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United States Patent Application 20180071651
Kind Code A1
Wakim; Marc-Henry ;   et al. March 15, 2018

MODULAR BLOCK TOY COMPATIBLE PANELS AND STORAGE UNIT ASSEMBLED THEREFROM

Abstract

A modular block toy compatible panels and storage unit assembled therefrom for includes modular panels that have at least one surface, or portion thereof, that is compatible with common block toys such as LEGO.TM., DUPLO.TM., and other compatible blocks are described. Each panel may have at least one connector or at least one connector portion for connecting to one or more other panels. The panels are modular in nature and can be used in a multitude of ways to create flat, upright, or three-dimensional structures. The present invention also relates to a storage unit assembled using at least one modular block-toy-compatible panel.


Inventors: Wakim; Marc-Henry; (Goodview, MN) ; Barwald; Dustin Alan; (Winona, MN) ; Sauer; Jesse; (Rochester, MN)
Applicant:
Name City State Country Type

Brian's Toys Inc.

Fountain City

WI

US
Assignee: Brian's Toys, Inc
Fountain City
WI

Family ID: 1000002858222
Appl. No.: 15/697605
Filed: September 7, 2017


Related U.S. Patent Documents

Application NumberFiling DatePatent Number
62393832Sep 13, 2016

Current U.S. Class: 1/1
Current CPC Class: A63H 33/108 20130101; A63H 33/101 20130101
International Class: A63H 33/10 20060101 A63H033/10

Claims



1. A modular storage and block compatible system configured to engage blocks having female couplers, said system including: a plurality of panels, each of said panels including a first surface, a second surface, and an edge extending between said first and second surfaces; a plurality of nubs, each of said panels having at least a portion thereof being covered with said nubs, said nubs being configured to engage blocks; and a plurality of connectors, each of said panels having at least one connectors attached thereto and positioned on an associated edge thereof, said connectors releasably coupling said panels together.

2. The modular storage and block compatible system according to claim 1, wherein each of said panels has a geometric shape.

3. The modular storage and block compatible system according to claim 2, wherein said geometric shape is selected from rectangles and triangles.

4. The modular storage and block compatible system according to claim 1, wherein said first and second surfaces each having said nubs positioned thereon.

5. The modular storage and block compatible system according to claim 4, wherein an entirety of said first and second surfaces being covered with said nubs.

6. The modular storage and block compatible system according to claim 4, wherein said nubs on said first surface have a different size than said nubs on said second surface.

7. The modular storage and block compatible system according to claim 1, wherein each of said connectors includes a holder portion and a snap-in portion.

8. The modular storage and block compatible system according to claim 7, wherein said holder portion includes two prongs spaced apart a distance such that a width of said snap-in portion releasably receives said prongs.

9. The modular storage and block compatible system according to claim 8, wherein said snap in portion includes a pair of divots extending into said edge, said divots positioned adjacent to and on either side of said snap-in portion, said divots of one of said panels receiving said prongs of another of said panels.

10. The modular storage and block compatible system according to claim 8, wherein said snap-in portion has a pair of extensions, said extensions being positioned on opposite ends of said snap-in portion, said extensions being fittable into corresponding recesses in each of said prongs.

11. The modular storage and block compatible system according to claim 1, wherein each of said connectors is an articulating connector such that connected ones of said panels are positionable into angles relative to each other, said angles being between at least -150.degree. to 150.degree..

12. A modular storage and block compatible system configured to engage blocks having female couplers, said system including: a plurality of panels, each of said panels including a first surface, a second surface, and an edge extending between said first and second surfaces, each of said panels having a geometric shape, said geometric shape being selected from rectangles and triangles; a plurality of nubs, each of said panels having at least a portion thereof being covered with said nubs, said nubs being configured to engage blocks, said first and second surfaces each having said nubs positioned thereon, said nubs on said first surface having a different size than said nubs on said second surface; a plurality of connectors, each of said panels having at least one connectors attached thereto, said connectors releasably coupling said panels together, each of said connectors including: a holder portion; a snap-in portion; said holder portion including two prongs spaced apart a distance such that a width of said snap-in portion releasably receives said prongs; said snap in portion including a pair of divots extending into said edge, said divots positioned adjacent to and on either side of said snap-in portion, said divots of one of said panels receiving said prongs of another of said panels; said snap-in portion having a pair of extensions, said extensions being positioned on opposite ends of said snap-in portion, said extensions being fittable into corresponding recesses in each of said prongs; and each of said connectors being an articulating connector such that connected ones of said panels are positionable into angles relative to each other, said angles being between at least -150.degree. to 150.degree..
Description



CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] I hereby claim the benefit under 35 U.S.C. Section 119(e) incorporate herein U.S. Provisional Patent Application 62/393,832 filed on Sep. 13, 2016.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

[0002] Not Applicable

THE NAMES OF THE PARTIES TO A JOINT RESEARCH AGREEMENT

[0003] Not Applicable

INCORPORATION-BY-REFERENCE OF MATERIAL SUBMITTED ON A COMPACT DISC OR AS A TEXT FILE VIA THE OFFICE ELECTRONIC FILING SYSTEM

[0004] Not Applicable

STATEMENT REGARDING PRIOR DISCLOSURES BY THE INVENTOR OR JOINT INVENTOR

[0005] Not Applicable

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

(1) Field of the Invention

(2) Description of Related Art Including Information Disclosed Under 37 CFR 1.97 and 1.98

[0006] The disclosure and prior art relates to modular block toy compatible panel devices and more particularly pertains to a new modular block toy compatible panel device for allowing panels, which are connectable in flat or three-dimensional shapes, to interact with toy blocks and function as a storage assembly.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0007] An embodiment of the disclosure meets the needs presented above by generally comprising modular panels that have at least a portion of one surface that is compatible with common block toys. In particular embodiments, a given panel may have at least one connector or at least one connector portion for connecting to one or more other panels. The panels are modular in nature and can be used in a multitude of ways to create flat, upright, or three-dimensional structures.

[0008] In one embodiment the present invention includes a plurality of panels. Each of the panels includes a first surface, a second surface, and an edge extending between the first and second surfaces. Each of the panels has at least a portion thereof that is covered with a plurality of nubs. The nubs are configured to engage blocks. A plurality of connectors is provided and each of the panels has at least one connectors attached thereto and positioned on an associated edge thereof. The connectors releasably couple the panels together.

[0009] The present invention also relates to a storage unit assembled using at least one modular block-toy-compatible panel.

[0010] LEGO.TM., DUPLO.TM., and compatible blocks are world renown toys. Innovative products that interact and are compatible with these block toys are always welcomed by consumers. Products that further creative play and construction are especially welcomed.

[0011] The current invention describes modular panels that have a portion of at least one surface that is compatible with LEGO.TM., DUPLO.TM., and compatible blocks. The panels can be used separately or in combination to provide a relatively flat playing surface. The panels can also be placed on edge to be used as a backdrop for play, or assembled into three-dimensional structure, or any combination thereof. In addition, the three-dimensional structures can be used to conveniently store the LEGO.TM., DUPLO.TM., and compatible blocks within its chamber. Because of the modular nature of the panels, the uses and configurations are limited only by the user's imagination.

[0012] There has thus been outlined, rather broadly, the more important features of the disclosure in order that the detailed description thereof that follows may be better understood, and in order that the present contribution to the art may be better appreciated. There are additional features of the disclosure that will be described hereinafter and which will form the subject matter of the claims appended hereto.

[0013] The objects of the disclosure, along with the various features of novelty which characterize the disclosure, are pointed out with particularity in the claims annexed to and forming a part of this disclosure.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWING(S)

[0014] The disclosure will be better understood and objects other than those set forth above will become apparent when consideration is given to the following detailed description thereof. Such description makes reference to the annexed drawings wherein:

[0015] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of first surfaces of modular block-toy-compatible panels in accordance with embodiments of the invention.

[0016] FIG. 2 is a perspective view of second surfaces of the panels of FIG. 1 in accordance with embodiments of the invention.

[0017] FIG. 3 is a front perspective view of the panels of FIG. 1 combined to form a relatively flat playing surface in accordance with embodiments of the invention.

[0018] FIG. 4 is a front perspective of the panels of FIG. 1 partially assembled into a combination structure in accordance with embodiments of the invention.

[0019] FIG. 5 is a rear perspective of the panels of FIG. 1 fully assembled into a three-dimensional storage unit in accordance with embodiments of the invention.

[0020] FIG. 6 is a front perspective of panels assembled into an alternate shape of storage unit in accordance with embodiments of the invention.

[0021] FIG. 7 is a rear perspective of panels assembled into an alternate shape of storage unit in accordance with embodiments of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0022] With reference now to the drawings, and in particular to FIGS. 1 through 7 thereof, a new modular block toy compatible panel device embodying the principles and concepts of an embodiment of the disclosure and generally designated by the reference numeral 1 will be described. The embodiments herein described are not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise forms disclosed. They are chosen and described to explain the principles of the invention and the application of the method to practical uses so that others skilled in the art may practice the invention.

[0023] Many products are designed to be compatible with traditional LEGO.TM., DUPLO.TM., and other compatible blocks. However, modular panels with at least a portion of one surface that is toy block compatible is not yet available to consumers. One example of such a panel 2 is shown in FIGS. 1-7.

[0024] As depicted, the panels 2 each have a first surface 4 and a second surface 6. The first surface 4 and the second surface 6 can be covered in nubs 8 that are compatible with LEGO.TM., DUPLO.TM., and other compatible blocks (an example of these blocks are indicated by reference number 100 in FIG. 5). The panels 2, as shown in FIGS. 1-7, have the entirety of the first surface 4 and the second surface 6 covered in nubs 8. Alternatively, a portion of the first surface 4 or second surface 6 could be covered in nubs 8, perhaps in a pattern or specialized design.

[0025] As shown, the first surface 4 has large nubs 8L (see, for example, FIG. 1) and the second surface 6 has small nubs 8S (see, for example, FIG. 2). Other variations are contemplated by the invention. For instance, either or both of the first surface 4 or second surface 6 could have no nubs 8. Such `plain` panels 2 could interact with panels 2 with nubs 8 in various configurations.

[0026] Alternatively, the first surface 4 and the second surface 6 could have the same sized nubs 8 (both nubs 8L or both nubs 8S, for example). In addition, the size of nubs 8 need not have to be uniform on either or both of the first surface 4 or second surface 6. In other words, portions of either or both of the first surface 4 or the second surface 6 of a panel 2 may have some large nubs 8L and some small nubs 8S. The different sized nubs 8 can be distributed in a pattern (top half/bottom half, designs, or the like). What is shown in FIGS. 1-7 are straight-forward embodiments, but is in no way intended to be limiting.

[0027] The panels 2 are shown only as squares in FIGS. 1-5. However, the panels 2 could be any shape (rectangle, triangle, circle, octagon, or the like) and still be within the scope of the invention. See FIGS. 6 and 7 as further, non-limiting, examples. In addition, although depicted in FIGS. 1-7 as a particular size, the panels 2 could be any size, i.e. larger or smaller than what is depicted.

[0028] In the embodiments shown, each panel 2 has at least one connector 10. The connector 10 has a holder portion 12 and a snap-in portion 14. The holder portion 12 has two prongs 16 that are spaced a distance d apart, where the distance apart is essentially the same as the width w of the snap-in portion 14. The width w of the snap-in portion 14 may be slightly smaller than the distance d apart of the prongs 16 so as to facilitate removal to the snap-in portion 14 from the holder portion 12, but needs to be tight enough so as to not have the snap-in portion 14 come loose at inopportune times.

[0029] The edge 18 of the panel 2 may have divots 20 on either side of the snap-in portion 14 so as to accommodate the prongs 16 when the connector 10 is assembled. In addition, the snap-in portion 14 may have extensions 22 on either side that fit into corresponding recesses 24 on the prongs 16. While the connector 10 is being described as having bilateral symmetry (two divots 20, two extensions 22, etc.), the connector 10 could in fact have one side that was constructed differently than the other. In other words, one side of the connector 10 could be more permanently attached than the snap-in design described, while the other could be snap-in design as described.

[0030] In addition, each panel 2 will have at least one of a holder portion 12 or a snap in portion 14. The connector 10 is formed when two panels 2 are joined together by the holder portion 12 of a first panel 2 receives the snap in portion 14 of a second panel 2.

[0031] As shown in FIGS. 1-7, the connector 10 is located between any two panels 2. Of course, other embodiments may have a connector 10 only between two panels 2, with the rest of the panels 2 being more permanently fixed together. Likewise, even though the panels 2 shown in FIGS. 1-7 show a single connector 10 between them, there could be more than one connector 10 between any give two panels 2.

[0032] The articular connector 10 shown allows for the panels 2 to be assembled, disassembled, and reassembled in various configurations. The connector 10 allows the panels 2 at an angle in relation to one another. The angle could be from -180 to 180 degrees, from -170 to 170 degrees, from -160 to 160 degrees, or from -150 to 150 degrees.

[0033] FIGS. 3 and 4 show non-limiting examples of other ways in which the panels 2 can be configured per the user's desire. One use for the panels 2 is to form a storage unit 26. Fully formed storage units 26 are shown in FIGS. 5-7.

[0034] A storage unit 26 will have at least a portion of one face 28 (equivalent to the first surface 4 or second surface 6 of a constituent panel 2) with block toy compatible nubs 14. Each panel 2 of the storage unit 26 could equal one side 30 of a storage unit 26, but any given side 30 could be made from several panels 2. Thus, several smaller panels 2 could be assembled into a large storage unit 26. Alternatively, the panels 2 could be sized so as to create storage unit 26 of different sizes. One can imagine smaller sizes of panels 2 to be used to create storage units 26 to act as novelty items or larger sizes of panels 2 assembled into something akin to a toy chest.

[0035] The storage units 26 as described herein can be used to store popular block toys or other items while simultaneously providing a play surface for use with LEGO.TM., DUPLO.TM., and compatible blocks. Because of the ability to disassemble the panels 2 of the storage unit 26 consumers can be creative in building. In addition, because of the connector 10, consumers can mix and match various panels 2 create innumerable play surfaces. The panels 2 can be rearranged into any configuration, such as placing one or more panel 2 on edge to create a backdrop for play, among other uses. The modular nature of the panels 2 expand a user's creative options and as thus described has many functionalities.

[0036] The modular block-toy-compatible panels 2, and storage unit 26 assembled therefrom, may be constructed with any suitable material such as plastic, metal, or wood. In certain embodiments, the material used will be a plastic, such as, in one non-limiting example, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) plastic.

[0037] In accordance with the provisions of the patent statutes, the present invention has been described in what is considered to represent its preferred embodiments. However, it should be noted that the invention can be practiced otherwise than as specifically illustrated and described without departing from its spirit or scope.

[0038] With respect to the above description then, it is to be realized that the optimum dimensional relationships for the parts of an embodiment enabled by the disclosure, to include variations in size, materials, shape, form, function and manner of operation, assembly and use, are deemed readily apparent and obvious to one skilled in the art, and all equivalent relationships to those illustrated in the drawings and described in the specification are intended to be encompassed by an embodiment of the disclosure.

[0039] Therefore, the foregoing is considered as illustrative only of the principles of the disclosure. Further, since numerous modifications and changes will readily occur to those skilled in the art, it is not desired to limit the disclosure to the exact construction and operation shown and described, and accordingly, all suitable modifications and equivalents may be resorted to, falling within the scope of the disclosure. In this patent document, the word "comprising" is used in its non-limiting sense to mean that items following the word are included, but items not specifically mentioned are not excluded. A reference to an element by the indefinite article "a" does not exclude the possibility that more than one of the element is present, unless the context clearly requires that there be only one of the elements.

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