Title:
Nail and toy set
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A toy log assembly set is disclosed having various length stackable log-like structural members, nail-like fasteners and a hammer for building composite structures like a house or cabin and stimulating child development. Structural members may include base pieces and/or stacking pieces that are used to form the foundation and walls of the composite building structure. Each of the pieces has an aperture for receiving the fasteners to secure the pieces together and some or all of the apertures are countersunk to receive the head of the fasteners. A hammer may be used to insert the fasteners completely in the apertures.



Inventors:
Laferrera, Anthony (Basking Ridge, NJ, US)
Application Number:
10/261604
Publication Date:
04/22/2004
Filing Date:
10/02/2002
Assignee:
LAFERRERA ANTHONY
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63H33/10; A63H33/12; (IPC1-7): A63H33/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
WILLIAMS, JAMILA O
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BLANK ROME LLP (WASHINGTON, DC, US)
Claims:

I claim



1. A toy log assembly set comprising: a plurality of longitudinally extending building structural members having a substantially uniform cross-section, each of the structural members comprising two substantially parallel, spaced-apart sides, a top surface substantially parallel to and spaced-apart from a bottom surface, two spaced-apart ends, and at least one substantially uniform aperture extending through the structural members from the top surface to the bottom surface perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the structural members, each of the at least one apertures including a countersink; and a plurality of fastening devices each insertable in the at least one aperture for securing at least two structural members together, each of the fastening devices including a head.

2. The assembly set according to claim 1, wherein the at least one aperture is countersunk to receive the head of the fastening devices.

3. The assembly set according to claim 1, wherein the at least one aperture has a shape selected from the group consisting of round, square, rectangular, triangular, and oval.

4. The assembly set according to claim 1, wherein each of the at least one apertures on each of the plurality of structural members are located the same distance from the spaced-apart ends of the structural members.

5. The assembly set according to claim 1, wherein the plurality of structural members are made from a material selected from the group consisting of wood, plastic, and metal.

6. The assembly set according to claim 1, wherein one of the plurality of fastening devices has a shank that has the same shape as the apertures.

7. The assembly set according to claim 1, wherein the plurality of fastening devices have a shank, wherein the lower portion of the shank comprises two oppositely-facing flexible sides forming an opening between them.

8. The assembly set according to claim 1, wherein the plurality of fastening devices comprise a shank, wherein the lower portion of the shank is narrower than the upper portion of the shank and wherein the upper portion of the shank comprises two oppositely-facing flexible sides forming an opening between them.

9. The assembly set according to claim 1, wherein the plurality of fastening devices comprise a shank, wherein the proximate and distal ends of the shank have the same dimensions and wherein the middle portion of the shank is tapered in at the center.

10. The assembly set according to claim 1, wherein the plurality of fastening devices are made from a material selected from the group consisting of wood, plastic, and metal.

11. The assembly set according to claim 1, wherein the sides of the plurality of structural members are longer than the height and width of the structural members.

12. The assembly set according to claim 1, wherein the width of the plurality of structural members is about twice the height of the structural members.

13. A toy log assembly set comprising: a first plurality of longitudinally extending building structural members having a substantially uniform cross-section, each of the structural members comprising two substantially parallel, spaced-apart sides, a top surface substantially parallel to and spaced-apart from a bottom surface, two spaced-apart ends, and at least one substantially uniform aperture extending through the structural members from the top surface to the bottom surface perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the structural members, each of the at least one apertures including a countersink; a second plurality of longitudinally extending building structural members having a substantially uniform cross-section, each of the structural members comprising two substantially parallel, spaced-apart sides, a top surface substantially parallel to and spaced-apart from a bottom surface, two spaced-apart ends, and at least one substantially uniform aperture extending through the structural members from the top surface to the bottom surface perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the structural members, each of the at least one apertures comprising a countersink; a plurality of fastening devices each insertable in the at least one aperture of the first or second plurality of structural members for securing at least two structural members together, each of the fastening devices comprising a head and a shank; and a hammer with a striking plate, wherein the first plurality of structural members have a height that is less than the height of the second plurality of structural members.

14. The assembly set according to claim 13, wherein the at least one aperture on the second plurality of structural members is countersunk to receive the head of the fastening devices.

15. The assembly set according to claim 13, wherein each of the at least one apertures on the first and second plurality of structural members has a shape selected from the group consisting of round, square, rectangular, triangular, and oval.

16. The assembly set according to claim 13, wherein each of the at least one apertures on each of the first and second plurality of structural members is located the same distance from the spaced-apart ends of the structural members.

17. The assembly set according to claim 13, wherein one of the plurality of fastening devices has a shank that has the same shape as the apertures on the first and second plurality of structural members.

18. The assembly set according to claim 13, wherein at least one of the first plurality of structural members is the same length as at least one of the second plurality of structural members.

19. A composite building structure made from a toy log assembly set comprising: a foundation comprising at least one longitudinally extending base structural member having a substantially uniform cross-section, the structural member comprising two substantially parallel, spaced-apart sides, a top surface substantially parallel to and spaced-apart from a bottom surface, two spaced-apart ends, and at least one substantially uniform aperture extending through the base structural member from the top surface to the bottom surface perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the base structural member; at least one wall on top of the foundation, the wall comprising at least one longitudinally extending wall structural member positioned on top of the at least one base structural member having a substantially uniform cross-section, each of the wall structural members comprising two substantially parallel, spaced-apart sides, a top surface substantially parallel to and spaced-apart from a bottom surface, two spaced-apart ends, and at least one substantially uniform aperture extending through the wall structural member from the top surface to the bottom surface perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the wall structural member; a roof positioned on top of the wall; fasteners for connecting the foundation, the at least one wall and the roof; and at least one building item selected from the group consisting of windows, dormers, entrance doors, and garage doors, wherein the base structural member has a height that is less than the height of the wall structural member.

20. The composite building structure according to claim 19, wherein the fasteners for connecting the foundation to the at least one wall is a plurality of fastening devices each insertable in the at least one aperture of the base and the wall structural members for securing at least two structural members together, each of the fastening devices comprising a head and shank.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Field of Invention

[0002] The present invention relates generally to toy building sets for children, and more particularly, to toy sets made up of stackable structural members and construction fastening devices from which composite building structures of sufficient complexity may be erected to challenge a range of child ages and interests.

[0003] 2. Description of the Prior Art

[0004] Toys are an important ingredient in childhood development. Toys not only offer amusement, but they can effect the physical, cognitive, emotional and social growth of children. For example, age-appropriate hands-on toys help develop fine-tuning motor skills and hand-to-eye coordination in children. Structural building blocks are especially suitable for facilitating those attributes in children, and have been known in the art for many years going back at least to 1922 when U.S. Pat. No. 1,402,438 to Nichols was issued for Lincoln Logs© type building blocks. Many toy building block sets, as described below, are limited to simple structural members that can be interfitted or stacked to erect small, modular, building structures like houses.

[0005] U.S. Pat. No. 2,110,990 to Forbes, for example, discloses a toy building set having various linear wooden structural members with multiple notches that allow the members to be stacked in the shape of a cabin having vertical walls and a pitched roof. The stated advantage of the toy set is the ability to form gable-ended roof structures to demonstrate the superior rigidity of the structure compared to previous toy sets.

[0006] U.S. Pat. No. 4,270,304 to Sofer improves on the basic structural member building block toy set by providing structural members having multiple numbers of rectangular notches along the length of the members. Those multi-notched members facilitate erection of not only plane and horizontal surfaces, but also stepped (i.e., slopped) surfaces.

[0007] U.S. Pat. No. 4,372,076 to Beck discloses a toy set having modular interlocking structural construction pieces made of wood that may be assembled in the shape of a cabin or house. The toy set preferably includes up to twenty different shaped members having rectangular notches at the ends on one or more sides that allow the pieces to stack together thereby, forming crossed, half-lap joints. It is stated that the toy set enhances rational thinking and reasoning in children and adults as a result of the assembly process and also teaches the relationship between orderliness and efficiency.

[0008] Simple building block toy sets like the aforementioned toy sets rely entirely on notches that form loose joints and friction for holding the assembled modular structure together. Interfitting or stackable wood pieces with fastening devices add a degree of complexity to the toy set and enhance their educational value. U.S. Pat. No. 4,389,808 to Podell et al., for example, discloses a toy set having multiple wood pieces with pre-drilled aperatures for receiving oversized wooden bolts and nuts. U.S. Pat. No. 5,881,515 to George discloses a toy set having several different shaped modular structural members and fasteners for erecting toy structures. George discloses structural members with evenly spaced, pre-drilled apertures along the length of the members for receiving fasteners. In George, the different types of fasteners include dowels, pegs, bolts, screws, pins and flexible barbs made of various materials.

[0009] Toy sets that involve using a hammer or other striking tool to strike pegs or objects can further enhance development of motor skills and hand-to-eye coordination in children. U.S. Pat. No. 3,138,894 to Reaux, for example, discloses a peg board toy that allows a child to strike wooden pegs in pre-drilled holes using a hammer. The object of the toy is to provide amusement and assist developing physical coordination. Similarly, U.S. Pat. No. 1,555,993 to Larson discloses a toy block set having a nail connected to a spring that can be repeatedly driven into the block by striking it with a hammer.

[0010] Combining building block toy sets with toys having hammerable fasteners would offer increased complexity and, therefore, enhance the physical, cognitive, and emotional growth of children while providing a source of amusement.

SUMMARY AND OBJECTS OF THE INVENTION

[0011] In view of the foregoing, it should be apparent that there exists a need in the art for a building block toy set that includes interfitting and/or stackable structural members and hammerable construction fasteners that challenge the development of a range of children of different ages and interests.

[0012] Accordingly, it is a principal object of the present invention to provide a structural member that is stackable on other structural members and has one or more apertures extending through the structural member for receiving a fastener, and to provide a fastener that is insertable in the aperture of the structural members for connecting two or more of the structural members together.

[0013] It is another object of the present invention to provide a fastener in the shape of a nail that can be struck with a hammer.

[0014] It is still another object of the present invention to provide structural members and fasteners of various sizes for erecting a modular structure that is sufficiently complex to challenge a wide range of children, both physically, cognitively, emotionally, and socially and that is entertaining and interesting.

[0015] Briefly described, these and other objects and features of the present invention are accomplished, as embodied and fully described herein, by a series of linear structural members made of virgin or recycled wood, plastic, metal or other lightweight yet rigid material or a combination of those materials having a generally rectangular profile that can be stacked together to form horizontal and vertical planar surfaces defining the walls, ceiling, floor and roof of a building structure, such as a cabin or a house. Windows, doors, dormers, chimneys and other conventional items may be integrated into the composite building structure. There are two types of linear structural members: base pieces and stacking pieces. The base and stacking pieces have approximately the same width, but the height of the base pieces is generally half the height of the stacking pieces. The lengths of each piece varies.

[0016] To provide dimensional stability in the modular structure, each structural member may include one or more apertures that is pre-drilled in the member and extends through the member for receiving a fastener. Each aperture is counterbored to provide a countersink recess for the head of a nail-like fastener. The nail-like fastener is made of virgin or recycled plastic, wood, metal or other material or a combination of those materials and has a generally flat head, round shank and flat or tapered tip. The diameter of the shank is equal to or slightly larger than the diameter of the aperture so that when the fastener is inserted in the aperture it is held in place by friction contact with the surface of the walls of the aperture. The fastener is designed not to fail under moderate compressive forces from a hammer striking the head of the fastener and also from moderate bending or torsional forces applied to the head and shank.

[0017] The objects and features of the invention are also accomplished by a method of using the linear structural members and fasteners. With a supplied hammer, a child may outline the shape of a building structure using base pieces and then begin adding stacking pieces on top of the base pieces to form walls. One or more fasteners are inserted into one or more apertures on the pieces and driven into the apertures with the hammer to hold them together.

[0018] With these and other objects, advantages and features of the invention that may become hereinafter apparent, the nature of the invention may be more clearly understood by reference to the following detailed description of the invention, the appended claims and to the several drawings attached herein.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0019] FIG. 1 is a drawing of a perspective view of the set of linear structural members of the present invention showing both base and stacking pieces;

[0020] FIG. 2 is a partial, cross-sectional, perspective view of one of the base pieces shown in FIG. 1;

[0021] FIG. 3 is a partial, cross-sectional, perspective view of one of the stacking pieces shown in FIG. 1;

[0022] FIG. 4a is a side view of one embodiment of a fastener of the present invention;

[0023] FIG. 4b is a side view of another embodiment of a fastener of the present invention;

[0024] FIG. 4c is a side view of another embodiment of a fastener of the present invention;

[0025] FIG. 5 is a perspective view of some of the base and stacking pieces of FIG. 1, and the fastener of FIG. 4b being inserted into an aperture on the pieces;

[0026] FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a toy claw and anvil hammer with an oversized grip;

[0027] FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a finished composite building made from the base and stacking pieces shown in FIG. 1 and the fasteners shown in FIGS. 4a, 4b and 4c; and

[0028] FIG. 8 is a drawing of a child using the fasteners shown in FIGS. 4a, 4b and 4c, the base and stacking pieces shown in FIG. 1, and the hammer shown in FIG. 6.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

[0029] Several preferred embodiments of the invention are described for illustrative purposes, it being understood that the invention may be embodied in other forms not specifically shown in the drawings.

[0030] Referring now in detail to the drawings, wherein like parts are designated by like reference numerals throughout, FIG. 1 is a perspective drawing of a set of linear structural members of the present invention each made from virgin or recycled wood, plastic, metal or other lightweight yet rigid material or a combination of those materials. As shown in FIG. 1, there are two kinds of structural members: base pieces 102, 104 and 106, and stacking pieces 108, 110, 112, 114, 116, 118 and 120. The base pieces 102-106 are approximately rectangular and have a width Wb, height hb, and length lb such that lb>Wb and lb>hb (see FIG. 2). The width and height dimensions can be linearly related according to Wb≈p×hb, where p=2, 3, . . . n; however, it is preferred that Wb≈2×hb. That is, the width dimension is approximately twice the height dimension. It is contemplated that the width dimension may be slightly greater than or less than twice the height dimension.

[0031] The stacking pieces 108-120 are approximately rectangular and have a width ws, height hs, and length ls such that ls>ws and ls>hs (see FIG. 3) The width and height dimensions can be linearly related according to ws≈p×hs, where p=1, 2, 3, . . . n; however, it is preferred that ws≈hs. That is, the width dimension is approximately equal to the height dimension. Again, it is contemplated that the width dimension can be slightly greater than or less than the height dimension. It is also preferred that Wb≈ws. That is, the width dimension of the base pieces should be approximately equal to the width dimension of the stacking pieces. The cross-sectional dimensions Wb and hb, in the case of the base pieces 102-106, and ws and hs, in the case of the stacking pieces 108-120, are nearly constant along the length of the individual pieces.

[0032] As shown in FIG. 1, the base pieces 102-106 and the stacking pieces 108-120 have apertures A drilled through the pieces so that the longitudinal axes of the apertures are approximately perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the pieces. The apertures A are separated by a distance d apart. Preferably, the apertures A are evenly spaced along the length lb and ls of the pieces. The number of apertures A on each piece depends on the lengths lb and ls and the separation distance d. For example, as shown in FIG. 1, when d is approximately 0.75-inches, there would be 20 holes on a base or stacking piece that is 15-inches long (see base piece 106 and stacking piece 120, for example), 18 holes on a piece that is 13.5-inches long (not shown), 10 holes on a piece that is 7.5-inches long (base piece 104 and stacking piece 118), 6 holes on a piece that is 4.5-inches long (102, 116), 5 holes on a 3.75-inch piece (114), 4 holes on a 3-inch piece (112), 3 holes on a 2.25-inch piece (110), and 2 holes on a 1.5-inch piece (108). If the distance d is greater than or less than 0.75-inches, then a fewer or greater number of apertures A may be included on each piece.

[0033] Some of the pieces may include apertures A that are not equally separated by the same distance d. For example, on one piece the apertures A may be spaced 0.75 inches apart and on another piece the apertures A may be spaced 1.5-inches apart. Further, the apertures A may be grouped at a particular end of the pieces or grouped on both ends with the center portions having no apertures A at all. As shown in FIG. 1, it is preferred that the apertures A be round; however, they may also be square, rectangular, triangular, oval or other non-round shape. Further, each piece 102-120 may have a combination of different shaped apertures A.

[0034] FIG. 2 is a partial, cross-sectional, perspective view of one of the base pieces shown in FIG. 1. Each aperture A has an outside diameter D1 that is pre-drilled in the piece. The apertures A are preferably pre-drilled completely through the piece forming a hole 204. In some instances, however, the apertures A may be pre-drilled to a depth that is less than the height of the piece. Each aperture may be counterbored to provide a countersink recess 202 to accept the shape of a fastener (see FIGS. 4a, 4b and 4c) so that the fastener is flush with the top surface of the base or stacking piece. The countersink is made to a depth s on one end of the aperture and has a diameter D2 such that D2 >D1.

[0035] Similarly, FIG. 3 is a partial, cross-sectional, perspective view of one of the stacking pieces shown in FIG. 1. As shown in FIG. 3, each aperture A has a countersink 302 and a pre-drilled hole 304 and is separated by a distance d. The dimensions of each aperture A in FIG. 3 are the same as the dimensions of the apertures A on the base piece shown in FIG. 2.

[0036] The apertures A on the linear structural members are designed to accept a fastener like that shown in FIG. 4a. FIG. 4a is a side view of one embodiment of a fastener 400 according to the present invention. The fastener 400 is made of virgin or recycled plastic, wood, metal or other material or a combination of those materials and generally resembles a flat-head nail having a head, shank and tip. Although a nail-like fastener is preferred, other types of fasteners may also be used without departing from the nature and scope of the invention, such as screws, pins, rivets, bolts and the like.

[0037] The shank 406 of the fastener 400 should have a diameter D3 that is equal to or (preferably) slightly larger than the diameter D1 of the aperture A so that the fastener 400 is held in the aperture A by friction contact with the surface of the walls of the aperture hole 204 (FIG. 2). It will be appreciated by one of ordinary skill in the art that the size of D3 will vary depending on the tightness of the friction fit desired. When the fastener 400 is inserted in the aperture A, the radial force exerted by the shank 406 of the fastener 400 against the surface of the aperture hole 204 should be sufficient to hold the fastener 400 in place but not too great that a child will not be able to readily separate the linear structural members with reasonable force. Further, it is contemplated that the friction force will be small enough so that a child of reasonable strength can manually insert the fastener 400 by using, for example, a thumb or finger pressed against the top of the head 402 and applying a force in the direction of the longitudinal axis of the fastener 400. Separation of the linear structural members connected by a fastener 400, or removal of the fastener 400 from an aperture A, is facilitated by the opening 408 in the shank 406 that flexes inward when the fastener 400 is inserted in the aperture A. The slit-type opening 408 reduces some of the friction force exerted by the shank 406 of the fastener 400 against the surface of the hole 204.

[0038] As also shown in FIG. 4a, the head 402 has a height s equal to the depth s of the countersink of the apertures A. This allows the fastener 400 to fit approximately flush in the aperture A. The head 402 has a diameter D2 approximately equal to the diameter D2 of the countersink of the apertures A.

[0039] The shank 406 of the fastener 400 is long enough to hold two linear structural members together. Clearly, when a stacking piece is on top of a base piece, the shank 406 should be equal to or less than the combined height of those two pieces, or hb+hs. However, when a stacking piece is stacked on top of another stacking piece, the shank 406 should be equal to or less than the combined height of those two pieces, or hs+hs. Thus, it is contemplated that different lengths of fasteners 400 will be required.

[0040] FIG. 4b is a side view of another embodiment of a fastener 420 according to the present invention. The fastener 420 has all of the same features and attributes of the fastener 400, except for the opening 428 and lower shank 430 shown in FIG. 4b. The fastener 420 includes a top 422, head 424, upper shank 426, opening 428, lower shank 430 and tip 432. The opening 428 is larger than the opening 408 on the fastener 400 and extends along a larger length of the upper shank 426 of the fastener 420 compared to opening on the shank 406 of the fastener 400. The lower shank 430 has a slightly smaller diameter of length ht, such that ht<hb and ht<hs. The lower shank 430 and the tip 432 have a diameter D4 that is equal to or (preferably) slightly smaller than the diameter D1 of the aperture A. The smaller diameter of the lower shank 430 and the tip 432 act as a guide when inserting the fastener 420 in the aperture A and allow that portion of the fastener 420 to be loosely held in the aperture A by friction contact with the walls of the aperture hole 304 (FIG. 3). Most of the friction force will be exerted by the upper shank 426.

[0041] FIG. 4c is a side view of another embodiment of a fastener 440 of the present invention. The fastener 440 includes a top 442, head 444, shank 446 and tip 450. The end of the shank 446 and the tip 450 have a diameter D3 that is equal to or (preferably) slightly larger than the diameter D1 of the aperture A so that the fastener 440 is held in the aperture A by friction contact with the surface of the walls of the aperture hole 204 (FIG. 2) or the hole 304 (FIG. 3). The shank 446 shown in FIG. 4c is hour-glass shaped (exaggerated for clarity) to reduce the friction force exerted by the fastener 440.

[0042] FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a composite structure 500 made from the base pieces 102 and 104 and the stacking pieces 108 and 116 being connected together using the fasteners 420 inserted into the apertures A on the pieces.

[0043] FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a toy claw and anvil hammer 600 with an oversized grip. Any type of striking device suitable for use by children in connection with the present invention may be used.

[0044] FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a finished composite building 700 made from the base pieces 102-106 and the stacking pieces 108-120 shown in FIG. 1, and the fasteners 400, 420 and 440 shown in FIGS. 4a, 4b and 4c, respectively. Composite building 700 may include a separately assembled roof 702 with one or more optional dormers 704, upper windows 706, lower windows 708, front entrance 710, garage door 712 and chimney 714 (not shown). Some of those building items may be attached to the outside of the building structure 700, like the dormers 704, the upper windows 706, and the front entrance 710. Other building items may be integrated into the building structure 700, like the garage door 712. However, each of the aforementioned building items may be either integrated into the building structure 700 or attached to the outside, depending on the desires of the user. It will be appreciated by one of ordinary skill in the art that other sizes and configurations of building structures may be assembled from the pieces 102-120 shown in FIG. 1.

[0045] FIG. 8 is a drawing of a child using the fasteners 400, 420 and 440 shown in FIGS. 4a, 4b and 4c, the base pieces 102-106 and the stacking pieces 108-120 shown in FIG. 1, and the hammer 600 shown in FIG. 6. To assemble a building structure 800, a user outlines the foundation 802 of the structure 800 using base pieces 102-106 and then begins building walls 804 by stacking one or more stacking pieces 108-120 as shown in FIG. 8. After each layer is added, a fasteners 806 may be inserted into one of the apertures A. Using the hammer 600, the fastener 806 is inserted into the aperture A by striking the top of the fastener 806 with the hammer 600.

[0046] Although only preferred embodiments are specifically illustrated and described herein, it will be appreciated that many modifications and variations of the present invention are possible in light of the above teachings and within the purview of the appended claims without departing from the spirit and intended scope of the invention.