Toy blocks having panelled construction

Abstract

A construction toy which includes a plurality of similarly contoured molded plastic blocks that can be arranged in inverted triangles and other top heavy constructions. Each block comprises an outer shell of generally cubical shape with each of the end opposing surfaces having a pair of crossed V-shaped notches of right angular shape, the notches extending completely across the block so that the side surfaces of the shell are hourglassshaped. Four triangular panels extend from the side edges of the shell and intersect at the center thereof, the exposed edges of the panels being oriented and dimensioned to lie in the planes defining the crossed V-shaped notches at both ends of the block. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, four elongated rectangular panels extend from the neck portions of the hourglass-shaped side surfaces of the shell and intersect the center of the shell. The invention particularly lends itself to being injection molded in a single-cavity mold.

Claims

1. A toy building block which is suitable as a member of a set of substantially identical blocks for constructional play, comprising: an outer shell of generally cubical shape with each of two end opposing surfaces thereof having a pair of crossed V-shaped notches of essentially right angular shape, each of said notches extending completely across the shell so that the side surfaces of the shell are hourglass-shaped, the elongated vertices of said notches intersecting orthogonally; and four generally trianguLar panels each extending from one of the four parallel edges of said shell to the center thereof so as to meet at said center, the exposed edges of said panels being oriented and dimensioned to lie in the planes defining the crossed V-shaped notches at both ends of said shell. 2. The building block as defined by claim 1 further comprising four elongated rectangular panels extending from the neck portions of the hourglass-shaped side surfaces of said shell and intersecting at the center thereof. 3. The building block as defined by claim 1 further comprising eight generally triangular members forming walls on the notched surfaces at only one end of said shell. 4. The building block as defined by claim 2 further comprising eight generally triangular members forming walls on the notched surfaces at only one end of said shell. 5. The building block as defined by claim 1 wherein said block is completely formed of a single piece of plastic. 6. The building block as defined by claim 2 wherein said block is completely formed of a single piece of plastic. 7. The building block as defined by claim 3 wherein said block is completely formed of a single piece of plastic. 8. The building block as defined by claim 4 wherein said block is completely formed of a single piece of plastic. 9. The building block as defined by claim 1 wherein said block is completely formed of injection molded plastic. 10. The building block as defined by claim 4 wherein said block is completely formed of injection molded plastic. 11. A set of toy building blocks comprising a plurality of blocks as defined in accordance with claim 1. 12. A set of toy building blocks which comprises a plurality of blocks as defined in accordance with claim 4. 13. A set of building blocks which comprises a plurality of blocks as defined in accordance with claim 8.
finite Smith et a1. ttes atet [191 Jan. 29, 1974 TOY BLOCKS HAVING. PANELLED CONSTRUCTION [75] Inventors: John A. Smith, Mercerville, N.J.; Stephen A. Miller, New York, NY. [73] Assignee: Columbia Broadcasting System Inc., New York, NY. {22] Filed: Aug. 15, 1972 [21] Appl. No.: 280,835 [52] US. Cl. 46/25, 46/26 [51] Int. Cl A63]! 33/08 [58] Field of Search 46/23, 24, 25, 26 [56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,708,910 1/1973 Skillman 46/25 3,550,310 12/1970 Bock-Greissau 46/25 Primary Examiner-Louis G. Mancene Assistant ExaminerRobert F. Cutting Attorney, Agent, or F irm-Martin Novack and Spencer E. Olson ABSTRACT A construction toy which includes a plurality of similarly contoured molded plastic blocks that can be arranged in inverted triangles and other top heavy constructions. Each block comprises an outer shell of generally cubical shape with each of the end opposing surfaces having a pair of crossed V-shaped notches of right angular shape, the notches extending completely across the block so that the side surfaces of the shell are hourglass-shaped. Four triangular panels extend from the side edges of the shell and intersect at the center thereof, the exposed edges of the panels being oriented and dimensioned to lie in the planes defining the crossed 'V-shaped notches at both ends of the block. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, four elongated rectangular panels extend from the neck portions of the hourglass-shaped side surfaces of the shell and intersect the center of the shell. The invention particularly lends itself to being injection molded in a single-cavity mold. 13 Claims, 6 Drawing Figures PRIOR ART PATENTEDmas m4 SHEET 1 BF 3 PR/OR ART PATENTEDJAN 29 1974 SHEET 2 0F 3 .fIE. 5 TOY BLOCKS HAVING PANELLED CONSTRUCTION BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION modified form of toy blocks of the type which have been marketed in the United States for some time by Creative Playthings division of CBS Inc. under the trademark NAEF SPIEL and known as Star Blocks. The blocks currently being marketed, one of which is illustrated in FIG. 1, are formed from a solid block of wood, initially of cubical shape, having in two opposite end surfaces a pair of crossed V-shaped notches of right angular shape cut therein and extending across the block. The two ends having the notches have the appearance of a four-pointed star, the other four side surfaces having identical hourglass shapes. The surfaces of the notches in the mating blocks serve to lock them together whereby a set of the blocks can be arranged in a variety of constructions, including topheavy constructions, such as inverted triangles or the structure illustrated in FIG. 2. Such constructions are not generally possible with conventional cubical building blocks. Although blocks of this type have wide appealand have been generally accepted, the fact that they are formed of wood makes them relatively expensive which, in turn, somewhat limits their market. Wood of high quality must be used to preclude warping and cracking with changes in humidity, and cutting of the V-shaped notches with the required precision is timeconsuming and thus costly. Moreover, in order to offer the possibility of a variety of designs as to color in a structural arrangement of the blocks, it is necessary to paint them individually. Also, since the blocks are intended for use by small children, care must be used in selecting paints which are non-toxic. These operations involve significant material and labor expense which contributes to a relatively high cost of manufacture. With the current widespread use of plastics in the construction of toys, including toy building blocks, it might at first appear a simple matter to mold a block of the same shape from a suitable plastic material. However, the desired external shape of the piece is such that to mold a block of appropriate size as a solid block would require a two-cavity mold which presents serious shortcomings. For example, a seam-line would generally appear on the visible surfaces and detract from the appearance as well as the stackability of the blocks. Moreover, with a block of a size to be conveniently handled by children, say, a2 inch cube, the amount of plastic required for a solid block, and the time required for cooling of relatively heavy sections, would preclude molding of blocks at a practical price. Accordingly, it is the object of the present invention to provide a toy building block having the general appearance and constructional features of the star block but which can be conveniently and economically moldable from plastic material. SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION Briefly, the building block according to the invention has an outer shell of generally cubical shape with each of the end opposing surfaces thereof having a pair of crossed V-shaped notches of essential right angular shape. The notches extend completely across the block so that the side surfaces of the shell are hourglassshaped. Four generally triangular panels extend from the side edges of the shell and intersect at the center thereof, the exposed edges of the panels being oriented and dimensioned to lie in the planes defining the cross V-shaped notches at both ends of the block. In the preferred embodiment of the invention, four elongated rectangular panels extend from the neck portions of the hourglass-shaped side surfaces of the shell and intersect at the center thereof. In this embodiment, eight generally triangular members forrri walls on the notched surfaces at only one end of the shell so that this end presents a solid appearance. The preferred embodiment particularly lends itself to being molded in a single-cavity mold, the structural intersecting panels being formed by coring out the material between them. Thus, one notched end of the preferred embodiment has a skeletal appearance, whereas the other walled end of the block appears solid andclosely resembles the prior art star block formed of wood. The blocks may be injection molded from high-impact plastic in a variety of colors. A single molding operation which requires no after-finishing is sufficient for fabrication. Since the skeletal end of the block has four distinctly defined planes (as does the walled end), it can be used in constructional play with the same build ing options as blocks having all enclosed surfaces. Further features and advantages of the invention will become more readily apparent from the following detailed description when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings. 1 BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a prior art wooden Star Block; FIG. 2 is an elevational view illustrating a typical building construction that can be made with the blocks; FIG. 3 is an elevational perspective bottom end view of a block in accordance with one embodiment of the invention; FIG. 4 is an elevational perspective top end view of the block of FIG. 3; I FIG. 5 is a' perspective cross-sectional view of th block of FIG. 3 as taken through a section defined by arrows 55; and FIG. 6 is an end perspective view of a block in accordance with another embodiment of the invention. DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT bodiment of a toy building block 10 in accordance with' the invention. The block 10 is preferably formed of a rigid plastic in a manner that will become clearer from subsequent description. The block consists of an outer plastic shell that can be conveniently thought of as having originally been a hollow cube. The shell 11 has a shape that would result from taking crossed V-shaped notches of right angular shape out of each of opposite ends of an originally cubical shell. This would leave the shell with four hourglass-shaped sides labeled in the drawings by the reference numerals 12, l3, l4 and 15. FIGS. 3 and Sshow one end of the block, designated as the bottom end, as revealing four triangular shaped panels labeled 16, l7, l8 and 19. The panels are seen to extend from the side edges of the shell to intersect and join at a center post 20. The exposed edges of the four panels are oriented and dimensioned to lie in the planes defining the crossed V-shaped notches in the shell 1 1. The panels, being symmetrical, also define the corresponding planes at the other (top) end of the block. This is clear from FIG. 4 wherein the planes are more easily discernable since eight triangular members form walls on the notched surfaces. Portions of these surfaces are also visable in FIG. 5. The walls 21 and 22 are seen to be in a plane that is perpendicular to the plane of walls 23 and 24, and these two planes constitute a single V-shaped notch. Similarly, the walls 25 and 26 are in a plane which is perpendicular to another plane that includes walls 27 and 28. As stated, the planes at the bottom end of the block (visible in FIGS. 3 and are defined by the edges of the triangular panels rather than by actual surfaces. The blocks are preferably further provided with structural support in the form of four elongated rectangular panels 29, 30, 31 and 32. These rectangular panels extend from the narrowest or neck portions of the hourglass-shaped side surfaces of the shell 11 and also join at the post 20. At each end of the block, the edges of the rectangular panels are seen to define the intersections of the planes called out above. From the above description it will be appreciated that the block of the invention particularly lends itself to be molded in a single-cavity mold. In such an operation, the top and side surfaces of the block would be formed against the mold cavity and the mold core would form the inner surfaces and panels. An aperture 40 in the post is provided to allow thepost to cool evenly, since this portion of the block would normally be thicker than other parts of the block. It should be noted in this context that the post 20 exists only as the joining reference for the recited panels and has no other distinct purpose. The eight protruding points of the block are formed in a truncated manner in the mold for ultimate safety during play. The resultant small flattened areas also allow certain stacking configurations that are not possible with sharp corners. Referring to FIG. 6, there is shown another embodiment of the invention. This embodiment is the same as that illustrated in FIGS. 3, 4 and 5 except that the eight triangular members forming walls ,on the notched surfaces of the top end of the block are absent. The block can still, however, be used to make desired configurations that were possible with the prior embodiment since, as previously described, the panel edges define the planes of Vshaped notches that allow stacked configurations such as that shown in FIG. 2. The invention has been described with reference to specific embodiments, but it will be appreciated that variations within the spirit and scope of the invention will occur to those skilled in the art. For example, the embodiment of FIG. 5 has been described as having eight members forming walls at one end of the block If desired, some of these walls may be omitted from the construction, although such construction is not preferred from a fabrication standpoint. We claim: 1. A toy building block which is suitable as a member of a set of substantially identical blocks for constructional play, comprising: an outer shell of generally cubical shape with each of two end opposing surfaces thereof having a pair of crossed V-shaped notches of essentially right angular shape, each of said notches extending completely across the shell so that the side surfaces of the shell are hourglass-shaped, the elongated vertices of said notches intersecting orthogonally; and four generally triangular panels each extending from one of the four parallel edges of said shell to the center thereof so as to meet at said center, the exposed edges of said panels being oriented and dimensioned to lie in the planes defining the crossed V-shaped notches at both ends of said shell. 2. The building block as defined by claim 1 further comprising four elongated rectangular panels extending from the neck portions of the hourglass-shaped side surfaces of said shell and intersecting at the center thereof. 3. The building block as defined by claim 1 further comprising eight generally triangular members forming walls on the notched surfaces at only one end of said shell. 4. The building block as defined by claim 2 further comprising eight generally triangular members forming walls on the notched surfaces at only one end of said shell. 5. The building block asdefined by claim 1 wherein said block is completely formed of a single piece of plastic. 1 v 6. The building block as defined by claim 2 wherein said block is completely formed of a single piece of plastic. 7. The building block as defined by claim 3 wherein said block is completely formed of a single piece of plastic. 8. The building block as defined by claim 4 wherein said block is completely formed of a single piece of plastic. 9. The building block as defined by claim 1 wherein said block is completely formed of injection molded plastic. i p 10. The building block as defined by claim 4 wherein said block is completely formed of injection molded plastic. l l. A set of toy building blocks comprising a plurality of blocks as defined in accordance with claim 1. 12. A set of toy building blocks which comprises a plurality of blocks as defined in accordance with claim 4. 13. A set of building blocks which comprises a plurality of blocks as defined in accordance with claim 8. , t t t l

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    US-5169352-ADecember 08, 1992Ole Friis Petersen ApsSystem of structural form bodies
    US-6568143-B2May 27, 2003Withrow Block, L.L.C.Interlocking construction components
    US-D807962-SJanuary 16, 2018Kids Ii, Inc.Activity toy
    WO-2008086956-A1July 24, 2008Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V.Interlocking component
    WO-9113663-A1September 19, 1991Ole Friis Petersen ApsSysteme d'elements structurels