Title:
Action diorama configurable display
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A device and a method for displaying miniature figures and scenes in three dimensions includes either uniformly or non-uniformly spaced openings or receptacles for receiving characters and environmental details. The device further includes edge members adapted to allow other stand-type devices to be aligned and mated therewith so as to optionally be in flush relationship therewith, and thereby provide for an unlimited number of display stand devices to be attached. The present invention further allows different scenery skins to be added atop of one or more frame modules to provide quickly changeable layers of scenery.



Inventors:
Stallworth, Tederyl R. (Potomac Falls, VA, US)
Application Number:
11/205443
Publication Date:
04/20/2006
Filing Date:
07/18/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63J19/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
DENNIS, MICHAEL DAVID
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Thomas F. Bergert (Charlottesville, VA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed and desired to be secured by Letters Patent is:

1. A diorama display device, comprising: a first frame module, having a plurality of side walls and a top surface which form an interior area, said top surface having a plurality of substantially frusto-conical wall members extending from said top surface into said interior area so as to form respective openings corresponding to each of said wall members, at least one of said side walls including one or more lip members; a second frame module, having a plurality of side walls and a top surface which form an interior area, said top surface having a plurality of substantially frusto-conical wall members extending from said top surface into said interior area so as to form respective openings corresponding to each of said wall members, and at least one of said side walls including a lip member-receiving portion, said second frame module being secured to said first frame module by said lip member-receiving portion of said second frame module receiving said lip member of said first frame module; and a skin member securable to at least one of said frame modules.

2. The device of claim 1 further including at least one display element in the form of an action figure or scenery item secured within at least one of said wall members of said first or second frame module.

3. The device of claim 1 wherein said skin member is securable to at least one of said frame modules by one or more peg members insertable into one of said top member openings.

4. The device of claim 3 wherein said one or more peg members is hollow.

5. The device of claim 1 wherein said skin member is provided with at least one display element secured thereto.

6. The device of claim 1 wherein said skin member is formed so as to have one or more openings extending therethrough, and wherein said one or more openings is aligned with one or more openings in said top surface of at least one of said frame modules.

7. A method of providing a diorama display device, comprising the steps of: providing a first frame module, having a plurality of side walls and a top surface which form an interior area, said top surface having a plurality of substantially frusto-conical wall members extending from said top surface into said interior area so as to form respective openings corresponding to each of said wall members, at least one of said side walls including one or more lip members; providing a second frame module, having a plurality of side walls and a top surface which form an interior area, said top surface having a plurality of substantially frusto-conical wall members extending from said top surface into said interior area so as to form respective openings corresponding to each of said wall members, and at least one of said side walls including a lip member-receiving portion, said second frame module being secured to said first frame module by said lip member-receiving portion of said second frame module receiving said lip member of said first frame module; and providing a skin member securable to at least one of said frame modules.

8. The method of claim 7 including the step of providing at least one display element in the form of an action figure or scenery item secured within at least one of said wall members of said first or second frame module.

9. The method of claim 7 wherein said skin member is securable to at least one of said frame modules by one or more peg members insertable into one of said top member openings.

10. The method of claim 9 wherein said one or more peg members is hollow.

11. The method of claim 7 wherein said skin member is provided with at least one display element secured thereto.

12. The method of claim 7 wherein said skin member is formed so as to have one or more openings extending therethrough, and wherein said one or more openings is aligned with one or more openings in said top surface of at least one of said frame modules.

13. A frame module for use with a diorama display device, comprising: a plurality of side walls and a top surface which form an interior area, said top surface having a plurality of substantially frusto-conical wall members extending from said top surface into said interior area so as to form respective openings corresponding to each of said wall members, at least one of said side walls including one or more lip members, and at least one of said side walls including a lip member-receiving portion.

14. The frame module of claim 13 wherein said side walls each extend in a plane which is not perpendicular to said top surface.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED PATENT APPLICATION

This application is a continuation-in-part application of U.S. application Ser. No. 10/710,915 filed Aug. 12, 2004, currently pending, entitled “Action Stand—a.k.a.—Action Dioramas”, the entirety of which is hereby incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of The Invention

The present invention relates to the exhibition of miniature figures and scenes, and more particularly to versatile diorama displays.

2. Description of Related Art

Prior displays, display stands and diorama kits are described, for example, in the following U.S. Patents: U.S. Pat. No. 5,542,870 to Westersund; U.S. Pat. No. 3,707,115 to Rush; U.S. Pat. No. 5,669,685 to Kotani et al.; U.S. Pat. No. 5,013,278 to Dixon et al.; U.S. Pat. No. 6,173,515 to Walsh; and U.S. Pat. No. 5,979,677 to Simpson, II et al. None of the displays, display stands and diorama kits shown in these patents, or heretofore known, provides a configurable display including a stand for displaying miniature figures and scenes in three dimensions, where the stand includes either uniformly or non-uniformly spaced openings or receptacles for receiving characters and environmental details, and where the stand further includes edge members adapted to allow other stands to be aligned and mated therewith so as to be in flush relationship therewith, and thereby provide a seamless connection which allows for an unlimited number of display stands to be attached, as well as different scenery skins to be added.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

By the present invention, there is provided an improved diorama configurable display device and a method for displaying miniature figures and scenes in three dimensions, where the device includes either uniformly or non-uniformly spaced openings or receptacles for receiving characters and environmental details, and where the device further includes edge members adapted to allow other stand-type devices to be aligned and mated therewith so as to optionally be in flush relationship therewith, and thereby provide for an unlimited number of display stand devices to be attached. The present invention further allows different scenery skins to be added atop of one or more frame modules to provide quickly changeable layers of scenery.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1A is a top plan view of one embodiment of a frame module in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 1B is a front elevational view of the frame module of FIG. 1A in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 1C is a left side elevational view of the frame module of FIG. 1A in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a front elevational view of a pair of frame modules and a skin member prior to attachment, wherein the arrows indicate the direction of attachment.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a partial embodiment of a skin member in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a partial embodiment of a skin member in accordance with another embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides in part a configurable stand having a frame module that can act as a standalone display or by combining, interconnecting, coupling, and/or joining the “Action Diorama” frame modules together provide a scalable static display for the exhibition of miniature figures from 1/18 to ⅙ scale, for example. By augmenting the Action Diorama with scenic items, it is transformed into a highly realistic display configured by the user to meet their taste. In one embodiment, the frame module is a rectangular frame module adapted to receive other frame modules as well as one or more skin members to provide realistic scenic surroundings.

Each configurable stand can be connected to another configurable stand to enlarge the display area. The more configurable stands connected together, the larger the diorama. The individual configurable stand's dimensions are suitable for an individual stand to sit safely and comfortable on any bookshelf or small table, for example.

The frame module is an integral part of the configurable stand. In one embodiment, it comprises a single piece of form-injected polypropylene that can mimic various outdoor/wilderness/urban/battle environments. As shown in FIGS. 1A through 1C, the configurable stand 10 can have many forms, and can comprise a substantially rectangular module 12 having length X, width Y and height Z along with a plurality of configuration receptacles or openings 15. In one embodiment of the present invention, length X is approximately eight inches, width Y is approximately ten inches and height Z is approximately one inch. The frame module 10 of the present invention can also be provided with a top surface 14 having twenty-eight (28) evenly spaced configuration holes 15. Such openings can be arranged, for example, as four (4) rows with seven (7) holes per row on the top flat surface to support configuration of scenic items. While the configuration holes 15 need not be evenly spaced, in the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1A through 1C, the configuration holes are spaced apart an equal distance A, measured center-to-center along the length of the frame module and an equal distance B along the width of the module. In one embodiment of the present invention, distance A can be approximately 2.38 inches and distance B can be approximately 1.38 inches. Each configuration hole can also be provided with a diameter C, which, in one embodiment of the present invention, is approximately 0.19 inches. In one embodiment, the outer rows of holes on each side of the frame module can be less than approximately 0.25 inches from the module's edge.

As further shown in FIGS. 1A through 1C, top surface can be formed such that configuration walls 16 extend downwardly therefrom into the interior 18 of the frame module. In one embodiment of the invention, each of the configuration walls extends a vertical distance D, which can be approximately 0.69 inches, but the wall depth will be appreciated to be such length as is necessary in order to securely retain the figures and environmental elements within the stand. In another embodiment of the invention, the walls 16 can be formed so as to angle slightly inwardly in a frustum or frusto-conical shape, beginning from the top surface 14, thereby promoting more secure retention of inserted articles. In one embodiment, the walls extend inwardly at an angle E to the axis perpendicular to top surface, as shown in FIG. 1B, wherein angle E can be approximately two degrees, for example. Additionally, side surface 21 can be angled outwardly at an angle F from the top surface to add stability to the frame module, as shown in FIG. 1C. In one embodiment, angle F is approximately two degrees.

The frame module can connect or tie together with other frame modules to make a scalable platform. In one embodiment, the frame modules are connected together through the use of interlocking lips. As shown in FIGS. 1A through 1C, the interlocking lips 24 can have a length G which can be approximately one inch and can extend a distance H from the side wall 21 of the frame module, wherein H can be approximately 0.08 inches. In one embodiment, there are two interlocking lips 24 along one side 21 of the length of the module and spaced a distance J apart, wherein J can be approximately 3.75 inches. In one embodiment, there are also two interlocking lips 24 along one edge 26 of the width of the module and spaced a distance K apart, wherein K can be approximately 5.63 inches. The interlocking lips can, in one embodiment, have a perforated design and a relationship that allows the frames of the present invention to slide together and then lock into place. Such a relationship can occur by providing the non-lip sides of the frame module with receiving slots 28 having a width G and a height H which allows lips 24 to slidingly or snappingly engage the slots so that adjacent frame modules can physically engage one another. To connect the configurable stands of the present invention together, the user can align one of the configurable stands with the interlocking lips on the side to another of the configurable stands without interlocking lips on the side and slide the adjoining frame module without interlocking lips section into place. The two frame modules are then locked together. In one embodiment of the invention, the engagement of adjacent frame modules provides a larger display area with adjacent side walls of respective frame modules in full contact, i.e., flush relation. In another embodiment of the invention, where the side walls 21 are angled as shown in FIG. 1C for stability or aesthetic reasons, for example, the engagement of adjacent frame modules provides a larger display area, but the adjacent side walls of respective frame modules are not in full contact and are thus not flush against one another. In this embodiment, a skin member overlay 36 can cover the gap created by adjacent frame modules, or a thin covering member (not shown) such as single- or double-sided tape can be applied as a seam.

The configuration holes are postured throughout the top of the configurable stand so that scenic items can be added as desired. Rocks or shrubs, having a short attaching peg or pin extension, for example, can provide concealment of the configuration holes not used and add detail to the configurable stand. Merely removing the rocks and/or shrubbery and then placing the desired accessory item in its place brings the display to life.

Care must be taken to connect the individual configurable stands together before placing diorama accessories or ⅙th-scale action figures on top of the diorama. This ensures that diorama object are not tossed and broken or during assembly. Likewise, diorama pieces and action figures must be removed before disconnecting the individual configurable stands from one-another. Procedures used to assemble the frame together are revised disconnect or disassemble the configurable stands. The configurable stands can be of sufficient detail to support various scenic arrangements desired by the user. The configurable stands can also be placed on a flat rigid surface for support such as a table, floor, or bookshelf

As shown in FIG. 2, there is provided a first frame module 32, a second frame module 34, and a skin overlay 36. As shown by the directional arrows, first 32 and second 34 frame modules can be joined together by aligning a lip member 24 of module 34 with a receiving slot 28 of module 32. Skin member 36 can then be placed on top of top surfaces 14 of first and second frame modules as shown by the directional arrow. In one embodiment, skin member is injection molded and is made of a plastic or polypropylene material, although other materials can be employed. In one embodiment, the bottom surface 38 of skin member is substantially smooth, as shown at 38A, in which case skin member 36 can be placed atop the top surfaces 14 and held in place via a lightly securing adhesive so as to retain the skin member, while still allowing the skin member to be removed without damaging the skin member or underlying frame module(s). In another embodiment, the bottom surface 38 of skin member is provided with one or more pegs 40, as shown at 38B, in which case skin member 36 can be secured by placing the peg(s) 40 in mating openings created by walls 16 within top surface 14. While a single skin member can be provided with both pegs and an adhesive as illustrated by the example skin member in FIG. 2, it will be appreciated that individual skin members can be provided with one or the other type of retaining means (i.e., either with pegs, or with adhesive, but not both). The invention contemplates that it is not necessary for an individual skin member peg 40 to be provided for each hole in the underlying frame module(s). Skin member pegs 40 can alternatively be solid or hollow, and in the embodiment of the invention where the skin member pegs are hollow, additional features and items can be placed (via pegs or similar retention elements) in the skin member opening (and thus into the frame module configuration hole provided by corresponding walls 16. In a further embodiment, as shown in FIGS. 2 through 4, skin member 36 is provided with openings 45 for receiving decorative items 42, which may be provided with their own pegs 44 for insertion into holes formed by walls 16, wherein the holes formed by walls 16 are aligned with the skin member openings. In still a further embodiment, skin member 36 can be provided with decorative items 46 glued or otherwise secured to skin member 36 without the use of pegs.

It will be appreciated that skin member 36 can be provided in a size which meets the width and length requirements of one or more frame modules, either singly or when secured together. In another embodiment, the present invention can provide skin members which are larger than the top surface area of one or more frame modules, thereby allowing the user to trim and/or otherwise customize what elements of the pre-fabricated skin member are to be visible when secured to the frame module(s).

The configurable display of the present invention can further comprise several different scenic surroundings including woodland, winter/arctic, desert, jungle, urban or any other imaginable environments. In this way, the collector can easily determine the size and environment of the diorama, and can easily configure the landscape by adding trees, shrubs, undergrowth, rocks, buildings, building fronts, streets, etc. to fit his/her needs without having extensive knowledge in modeling and diorama building. Depending on the added element, either a skin member or a display item is provided. For example, a cobblestone street can be provided as part of a skin member, whereas a shrub can be provided as an individual display item inserted into one of the openings in a given frame module. In one embodiment of the invention, a backdrop or wall member can be inserted into multiple openings in a row along the frame module. Thus, for example, an entire European-type street scene can be developed which includes a cobblestone street skin member lain overtop of one or more frame modules, wherein the skin member has appropriate peg members underneath to fit into configuration openings in the frame module(s) for secure retention, and a wall backdrop of restaurant and merchant images further secured into the openings of the skin member and underlying frame member(s). Further display items can add further life to such an exemplary scene, including, for example, action figures, military features and other elements.

The configurable display of the present invention can, for example, be provided with a basic coloring consistent with the theme of the diorama (e.g., woodland, winter/arctic, desert, jungle, urban and other environments). Some undergrowth and plants can already be embedded in the top surface 14. To embellish the diorama, various scenic items such as vegetation and trees can be added either as part of the top surface, or as part of one or more skin member overlays that can, in one embodiment, be packaged with the stand.

The configurable stand of the present invention can support all ⅙th scale diorama accessories such as sandbags, boxes, wooded creates, barbwire, oil-drums, tents, sleeping bags, gas cans, buildings, etc. currently on the market. The configurable stands of the present invention can exhibit ⅙th scale action figures such as G.I. Joe™, Dragon Model Limited™ figures and Blue Box International™ figures. The configurable stands can be used individually or connected together to form a larger diorama. They can also be configured to meet the needs of the collector. The ability of the configurable stands to be broken down into smaller components allows for easy storage, transporting, or display. The configurable stands of the present invention are designed to be used with and support all ⅙th-scale figures and diorama accessories currently in the marketplace.