Title:
Unit Block Toy Adapted to Compensate for Slight Size Variations
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A unit block toy adapted to compensate for slight size variations can have a pair of opposed side walls adapted to be disposed over at least a portion of the unit block, and a gasket disposed on an inside surface of at least one of the pair of opposed side walls, the gasket being adapted to compensate for slight size variations. The gasket can have a concave side and a convex side, the concave side positioned adjacent the inside surface of the adjacent sidewall such that a space is formed between the gasket and the inside surface to permit adjustment for size variations via displacement of the membrane towards the inside surface. A slot can be provided in the inside surface of the side walls in which to dispose the gasket.



Inventors:
Fein, Jason L. (Hastings On Hudson, NY, US)
Application Number:
12/366979
Publication Date:
08/13/2009
Filing Date:
02/06/2009
Assignee:
GUIDECRAFT USA (Winthrop, MN, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63H33/08
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HYLINSKI, ALYSSA MARIE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Spilman Thomas & Battle, PLLC (Pittsburgh, PA, US)
Claims:
1. A unit block toy adapted to compensate for slight size variations, comprising: a. a pair of opposed side walls adapted to be disposed over at least a portion of a unit block; and b. a gasket associated with an inside surface of at least one of said pair of opposed side walls, said gasket adapted to compensate for slight size variations in said unit block.

2. The unit block toy of claim 1 wherein said gasket comprises a membrane having a concave side and a convex side, and said concave side positioned adjacent said inside surface such that a space is formed between said membrane and said inside surface, wherein said gasket compensates for slight size variations in the unit block via displacement of said membrane towards said inside surface.

3. The unit block toy of claim 1 further comprising a slot in said inside surface, and wherein said gasket is disposed in said slot.

4. The unit block toy of claim 1 further comprising a pair of gaskets, wherein one of said pair of gaskets being associated with a respective one of said pair of opposed side walls.

5. A part for a unit block toy having a unit block, comprising: a. a pair of opposed side walls adapted to be disposed over at least a portion of the unit block; and b. a gasket associated with an inside surface of at least one of said pair of opposed side walls, said gasket adapted to compensate for slight size variations in the unit block.

6. The part of claim 5 wherein said gasket comprises a membrane having a concave side and a convex side, and said concave side positioned adjacent said inside surface such that a space is formed between said membrane and said inside surface, wherein said gasket compensates for slight size variations in the unit block via displacement of said membrane towards said inside surface.

7. The part of claim 5 further comprising a slot in said inside surface, and wherein said gasket is disposed in said slot.

8. The part of claim 5 further comprising a pair of gaskets, wherein one of said pair of gaskets being associated with a respective one of said pair of opposed side walls.

9. The part of claim 5 wherein the gasket is made of a resilient material.

10. The part of claim 5 wherein the gasket comprises at least one slit.

11. The part of claim 7 wherein: said slot includes a pair of lips; said gasket includes a pair of side edges, each of said side edges engagingly slideable within each of said lips.

Description:

BACKGROUND

The unit block toy relates generally to toys mainly for toddler age children, and more particularly to a unit block toy that is adapted to compensate for slight variations in the size of the unit block.

Unit blocks are a building comprised of variously-sized, typically hardwood blocks. The blocks are based on a standard set of measurements; the basis of which is the “unit block,” which represents one unit of measure. The standard dimensions of a unit block are 2.5 inches high, 1.25 inches deep, and 5 inches wide.

Unit blocks are common, and are produced by a variety of manufacturers, of which Applicant is one such manufacturer. Although the size of every unit block is supposed to conform to the standard dimensions listed above, it is not uncommon for there to be slight variations in the dimensions of unit blocks produced by different manufacturers. This slight variation is typically due to the lack of any recognized “tolerance” with respect to the aforesaid dimensions. Consequently, the size of a unit block from different manufacturers not uncommonly varies by as much as 2.5 millimeters in any of the aforesaid dimensions.

Therefore, for a unit block toy as described hereinafter to be utilized with unit blocks produced by various manufacturers, there is a need for the unit block toy to be adapted to compensate for slight variations in the size of unit blocks.

SUMMARY

An embodiment of a unit block toy adapted to compensate for slight size variations can generally comprise a pair of opposed side walls adapted to be disposed over at least a portion of the unit block, and a gasket disposed on an inside surface of at least one of the pair of opposed side walls, the gasket adapted to compensate for slight size variations in the unit block. Generally, the unit block toy can comprise four related parts, each part having a pair of side walls adapted to releasably engage over top of one corner of a unit block. In the usual case, one gasket will be provided on the inside surface of each of the opposed side walls, of each of the four related parts of the unit block toy.

The gasket can generally comprise a membrane, which can be made from a resilient, flexible plastic, rubber, or other suitable material. The membrane can have a concave side and a convex side, “dome-shaped,” side wherein the concave side is positioned adjacent the inside surface of the sidewall with which the gasket is associated. In this manner, a space is formed between the membrane and the adjacent side wall surface, permitting the gasket to compensate for slight size variations in the unit block via displacement of the membrane towards the adjacent surface of the side wall. Slits, or cuts, can be provided in the dome-shaped membrane to facilitate displacement of the membrane towards the surface of the side wall with which the gasket is associated.

The unit block toy can further comprise a slot in the inside surface of the side walls with which the gasket is associated. The gasket can be retained in the slot, for example by a friction fit, or compression fit. However, the gasket can also be further secured in the slot using, for example, an adhesive if desired.

To the accomplishment of the foregoing and related ends, certain illustrative aspects of the unit block toy adapted to compensate for slight size variations are described in the following description and drawing figures. These aspects may be indicative of but a few of the various ways in which the principles of the unit block toy adapted to compensate for slight size variations may be employed, and which is intended to include all such aspects and any equivalents thereof. Other advantages and features of the unit block toy adapted to compensate for slight size variations may become apparent from the following detailed description when considered in conjunction with the drawing figures.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

A more complete understanding of the unit block toy adapted to compensate for slight size variations can be obtained by considering the following description in conjunction with the accompanying drawing sheets, in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a unit block toy according to the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a part according to the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a front view of a gasket according to the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a part and two gaskets according to the present invention; and

FIG. 5 is a perspective partial view of a unit block toy with a part, two gaskets, and a unit block.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring now to the drawing figures, embodiments of a unit block toy adapted to compensate for slight size variations are illustrated in FIGS. 1-5. An embodiment of a unit block toy 10 adapted to compensate for slight size variations can generally comprise a pair of opposed side walls 12 adapted to be disposed over at least a portion of the unit block 14, and a gasket 16 disposed on an inside surface 18 of at least one of the pair of opposed side walls 12, the gasket 16 adapted to compensate for slight size variations in the unit block 12. Generally, the unit block toy 10 can comprise four related parts A, B, C, D, each part A, B, C, D having a pair of side walls 12 adapted to releasably engage over top of one corner of a unit block 14. In the usual case, one gasket 16 will be provided on the inside surface 18 of each of the opposed side walls 12, of each of the four related parts A, B, C, D of the unit block toy 10.

The gasket 16 can generally comprise a membrane 20, which can be made from a resilient, flexible plastic, rubber, or other suitable material. The membrane can have a concave side 22 and a convex side 24, “dome-shaped,” side wherein the concave side 22 is positioned adjacent the inside surface 18 of the side wall 12 with which the gasket 16 is associated. In this manner, a space 26 is formed between the membrane 20 and the adjacent side wall surface 18, permitting the gasket 16 to compensate for slight size variations in the unit block 14 via displacement of the membrane 20 towards the adjacent surface 18 of the side wall 12. Slits 28, or cuts, can be provided in the dome-shaped membrane 20 to facilitate displacement of the membrane 20 towards the surface 18 of the side wall 12 with which the gasket 16 is associated.

The unit block toy 10 can further comprise a slot 30 in the inside surface 18 of the side walls 12 with which the gasket 16 is associated. The gasket 16 can be retained in the slot 30, for example by a friction fit, or compression fit. However, the gasket 16 can also be further secured in the slot 30 using, for example, an adhesive if desired.

Overview

The unit block toys 10 are proposed to be a series of multi-section toys that feature molded plastic parts A, B, C, D, or sections, that clip onto wooden classroom unit blocks 14 using the aforesaid gasket 16 to compensate for slight size variations in the unit blocks 14. The unit block toy 10 series are contemplated to be thematic, and currently proposed to include such themes as farm animals, dinosaurs, and safari animals. Additional design concepts can include transportation, buildings and people.

A primary feature of the unit block toy 10 is that the parts A, B, C, D, or sections, thereof fit onto existing unit blocks 14. Unit blocks 14 are a building toy comprised of variously-sized, typically hardwood blocks, that are based on a standard set of measurements; the basis of which is the “Unit Block.” A unit block 14 represents one unit of measure, and has standard dimensions of 2.5 inches high by 1.25 inches deep by 5 inches wide.

The series may be packaged, for example, as five animals in a set, with each toy animal comprised of four sections/parts A, B, C, D, e.g., a head section A, a front leg section B, a rear leg section C, and a hindquarter section D. The different sections/parts A, B, C, D of the toy animals are contemplated as being interchangeable, meaning that every head A of one type of animal could be clipped onto a unit block 14 along with the legs B, C and/or hindquarter D of any other type of animal. All parts/sections A, B, C, D can be designed and molded on a consistent axis so that a child can mix and match parts A, B, C, D of different animals to create unique constructions.

As can be understood from the foregoing, the “fit” of the plastic parts/sections A, B, C, D onto the unit blocks 14 can be an important aspect of the usability of the unit block toy 10. To that end, the aforesaid gasket 16 is designed to accommodate slight size variations in different unit blocks 14. As described above, the gasket 16 can be provided in a channel or slot 30 on the inside surface 18 of opposing side walls 12 of each section/part A, B, C, D which clip onto the unit block 14. The gasket 16 can be a slightly raised dome-shaped piece of plastic with a hollow interior, i.e., a membrane 20 having the concave and convex sides 22, 24, respectively, described previously. As described previously, the domed shaped membrane 20 can be scored, or cut, (forming slits or cuts 28) to facilitate the gasket 16 compressing substantially flat against the adjacent side wall 12 if the unit block 14 is not exactly 1.25 inches (35 mm) deep, which can sometimes be the case. Unit blocks 14 are not controlled by any one manufacturer, and are based on a set of standards for which there is no internationally recognized tolerance. In many cases, unit blocks 14 made by different manufacturers may be as much as 2.5 millimeters off in any direction. Thus, the gasket 16 serves to accommodate for this variance in dimension.

The gasket 16 can be made of different materials, but is presently contemplated as being made from a soft plastic such as polypropylene, or PP, which allows for greater flexibility as opposed to a more brittle, hard plastic such as ABS. The slot 30, or channel, on the inside surface 18 of the side walls 12 of the plastic parts/sections A, B, C, D can have an overhanging lip 32 that the side edges 34 of the gasket 16 slide into, which can give it a friction fit, or compression fit. If desired, an adhesive can also be used to further secure the gasket 16 in place, to be less likely to accidentally become dislodged from the channel/slot 30.

An important feature of the gasket mechanism 16 is that it can be used over and over by a child as they slip the parts A, B, C, D on and off of the unit blocks 14 without the gasket 16 wearing down and giving way so that they no longer providing a comfortable fit. The firmness of the engagement of the gaskets 16 with the unit block 14 can be designed so that a toddler-aged child can easily slide the plastic pieces/parts A, B, C, D onto unit blocks 14 of varying thicknesses, yet not have plastic pieces A, B, C, D too easily become disengaged from the unit blocks 14. Consequently, the pressure exerted to slide the plastic pieces A, B, C, D onto the unit blocks 14 should not be so great as to frustrate a child in their inability to slide the pieces A, B, C, D onto, or off of, the unit block 14.

In certain exemplary embodiments, the interior dimension of the plastic pieces A, B, C, D can be sized at 35.5 mm, and the dome-shaped membrane 20 can extend 1.5 mm outward from the inside surface 18 of the associated side walls 12. Each gasket 16 is positioned in the slot 30 on the inside surface 18 of the side walls 12, and allows for flexibility of approximately 0.5 mm, as the membrane 20 can be forced inwards with a slight amount of pressure. Consequently, with one gasket 16 on each opposing side wall 12, the part A, B, C, D can accommodate a unit block 14 with a maximum dimension of 36.5 mm. In the static uncompressed position, each of the pair of gaskets 16 each extend outward 1.5 mm, which provide a minimum interior dimension of 32.5 mm, i.e., 35.5 mm less 3.0 mm total.

Unit blocks 14 are commonly cut using a band saw, then sanded prior to finishing. As a result, it is also likely that some unit blocks 14 will be slightly smaller than the standard dimension. Thus, the gaskets 16 are also designed to provide a sufficient grip on a smaller than standard size unit block 14, in the event the block 14 was less than the standard size of 35 mm, which can often be the case.

Therefore, what has been described above includes exemplary embodiments of a unit block toy 10 adapted to compensate for slight size variations. It is, of course, not possible to describe every conceivable combination of components or methodologies for purposes of this description, and one of ordinary skill in the art may recognize that further combinations and permutations are possible in light of the overall teaching of this disclosure. Accordingly, the description provided herein is intended to be illustrative only, and should be considered to embrace any and all alterations, modifications, and/or variations that fall within the spirit and scope of the appended claims.