. The present invention meets this need.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0028] It is an object of this invention to provide a puzzle comprising only size consistent silhouette figurals depicting members of a single class of objects.

[0029] Further objects and advantages of the invention will become apparent as the following description proceeds and the features of novelty which characterize this invention will be pointed out with particularity in the claims annexed to and forming a part of this specification.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0030] The present invention may be more readily described by reference to the accompanying drawings in which:

[0031] FIG. 1 is a top view of a puzzle of the present invention;

[0032] FIGS. 2-5 are exploded views of the puzzle depicted in FIG. 1; and

[0033] FIG. 6 is a right side view of the puzzle of FIG. 1.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

[0034] A puzzle 80 of the present invention, as seen in FIGS. 1-6, comprises plurality of figural puzzle pieces 1-78 surrounded by a border 82. Puzzle pieces 1-78 can be interlocking, semi-interlocking or non-interlocking. In the terminology of puzzle makers, interlocking means the assembled puzzle 80 can be pulled along a table by simply grasping one of the puzzle pieces 1-78 thereof, semi-interlocking means only some portion of the assembled puzzle 80 can be pulled by grasping one of the puzzle pieces 1-78 while non-interlocking means only the pieces 1-78 actually grasped will move.

[0035] Each puzzle piece 1-78 is in the shape of one member of a particular class of objects, in the depicted example, animals. Those skilled in the art will recognize that the use of animals is exemplary and another class of objects such as plants, human made objects, people such as dancers or athletes are suitable for use with the present invention. Further, those skilled in the art will recognize that the depicted shape of puzzle 80, namely, a rectangle, is also exemplary and is not meant to be a limiting factor.

[0036] As best seen in FIGS. 2-5, each puzzle piece 1-78 is a silhouette of a particular animal. A table is provided below denoting each depiction. Note that the table and, for example, a key such as FIG. 1 can be optionally provided to users with the pieces 1-78 being numbered on the back: 1

TABLE
Puzzle PieceDescription
1Bear Cub
2Prairie Dog
3Cougar
4Porcupine
5Dove
6Lynx
7Squirrel
8Chipmunk
9Duck
10Swan
11Bird
12Bear Cub
13Cat
14Squirrel
15Bird
16Bird
17Fox
18Lynx
19Bird
20Bird
21Bird
22Owl
23Squirrel
24Swan
25Flying Squirrel
26Lynx
27Cat
28Squirrel
29Bird
30Marmot
31Goose
32Goose
33Fish
34Bird
35Chipmunk
36Duck
37Bird
38Bird
39Baby Squirrel
40Beaver
41Prairie Dog
42Bird
43Bird
44Swan
45Dove
46Cat
47Wolf Pup
48Bird
49Rabbit
50Dove
51Squirrel
52Bird
53Kitten
54Cat
55Bird
56Bird
57Otter
58Bear Cub
59Beaver
60Bird
61Horse Colt
62Squirrel
63Goose
64Duck
65Dog
66Fox
67Deer
68Dog
69Donkey
70Eagle
71Hawk
72Bear
73Horse
74Cougar
75Ram
76Wolf
77Dog
78Buffalo

[0037] A key to the present invention is the exclusive use of silhouettes for puzzle pieces 1-78. More specifically, the shape of each puzzle piece 1-78 depicts a silhouette of one member of the class of animals, and no other class, such as terrain or ecosystem elements, is incorporated into the puzzle. Silhouettes provide for a more challenging puzzle for the serious puzzle enthusiast. In addition, each puzzle piece 1-78 is size consistent with respect to other puzzle pieces 1-78. Thus, the larger pieces, for example, bison 78 and bear 72, are large animals while the smaller pieces, i.e. birds 19 and 20, are proportionally smaller animals. In addition, the large and small animals are positioned uniformly throughout the puzzle. Further, no one particular subset of each class, i.e., birds, are designated or used to preferentially fill irregular spaces that occur adjacent to other pieces.

[0038] Border 82 provides a template for puzzle 80 and does not interlock with animal pieces 1-78 positioned adjacent thereto. Border 82 , preferably, includes a back plate 84 upon which the plurality of puzzle pieces 1-78 rest.

[0039] Although only certain embodiments have been illustrated and described, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that various changes and modifications may be made therein without departing from the spirit of the invention or from the scope of the appended claims.