Title:
Toy assembly
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A toy assembly is disclosed having nestable figures made of polyresin or other suitable material in which some of the nestable figures are separable into at least two parts. The parts on at least some of the figures are aligned and held together by various devices. The exterior surfaces of the nestable figures include a representations of an object or objects that are formed by raised relief and life-like three-dimensional portions relative to the surface. The nestable figures form a set in which each figure of the set has the same or different ratio of cross-sectional dimensions and the same or different ratio of cross-sectional dimensions for the representation on the figure.



Inventors:
Pino, Scott A. (Coopersburg, PA, US)
Application Number:
10/345975
Publication Date:
07/22/2004
Filing Date:
01/17/2003
Assignee:
PINO SCOTT A.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63H3/00; A63H3/16; (IPC1-7): A63H33/00
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 comprising a plurality of nestable figures, wherein at least some of said figures are hollow and separable into at least two parts, and wherein a portion of the exterior of said figures includes a proportional representation thereon of substantially the same object or objects, and wherein said representation includes three-dimensional portions.

2. The toy according to claim 1, further comprising closure means located on at least one of said figures for aligning and securing said separable parts so that such parts can be assembled in at least one pre-determined orientation and then held together.

3. The toy according to claim 2, wherein said closure means comprises at least two oppositely facing, oppositely polarized magnets, wherein one of said magnets is embedded in one of the parts of said at least one of said figures, and the other one of said magnets is embedded in the other part of said at least one of said figures, whereby said parts of said at least one of said figures are aligned and magnetically coupled when the magnets are in close proximity.

4. The toy according to claim 1, further comprising a closure device located on at least one of said figures, wherein said closure device aligns and secures said separable parts so they can be assembled in at least one pre-determined orientation and held together.

5. The toy according to claim 1, wherein the ratio of cross-sectional body dimensions of said figures is substantially constant from one figure to the next.

6. The toy according to claim 1, wherein the exterior dimensions of some of said figures are entirely contained within the interior dimensions of some of the other figures.

7. The toy according to claim 1, wherein the smallest of said figures has a solid body.

8. The toy according to claim 1, wherein at least a portion of said exterior representation is a caricature.

9. The toy according to claim 8, wherein said caricature portion is one of a caricature of a person, animal, and cartoon character.

10. The toy according to claim 8, wherein said caricature portion is a caricature of an athlete.

11. A toy comprising: a plurality of nestable figures, wherein at least some of said figures are hollow and separable into at least two parts, and wherein a portion of the exterior of said figures includes a proportional representation thereon of substantially the same object or objects, and wherein said representation includes three-dimensional portions; and a closure device located on at least one of said figures, wherein said closure device aligns and secures said separable parts so they can be assembled in at least one pre-determined orientation and held together.

12. The toy according to claim 11, wherein said closure device comprises at least two oppositely facing, oppositely polarized magnets, wherein one of said magnets is embedded in one of the parts of said separable figures, and the other one of said magnets is embedded in the other part of said separable figures, whereby said parts of said separable figures are magnetically coupled when said magnets are in close proximity.

13. The toy according to claim 11, wherein the ratio of cross-sectional body dimensions of said figures is substantially constant from one figure to the next.

14. The toy according to claim 11, wherein said figures are separable into top and a bottom parts such that the bottom part includes an upper edge at the top of the walls formed by the sides of the bottom part and the top part includes a lower edge at the bottom of the walls formed by the sides of the top part, wherein said upper edge and lower edge lie in first and second planes substantially parallel to each other when said top and bottom parts are in a closed position.

15. The toy according to claim 11, wherein the exterior dimensions of some of said figures are entirely contained within the interior dimensions of some of the other figures.

16. The toy according to claim 11, wherein the smallest of said figures has a solid body.

17. The toy according to claim 11, wherein at least a portion of said exterior representation is a caricature.

18. The toy according to claim 17, wherein said caricature portion is one of a caricature of a person, animal, and cartoon character.

19. The toy according to claim 17, wherein said caricature portion is a caricature of an athlete.

20. A toy comprising: a plurality of nestable figures, wherein the ratio of cross-sectional body dimensions of said figures is substantially constant from one figure to the next, and wherein at least some of said figures are hollow and separable into top and a bottom parts such that the bottom parts include an upper edge at the top of the walls formed by the sides of the bottom parts, and the top parts include a lower edge at the bottom of the walls formed by the sides of the top parts, wherein said upper edges and lower edges lie in first and second planes substantially parallel to each other when said top and bottom parts are in a closed position, and wherein a portion of the exterior of said figures includes a proportional caricature of an athlete, and wherein said caricature includes three-dimensional portions; and a closure device located on at least one of said figures, wherein said closure device aligns and secures said separable parts so they can be assembled in at least one pre-determined orientation and held together.

21. The toy according to claim 20, wherein said closure device comprises at least two oppositely facing, oppositely polarized magnets, wherein one of said magnets is embedded in one of the parts of said separable figures, and the other one of said magnets is embedded in the other part of said separable figures, whereby said parts of said separable figures are magnetically coupled when said magnets are in close proximity.

22. The toy according to claim 20, wherein the exterior dimensions of some of said figures is entirely contained within the interior dimensions of some of the other figures.

23. The toy according to claim 20, wherein the smallest of said figures has a solid body.

24. A toy comprising: a first hollow figure separable into a top and a bottom part, said first hollow figure comprising two pairs of oppositely facing, oppositely polarized magnets, wherein the first one of the pairs of said magnets is embedded in the top part and the second one of the pairs of magnets is embedded in the bottom part, whereby said top and bottom parts are magnetically coupled by said pairs of magnets; a second hollow figure separable into a top and a bottom part and nestable in said first hollow figure such that the exterior dimensions of said second, hollow figure is entirely contained within the interior dimensions of said first hollow figure; and a third figure nestable in said first and second hollow figures such that the exterior dimensions of said third figure is entirely contained within the interior dimensions of said first and second hollow figures, wherein a portion of the exterior of said first, second and third figures includes a proportional high-relief representation thereon of substantially the same object or objects and wherein said representation includes three-dimensional portions.

25. The toy according to claim 24, further comprising: a substantially uniform cross-sectional raised rim, wherein said rim extends above an upper edge at the top of the wall formed by the sides of said bottom part of said first figure; and a shoulder sized to received said rim, wherein said shoulder is formed on a lower edge at the bottom of the wall formed by the sides of said top part of said first figure, wherein said upper edge and said lower edge lie in first and second planes substantially parallel to each other when said top and bottom parts of said first figure are in a closed position.

26. The toy according to claim 24, wherein the ratio of cross-sectional body dimensions of said figures is substantially constant from one figure to the next.

27. The toy according to claim 24, wherein said figures are made from one of a wood, polymeric, ceramic, glass, and metal material or a combination thereof.

28. The toy according to claim 24, wherein at least a portion of said exterior representation is a caricature.

29. The toy according to claim 28, wherein said caricature portion is one of a caricature of a person, animal, and cartoon character.

30. The toy according to claim 28, wherein said caricature portion is a caricature of an athlete.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Field of Invention

[0002] The present invention relates generally to amusement devices having separable nested parts. More particularly, the present invention relates to nesting dolls with three-dimensional surface representations.

[0003] 2. Description of the Prior Art

[0004] Nesting dolls are well known in the art of amusement toys. Their history can be traced back several centuries. So-called matryushkas nesting dolls, for example, are known to have been crafted in Russia since at least the mid-eighteenth century. Japanese craftspersons have reportedly been making nesting dolls even before that.

[0005] The typical nesting doll toy includes a set of dolls of progressively smaller dimensions such that each progressively smaller doll can fit completely inside the next larger doll. Thus, when completely nested, only the largest doll is visible. Except for the smallest doll, which is usually solid, each of the larger nesting dolls is separable into top and bottom parts that allow the dolls to be nested within each other.

[0006] Each doll in a set of nesting dolls has different cross-sectional dimensions, but the ratio of cross-sectional dimensions are usually the same or approximately the same. For example, the dimensions for the neck or head parts on one nesting doll in a set is usually greater or smaller than the dimensions for the neck or head parts on one of the larger or smaller dolls of the same set. However, the ratios are approximately the same. Thus, the ratio of the circumference to the length of the head is usually constant. In other words, the dolls look the same, just their exterior dimensions are different. The constant ratio of cross-sectional dimensions facilitates nesting.

[0007] In contrast, the representations painted on the exterior surfaces of each doll in a set of nesting dolls may have the same dimensions as the other dolls in the same set. Or, they may have the same ratio of dimensions. Thus, the size of the representation of a letter or number on the doll, for example, may be the same on each doll regardless of the size of the doll. Or, the letter or number can be proportionally larger or smaller from one doll to the next in the same set.

[0008] Most nesting dolls have smooth, arcuate surfaces for the representations. Smooth surfaces are often desirable because protrusions can interfere with nesting more than one or two dolls. Further, depending on the material, smooth surfaces are easier to paint and decorate and, therefore, easier to mass produce.

[0009] The popular matryushkas nesting dolls are hand carved from wood. That method of manufacturing is time consuming and prevents mass production. As a result, those dolls are relatively expensive. Alternative manufacturing techniques, including the use of thermosetting plastic molds and metal stamping, provide for faster and cheaper manufacturing.

[0010] U.S. Pat. No. 784,888 discloses a metal nesting doll set. As disclosed in that patent, each doll is painted with the same representation, such as the body of a person. It is disclosed that the exterior representations may be made by superficial, bas-relief, intaglio and other methods. The term “relief” refers to a projection above a surface background. There are generally three degrees or types of relief. First, high relief objects have a form that is prominently forward of the background. In bas-relief, also known as low-relief, the projecting portions are very shallow relative to the background. In intaglio relief, also called sunken or hollow relief, the background forms the surface into which object are carved (i.e., the highest point of relief is the surface of background).

[0011] One problem with representations on nesting dolls made with superficial, bas-relief and intaglio techniques is that the representation is essentially two-dimensional. In the case of caricatures of persons made with those techniques, the representations of the person's features are not very life-like. Moreover, representations of some types of objects can be distorted and ambiguous.

[0012] U.S. Pat. No. 784,888 also discloses an alignment pin that ensures the top and bottom parts of the separable nesting dolls are lined up when assembled. The problem with the pin is that the parts have to be line up before the two halves can be pushed together.

[0013] U.S. Pat. No. 2,424,538 discloses another type of nesting toy, in which the largest outer toy is egg-shaped and divided along a vertical line into two halves that are hinged together. Opposite the hinge is a fabric material attached to the two halves that can be laced together with string to hold the two halves together. The outer egg is smooth and has a surface caricature representation. It also includes three-dimensional pieces 12, 13 and 23 (FIG. 1) that are separable from the outer egg. Inside the outer egg are a series of progressively smaller nesting eggs, each of which is separable into top and bottom parts. Unlike the matryushkas nesting dolls, however, the smaller inner eggs do not have surface representations like the largest outer egg. Since there are no surface representations on the inner eggs requiring alignment, a means for aligning top and bottom pieces is not disclosed or necessary.

[0014] The problem with the nesting toy set disclosed in that patent is that the outer three-dimensional parts are too large to be adaptable for nesting. That is, the smaller inner nesting eggs would not fit within each other if they each had the same, although proportionally smaller, pieces 12, 13 and 23. Thus, that toy is not a true matryushkas-type nesting toy. Moreover, the outer egg is held together by lacing a string through a series of eyelets formed in a fabric attached to the two halves of the egg. That manual method of securing the inner nested eggs inside the outer egg is not as convenient and secure as other methods.

SUMMARY AND OBJECTS OF THE INVENTION

[0015] In view of the foregoing, it should be apparent that there exists a need in the art for a toy assembly having nesting parts with three-dimensional exterior representations that are more life-like than previous surface representations on nesting dolls, and having separable parts that are secured together and aligned with a closure device.

[0016] It is, therefore, a primary object of the present invention to provide a toy assembly having a plurality of nesting parts with three-dimensional surface representations of an object or objects that are life-like.

[0017] More particularly, it is an object of the present invention to provide a set of nesting dolls having three-dimensional surface representations that include caricatures of sports figures and sports-related objects.

[0018] Still more particularly, it is object of the present invention to provide magnets in the top and bottom halves of the largest outer doll to align the top and bottom parts and secure the smaller dolls within the outer doll.

[0019] Another object of the present invention is to provide a plurality of nesting dolls in which the inner dolls have progressively smaller dimensions than the next larger doll and where the ratio of dimensions of surface representations on the dolls is approximately constant on each progressively smaller doll.

[0020] It is another object of the present invention to provide a set of nesting dolls made from an inexpensive manufacturing method that facilitates mass production, and made of an inexpensive material that is compatible with paints and other decorating materials.

[0021] Briefly described, these and other objects and features of the present invention are accomplished, as embodied and fully described herein, by a plurality of nestable figures, each of which may have a substantially constant ratio of cross-sectional body dimensions. Some of the figures are hollow and separable into at least two parts (preferably top and bottom parts). A portion of the exterior of the figures includes a three-dimensional like-like representation thereon of an object or objects. Each figure is made from a polyresin or other suitable material or a combination thereof. At least the outer nesting figure includes a closure device that may include oppositely facing, oppositely polarized magnets, wherein one of the pair of magnets is embedded in one of the two parts of the figure, and the other one of the pair of magnets is embedded in the other part of the figure such that the two parts are magnetically aligned and coupled together when the parts are in close proximity. Because they are nesting, the exterior dimensions of one figure is entirely contained within the interior dimensions of a larger figure. However, the smallest figure in the series of nesting figures may have a solid body. It is preferred that the exterior representation be, among other things, a caricature of a person, animal or cartoon character. Caricatures of famous athletes are examples of such preferred representations.

[0022] 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

[0023] FIG. 1 is a side view of the present invention showing a series of nesting figures of progressively smaller dimensions;

[0024] FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of the largest nesting figure of the series of nesting figures shown in FIG. 1, showing the interior cavity and magnetic contacts of the figure;

[0025] FIG. 3 is an exploded view of the present invention showing the largest figure of the series of nesting figures shown in FIG. 1 with the top and bottom parts in separated and spaced relation to each other; and

[0026] FIG. 4 is a another side view of the present invention showing a series of nesting figures of progressively smaller dimensions.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

[0027] One preferred embodiment of the invention is described for illustrative purposes, it being understood that the invention may be embodied in other forms not specifically shown in the drawings or described hereinafter.

[0028] Referring now in detail to the drawings, wherein like parts are designated by like reference numerals throughout, FIG. 1 is a side view of the present invention showing a series of nesting FIG. 100. The series 100 includes individual FIGS. 102a, 102b and 102c each having approximately the same ratio of cross-sectional dimensions but each progressively smaller from one figure to the next (i.e., FIG. 102a is larger than FIG. 102b, which is itself larger than FIG. 102c). It will be appreciated by one of ordinary skill in the art, however, that the ratio of cross-sectional dimensions, with respect to corresponding parts of each figure, could be approximately same.

[0029] In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, there are only three figures in the series 100 shown, although it is contemplated that any number of progressively smaller figures could be included without deviating from the nature and scope of the present invention.

[0030] Each of the FIGS. 102a, 102b and 102c have “proportionally” similar surface representation on the exterior surface of the figure. Proportionality, in this case, means having the same dimensions or a constant ratio of dimensions. In FIG. 1, the features of the representations on the FIGS. 102a, 102b and 102c have a constant ratio of cross-sectional dimensions from one figure to the next, but each representation is smaller than the one on the next larger figure. In another embodiment of the invention, corresponding portions of the representations on each figure could have the same dimensions from one figure to the next. In that embodiment, for example, a letter “A” on the FIG. 102a would have the same height and width dimensions as the same letter “A” on the FIG. 102b.

[0031] As shown in FIG. 1, the representation is a caricature of a person. Surface representations could include, for example, the representations of movie stars, animals or popular cartoon characters, or they could be simple or elaborate objects, including, but not limited to, eggs, cars and musical instruments.

[0032] FIGS. 102a and 102b include two separable pieces 104 and 106. For example, the largest FIG. 102a includes a top 104a and a bottom 106a. It is also possible that the FIGS. 102a and 102b could be divided into left and right separable pieces or into three or more pieces. In most series 100 according to the present invention, the smallest figure will not be hollow or separable into two pieces. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the FIG. 102c has a solid body.

[0033] All of the FIGS. 102a, 102b and 102c are preferably made from a polyresin material. However, other materials could also be used alone or in combination with polyresin or other materials. Suitable materials could include, but are not limited to, polymeric materials, metal, glass, and ceramics. Polyresin is preferred because it is durable, lightweight and flexible. Unlike other materials, it can be relatively easily formed or etched into very detailed and minute three-dimensional features by hand or by machine. Thus, it is ideal for caricatures where the need for three-dimensional facial features is important for life-like representations. Polyresin also provides a smooth surface for paint adhesion without wicking the paint into the material or becoming brittle as it ages. Moreover, relatively inexpensive lower grade polyresins can be used to manufacture nestable figures, thus minimizing production costs.

[0034] FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of the largest nesting FIG. 102a of the series of nesting FIG. 100 shown in FIG. 1. As noted previously, the FIG. 102a includes top 104a and bottom 106a pieces that are separable. The bottom piece 106a has a lower wall section 202 and a base 204. In the preferred embodiment shown, the base 204 is supported on a surface (not shown) and holds the FIG. 102a generally vertically. The lower wall 202 has an upper edge 206 that generally lies in a plane substantially perpendicular to the base 204 and substantially perpendicular to the longitudinal or vertical axis of the FIG. 102a.

[0035] The top piece 104a has an upper wall section 208 and a head 210. In the preferred embodiment shown, the normal display orientation is with the head 210 vertically above the base 204. The upper wall 208 has a lower edge 212 that generally lies in a plane substantially perpendicular to the plane formed by the upper edge 206. Thus, when the two pieces are in mating arrangement with the lower edge 212 of the top piece 104a sitting on the upper edge 206 of the bottom piece 106a, the FIG. 102a is in a closed or assembled position. In the assembled position, the upper and lower walls 202, 208 form an interior space or cavity 214 for holding the other smaller FIGS. 102b and 102c.

[0036] Also shown in FIG. 2 are magnetic contact pairs 220, 240. Both contact pairs are identical and are designed to align and secure the top 104a to the bottom 106a when the FIG. 102a is assembled. The magnetic pair 220 has a top magnet 222 and a bottom magnet 224. The top magnet 222 is embedded in the top piece 104a and extends inwardly from the lower edge 212. The bottom magnet 224 is embedded in the bottom piece 106a and extends inwardly from the upper edge 206. The top magnet 222 is a permanent magnet and is magnetically polarized in one direction (i.e., “+” or “N”). The bottom magnet 224 is also a permanent magnet and is magnetically polarized in the opposite direction (i.e., “−” or “S”). When the two magnets 222, 224 are in close proximity the oppositely polarized magnets will be mutually attracted to each other.

[0037] The magnetic pair 240 is designed in the same manner as the magnetic pair 220. However, the top and bottom magnets 242, 244 may have polarities that are the opposite of the polarities of the corresponding magnets 222, 224. For example, if the top magnet 222 is “negatively” polarized (i.e., “−” or “S”), then the bottom magnet 244 may be similarly negatively magnetically polarized so that they repel each other. In that way, the top 104a and bottom 106a pieces can only be assembled in one pre-determine way with the magnetic polarities properly aligned (i.e., top magnet 222 aligned with oppositely polarized bottom magnet 224).

[0038] In another embodiment of the invention, one of the pairs of top or bottom magnets may be a metallic member instead of a permanent magnet. Thus, the top magnet 222 may be a permanent magnet and bottom magnet may actually be a metal piece that has no permanent magnetic polarization at all but can become magnetized in the presence of the magnetic field from the top magnet 222. That can provide for the mutual attraction necessary to hold the two pieces of the figure together.

[0039] As shown in FIG. 2, the magnets 224, 244 are oppositely disposed on the upper edge 206. It will be obvious to one of ordinary skill in the art that those magnets, and the magnetic pairs 220, 240, could be oriented and located in different positions. Also, a fewer or greater number of magnetic pairs could be used, depending on the size and shape of the FIG. 102a, or a ring of metallic or magnetic material could be circumferentially disposed around the upper and lower edges 206, 212, respectively. Other means for aligning and securing the top 102a and bottom 104a pieces together are also contemplated. For example, the top magnet 222 could be replaced with a magnetic or non-magnetic pin or flange that extends beyond the surface of the bottom edge 212 and inserts into a hole or slot where the bottom magnet 224 is currently shown (or the pin could extend upward from the bottom piece and insert into a hole or slot where the top magnet 222 is shown). The hole or slot could have a magnetic sleeve fitted inside the hole or slot that would provide a magnetic coupling between the pin and the hole or slot to secure the top 104a and the bottom 106a pieces together. Or, the pin could instead have a diameter that is the same as the hole or slot so that an interference fit is provided between the pin and the hole or slot rather than using magnetism. Further, an L-shaped flange and a corresponding slot receptacle is also envisioned whereby the flange on the top 104a is aligned with the slot on the bottom 106a, inserted fully, then the top 104a is rotated clockwise or counter-clockwise relative to the bottom 106a to lock the tip of the L-shaped flange inside the slot and thereby prevent the top 104a and the bottom 106a from separating. It will be appreciated by one or ordinary skill in the art that many other devices for aligning and securing the separable pieces of the figures together are also contemplated as part of the invention.

[0040] In the case of the flange and slot structure, those parts could be disposed circumferentially around the top and bottom edges 206, 212, respectively. For example, in FIG. 3, which shows an exploded view of the FIG. 102a of FIG. 1 with the top and bottom pieces 104a, 106a in separated and spaced relation to each, there is illustrated a raised rim 306 disposed circumferentially around the top edge 206 of the bottom piece 106a. The rim 306 is axially-aligned with and rests on a circumferentially-disposed shoulder 250 (FIG. 2) that is formed between the lower edge 212 and the inner surface of the upper wall 208. The rim 306 is formed as part of the top edge 206, however, it could also be a magnetized ring, as noted above. The rim 306 and the shoulder 250 provide an additional alignment feature in addition to those previously described, and also provides lateral stability of the top and bottom pieces 104a, 106a when the FIG. 102a is assembled. However, as noted above, the rim 306 and the shoulder 250 are not essential for stability since the magnet pairs 220, 240 (FIG. 2), or other alignment/securing device, could provide that functionality. In the case of the magnet pairs 220, 240, those devices can provide lateral stability against slipping of the top 104a and bottom 106a if the magnetic attraction between the magnet pairs 220. 240 is strong enough to resist lateral forces applied to the exterior of the FIG. 102a.

[0041] Also shown in FIG. 3 are three-dimensional head 302 and arms 304. The representation shown in FIG. 3 is a uniformed baseball player holding a glove in one hand and a baseball in the other. The representations shown on the FIGS. 102a, 102b and 102c include high-relief, bas-relief and three-dimensional portions. For caricatures of people, three-dimensional facial features are more life-like than simple painted surfaces or even bas- or high-relief surfaces. A three-dimensional nose, ear or chin, as best seen in FIG. 4, for example, can cast shadows and have highlights that cannot be reproduced effectively with paint applied to flat or semi-flat surfaces. The term “three-dimensional,” therefore, in this case means a life-like raised portion extending conspicuously in height above a surface background.

[0042] It will be obvious to one of ordinary skill in the art, however, that the three-dimensional parts must not extend above the background surface so far that they cannot be contained entirely within the inner surface of the next largest nesting figure. As shown in FIG. 4, the heads 302a, 302b and 302c include representations of baseball helmets 402a, 402b and 402c. The helmets 402b and 402c have approximately a constant ratio of cross-sectional dimensions. Specifically, the bills 404b and 404c extend approximately the same distance over the faces 406b and 406c, respectively. In contrast, the bill 404a on the helmet 402a extends farther over the face 406a compared to the two smaller figures. Thus, the ratio of the dimensions of the helmet 402a is different than the same ratio of dimensions for the helmets 402b and 402c. The smaller bills 404b and 404c facilitate nesting the FIGS. 102b and 102c, respectively, inside the larger 102a figure.

[0043] 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.