When you think of desk toys, you probably imagine a Newton’s cradle, the classic toy with a series of metal balls suspended from small cables. Other traditional time-wasters include pinscreens (stick your hand against a sheet of movable metal pins to make an impression) and the old standby Magic 8 Ball. Those are all still fun diversions, but we’re living in an age of inventiveness and there are many more desk toys to choose from.
Check out these entertaining and unusual options, with toys geared for everyone from gamers to do-it-yourselfers to fidgeters and people looking to bring a little calm into their work environments.
Kikkerland Decision Maker
Cross Newton’s cradle with a pendulum, a Magic 8 Ball, and some magnets and you get Kikkerland’s fun little Decision Maker. Activate it by moving the metal ball and releasing it. It will stop over one of several options: no way, yes, maybe, ask a friend, try again, and definitely. You probably won’t want to rely on it to help you make real business decisions, but it could be useful for silly everyday yes/no questions like “Should I get a sandwich for lunch?” or “Should I buy another desk toy?” Click here to buy on Amazon.com.
The Tiny Arcade started life as a successful Kickstarter project and it delivers exactly what its name promises: a tiny game arcade. The gadget looks like a miniaturized version of the machines you would find in a regular arcade. It features an OLED screen, a selection of free and open-source games, a joystick, two buttons, and a speaker (with volume control). The Tiny Arcade runs on a battery, so you can easily carry it with you around the office. You could become the most popular person in the break room with this cute machine. Click here to buy on Amazon.com.
Solarbotics Marble Machine: Battery Edition
Solarbotics’ original Solar Marble Machine is a fun, DIY kit that propels a marble down a spiral track. But you don’t have to have a corner office with windows to enjoy the same marble action when you have the battery-powered version of the toy. The machine runs on two AAA batteries and sends eight steel balls through its laser-cut wood frame. As a bonus, you get to put it together yourself. It’s a simple process and you’ll get the satisfaction of having assembled your own desk toy. Click here to buy on Amazon.com.
Vat19 Magnetic Thinking Putty
Silly putty is a childhood staple. It’s satisfying to push around and mold with your fingers. Vat19’s magnetic putty updates that old-fashioned silly putty for today. “Millions of tiny micron-sized magnets are embedded in each handful of Magnetic Thinking Putty. Use the included super-strong ceramic magnet to control the putty like a snake charmer,” said Vat19. The putty comes in your choice of black, blue, pink, or silver colors. It’s strange stuff, but it will keep your fingers and your mind occupied when you need a break from your usual office chores. Click here to buy on Amazon.com.
The desktop zen garden has been around a while. It’s a small box of fine sand that comes with a tiny rake and smooth rocks. The Sandscript automatic sand drawing machine is just as soothing, but it’s a whole lot fancier. The gadget uses magnets to move a metal ball around through the sand to create intricate patterns. Choose from randomized or mandala settings. A few shakes smooth out the surface so you can start all over again.
Antsy Labs Fidget Cube
You fidgeters know who you are. You’re constantly flipping a pencil around, tapping on your desk, bobbing your knees, and clicking your pens. The Fidget Cube came to life as a popular Kickstarter project. It’s a small cube you can tuck into your pocket (or leave out on your desk) and it offers a variety of ways to keep your hands busy. The six sides host buttons, a rocker switch, a worry stone-like indentation, tactile gears, a rotating dial, a joystick, and a ball and socket. Some of the buttons are silent, so you can take your Fidget Cube into meetings and quietly fidget away under the table without disturbing your colleagues. Click here to buy on Amazon.com.
Doodling on a notepad is an old office standby. Take it to a more modern level with the 3Doodler, a 3D-printing pen that lets you layer strands of plastic on top of each other to create 3D objects.
It works a little bit like a hot melt glue gun, but it’s much more refined and you can choose from a variety of colored plastics. The plastic cools off extremely quickly, so you don’t have to worry about burning yourself. It can be used for some very elaborate creations as you improve your skills and control. You probably won’t be able to smuggle this into your next team meeting, but you could get away with doodling during a conference call. Click here to buy on Amazon.com.