Title:
Children's building and construction kit based on interlocking crossbars and support columns
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The unique interfacing of all parts allows for the construction or assembling of a toy building that achieves a physical look closely approximating the structural design of a real life building. To achieve this desired structural effect, injection molded plastic parts with specific polymer characteristics have been developed. Dovetailing has been utilized to meet the objective of support column parts and crossbar parts interlocking to form a three dimensional vertical and horizontal framework or grid. Dovetailing also provides good structural stability between these two parts. Hanging posts, insert posts, and insert holes have also been utilized to achieve parts interfacing. The technical requirements of the exterior panel parts require a polymer that provides for greater flexibility as opposed to the rigidity needed for support column parts and crossbar parts. The base, roof panel, and roof anchor parts also required specific polymer characteristics and attributes to achieve the total interfacing of parts.



Inventors:
Richdale, Dana Clark (Hilton Head, SC, US)
Application Number:
11/222652
Publication Date:
03/15/2007
Filing Date:
09/12/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63H33/04
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20070117492Flying toy for propeller launching with liquid dispersing partsMay, 2007Sze et al.
20080254711ADULT NOVELTY ITEMSOctober, 2008Vickery
20090007759TWIRLING PROP AND METHOD OF PREPARING THE SAMEJanuary, 2009Pearison et al.
20040259460Throw toy for petsDecember, 2004Stanley Sr. et al.
20090137184INTERLOCKING CROSSBAR DEVICE AND SYSTEMMay, 2009Schreff et al.
20080242188Inflatable Construction SetOctober, 2008Yanagita
20030190858Interactive amusement deviceOctober, 2003Thomas
20020094744REMOTE CONTROL TOY CAR AND BUBBLE BLOWER ARRANGEMENTJuly, 2002Cheng
20030026934Decorative elements and kit for pumpkinsFebruary, 2003Damon
20080261482METHOD AND KIT FOR PLAYING A GAME USING FIGURINESOctober, 2008Compton et al.
20030027483Controlling the position of an object in three dimensionsFebruary, 2003Rosenberg



Primary Examiner:
CEGIELNIK, URSZULA M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Dana C. Richdale (The Woodlands, TX, US)
Claims:
1. The Children's Building and Construction Kit based on Interlocking Crossbars and Support Columns, utilizing molded plastic parts, allows the user to construct a toy building that resembles the structural nature and image of an actual building in real life.

2. The Children's Building and Construction Kit based on Interlocking Crossbars and Support Columns allows the user to construct a toy building based on a three dimensional vertical and horizontal structural grid of Crossbars and Support Columns.

3. The Base part (of the kit recited in claim 1) allows for the vertical insertion of Support Column parts.

4. The Base part (as recited in claim 3) has connecting insert holes (1) which allows for additional Base parts or other future fabricated parts to be connected to the Base part.

5. The Support Column part (of the kit recited in claim 1) has a sc insert post (8), a sc insert hole (4), hanging posts (6), an upper dovetail section (5), and a main body (7).

6. The Crossbar part (of the kit recited in claim 1) has two dovetail insertion sections (10).

7. The Crossbar part's (as recited in claim 6) dovetail insertion sections slide into the upper dovetail sections of Support Column parts (as recited in claim 5).

8. The Support Column parts (recited in claim 5) and the Crossbar parts (recited in claim 6) form a three dimensional vertical and horizontal frame or structural grid.

9. The Exterior Panel A part (of the kit as recited in claim 1) is attached vertically to two adjacent Support Column parts (recited in claim 5) by the Exterior Panel A hanging holes (18) which are slid onto the Support Column part's hanging posts.

10. The Exterior Panel B part (of the kit as recited in claim 1) has panel B hanging holes (21) and a hanging assembly (19).

11. The Exterior Panel B part's (as recited in claim 10) hanging assembly performs the function of hanging holes.

12. The Exterior Panel B part's (as recited in claim 10) hanging holes slide onto hanging posts of a single Support Column part.

13. The Exterior Panel B part's (as recited in claim 10) hanging assembly slides onto hanging posts of a single Support Column part (as recited in claim 5).

14. The Roof Panel A part (of the kit as recited in claim 1) covers the top surface or rooftop section of a constructed building.

15. The Roof Panel B part (of the kit as recited in claim 1) covers the top surface or rooftop section of a constructed building.

16. The Roof Anchor part (of the kit as recited in claim 1) has an upper section (26) and an anchor insert post (27).

17. The Roof Anchor part's (as recited in claim 16) anchor insert post slides into the sc insert hole of a Support Column (as recited in claim 5).

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Not Applicable

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not Applicable

REFERENCE TO SEQUENCE LISTING, A TABLE OR A COMPUTER PROGRAM LISTING COMPACT DISC APPENDIX

Not Applicable

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention is applicable to the children's toy industry falling within a range of products that can be categorized as children's construction toys. The USPC Classification that best fits this categorization is Class 446 AMUSEMENT DEVICES: TOYS, Subclass 85, CONSTRUCTION TOY.

The concept behind this invention is formulated from the belief that there is no commercially available children's construction kit that allows a child to conceptualize and construct a toy building that is similar in nature and image to the construction of an actual building in real life.

There are no specific references to documents relating to this invention. One cannot refer to specific problems in prior art (or state of technology) with this particular invention. There are other attempts with patented inventions that present a system of interlocking parts that allow a child or person to assemble some type of structure. However, the functional design of these other interlocking parts and systems are significantly different from the dovetailing and interlocking being achieved with this invention. The invention, categorized as a children's construction toy is unique and differentiated when compared to any other construction toy product in the marketplace. This invention looks to take advantage of injection molding techniques so that parts can be molded allowing for the dovetailing or interlocking of specifically developed parts so that they fit together to form a building structure.

Three primary questions presented themselves during development:

    • Can the invention be manufactured in a cost effective manner?
    • Is the invention easy to understand and use?
    • Does the invention's manifestation lend credence to a structure or structures found in the real world?

This invention looks to streamline the manufacturing process, simplify the process of assembly, and present an assembled structure that has a resemblance to a real world structure.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The invention consists of eight plastic (six of which are injection molded) parts that allow a child or person to construct a toy building that is similar in nature and image to the construction of an actual building in real life. In the future new parts will be developed and added to the product line. The eight parts are as follows:

1) Base

2) Support Column

3) Crossbar

4) Exterior Panel A

5) Exterior Panel B

6) Roof Panel A

7) Roof Panel B

8) Roof Anchor

The building is constructed by virtue of interlocking Support Column parts (approximately 80 mm in vertical length) and Crossbar parts (approximately 80 mm in horizontal length) that form a three dimensional vertical and horizontal structural grid pattern similar to what one would envision with an actual building being constructed. The bottom portion or insert post of each vertical Support Column part fits into a specially constructed plastic Base part (also injection molded). Four Support Column parts will allow the user to begin to construct the basis of a building by virtue of the fact that each series of four Support Column parts will be connected by horizontal Crossbar parts that fit into the upper dovetail section of the Support Column parts. A dovetail design has been incorporated so that the parts can slide easily into place.

The Exterior Panel A and B parts represent the exterior skin or windows of a constructed building. The Exterior Panel A and B parts are very thin and flexible plastic polymers. Each Exterior Panel part (approximately 87 mm×80 mm×0.5 mm) will slide onto small protruding hanging posts that are a component of the vertical Support Column part.

The roof of a constructed building will consist of either Roof Panel A or Roof Panel B parts. The Roof Panel A and B parts are thicker (approximately 11.0 mm) as compared to the Exterior Panel A and B parts. The Roof Panel A and B parts also contain supporting strips placed on the underside of the Roof Panel A and B parts. These strips provide strength and stability.

Inserted into the top end (insert hole) of a vertical Support Column part (representing the last and uppermost Support Column part in a series of Support Column parts placed one atop another) is the Roof Anchor part. The Roof Anchor part enhances the visual appeal of a constructed and completed building as well as provides structural integrity to the Roof Panel A and B parts.

The creative and imaginative essence of this invention is predicated on 1) the ability of a user to expand the size and scope of a building to a theoretically infinite size in both width and height and 2) on the ability of the user to fabricate multiple building designs with the eight manufactured parts.

The manufacturing and functional design of the parts provides for a cost effective and easy to use Children's Building and Construction Kit based on Interlocking Crossbars and Support Columns.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWING

FIG. 1—World view of the Base part which measures approximately 291 millimeters×291 millimeters (11.46″×11.46″) with a height or depth of approximately 9 millimeters (0.35″). The Base part consists of evenly spaced base insert holes and evenly spaced connecting insert holes. Base ribbing has been placed for strength and firmness.

FIG. 2—Isometric view of the Base part. Base insert holes and connecting insert holes are through holes.

FIG. 3—Side view of the Support Column part. This view illustrates the sections of the Support Column part. The support column (sc) insert post and support column (sc) insert hole are clearly illustrated with the important upper dovetail section also being highlighted. The overall dimension of the Support Column part is approximately 80 mm×10 mm×10 mm (3.15″×0.39″×0.39″).

FIG. 4—Isometric view of the Support Column part. This view provides a nice illustration of the hanging posts that consists of two (2) hanging posts on each side of the main body of the Support Column part for a total of eight (8) hanging posts per Support Column part.

FIG. 5—World view of the Crossbar part illustrates the two (2) dovetail insertion points located on each end of the Crossbar part.

FIG. 6—Side view of the Crossbar part. The Crossbar part measures approximately 80 mm×10 mm×10 mm (3.15″×0.39″×0.39″).

FIG. 7—Isometric view of the Crossbar part. The crossbar ribbing provides structural support.

FIG. 8—World view of the Exterior Panel A part. The four (4) hanging holes allow for the Exterior Panel A part to be hung onto the hanging posts located on the main body of the Support Column part.

FIG. 9—Isometric view of the Exterior Panel A part. The approximate Exterior Panel A part dimensions are as follows: 97 mm (horizontal length), 80 mm (vertical length), and 0.5 mm in thickness or depth (97 mm×80 mm×0.5 mm or 3.82″×3.15″×0.02″).

FIG. 10—Side view of the Exterior Panel B part, highlighting the hanging assembly. The significant difference attributed to this Exterior Panel B part as opposed to the Exterior Panel A part is the hanging assembly. The hanging assembly allows for greater building design configurations. The Exterior Panel B part's horizontal length (approximately 87 mm or 3.43″) is also shorter (by approximately 10 mm or 0.39″) as compared to the Exterior Panel A part's horizontal length.

FIG. 11—Isometric view of the Exterior Panel B part. The Exterior Panel B part has only two hanging holes with the hanging assembly substituting for hanging holes on the opposite side of the Exterior Panel B part.

FIG. 12—World view of the Roof Panel A part. As the part name suggests, this Roof Panel A is designed to sit flat atop a section of constructed building to function as a section of the roof. Each corner has an approximate 5 mm×5 mm (0.2″×0.2″) cut to compensate for the physical presence of Support Column parts at these corner locations.

FIG. 13—Isometric view of the Roof Panel A part. The overall dimension of this part is approximately 87 mm×87 mm×1 mm (3.43″×3.43″×0.04″). The strips which are molded into the part provide strength and stability for the Roof Panel A part.

FIG. 14—World view of the Roof Panel B part. The cut-a-way portion allows for greater building design configurations. The dimension of this part is approximately 87 mm×81 mm×1 mm (3.43″×3.19″×0.04″).

FIG. 15—Isometric view of the Roof Panel B part. Molded strips, as in Roof Panel A, are added for additional strength and stability of the Roof Panel B part.

FIG. 16—Side view of the Roof Anchor part. The insert post of the Roof Anchor part slides into the insert hole of the Support Column part. The upper section of the Roof Anchor is approximately 10 mm×10 mm×5 mm (0.39″×0.39″ 0.2″). The portion of the insert post that slides into the Support Column part's insert hole is approximately 7 mm in length (0.28″).

FIG. 17—Isometric view of the Roof Anchor part.

FIG. 18—Isometric view of a building being assembled incorporating the parts that comprise a Children's Building and Construction Kit based on Interlocking Crossbars and Support Columns.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

A Children's Building and Construction Kit based on Interlocking Crossbars and Support Columns is comprised of eight (8) specific and identifiable parts:

1) Base

2) Support Column

3) Crossbar

4) Exterior Panel A

5) Exterior Panel B

6) Roof Panel A

7) Roof Panel B

8) Roof Anchor

Each Children's Building and Construction Kit based on Interlocking Crossbars and Support Columns contains over two hundred pieces (200) derived from the eight (8) specific and identifiable parts. Each part is unique with a corresponding and unique relationship to the other parts.

For a child or user to enjoy the benefits of this invention the child or user needs to have an understanding of the parts and how such parts interface with each other.

With the possible exception of the Exterior Panels (A&B), all parts shall be manufactured through the process of injection molding. Each part requires different material characteristics and thus different polymers will be selected to meet the material characteristics needed for a particular part.

The Base part (approximately 291 mm×291 mm×9 mm or 11.46″×11.46″×0.35″) is needed to begin the process of assembling or constructing a building. As evidenced in FIG. 1, the Base part contains sixteen Base Insert Holes (2). The Base Insert Hole width is approximately 2.5 mm×2.5 mm (0.10″×0.10″). Each Base Insert Hole accepts the vertical insertion of a Support Column Insert Post (FIG. 3, SC Insert Post (8)). The sixteen (16) Connecting Insert Holes (1) located around the perimeter of the Base part allow for the attachment of other Base parts and other related parts envisioned for future production. The Connecting Insert Hole width is approximately 1.5 mm×1.5 mm (0.06″×0.06″). The Support Column Insert Holes and the Connecting Insert Holes are through holes. Ample Base part Ribbing (3) exists to provide strengthen and rigidity. FIG. 2, an Isometric view of the Base Part, provides a very nice visualization of the Base Part and its functionality.

The Support Column part (FIG. 3) is one of two integral parts that forms the vertical and horizontal structural grid of the building to be constructed. A Children's Building and Construction Kit based on Interlocking Crossbars and Support Columns, being comprised of approximately sixty-four (64) Support Column parts allows a child or user to construct a building that is either four (4) stories high (16 support column parts per floor) or sixteen (16) stories high (4 support column parts for each floor). FIG. 3 illustrates that there are five sectional components of a Support Column part. The SC Insert Hole (4) allows for the vertical insertion of an SC Insert Post of another Support Column part. This second Support Column part forms the basis of another floor as the building is being constructed. The Upper Dovetail Section (5) is structurally important because this is the section that allows for the sliding insertion (or interlocking) of a corresponding Crossbar part and its Dovetail Insertion Section best illustrated in FIG. 5 of the drawings. The Upper Dovetail Section can accept up to four Crossbar Dovetail Insertion Sections (one section for each side facet or face of the Support Column part). The Hanging Post (6), of which two exist for each face of the Support Column part (for a total of eight hanging posts per support column part) allow for the vertical hanging or affixing of an Exterior Panel to the frame or grid formed by two vertical Support Column parts connected by a horizontal Crossbar part. The main body (7) of the Support Column part is approximately 70 mm×10 mm×10 mm (2.76″×0.39″×0.39″) with a total overall Support Column part length of approximately 87 mm (3.43″) including the 7 mm (0.28″) SC Insert Post (8). The SC Insert Post slides vertically into a Base Insert Hole of the Base Part or another SC Insert Hole of another Support Column part. The SC Insert Hole of a Support Column part is approximately 7.5 mm (0.3″). The material characteristics of the Support Column part are rigid. FIG. 4 provides an isometric view of the Support Column part with a clear illustration of a Hanging Post (6).

The Crossbar part (FIGS. 5, 6, &7) is the second of the two integral parts that form the vertical and horizontal structural grid of the building to be constructed (the support column part being the other). The Crossbar part ties together the Support Column parts via the Dovetail Insertion Section (FIG. 5, (10)) and the Upper Dovetail Section of the Support Column Part. Each Dovetail Insertion Section slides downward into the Upper Dovetail Section of a Support Column part thus connecting two Support Column parts. A building's floor (1st floor, 2nd floor, 3rd, etc.), if constructed with sixteen (16) Support Column parts would need twenty-four (24) Crossbar parts to stabilize and form the basis for a floor of a building. FIG. 6 illustrates the insertion direction (11) of a Dovetail Insertion Section as well as the top (12) and crossbar horizontal plane (14) of the Crossbar part. Disregard the line (15) which is strictly a line that exists in the drawing but would not exist in a fabricated Crossbar part. The Dovetail Insertion Section is approximately 7 mm in length or height while the Main Body (13) is approximately 10 mm×10 mm×77 mm (0.39″×0.39″×3.03″). FIG. 7 is an isometric view of the Crossbar part with the Dovetail Insertion Section (10) and the Crossbar Ribbing (16) nicely illustrated.

The Exterior Panel A part is the “skin” or “window” that covers the exterior of a constructed building. The Exterior Panel A part is approximately 97 mm (horizontal length), 80 mm (vertical length), and 0.5 mm in thickness or depth (97 mm×80 mm×0.5 mm or 3.82″×3.15″×0.02″). FIG. 8, a world view shows the panel A horizontal plane (17) of the Exterior Panel A part. More importantly, FIG. 8 clearly shows the four Hanging Holes (18) that are integral aspects of the Exterior Panel A part. The Hanging Holes are situated at each corner of the Exterior Panel A part and are approximately 1 mm (0.04″) in diameter. The Hanging Holes allow for the Exterior Panel A to be slid and vertically affixed to the protruding Hanging Posts of the Support Column parts. The Hanging Posts are dimensionally spaced to accept the Exterior Panel A part's Hanging Holes. Two vertically placed Support Column parts connected by a Crossbar part would form the surface area and structure needed to accommodate and place an Exterior Panel A part. The primary material characteristic needed for the Exterior Panel A part is one of flexibility. FIG. 9 presents an isometric view of the Exterior Panel A part and nicely illustrates the thinness of the Exterior Panel A part.

The Exterior Panel B part is a variation of the Exterior Panel A part. This variation allows for greater building design configurations. FIG. 10 highlights the major design variation of the Exterior Panel B part—the Hanging Assembly (19). Refer to FIG. 11, an isometric view of the Exterior Panel B part and one can grasp the fundamental differences of the Exterior Panel A part and the Exterior Panel B part. As is evidenced in FIG. 11, there are only two Hanging Holes with the Hanging Assembly replacing the Hanging Holes on one edge of the Exterior Panel B part. The insertion point for the Hanging Post illustrates how two Hanging Posts, located on a Support Column part would interface with a Hanging Assembly. The Hanging Assembly allows for the ability to utilize two Hanging Posts of a Support Column part that lie on a plane that is set at a right angle to the Exterior Panel B part's plane. As previously mentioned, the Hanging Assembly allows for greater building design variation—specifically when two Exterior Panel B parts approach each other at a right angle. The vertical dimension of the Exterior Panel B part remains virtually the same as the Exterior Panel A part while the horizontal dimension is reduced by approximately 10 mm (0.39″) to 87 mm (3.43″).

The Roof Panel A part dimensions are approximately 87 mm×87 mm×1 mm (3.43″×3.43″×0.04″). A Roof Panel part is thicker than an Exterior Panel part because of the need to prevent any possible sagging of the part as well as allowing for the placement of an object onto the roof of a constructed building. The Roof Panel A part, as intuitively inferred, is placed at the top portion of a constructed building and lies on a horizontal plane. As illustrated in FIG. 12, the Roof Panel A part has a Corner Cut-A-Way (23) at each corner. These Corner Cut-A-Ways of approximately 5 mm×5 mm (0.2″) are designed to allow for proper placement between Support Column parts. A Roof Panel A part covers the horizontal surface area formed by four Support Columns that are interlocked or interfaced by four Crossbar parts. FIG. 13 is an isometric view of the Roof Panel A part and is highlighted with the Strips (24) added for strength and stability to the underside. These Strips are molded as part of the Roof Panel A and are 2 mm (0.08″) in depth. The Strips provide strength and stability. Stability in this case refers to the need to stabilize the Roof Panel A part so that it does not “float” out of place. The Strips will settle in-between the interior portions of the Crossbar parts that form the surface area of a Roof Panel A part.

The Roof Panel B part has virtually all of the same properties as the Roof Panel A part except for the Section Cut-A-Way (25) as illustrated in FIG. 14. The Section Cut-A-Way allows for greater building design variation. The dimension of this part is approximately 87 mm×81 mm×1 mm (3.43″×3.19″×0.04″). FIG. 15 presents an isometric view of the Roof Panel B part.

The Roof Anchor part is the smallest Children's Building and Construction Kit based on Interlocking Crossbars and Support Column's part. The Upper Section of the Roof Anchor is approximately 10 mm×10 mm×5 mm (0.39″×0.39″ 0.2″). The portion of the Roof Anchor that is the Anchor Insert Post and which slides into the Support Column part's Insert Hole is 7 mm in length (0.28″). FIG. 16 illustrates the Upper Section (26) and the Anchor Insert Post (27) of the Roof Anchor part. A Roof Anchor part enhances a constructed building by capping-off the top of a Support Column part that terminates at the approximate horizontal plane of a Roof Panel part. A Roof Anchor part also stabilizes the Roof Panel parts so that the Roof Panel parts do not shift or float once set into place. Also the Upper Section of the Roof Anchor's lower horizontal surface is the same horizontal surface latitude as the Upper Dovetail Section of the Support Column. When the Roof Anchor Insert Post is inserted into the Support Column Insert Hole the two part's sides are flush which forms a visually attractive capping-off of a constructed building. FIG. 17 presents an isometric view of the Roof Anchor part.

FIG. 18 shows an assembly of parts to illustrate how the parts comprising a Children's Building and Construction Kit based on Interlocking Crossbars and Support Columns interface. As presented earlier, the Base part (28) is an essential part that facilitates construction. The Base Insert Holes of the Base part are dimensionally spaced to allow for the vertical placement of Support Column parts which can then be interlocked with Crossbar parts. The Support Column parts in this illustration are not perfectly lined-up with the Base Insert Holes of the Base part because it is easier this way to visualize the insertion aspects of an SC Insertion Post and Base Insertion Hole. The vertical hanging of Exterior Panels (29) presents the concept that the Exterior Panel parts cover the surface area formed by Support Column parts and Crossbar parts. The Crossbar part (30) and Support Column part (31) illustrate their interface in forming the vertical and horizontal structural grid. The Roof Panel A part (32) placements is easily visualized. The Roof Anchor part (33) is further illustrated showing the concept of capping-off a constructed building.