Title:
Collapsible structure for demonstrating and interacting with large-scale dolls
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The invention relates to a structure for demonstrating and interacting wherein the structure includes a collapsed position for long-term storage, a folded or storage position for temporary storage, and a plurality of expanded positions that are suitable for displaying or interacting with large-scale dolls. The structure or dollhouse includes a central support surface or platform. A hinge connects a lower rear wall to the platform. When removed from storage, the lower rear wall folds down and to the rear of the platform. Columns are attached to the bottom of the platform, and the columns support the platform above a floor. At least one wing is selectively attached to one of the columns and can rotate about the connection to the column. The at least one wing rotates from a position that partially encloses the space beneath the platform to a second position that creates a simulated room next to the platform. The at least one wing includes a support surface in-plane with the platform. The space defined by the platform and wing(s) simulates rooms in a house. The support surfaces in conjunction with the platform form the simulated ceiling for each room. Additional walls create additional simulated rooms within the simulated house.



Inventors:
Hughes, Laura (Glen Allen, VA, US)
Application Number:
11/374355
Publication Date:
09/27/2007
Filing Date:
03/13/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63H3/52
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HYLINSKI, ALYSSA MARIE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
John H. Thomas, P.C. (Richmond, VA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A dollhouse having a long-term storage position, a temporary storage position, and at least one expanded configuration, the doll house comprising: a central platform having a top, a bottom, first and second sides, and front and back ends; a rear bottom wall hinged to the platform and having a first folded position and second unfolded position, the rear bottom wall unfoldable from a position parallel to the bottom of the platform to a position perpendicular to the bottom of the platform, the unfolded rear bottom wall proximate the back end of the platform and extending from the bottom of the platform; a plurality of selectively attached columns supporting the platform above a floor; a first wing on the first side of the platform, the first wing selectively hinged to one of the columns in the plurality of columns, the first wing rotatable about the hinged connection from a storage position partially enclosing the space beneath the central platform to an expanded position adjacent the space beneath the central platform; and wherein the space beneath the platform and the space defined by the unfolded first wing define two distinct, simulated rooms for use with large-scale dolls.

2. The dollhouse of claim 1, the first wing further comprising in the expanded position a first wing rear wall in-plane with the unfolded rear bottom wall, a first wing sidewall perpendicular to the first wing rear wall, and a first wing support surface in-plane with the central platform.

3. The dollhouse of claim 2, further comprising a first support and second support, the first support selectively mounted to the first wing sidewall and the second support selectively mounted to the platform, the first and second support operable to bear the first wing support surface in-plane with the central platform.

4. The dollhouse of claim 2, the first wing further comprising in the expanded position a first wing upper rear wall in-plane with the first wing rear wall, a first wing upper sidewall in-plane with the first wing sidewall; and wherein the first wing upper sidewall is hinged to the first wing sidewall and the first wing upper rear wall is hinged to the first wing upper sidewall.

5. The dollhouse of claim 1, further comprising a second wing on the second side of the platform, the wing selectively hinged to one of the columns in the plurality of columns, the second wing rotatable about the hinged connection from a temporary storage position partially enclosing the space beneath the central platform to an expanded position adjacent the space beneath the central platform; and wherein the space beneath the platform and the space defined by the unfolded first and second wings define three distinct, simulated rooms for use with large-scale dolls.

6. The dollhouse of claim 5, wherein the first wing further comprises in the expanded position a first wing rear wall in-plane with the unfolded rear bottom wall, a first wing sidewall perpendicular to the first wing rear wall, and a first wing support surface in-plane with the central platform.

7. The dollhouse of claim 6, wherein the second wing further comprises in the expanded position a second wing rear wall in-plane with the unfolded rear bottom wall, a second wing sidewall perpendicular to the second wing rear wall, and a second wing support surface in-plane with the central platform.

8. The dollhouse of claim 7, the first wing further comprising in the unfolded position a first wing upper rear wall in-plane with the first wing rear wall, a first wing upper sidewall in-plane with the first wing sidewall; and wherein the first wing upper sidewall is hinged to the first wing sidewall and the first wing upper rear wall is hinged to the first wing upper sidewall.

9. The dollhouse of claim 8, further comprising a rear upper wall hinged to the platform and having a first folded position and second expanded position, the rear upper wall unfoldable from a position parallel to the top of the platform to a position perpendicular to the platform, wherein the unfolded rear upper wall is proximate the back end of the platform, is in-plane with the unfolded rear lower wall, and extends from the top of the platform.

10. The dollhouse of claim 9, the second wing further comprising in the expanded position a second wing upper rear wall in-plane with the second wing rear wall, a second wing upper sidewall in-plane with the second wing sidewall; and wherein the second wing upper sidewall is hinged to the second wing upper rear wall, and the second wing upper rear wall is hinged to the rear upper wall.

11. The dollhouse of claim 1, further comprising an opening in the platform suitable to pass a doll from a position below the platform to the top of the platform.

12. The dollhouse of claim 11, further comprising a simulated stairway selectively mounted to dollhouse, the simulated stairway aligned from the floor up to the opening in the platform.

13. A dollhouse having a long-term storage position, a temporary storage position, and at least one expanded configuration, the doll house comprising: a central platform defining a planar surface; a rear bottom wall hinged to the platform and having a first folded position and second unfolded position, the rear bottom wall aligned perpendicular to the central platform when placed in the unfolded position; a plurality of selectively attached columns supporting the platform above a floor; a first wing and a second wing, the first and second wings each selectively hinged to separate columns within the plurality of columns, the first and second wings rotatable about the hinged connection from a storage position partially enclosing the space beneath the central platform to an expanded position adjacent the space beneath the central platform wherein the space beneath the platform and the space defined by the unfolded first and second wings define three distinct, simulated rooms, the first and second wings each further comprising in the expanded position a wing rear wall in-plane with the unfolded rear bottom wall, a wing sidewall perpendicular to the wing rear walls, and a wing support surface in-plane with the central platform.

14. The dollhouse of claim 13, the first and second wings each further comprising in the expanded position a wing upper rear wall in-plane with the wing rear wall, a wing upper sidewall in-plane with the wing sidewall; and wherein at least one wing upper sidewall is hinged to a wing sidewall and the wing upper rear wall is hinged to a wing upper sidewall.

15. The dollhouse of claim 14, further comprising a rear upper wall hinged to the platform and having a first folded position and second unfolded position, the rear upper wall aligned perpendicular to the central platform when placed in the unfolded position.

16. The dollhouse of claim 15, wherein at least one wing upper sidewall is hinged to the wing upper rear wall, and the wing upper rear wall is hinged to the rear upper wall.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a structure for demonstrating and playing with dolls and, more particularly, pertains to a collapsible, large-scale dollhouse for use with large-scale dolls.

BACKGROUND

Dolls, which are generally considered to be any toy, puppet, marionette, etc. made to resemble a human being, date back to practically the earliest recorded history. Dolls have taken many shapes and have been formed from many materials. Modern assembly and production techniques allow more lifelike and customizable dolls than ever before.

A particularly popular brand of dolls is the American Girl™ brand of dolls and characters. Founded in 1985, American Girl, LLC publishes books and produces dolls and toys that integrate learning and play experiences. American Girl dolls are typically large-scale dolls, such as 18″ tall dolls, that have interchangeable clothes and integrated storylines. In fact, American Girl, LLC has been so successful that Mattel, an even larger and more successful toy company, acquired it in 1998.

Relatively large-scale dolls have, at times, been extremely popular, including large-scale porcelain dolls. One consistent problem with these dolls is the inability to enjoy or display them with a corresponding dollhouse, as the resulting structure requires excessive space. Typically, dollhouses use small-scale components and accessories. Yet, a doll aficionado might build a large collection of relatively large-scale dolls. Historically, these dolls end up being displayed in a cabinet or placed in storage. The same applies for other types of animal or humanoid-based toys, such as stuffed bears.

There have been attempts to produce knockdown and folding dollhouses for commercial sale and exploitation. By-and-large, these efforts have been unsuccessful, as the resulting structures have required too much assembly, were not aesthetically pleasing, did not provide multiple rooms to simulate a house, or were undesirable to consumers in some other manner. It is thought that a structure that provides both long-term and temporary storage configurations would be preferred. In particular, doll owners want a larger scale structure that is easy to deploy from a temporary storage position. Near instant gratification is an important aspect for such a structure. Doll owners have not had a suitably large, simulated environment in which to interact with their dolls.

Therefore, there exists a need and a challenge to create a structure for demonstrating and interacting with relatively large-scale dolls. Ideally, the dollhouse would be highly collapsible for long-term storage. The structure would also include an intermediary storage position wherein it would require less space than it would if it were fully expanded. The intermediary or folded position would facilitate an easy and quick expansion process to a fully expanded position(s). The fully expanded position could consist of any of a number of configurations wherein the structure would simulate a plurality of rooms in a house. The structure would also preferably be durable, easy to operate, and would provide a new dollhouse and display structure. The structure of the present invention solves one or more of these or other needs.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with the present invention, a structure for demonstrating and interacting with relatively large-scale dolls is provided. The structure includes a collapsed position for long-term storage, a folded or intermediary position for temporary storage, and a plurality of expanded configurations that are suitable for displaying or interacting with large-scale dolls. The long-term position provides a semi-flattened position to facilitate storage and minimize the amount of storage space consumed. The temporary storage or folded position reduces the footprint of the structure. In one preferred embodiment, the dollhouse of the present invention is folded to substantially form a cube. One or more expanded positions are obtained by folding components of the dollhouse out of the temporary storage position.

The structure of the present invention, in the broadest terms, includes a central support surface or platform. A hinge connects a lower rear wall to the platform. When removed from storage, the lower rear wall folds down and to the rear of the platform. A plurality of legs or columns are attached to the bottom of the platform, and the columns support the platform above a floor. A first wing is selectively attached to one of the rear columns via one or more hinges. The first wing swings from a position that partially encloses the space beneath the platform to a second position that creates a simulated room next to the platform. A second, optional wing can be attached to a rear column on the opposing side of the platform. Either wing would include a support surface in-plane with the platform. The space defined by the platform, the first wing, and the optional second wing simulates rooms in a house. The support surfaces in conjunction with the platform form the simulated ceiling for each room.

In one preferred embodiment, the dollhouse includes optional “upstairs” rooms. Upper side and rear walls above the wing or wings' support surface(s) would enclose a space to create more simulated rooms in the house. The central unit/platform would feature an upper rear wall connected by a hinge to the platform. The upper rear wall swings up and to the rear of the platform. Also, an optional opening in the platform could be used in conjunction with a simulated stairway or ladder in order to pass dolls from the “downstairs” rooms to the “upstairs” rooms.

In use, the structure or dollhouse is placed in a long-term storage position by removing and disassembling the wing(s), disconnecting the columns, and folding the lower rear wall and optional upper rear wall towards the platform. The resulting package is relatively flat in order to facilitate long-term storage, such as placing the collapsed dollhouse under a bed. To assemble the dollhouse, a user folds the lower rear wall away from the platform and then connects the columns. The space under the platform defines one room. The wing(s) are assembled by connecting a wing sidewall to a wing rear wall at a 90 degree corner. The rear wall(s) are connected by hinges to one of the columns supporting the platform.

In a folded or temporary storage position, the dollhouse presents a reduced footprint. In a preferred embodiment, the folded dollhouse is substantially shaped as a cube. The wing(s) partially enclose the space beneath the platform. To expand the structure, the wing(s) rotate about the hinges until the rear walls are in-plane with the lower rear wall that is connected to the platform. A wing support surface is connected by at least one hinge to the wing rear wall. The support surface rotates from a position behind the wing rear wall to a position in-plane with the platform. Selectively mounted supports are operable to maintain the support surfaces in-plane with the platform.

The optional upper walls are also secured to a wing or the optional upper rear wall via hinges. A number of configurations or constructions would be suitable, but ideally the hinge assembly minimizes or reduces the overall size of the structure when it is placed in the temporary storage position (i.e., at least one wing is attached to a column that supports the platform wherein the at least one wing is rotated on a hinge to partially enclose the space beneath the platform). The novel hinge arrangements of the present invention, in one preferred embodiment, are assembled so that one wing would include two panels hinged to the outside of the wing's sidewall. Once unfolded, the panels swing up so that one panel is in-plane with the wing's sidewall. The second panel is hinged to this upper sidewall. The second panel swings back to a position in-plane with the wing's rear wall. The second panel acts as an upper rear wall.

The upper panels for the second wing, in this embodiment, deploy via a different hinge assembly. The optional upper rear wall would be included, and the upper rear wall swings up and to the rear of the platform to a position in-plane with the unfolded lower rear wall. Two panels are connected by a hinge to the back of the upper rear wall. The panels swing to a position above the second wing wherein one panel is in-plane with the lower rear wall of the second wing. The second panel is hinged to swing outwards to a position in-plane with the second wing's sidewall. Thus, the two panels form upper rear and sidewalls for the second wing. Unsecured panels can be propped on the upper surface of the platform to create an enclosed room in conjunction with the upper rear wall. Variations on the various locations of the hinges and structure of the dollhouse as taught herein would be obvious to one of skill in the art.

A structure for displaying and interacting with dolls in accordance with the present invention efficiently address at least one of the shortcomings associated with prior art dollhouses. The foregoing and additional features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent to those of skill in the art from the following detailed description of a preferred embodiment taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a dollhouse structure in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the dollhouse in a temporary storage position;

FIG. 3 is a back view thereof;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the dollhouse in an expanded configuration in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a rotatable support surface in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the dollhouse wherein two wings have been unfolded into an expanded configuration in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the dollhouse depicting three simulated rooms;

FIG. 8 is a front view of the dollhouse of the present invention with three simulated rooms for large-scale dolls wherein optional upper walls are secured to a wing forming the dollhouse;

FIG. 9 is a top view of a collapsible dollhouse in a partially expanded configuration in accordance one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 10 is an additional top view thereof wherein an upper rear wall is unfolded and optional upper walls are secured to the upper rear wall;

FIG. 11 is an additional top view thereof;

FIG. 12 is a top view of collapsible dollhouse in an expended configuration in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 13 is a top view of a structure for demonstrating and interacting with dolls wherein the structure has been placed in a temporary storage position;

FIG. 14 is a close-up of a reversible hinge assembly as used in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 15 is rear view of one wall used in the structure of the present invention; and

FIG. 16 is a side view of a central platform with hinged panels in accordance with at least one embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

A structure or dollhouse used to display and interact with large-scale dolls in accordance with the present invention provides a durable, easy to operate, and selectively expandable and collapsible doll accessory. The dollhouse provides two or more simulated rooms that can be collapsed to a temporary storage position and further disassembled to a long-term storage configuration. The ease and convenience of storing, assembling, and/or expanding the dollhouse offers a distinct advantage over prior art knockdown dollhouses. The dollhouse solves one or more of the shortcomings known in the prior art.

Turning to FIGS. 1-13, there is illustrated a dollhouse 10 from multiple angles that is in accordance with at least embodiment of the present invention. With specific reference to the structure of FIG. 1, the dollhouse is illustrated with optional structural and decorative features in a fully expanded configuration. The central assembly consists of a platform-like member 12. Platform 12 is rectilinear with a top surface, bottom surface, two sides, and front and back ends (not labeled). A plurality of columns 14 is selectively secured to platform 12 in order to support the platform off of the floor. A lower rear wall 16 is connected to the rear of platform 12 by a hinge. Lower rear wall 16 moves to a deployed or unfolded position by swinging down and to the rear of platform 12 via the hinge. Lower rear wall 16 is represented in the unfolded position in FIG. 1. The lower rear wall may include an optional door 18, which increases the illusion of a simulated house.

The structure or dollhouse is sized and dimensioned for use with larger size dolls. However, it is envisioned that the dimensions could be reduced or expanded, as desired. For instance, it is possible that the door and/or structure could be sized and dimensioned for use of the contemplated structure as a play space to be occupied by a user.

Regardless of the scale of the structure, the space under the platform defines a first simulated room. Optional molding (illustrated but not labeled) or other aesthetic features may be included. Platform 12 may also include an optional opening 20 sized and dimensioned to allow a large-scale doll to pass from the bottom of the platform through the plane to the upper surface of the platform. It is envisioned that a simulated stairway or ladder (not illustrated) could be selectively mounted to one or more of the columns or the platform. A first end of the stairway or ladder would terminate at the floor while the second end would terminate at the opening 20.

Dollhouse 10 will include one or more wings 22. Each wing 22 includes a wing rear wall 24, a wing sidewall 26 and a wing support surface 28. The wing rear walls and wing sidewalls are joined at a 90 degree corner. The wing support surface is hinged to the top side to the rear walls. The support surface rotates about the hinge from a position flush with the rear wall to a planar position perpendicular to the plane of both the wing rear wall and wing sidewall. Rear walls 24 and sidewalls 26 optionally include simulated windows.

The wing rear walls are connected via one or more hinges to a column 14. In one preferred embodiment, four columns 14 are secured to platform 12 at each of the four corners of the platform. Therefore, two columns support the platform at the intersection of the front of the platform and the two sides. Two more columns support the platform at the intersection of the back of the platform and the two sides. The hinges that selectively secure wings 22 to the columns are located on the opposing rear columns. As will be discussed further below, the hinges allow the wings to fold towards platform 12. The space under the platform is at least partially enclosed when one or more of the wings are in this folded or temporary storage position.

Also illustrated in this embodiment of dollhouse 10 is an upper rear wall 30. Upper rear wall 30 is connected to the rear of platform 12 by a hinge. The upper rear wall swings from the top surface of the platform upwards and towards the rear of the platform. Upper rear wall 30 and lower rear wall 16 are in-plane. Decorative windows, molding, or other features could be included on the upper rear wall. Overall, upper rear wall 30 simulates a pitched roof in order to increase the illusion of a simulated house. The upper rear wall may be included with or without the optional “upstairs” walls, as discussed immediately below.

Dollhouse 10 further includes upper wing rear walls 32 and upper wing sidewalls 34 that define a space above the wing support surfaces 28. Like the wing rear walls 24 and wing sidewalls 26, the upper wing walls 32, 34 may include decorative touches such as simulated windows. Moreover, the upper wing rear and sidewalls 32, 34 are selectively secured to the dollhouse assembly via hinged connections that allow the upper wing walls 32, 34 to be placed in a storage position and the illustrated expanded positions. Upper wing sidewalls 34 may also include a simulated pitch without hindering the ability to fold the dollhouse to a folded position, such as a cube-shaped folded position.

Optional, self-supporting panels 36, 38 are propped in front of the upper rear wall to create an enclosed room on the upper surface of the platform. Panel 36 includes three folding sections, one of which is a simulated door. Panel 38 has two sections that rotate about a 90 degree hinge. Self-supporting panels are removed and folded flat when dollhouse 10 is placed in long-term or temporary storage. Once panels 36, 38 are removed, upper rear wall 30 folds down onto the upper surface of platform 12, and folded self-supporting panels 36, 38 can be placed on top of the folded upper rear wall or stored separately.

Self-supporting panels 36, 38 are, in one preferred embodiment, one-third the height of upper rear wall 30 and ½ the height of wing upper rear walls 32. As will be explained further below, this facilitates the placement of the self-supporting panels onto the folded upper rear wall 30. The reduced height walls also facilitate the user's ability to peer into the room created by the self-supporting panels.

FIG. 1 illustrates an embodiment where two wings are attached to the structure and each wing is framed by upper wing walls. Including the simulated, ceiling-less room created by panels 36, 38 and upper rear wall 30, this embodiment includes a total of six simulated rooms. However, dollhouse 10 provides a number of different expanded configurations since various parts can be removed and/or are optional. For instance, one simple expanded configuration would include a room defined by the space under the platform and a second room defined by a single wing to either side of platform 12. This basic configuration could optionally include the upper wing walls, the upper rear wall, and the self-supporting panels. Despite the various configurations, the structure still retains the ability to fold to a position with a reduced footprint, such as a cube-shaped folded structure wherein the wings partially enclose the space beneath the platform. Other folded shapes are possible.

Having considered the expanded dollhouse 10 of FIG. 1, a dollhouse 10 in a temporary storage position is illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 3. The dollhouse roughly defines a cube. The illustrated embodiment includes wings 22 wherein both wings have been rotated about the respective hinges so that the space beneath platform 12 is enclosed by, or is at least partially enclosed, by L-shaped wings 22. Although illustrated slightly out of alignment, the wings fold in such a manner that the now opposing wing rear walls 24 are parallel to each other and the now adjacent wing sidewalls 26 are parallel to each other. Corner brackets 42, hidden cams, or other fasteners connect the sidewall and rear wall for each wing at a rigid 90 degree angle. Wing support surfaces 28 are flush with each wing rear wall 24. Hinges (illustrated but not labeled) allow wing support surfaces 28 to rotate to a position atop the corresponding wing rear wall 24 and wing sidewall 26 when the wing is placed in the expanded position.

As illustrated in the rear perspective of FIG. 3, lower rear wall 16 is unfolded so that it is perpendicular to, and extending downwards from, platform 12. Wing rear walls 24 are hinged to columns 14. The edge of the wing rear wall 24 abuts lower rear wall 16. The edges are mitered and, from this perspective, the hinges connecting the wings to the column are not visible.

FIG. 4 illustrates a dollhouse in accordance with the present invention wherein the dollhouse includes two wings, one of which is a semi-expanded position. The second remains in the folded or temporary storage position. For clarity, the elements are renumbered to distinguish the first/left-side wing elements from the second/right-side wing elements. First wing 50 is rotated about the hinged connection to the column so that rear wall 54 is in-plane with lower rear wall 16. First wing sidewall 56 is parallel to the left edge of platform 12. The three-sided space defines a room. First wing support surface 58 is in the folded position and is, therefore, behind rear wall 54.

In FIG. 5, two supports 70 are selectively installed via a bayonet or other locking or mounting mechanism. The supports mount to sidewall 56 and platform 12. First wing support surface 58 is rotated about the hinges connecting the support surface to the first wing rear wall 54 to a position resting upon supports 70.

FIG. 6 illustrates first wing 50 in an expanded position with first wing support surface 58 in plane with platform 12. Second wing 60 is unfolded to a semi-expanded position. Second wing rear wall 64 is in-plane with lower rear wall 16. Second wing sidewall 66 is parallel to the right side of platform 12. Supports 70 are installed for both wings. FIG. 7 illustrates both wings in an expanded position so that wing support surfaces 58, 68 are in-plane platform 12.

FIGS. 8-12 illustrate one preferred embodiment for the optional upper walls. Looking at the front of dollhouse 10, as in FIG. 8, upper rear wall 30 is illustrated in the folded position wherein it is parallel to, and in contact with, the top surface of platform 12. The illustrated embodiment includes two wings 50, 60. Except for upper rear wall 30, the upper wall elements are renumbered from the earlier figures in order to distinguish left/first wing upper wall elements from the right/second wing upper wall elements. The first and second wing upper wall elements deploy through distinct hinge assemblies. However, it is understood that the assemblies can are interchangeable so long as the assemblies allow dollhouse 10 to fold to the temporary storage position.

In greater detail, the preferred embodiment of FIG. 8 illustrates a dollhouse 10 with two wings 50, 60. Dollhouse 10 further includes first wing upper rear wall 74 and first wing upper sidewall 76. First wing upper sidewall 76 is connected by a hinge (illustrated but not labeled) to first wing sidewall 56. First wing rear wall 74 is connected by a hinge to first wing upper sidewall 76. The first wing upper walls 74, 76 first move between a folded position, wherein the upper walls are parallel and adjacent to the first wing sidewall 56, to a semi-expanded position wherein upper sidewall 76 is in-plane with sidewall 56. First wing upper sidewall 76 initially remains in plane with first wing upper rear wall 74.

Second wing upper rear wall 84 is connected by a hinge to upper rear wall 30. Second wing upper sidewall 86 is connected by a hinge to second wing upper rear wall 84. As mentioned above, upper rear wall 30 is folded down to platform 12. Therefore, from a perspective directly in front of dollhouse 10, the upper rear wall and second wing upper wall elements form a stack of three planar members on top of platform 12.

Examining the top down view of FIG. 9, the hinge connecting the first wing upper walls can be observed. First wing upper wall 74 swings towards platform and to the rear of first wing support surface 58. Second wing upper sidewall 86 rests atop upper rear wall 30.

Rear upper wall 30 is then expanded or unfolded to a vertical position perpendicular to, and extending upwards from, platform 12. This position, as illustrated in FIG. 10, also positions second wing upper rear wall 84 and sidewall 86 for deployment. The upper wall elements for the second wing are expanded by first rotating second wing upper rear wall 84 about the hinge connecting it to upper rear wall 30. This positions second wing upper rear wall 84 in plane with upper rear wall 30 (see FIG. 11). Second wing upper sidewall 86 is positioned over second wing support surface 68. Then, the user rotates second wing upper sidewall 86 to a position perpendicular to the back wall 84.

The self-supporting panels discussed in connection with FIG. 1 can be added to the platform to create a total of six rooms. The dollhouse with six simulated rooms is still foldable to an intermediary or temporary storage position, as illustrated in the top-down view of FIG. 13. The overall shape of the temporary storage positions is cubical.

In greater detail, as illustrated in FIG. 13, wing 60 is folded so as to at least partially enclose the space underneath the platform. In other words, second wing rear wall 64 is flush against the left side of the platform and the second wing sidewall 66 is flush against the front edge of the platform. Wing 50 is also folded towards the platform but first wing rear wall 54 extends past the edge of second wing sidewall 66. Therefore, the sidewall of wing 50 overlaps the sidewall of wing 60 when folded. The first wing upper walls 74, 76 are on the outside of first wing sidewall 56. Finally, the self-supporting panels 36, 38 are placed atop the platform and the folded upper rear wall. In an embodiment where the upper sidewalls are ⅔ the height of the upper rear wall and the self-supporting panels are ½ the height of the sidewalls then the folded second wing upper walls and self-supporting panels can be adjacently placed atop the folded upper rear sidewall. Thus, second wing upper sidewall 86 is also visible in this folded position.

FIG. 14 simply illustrates a reverse hinge, such as the hinge used to rotate the wing support surfaces to a position atop the wings. The hinge allows for a 270 degree rotation. FIGS. 15 and 16 further illustrate the assembly of platform 12 relative to the upper rear wall 30 and lower rear wall 16.

The dollhouse has an additional position in addition to the temporary/folded storage position and expanded configurations. A long-term storage position is desirable as a user may wish to store the dollhouse for an extended period in a relatively small space. If upper rear and sidewalls are included, they are folded into the temporary storage position. If the self-supported panels are included, they are removed and folded. The long-term storage position is then obtained by disconnecting the wings from the corresponding columns. The rear and sidewall of each wing would typically be disconnected. The columns are disconnected from the platform. Upper and lower rear walls fold to a position against the upper and lower surfaces of the platform (see FIG. 16—optional upper walls not illustrated). The optional self-supporting panels can be placed atop the folded upper rear wall. The structure is therefore relatively flat and ready for storage. This is a preferred collapsed position, but it is envisioned that additional disassembly could occur. Once disassembled and collapsed to the user's satisfaction, all the components can be stored in a relatively flat or small storage location.

The dollhouse can be assembled from many types of materials. Suitable hinges and fasteners can be used and would be obvious to one of skill in the art. Typically, the edges of the different components would be mitered (45 degree) edges, where appropriate, in order to better fit the components together or for general aesthetic concern. The Figures illustrate the dollhouse with the envisioned mitered corners and edges. However, the specific assembly techniques may vary.

Thus, while the invention has been described with reference to specific embodiments thereof, it will be understood that numerous variations, modifications and additional embodiments are possible, and all such variations, modifications, and embodiments are to be regarded as being within the spirit and scope of the invention.