Title:
Dispensing unit for use in dispensing game playing tokens
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A dispensing unit (1) for dispensing game playing tokens, including a hopper section (2) for holding tokens, a dispenser section (3) arranged to selectively receive a predetermined number of tokens from the hopper section and a release mechanism (4) for dispensing the tokens from the dispensing section.



Inventors:
Curtis, Alan (New South Wales, AU)
Application Number:
10/415492
Publication Date:
06/24/2004
Filing Date:
01/16/2004
Assignee:
CURTIS ALAN
Primary Class:
International Classes:
G07D9/00; G07F11/44; (IPC1-7): B65H3/30
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BEAUCHAINE, MARK J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BIRCH STEWART KOLASCH & BIRCH, LLP (Falls Church, VA, US)
Claims:
1. A dispensing unit for dispensing game playing tokens, including: a hopper section for holding the tokens; a dispenser section arranged to selectively receive a predetermined number of tokens from the hopper section; a release mechanism for dispensing the tokens from the dispenser section; and a central peg to facilitate distribution of the tokens within the hopper section away from the peg and through openings which communicate with the dispenser section.

2. A dispensing unit as claimed in claim 1, wherein the dispenser section includes a chamber for receiving the tokens.

3. A dispensing unit as claimed in claim 2, wherein a partition member is provided to selectively block respective openings during dispensing of the tokens.

4. A dispensing unit as claimed in claim 3, wherein the chamber is rotatably housed within the dispenser section and the release mechanism includes a lever for rotating the chamber from a first position, for receiving the tokens from the hopper section, to a second position, where the respective opening is blocked by the partition member, for releasing the tokens.

5. A dispensing unit as claimed in claim 4, wherein the unit includes an end cap with at least one outlet port arranged to register with the at least one opening of the chamber, when in the second position, to allow the tokens to be dispensed therefrom.

6. A dispensing unit as claimed in claim 5, wherein the chamber includes six tubes with associated openings, for selectively receiving the tokens.

7. A dispensing unit as claimed in claim 6, wherein the end cap includes six outlet ports such that rotation of the chamber from the first to the second position causes the openings of the tubes to be blocked by the partition member whilst simultaneously aligning the tubes with the outlet ports to facilitate dispensing of the tokens.

8. A dispensing unit as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 7, wherein the tokens are die with letters provided on the faces thereof.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates to a dispenser unit for use in dispensing tokens such as for use in a word game or the like.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] A known form of word game is marketed under the name “Scrabble”. Scrabble is played by each player successively placing letter tiles on a board so as to make words.

[0003] Distributing the required letter tiles to each player can be quite time consuming and bothersome. The present invention seeks to simplify and speed up the process of dispensing the tiles, or any other form of token such as used in a word game or the like.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0004] In accordance with the invention, there is provided a dispensing unit for dispensing game playing tokens, including:

[0005] a hopper section for holding the tokens;

[0006] a dispenser section arranged to selectively receive a predetermined number of tokens from the hopper section;

[0007] a release mechanism for dispensing the tokens from the dispenser section; and

[0008] a central peg to facilitate distribution of the tokens within the hopper section away from the peg and through openings which communicate with the dispenser section.

[0009] Preferably, the dispenser section includes a chamber, for receiving the tokens. More preferably, a partition member is provided to selectively block respective openings during dispensing of the tokens.

[0010] Preferably, the chamber is rotatably housed within the dispenser section and the release mechanism includes a lever for rotating the chamber from a first position, for receiving the tokens from the hopper section, to a second position, where the respective opening is blocked by the partition member, for releasing the tokens.

[0011] Preferably, the unit includes an end cap with at least one outlet port arranged to register with the at least one opening of the chamber, when in the second position, to allow the tokens to be dispensed therefrom.

[0012] Preferably, the chamber includes six tubes with associated openings, for selectively receiving the tokens.

[0013] Preferably, the end cap includes six outlet ports such that rotation of the chamber from the first to the second position causes the openings of the tubes to be blocked by the partition member whilst simultaneously aligning the tubes with the outlet ports to facilitate dispensing of the tokens.

[0014] Preferably, the tokens are die with letters provided on the faces thereof. Alternatively, the tokens are tiles with letters provided on one side thereof.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0015] The invention is more fully described, by way of non-limiting example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

[0016] FIG. 1 is an exploded perspective view of a dispensing unit;

[0017] FIG. 2 is a partially sectioned view of the dispensing of FIG. 1;

[0018] FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a partition member used in the dispensing unit; and

[0019] FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the dispenser in an assembled condition.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0020] The dispensing unit 1, shown in FIGS. 1 to 4 comprises a hopper section 2, divided into upper and lower parts 2a and 2b for holding game tokens, a dispenser section 3 for selectively receiving a predetermined number of tokens from the hopper section and a release mechanism 4 for dispensing the tokens from the dispenser section 3 into a cup 5.

[0021] The dispenser section 3 includes a chamber 6 which has a plurality of tubes 7 provided therein so as to define respective openings 8, for receiving the tokens from the hopper section 2. The chamber 6 is housed in the dispenser section between a partition member 9 and an end cap 10. The arrangement of the chamber 6 and partition member 9 is such that when the chamber is in a first position, the partition member 9 selectively uncovers the openings 8, to allow tokens to freely fall into the tubes 7. After the tubes 6 are filled, the chamber 6 may be rotated via actuation of the attached mechanism 4 to a second position, where radial blades 9a, shown most clearly in FIG. 3, of the partition member 9 cover the tube openings 8 previously filled with tokens. Whilst the tubes are covered by the partition member 9, as the chamber 6 moves into the second position, outlet ports 11 in the end cap 10 register with the previously filled tubes in order to allow the tokens to fall free of the dispenser section and into the cup 5.

[0022] In the arrangement shown, six tubes are provided although the number of tubes may vary, as required, dependent on the size of the tokens to be dispensed and the number required.

[0023] The size of the openings 8 in relation the dice being used is optimised such that only one dice can fall into the barrel at a time, to thereby avoid jamming.

[0024] Using the maximum number of barrels possible ensures that the dice will have to “fall” somewhere. The distance between each hole is so small that a dice cannot balance between holes.

[0025] Also, having a minimal distance between the openings at the top of the chamber 6, enables the lever mechanism 4 to move the minimum distance to release the dice. This avoids the possibility of a child jamming their fingers in one or more tubes and then moving the lever. It is virtually impossible for someone to jam or hurt their fingers as a result.

[0026] In order to ensure the tokens are sufficiently distributed into each of the tubes prior to dispensing, the hopper section 2 is preferably rotatably mounted relative to the dispenser section 3 and a paddle (not shown) may be provided therein to agitate the tokens during rotational motion of the hopper section. For that purpose, the hopper section 2 is preferably coaxially mounted relative to the dispenser section 3 with a male/female connection therebetween which allows for the relative rotation of the hopper section, although other forms of coupling may instead be employed if required. Further, the hopper section 2 is preferably provided with a lid 14 which may be easily removed to allow for return of previously dispensed tokens for subsequent “shuffling” or agitation by rotation of the section prior to another dispensing operation.

[0027] In any event, however, the unit is provided with a domed central peg 20 to help facilitate filling of the tubes. This serves to spread the dice away from the peg and over the openings 8 in the chamber 6. The distance between the peg and the inner wall of the hopper is optimised to enable only one dice to fit therebetween, thereby eliminating jamming and greatly reducing any lateral pressure on the dice, allowing them to fall freely into the barrel. Having a “domed” shape on the top of the peg ensures that no dice can stay sitting on top of the peg, they must fall downwards and ultimately into the barrel.

[0028] The peg height is also optimised to reduce lateral pressure on the dice, allowing them to fall freely into the barrel.

[0029] Lastly, the unique reaction between the blades 9a and the leading edge of the tubes 7 as the lever mechanism 4 is moved, enables the dispenser to accommodate a variance in dice size of up to 5%. The unique chamfered leading edge makes it impossible for a dice to jam when the lever is being moved into the release position.

[0030] The dispenser unit 1 thereby provides a quick, reliable and convenient means of dispensing tokens, and, as shown in FIG. 4, only a single movement of the release mechanism to either the left or right, as shown, will result in a full number of tokens being dispensed into 5 the cup 5.

[0031] The dispenser 1 is particularly suited for distributing tokens in the form of letter dice for use in a word game played in accordance with the following method and using the component parts listed below. For the reader's reference, Applicant proposes to market the word game under the brand-name “LMNOP”.

[0032] Component parts of LMNOP:

[0033] 76 letter-dice;

[0034] Dispenser;

[0035] 6 cups;

[0036] Rule booklet; and

[0037] Scoring Pad.

[0038] In LMNOP, players form interlocking words Crossword-style in front of themselves using letters of different colours (values). Each player competes against all the other players simultaneously. The object of the game is to use all the letter-dice first in bona-fide words and call stop. When one player calls stop, all players must stop immediately. Players then add up the totals of the letter-dice they have used and subtract the total of the unused letter-dice. The first player to call stop with all their letters used in bona-fide words gets a bonus 10 points also. When the scores have been written down, all the letter-dice are returned to the dispenser and the game is started again. In the event of no player using all the letter-dice, the time to stop is determined by the group consensus. The number of coloured letter dice may be:

[0039] Red=5, Yellow=4, Orange=3, Black=2, Blue=1, Green=1

[0040] Set up:

[0041] LMNOP should be played on a flat surface, table, floor etc.

[0042] Players should have at least a 20 square cm space in front themselves. Place all the letter-dice in the dispenser

[0043] LMNOP Scoring Variation—Game Play:

[0044] 1. Before the game begins, players should agree upon a dictionary they will use in case of a challenge. Bona-fide words—All words labelled as a part of speech (including those listed of foreign origin, and as archaic, obsolete, colloquial, slang, etc.) are permitted with the exception of the following: words always capitalised, abbreviations, prefixes and suffixes standing alone, words requiring a hyphen or an apostrophe. In friendly household games, players often prefer to allow people's names to be used (eg Fred, John etc).

[0045] 2. The “dealer” uses the dispenser to distribute 12 letter-dice into each cup and gives them to each player.

[0046] 3. When each player has their cup with letter-dice in it, the dealer calls GO.

[0047] 4. Each player tips their letter-dice in front of themselves and proceeds to make connecting words Crossword-style

[0048] 5. Play continues until one player has used all of his or her letter-dice and calls stop.

[0049] 6. When one player calls stop, all players must stop immediately. Each player adds up the totals Crossword-style of the letter-dice they have used and then subtracts the total of the unused letter-dice.

[0050] The totals are then written down, and the letter-dice returned to the dispenser. The dispenser is then passed to the player to the left of the dealer to continue the next round.

[0051] Scoring:

[0052] 1. For a player to score the word, they must know the meaning of the word. If not, they cannot score the word and must subtract the letter value of the word from their score.

[0053] 2. Anyone may ask a player to prove their knowledge of a words' meaning during scoring.

[0054] 3. For ease of play, each player adds up their own score and can check the player on their right if there are any queries.

[0055] 4. Add up each letter-dice used. If a letter-dice is used twice (in a word both vertically and horizontally) then is counted twice. Count up all the letters used and subtract the letters not used.

[0056] 5. The player with the highest score gets 5 points, second highest —4 points and so on. In the event of a tied score, each player gets the higher value.

[0057] How to Win:

[0058] The first player to score 25 points wins

[0059] In case of two players going over 25 in the same round, the player with the highest score over 25 wins. In the case of a tie, the two players have a “shoot off” where the letter-dice are returned to the dispenser as per normal, only the tied players play a round. The player with the highest score in the “shoot out' wins. In the event of 3 or more players in a shoot off, the highest score wins, the next highest score comes second etc.

[0060] Penalties:

[0061] Penalties

[0062] 1. Using a word you don't know the meaning of. The word used does not score and the player must subtract the letter value of the word from their score.

[0063] 2. Spelling a word incorrectly: The word used does not score and the player must subtract the letter value of the word from their score. The player must also take off any words dependent on the letters used in the incorrect word and subtract them from their score too

[0064] 3. Calling stop when you have not actually finished: No Penalty, just keep playing. Don't do it too often, as your friends will soon become enemies!

[0065] 4. Adding letters after someone has called stop. It just doesn't happen!

[0066] Letter-dice colours, quantities and values:

[0067] The following are the values, quantities and colours for each letter. The quantities of the letters are in brackets.

[0068] There are 5 Red letter-dice each with a value of 5

[0069] J (1), V(1) Qu(1), X(1), Z(1)

[0070] There are 6 Yellow letter-dice each with a value of 4

[0071] F (1), H(1) K(1), W(1), C(2)

[0072] There are 6 Orange Letter dice each with a value of 3

[0073] Y(2) M(2), P(2)

[0074] There are 7 Black Letter dice each with a value of 2

[0075] D (3), G(2) B (2)

[0076] There are 31 Green Letter dice that are vowels each with a value of 1

[0077] A (7), E(7) I(7), 0(6), U(4)

[0078] There are 21 Blue Letter dice each with a value of 1

[0079] L (3), N(4) R(5), S(4), T(5)

[0080] LMNOP Storytelling Variation—Game Play:

[0081] 1. Everyone starts as in the LMNOP Scoring version.

[0082] 2. When one player calls stop, each player is allowed 10 more seconds and must use all their letter-dice to complete their words.

[0083] 3. Phonetic spelling can be used.

[0084] The first player makes up a story with the words that they have made. The player to their left must continue the story using the words they have spelt. This continues until all players have contributed to the story. Language accents and themes may be used as a fun variation.

[0085] In a further variation, the game may be played with game cards. For example, the game may be played with say 50 cards in any one of the following ways:

[0086] 1. Phrases & Themes

[0087] Players receive letters and form words as in the case of a normal game, as described above.

[0088] When all players have finished spelling their words, each player receives a small card containing words, phrases or themes. The player finished first commences their story and each player must include all the words they have made AND the words, phrase or theme on the card.

[0089] 2. Sticky Situations

[0090] Players receive letters and form words as in the case of a normal game, as described earlier.

[0091] The player to the left of the dealer names a Celebrity they know.

[0092] Flip the top card from the Sticky Situations deck of cards.

[0093] On the card is a situation like: Having an embarrassing moment at Bondi Beach. . .

[0094] The player must start the story off talking about the Celebrity in that sticky situation

[0095] The story continues around the table to the left and the dealer finishes the story

[0096] 3. Fabrication

[0097] Players receive letters and form words as in the case of a normal game, as described above.

[0098] The player to the left of the dealer is accused with ????

[0099] Flip the top card from the pack and that is the accusation you must defend

[0100] Remaining players then roll the dice to see who will be on the prosecution and who will be on the defence. Roll a 1,2 or 3 and you are on Prosecution—Roll a 4,5,6 and you are on defence.

[0101] The first Prosecution player makes up a story using the words they have made as evidence in the case.

[0102] Then the story passes to the first player in the Defence and so on

[0103] The last person to speak is the Defendant who pleads his/her case

[0104] Players then vote as to their innocence or guilt, in the event of an tied vote, roll the dice Roll a 1,2,3=Guilty, Roll a 4,5,6 Innocent

[0105] With either of the above types of game play, the players are preferably encouraged to spell words phonetically.

[0106] The invention has been described by way of non-limiting example only, and many modifications and variations may be made thereto without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.