Title:
Construction kit for custom toys or other personalized products
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Personalized products with a kit which includes a computer software program, preferably including a scanner module, for creation of custom images conforming to the shape of the personalized product or a portion thereof The software, thus, creates an image that can be printed on an appropriate transfer medium (e.g. a sheet of paper having a releasable adhesive and peelable backing sheet for protection of the adhesive surface). In one preferred embodiment, the software created image can be mounted within indented areas on a three-dimensional article, including a picture frame. In a second preferred embodiment of the invention, each of the component parts of the product to be created are labeled or identified with machine readable code (e.g. mini-bar code). Thus, once the kit components are assembled as a completed object, the identity, size and relative position of each component in the assembled toy can be scanned into the computer, and an image reconstructed from the scanned information which conforms to the assemble product. The image can thereafter be printed on appropriate transfer medium and applied to the assembled product.



Inventors:
Spector, Donald (Union City, NJ, US)
Application Number:
10/094021
Publication Date:
09/12/2002
Filing Date:
03/08/2002
Assignee:
SPECTOR DONALD
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63H33/04; A63H3/52; (IPC1-7): A63H33/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
FRANCIS, FAYE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DICKSTEIN SHAPIRO MORIN & OSHINSKY LLP (NEW YORK, NY, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A method for personalizing a three-dimensional article, said three-dimensional article including one or more indented portions for accepting graphic images, the method comprising the steps of: operation of a software module, executable on a personal computer, or stand-alone graphics platform, that can generate a graphic image chosen by a user; utilizing the software module to size the graphics image to dimensions of the indented portions included within the three-dimensional article which the user wants to personalize; and adhesively or electrostatically attaching the dimensioned graphic images to the indented portions of the three-dimensional article.

2. A method in accordance with claim 1, wherein the three-dimensional article is a picture frame.

3. A kit for the construction of objects from interlocking components or parts, comprising: A. a plurality of construction components of diverse shapes and sizes for the assembly into various objects and/or body forms, said construction components being characterized as having means for interlocking one to another and being further characterized as having one or more indicia which identifies each said construction component as having a specific size, shape and/or orientation relative to each other; B. instructions in the form of text or graphics for assembly of said construction components into an object or body form; C. a software module, executable on a personal computer, or stand-alone graphics platform, that can generate a graphic image corresponding to an assembly of said construction components, and D. means for transfer of said graphic image to said assembly.

4. The kit of claim 3, wherein said indicia on said construction component is selected from the group consisting essentially of an alpha numeric symbol or a coded symbol that is machine readable by a sensor or scanner sensitive to such coded symbol.

5. The kit of claim 3, wherein said software module includes graphic images that correspond to objects and/or body forms included in said instructions for assembly of an object or body form.

6. The kit of claim 3, wherein said software module includes pattern recognition capability for replication of a graphic image based upon information provided as result of detection of a shape of an object or body form assembled from construction components having one or more indicia which identifies each said construction component as having a specific size, shape and/or orientation relative to each other.

7. The kit of claim 3, wherein said means for interlocking one construction component to another includes releasable snap fitting, dovetail-like fitting or dowels.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Field of the Invention

[0002] This invention relates to a construction kit and to a method. More specifically, this invention relates to a kit for the construction of custom toys, including toys with custom surface images, or other personalized products. The kit of this invention includes computer software for generation of an image that conform to the size and shape of the construct. The image can be replicated on a sheet of address or shipping “label stock” having a releasable adhesive coating (which is covered by a removable protective lamina). This invention also has application to preparation of graphic/advertising displays and product prototypes.

[0003] 2. Description of the Prior Art

[0004] The computer capture and/or generation of an image for reproduction on a various media and articles is well-known. Typically, the image can be captured through scanning or other comparable input, and thereafter manipulated and reproduced, as desired, on various media. Similarly, the computer can capture information via various input device and translate such information into graphics or equivalent representations.

[0005] In the context of custom toys and personalized products, computers have been used for some time to capture and thereafter reproduce the captured image, as needed or desired, on transfers for clothing, picture puzzles and paper dolls. For example, the use of computer manipulation of a photograph to create a custom paper doll image and clothing for the paper doll is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,779,516 (issued to E. T Thorne on Jul. 14, 1998, which is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety). According to both the Thorne patent, and the prior art described in the Thorne patent, various computer related techniques have been used to copy/scan a likeness of an individual into a computer, and thereafter adapt the likeness (generally the face) to a figure in the computer. Typically, the image (face) of a child, or someone the child is familiar with, is initially scanned into the computer, the facial image reduced in proportion to the standard body image in the computer and the face transposed onto a standard body image. The computer then prints the standard body image with the custom facial features. The paper cloths associated with the standard body image can now be used to dress the paper doll with the custom facial characteristics.

[0006] As is evident from the foregoing discussion, the adaptation of personalized or custom images to a standard figure requires both initially scanning the facial image into the computer and thereafter adjustment in the proportions thereof to match the size and stance of the standard body image. While such techniques are applicable to the personalization of toys, such as the traditional paper doll toys, they are not readily adaptable to other items; nor are they readily adaptable to toy figures where the body image is subject to change in position or size. Accordingly, there is a need to adapt the foregoing techniques associated with the personalization of toys to other forms of play items, or other items, to create articles of interest and curiosity.

OBJECTS OF THE INVENTION

[0007] It is the above and related objects of this invention to remedy the above as well as related deficiencies in the prior art.

[0008] More specifically, it is the principal object of this invention to provide a kit that includes a software component capable of generating images that can be adhesively attached to three dimensional articles such as picture frames, toys or other articles for personalized use.

[0009] It is another object of this invention to provide a kit that includes interlocking building or construction components and a companion computer software module, that can replicate graphic images (pictures) corresponding to the form of the objects and/or figures assembled from such components.

[0010] It is still yet another object of this invention to provide a kit that includes interlocking building or construction components and a companion computer software module, wherein each of the construction components are identified by a readable code or symbol that can be scanned into a computer, so as to permit the replication of a graphic images (e.g. action figure clothing), corresponding to the form of the objects and/or figures assembled from such components.

[0011] It is a further object of this invention to provide a kit that includes interlocking building or construction components and a companion computer software module, which permits the generation of graphic images (e.g. action figure clothing) that can printed on adhesive paper stock, and thereby readily transferable to the form of the assembled toy (e.g. action figure).

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0012] The above and related objects are achieved by providing, in one embodiment, a kit having a number of interlocking components or parts of diverse shapes and sizes for the construction of an object or body form. The kit also includes software that permits the generation of graphic images which correspond to the size, shape and position of the object or body form. In one of the preferred embodiments of this invention, the kit includes software that can generate graphic images that correspond to the object or body form constructed with the components of the kit. More specifically, the kit includes, by way of example, one or more sets of plans for the construction/assembly of various objects. The software which accompanies the kit, thus, also contains pre-packaged, computer generated graphics that correspond to the plans for these object. Accordingly, the computer can print the corresponding graphic on an appropriate transfer medium, which in turn can be applied to the object.

[0013] In another of the preferred embodiments of this invention, the interlocking components or parts included in the kit are labeled with a code that can be keyed into, or scanned by a simple, handheld, character or code recognition device (e.g. bar code reader). The software which accompanies the kit is, thus, able to create a map of the assembled object wherein each of the component parts of the assembled object is identified, in relation to one another, and its relative position in the assembly noted. The computer software can thereafter generate a custom graphic that corresponds to the assembly. To the extent necessary or appropriate, the custom graphic can be modified, as needed, to better conform to the preferences of the kit builder. The custom graphic is then printed on an appropriate transfer medium, which in turn can be applied to the assembled object. Thus, the kit provides a degree of creativity not previously attainable by the more primitive kits described in the prior art.

[0014] In a still further embodiment of the invention, the software component of the kit can generate images suitable for placing in a picture frame or in predetermined indented portions of any three-dimensional articles.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0015] FIG. 1 is a toy figure assembled for interlocking parts of the kit of this invention.

[0016] FIG. 2 is enlarged view of an interlocking part of the toy figure of FIG. 1, wherein such interlocking part is identified by an alpha numeric code.

[0017] FIG. 3 is an enlarged view of an interlocking part of the toy figure of FIG. 1, wherein such interlocking part is identified by a machine readable bar code.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION INCLUDING PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0018] The construction kit of this invention can include a given number of shapes from which an infinite number of objects can be assembled. In one of the embodiments of this invention, the kit can include 5 to 10 different shapes, from which other shapes can be constructed; and, preferably, the combinations of shapes available from even this limited number of shapes are, for all intents and purpose, only limited by the number of parts included in a given kit.

[0019] The kit includes a software component which can generate graphic images as described below. Those graphic images can then be adhesively attached to various components of a three-dimensional article, but also can be applied to a standard picture frame of to selected indented portions on any article which the user wishes to personalize.

[0020] The kit component parts may be designed to readily interlock and release. The physical coupling of one part to another will preferable be the same so as to permit maximum versatility in the assembly. The coupling can typically include the same type of snap (male/female) fitting used in the popular Lego™ construction kits, or dove-tail like joints, or use dowel-like connectors of the more primitive Tinker Toy™ erector sets. In each instance, the resultant object should preferably have a least one planar surface (preferably the front surface) for the application of a computer generated graphic.

[0021] The component parts of the kit can be formed of a non-toxic plastic or elastomer. The parts contained in the kit can be used to create a structure (e.g. building or stationary object), or a body form (e.g. action figure). In order to assist the kit builder, the kit will preferable include a set of instructions and/or plans as a guide to the assembly of the kit components. In the preferred embodiment of this invention, the kit will also include helpful suggestions for custom or original construction projects. In each instance, the kit instructions will include instructions as to the creation of a “plan” or “custom” graphic for each type of assembled object and/or body form. In the context of this invention, a “plan” graphic is a graphic included with the companion software designed for use with an object or body form assembled in accordance with a plan that accompanies this kit. The “plan” graphic, thus, corresponds to the silhouette of an object constructed with the parts of the kit in accord with one of the plans that accompanies the kit. The “plan” graphic can be retrieved and printed on an appropriate transfer medium in advance or subsequent to the assembly of an object; or, alternatively, prior to its construction to assist the building in its assembly. A “custom” graphic corresponds to an object that has a unique or original form, and, thus, must be created through the use of the kit software. In the preferred embodiments of this invention, the software includes, for example, an image processing capability, wherein it can transfer a digital image (either from a digital camera or scanner) corresponding to an assembled object into a graphic that can be applied/use with the unique or original form of the assembly constructed from the kit components. The digital image input may require some adjustment to conform the graphic to the contours or size of the assembled object. Moreover, the graphic can be further customized by adding text (e.g. a child's name or appropriate slogan).

[0022] FIG. 1 illustrates a toy vehicle with an indented portion shown with dotted lines. Any suitable graphic image can be created by the user which can then be adhesively attached to the indented portion of the toy vehicle. It is, of course, understood that the same technique could be used to can or create graphic images that could be adhesively attached to a standard picture frame.

[0023] FIG. 2 illustrates a uncomplicated body form that can be assembled in accordance with the kit of this invention. For the purposes of this illustration, each shape for each of the different parts have been numbered. More specifically, each of the legs are designated with the number “4”. Similarly, the arms have been designated with the number “10”. This numbering system permits the assembly of this form, in accordance with plan instructions, by simple matching the number of the parts to the corresponding number of the part on the plan.

[0024] FIGS. 3 and 4 provide and enlarged view of two of the component parts of the body form depicted in FIG. 2. The parts depicted in FIGS. 3 and 4 are coded or identified by a part designator that can be keyed into, or scanned by a simple, hand-held, character or code recognition device. Thus, the part can be recognized by the kit software as having a given size and shape; and, its position (relative to the other parts) also mapped by the software. Thus, once an object of an original design has been created from these coded parts, the assembly is scanned with the hand-held scanning device, and the identification of each part and its relative to position to one another in the assembly, is converted to digital information. This digital information is manipulated by the kit software to form a graphic image corresponding in size and shape to the assembled object. The resultant graphic can be adjusted or modified consistent with the kit builder's desires, to include certain colors or other preferences. For example, this custom graphic can be in the nature of a template within which other graphic information can be imported. For example, if kit builder so desires, the custom graphic can include the face or body form from another picture. The advantage the custom graphic is that it provides essentially faithful correspondence to the dimensions of the assembled object. Thus, once the custom graphic is completed and printed on an appropriate transfer medium, it can be applied to the assembled object and match the silhouette thereof with the same precision as a “plan” graphic.

[0025] This invention also has application to the fabrication of prototypes for industry and to the creation of dynamic advertising displays. For example, the concept of this invention can be adapted to custom fitting of a graphic image or photograph within a defined frame boundary having an irregular or non-traditional shape. In addition, other applications of this invention shall become apparent as it is adapted to diverse environments and uses. Thus, it is neither the neither the purpose nor the intent of this disclosure to delineate the scope of this invention, which is set forth in the following claims.