Title:
Child's magnetic puzzle
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A magnetic puzzle for youngsters having puzzle pieces retained on a playing board, wherein said puzzle pieces are readily lifted free from the playing board, is disclosed. The playing board has a raised perimetric frame surrounding and defining an inner top surface onto which the puzzle pieces, having a thickness greater than that of the frame, are placed. The inner top surface bears a magnetically responsive member, such as a metallic plate. The puzzle pieces each have a magnetically responsive member fixed to the bottom surface thereof. When placed on the inner top surface of the playing board, the puzzle pieces adhere by magnetic attraction, the pieces protruding above the surface of the perimetric frame. The outer edges of the pieces may be easily grasped by a fingertip for removal of the piece from the board. Preferably, the puzzle pieces are devoid of mutually interlocking members.



Inventors:
Wells, Keith Devon (Kingston, GA, US)
Mays, Capharies (Cartersville, GA, US)
Application Number:
10/218394
Publication Date:
02/19/2004
Filing Date:
08/15/2002
Assignee:
WELLS KEITH DEVON
MAYS CAPHARIES
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:
Sonya C. Harris (Fairfax, VA, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A magnetic puzzle comprising: a non-magnetic playing board having a raised perimetric frame, said frame surrounding an inner top surface; a magnetically responsive plate disposed within said perimetric frame and affixed to said inner top surface; a plurality of irregularly shaped puzzle pieces, said pieces configured to fit together into an arrangement such that said arranged pieces fit within said perimetric frame, each of said pieces further comprising a magnetically responsive retainer affixed to a bottom surface of said piece, said magnetically responsive retainers adapted to establish magnet attraction with said magnetically responsive plate, thereby retaining said pieces in contact with said magnetically responsive plate; wherein each of said puzzle pieces is dimensioned to be of a thickness greater than that of said perimetric frame, such that when said pieces are laid flat on said inner top surface, said puzzle pieces project above said perimetric frame, thereby allowing for engagement by a fingertip for removal of said pieces from said frame.

2. A magnetic puzzle, as defined in claim 1, wherein said pieces are configured in a non-interlocking manner such that, when all of said pieces are placed together in a unified orientation, each of said pieces may be disengaged from any abutting of said pieces by sliding said piece in a purely horizontal, linear motion away from said abutting piece.

3. A magnetic puzzle, as defined in claim 1, wherein said pieces are configured in an interlocking manner such that when all of said pieces are placed together in a unified orientation, each of said pieces may be disengaged from any abutting of said pieces only by a vertical displacement of said piece from said abutting pieces.

Description:

REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

[0001] This application is related to Ser. No. 09/111,383, filed Jul. 7, 1998, and Ser. No. 09/406,704, filed on Sep. 28, 1999, both now abandoned.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] 1. Field of the Invention

[0003] The present invention relates to puzzles having playing elements that are magnetically attracted to a game board or to each other. More particularly, the invention comprises a magnetic puzzle that includes a plurality of irregularly configured, interlocking or non-interlocking puzzle pieces tiling a bounded surface on a playing board by magnetic attraction. The magnetic puzzle is especially suitable for toddlers of ages approximately three to seven years.

[0004] 2. Description of the Prior Art

[0005] Jigsaw puzzles provide enjoyment to many. Traditional jigsaw puzzles may require hours to fully assemble. Small children are usually excluded from serious participation in assembling jigsaw puzzles since the many pieces usually differ in only subtle details which may escape the very young. Also, the pieces must be carefully placed together and pressed into engagement. Assembly may therefore be beyond the abilities of small children.

[0006] Yet assembling puzzles remains an entertaining and instructive activity for small children. There exists a need for puzzles suitable for the young, such puzzles generally corresponding to adult versions.

[0007] The prior art has proposed puzzles which are assembled magnetically rather than by requiring dextrous interfitting of small parts. An example is seen in U.S. Pat. No. 5,158,295, issued to Robert A. Shilling on Oct. 27, 1992. However, the puzzle of Shilling has interfitting pieces and lacks a feature found in the present invention enabling pieces to be readily removed by the young after assembly of the full puzzle. Notably, the pieces of the present invention are configured to be of greater height than that of the surrounding border which retains the individual pieces on the backing board of the puzzle.

[0008] For small children, it is desirable to provide puzzle pieces which are irregular in shape, so that a child is obliged to recognize interfitting pieces by sight and recognition of corresponding shapes, yet which are not overly intricate. This feature is illustrated in U.S. Pat. No. 3,473,807, issued to Ray Leonard on Oct. 21, 1969. However, Leonard lacks the raised individual pieces and magnetic attraction of the novel puzzle.

[0009] U.S. Pat. No. 4,487,585, issued to Edward M. Goldwasser on Dec. 11, 1984, discloses a puzzle wherein pieces having shapes representative of various objects fit into like shaped holes within a board such that the faces of the pieces are substantially flush with the surface of the board. A knob extends from each piece for grasping the piece for removal/insertion. By contrast, the present invention discloses pieces having a thickness greater than that of the board, thus allowing the pieces to protrude above the surface of the board. The added thickness of the pieces eliminates the need for a protruding knobs, which could break off or pose a source of injury to small children. Instead, removal of the pieces is accomplished by grasping the edges of the pieces and lifting.

[0010] None of the above inventions and patents, taken either singly or in combination, is seen to describe the instant invention as claimed.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0011] The present invention sets forth a magnetic puzzle which is particularly suitable for children in an age range of three to seven years. In particular, the puzzle features irregular individual pieces of limited complexity which abut one another without requiring interfitting, although interlocking pieces could be utilized. The pieces are magnetically held to a playing board, so that if the playing board is tipped over or turned upside down, the puzzle pieces will remain in place on the playing board. The individual pieces are greater in height or thickness than are the borders which contain the assembled pieces, so that a small child may easily dislodge them after all individual pieces have been assembled on the playing board. This characteristic, combined with magnetic attraction to the board, render the novel puzzle uncomplicated and easily manipulated by the intended users while being safer than similar puzzles having knobs on each piece.

[0012] The novel puzzle is economically fabricated. The individual pieces, prior to being cut apart and separated, are backed with resilient magnetized material. The individual pieces are then cut apart, with the magnetic material being cut to conform to the individual pieces so formed in the same step. Conventional fabrication methods such as die cutting are usable with the novel construction. These characteristics minimize the final cost to the consumer.

[0013] Accordingly, it is a principal object of the invention to provide a puzzle which is suitable for young children.

[0014] It is another object of the invention to provide a puzzle having individual puzzle pieces which are magnetically adhered to a playing board and are easily placed together in order.

[0015] It is a further object of the invention to assure that puzzle pieces remain adhered to the playing board even if the latter is overturned.

[0016] Still another object of the invention is that puzzle pieces be easy to dislodge by young children from a completely assembled puzzle.

[0017] An additional object of the invention is that the novel puzzle be economical to manufacture.

[0018] It is an object of the invention to provide improved elements and arrangements thereof in an apparatus for the purposes described which is inexpensive, dependable and fully effective in accomplishing its intended purposes.

[0019] These and other objects of the present invention will become readily apparent upon further review of the following specification and drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0020] Various other objects, features, and attendant advantages of the present invention will become more fully appreciated as the same becomes better understood when considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which like reference characters designate the same or similar parts throughout the several views, and wherein:

[0021] FIG. 1 is a top perspective view of the playing board with a magnetic plate component exploded therefrom.

[0022] FIG. 2 is a top perspective view of the playing board with the puzzle pieces exploded therefrom and grouped together.

[0023] FIG. 3 is a bottom perspective view of the puzzle pieces grouped together, showing magnetic strips affixed thereto.

[0024] FIG. 4 is a top perspective view of the assembled puzzle pieces and board.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0025] Turning now to the drawings, in which similar reference characters denote similar elements throughout the several views, FIGS. 1 through 4 illustrate magnetic puzzle 10 of the present invention. Puzzle 10 comprises a non-magnetic playing board 12 having a raised perimetric frame 14 which is raised above, surrounds, and defines an inner top surface 16, and puzzle pieces 22 which can be placed in unified orientation, as shown in FIG. 2. In the unified orientation, each said puzzle piece 22 is in flush abutment with at least one other puzzle piece 22. Preferably, puzzle pieces 22 fit together so that they will contact either other puzzle pieces 22 or the inner boarder of frame 14 continuously along their perimetric edges when fit together in the unified orientation. Preferably, the upper surface of puzzle pieces 22, and also of frame 14 if desired, bears an image generated by indicia, coloring patterns, and other visual aspects (none shown). This is conventional practice in puzzles of the type known as jigsaw puzzles, and will not be further described herein.

[0026] Puzzle pieces 22 are held in their position after being placed on surface 16 by magnetic attraction. To this end, a magnetically responsive plate 18 is disposed upon inner top surface 16. Plate 18 is permanently secured to surface 16 by adhesive 28 (see FIG. 1).

[0027] As shown in FIG. 3, puzzle pieces 22 each have a bottom surface 26 and a magnetically responsive retainer 32 fixed to bottom surface 26. Each retainer 32 establishes magnetic attraction of its associated puzzle piece 22 to magnetically responsive plate 18. A suitable method of attaching retainer 32 to its associated puzzle piece 22 is by applying adhesive 34 to surface 26 and to the retainer 32. Retainers 32 may be formed, for example, from plastic sheet impregnated with magnetized particles such as iron filings.

[0028] In the preferred embodiment, plate 18 is dimensioned and configured to be equivalent to and conform to the perimetric characteristics of inner top surface 16 of playing board 12, although this is not critical to the invention. This characteristic assists in achieving an important feature of the invention. Since each puzzle piece 22 is typically cut from the same sheet of material as perimetric frame 14, the thickness of plate 18 causes the pieces 22 to project above perimetric frame 14 such that they can be engaged by a finger to release them for removal from playing board 12. Small children have smaller, weaker fingernails than do adults. Therefore, projection of puzzle pieces 22 above frame 14 is important in enabling a child to release puzzle pieces 22 from the unified orientation in order to commence a new attempt to assemble puzzle 10. Plate 18 assists in elevating the upper surfaces of puzzle pieces 22 above the level of the upper surface of frame 14. This characteristic is further increased by the thickness of retainer 32 of each puzzle piece 22. Therefore, frame 14 and puzzle pieces 22 may be fabricated from a single planar substrate of nominal thickness which may be sawed or die cut to suit.

[0029] Puzzle pieces 22 fit on surface 16, where they are surrounded and retained by frame 14. Puzzle pieces 22 are irregularly configured, non-interlocking puzzle pieces dimensioned and configured to fit together in one arrangement (e.g., the unified orientation depicted in FIG. 2) such that puzzle pieces 22 fit onto inner top surface 16 within raised perimetric frame 14. Puzzle pieces 22 are configured such that when all puzzle pieces 22 are placed together in the unified orientation shown in FIG. 2 and placed on an unbounded flat surface (not shown), each puzzle piece 22 can be disengaged from any one abutting puzzle piece 22 by sliding puzzle piece 22 in purely horizontal, linear motion away from the abutting puzzle piece. It is contemplated that more intricate interfitting of one puzzle piece 22 to another is not appropriate for small children, although interfitting pieces would not depart from the spirit of the present invention.

[0030] The present invention is susceptible to modifications and variations which may be introduced without departing from the inventive concept. For example, either one of plate 18 and retainers 32 may be magnetized, with the other being merely magnetically responsive. Also, plate 18 may extend to the full periphery of playing board 12, if desired. Plate 18 may be adhered to the bottom of playing board 18, friction fit thereto by close cooperation with the edges of frame 14, or in any other suitable way. Puzzle pieces 22 may be reconfigured to conform to conventional practice in jigsaw puzzles by making them interfit so that they can not be slid away from one another in a horizontal plane after they are interfit, if it is desired to offer the present invention in a more advanced form suitable for older children.

[0031] It is to be understood that the present invention is not limited to the embodiments described above, but encompasses any and all embodiments within the scope of the following claims.