28 toy stores for cube dwellers

Unlike your car, it's not a good thing to have your desk look like the way you got it. Give it some flair with good office gadgets from these sites.

Josh Lowensohn Former Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
Josh Lowensohn
6 min read

If your workplace is the couch at the local Starbucks, turn back now--this list is not for you. This guide is for those who work diligently at desks. This often small rectangle of space can become a canvas to display your personality to all. We've rounded up and categorized 28 places to buy things to take your barren desk to the next level.

      Emporiums/Cornucopias, etc.

      Places to get several types of items in one place

Keep new projects from making their way to your inbox for good with this catapult from ThinkGeek.com. Thinkgeek.com

  • ThinkGeek is one of the better "everything under one roof" sites. Especially great is their user picture section, which lets purchasers post pictures of themselves using the product in real life. Stock photography be damned.
  • Perpetual Kid is another solid directory of good office, and general fun items. My personal favorite is the robot calculator that doubles as a stapler magnet and Post-it Note holder.
  • Hammacher Schlemmer. You've certainly gazed lovingly at one of these catalogs while stuck on a flight. The online store is no different; there are a ton of useful and interesting office gadgets to make your desktop a playground (with taste, of course).
  • Dealextreme has a little bit of everything. What separates it from the pack? Their weird gadgets section. The name doesn't lie. For example, get one of these to take notes at your next meeting.
  • Geekstuff4u has a good, clear listing of geeky gadgetry to adorn your cube. I have trouble deciding between the USB squid drive, and pop-up pirate USB hub that requires stabbing a pirate with plastic swords to get him to appear. Charming.
  • Kleargear is another handful of amusing and/or interesting gadgetry to buy. Worth checking out is their entire section dedicated to cubicle decor. Get an early start on Halloween with this gaudy skeleton you can attach to the top of your computer monitor. When people ask what it is, be sure to make some lame "spreadsheet from hell got loose" joke.
  • Firebox. Not to be confused with the popular Web browser, Firebox is neither on fire, nor a box. It does, however, have a lot of cool gadgets worth putting on your desk. The best for lunchtime breaks and releasing steam? The Rock Beat Drumsticks, which let you do an air guitar--except with drums. Your co-workers will love you.
  • X-tremegeek.com is a lot like ThinkGeek. You'll find many of the same products at comparable prices. Check out their cubicle warfare section, which lets you rig up your desk for real life desktop tower defense.
  • Fat Brain Toys. Don't let the educational motto fool you, Fat Brain has a great selection of toys to unleash your inner child. If you're the kind of person who wears a suit to work, why not get a special "executive" Sea Monkey tank to match your style.
  • Things You Never Knew Existed isn't the best looking site of the bunch, but it's got a decent selection of desk kitsch-worthy items worth looking at. My favorite is the Milton action figure from Office Space.
  • Artsy fartsy and/or handmade

    You can't be bothered with talking corn on the cob--you want need to show off your culture

  • MOMA's store has something the others don't--a namesake with museums that house masterpieces of modern artistry. Your desk would look a little better with this half plant, half tamagotchi though.
  • Uncommon goods is true to its name with some really neat stuff that may not be cheap, but it's good looking and practical. My favorite is the Stationoli desk set, which has a calculator, stapler, pencil sharpener, staple remover, digital alarm clock, Post-it Note and paper-clip holder all in a bundle that's held together by super strong magnets. Check it out below:
  • UncommonGoods.com

  • Etsy (review) is a site that lets you browse and shop through other people's handmade goods. Their geekery section is full of items you won't find on any of the other online stores.
  • mimoco is the place to go for "art toy" USB drives. These suckers aren't cheap compared to other USB mini drives, but where else can you get a USB storm trooper from Star Wars that lets you ferry your Word docs home and back?
  • Super geeky

    Some of these take a little DIY love; others are just plain nerdtacular

  • Adafruit Industries is the same place that supplies the cool LED Digg buttons counters. There's a lot of fun, light-up stuff that involves circuit boards and a soldering iron, but the results are fantastically geeky.
  • USBgeek. There's a reason that "universal" is a part of the USB acronym--there's not much that hasn't been made to plug into this standard port. You'll find some pretty wacky stuff here, like the USB RC car.
    If you want your very own Digg button, check out Adafruit Industries. CNET Networks

  • Physlink has a great store full of scientific shwag. Right now they're doing a sale on magnets. Just keep them away from your hard drive.
  • American Science & Surplus has a huge selection of gadgetry for your desktop, and has a feel similar to the old Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalogs from the early 1900s.
  • Podbrix might look like regular Lego bricks to some people, but they're carefully mastered pieces of art that often poke fun at the iPod advertising campaigns and Apple Inc. in general. The sets tend to run on the expensive side (for Legos at least), and sell out extremely quickly.
  • Computergear is full of some super nerdy items to adorn your desk with. My pick? Put the Rrrrrr back in your CD-R with this pirate CD stacker.
  • Archie McPhee is kind of like that bad junk store you see at the mall. It's clearly a bad idea to go in there, but there are always one or two items that would really complete the cube. In Archie McPhee's case, the must have is the remote control, hopping, yodelling lederhosen--sure to make your co-workers wonder if your company ever did a background check.
  • Kikkerland (not to be confused with Costco's in-house Kirkland brand) makes some really slick looking office kitsch. Be sure to check out their windups section, which is full of some fancy windup creatures. You actually have to buy their stuff elsewhere, but there's a page for that here.
  • AudioCubes has tons of geeky stuff. Be sure to check out the Tomy Sunny Nohohon People Name Card Holder, which will hold a business card and calm you down with its solar-powered nodding.

    British Invasion

    These are the places with good items at good prices, as long as you're in the UK

  • I want One of Those. This site should technically be in the emporium section, but it's based out of the UK. Want to freak out your co-workers? Pick up a magic expanding bunny or mushroom.
    J-me's tape dispenser is styled after a cassette tape. Get it? j-me.co.uk

  • Gadgetshop is also more suited to the emporium section. They've got some great stuff, though, like the Verballs line, which are little speaker and microphone sets dressed up like creatures that can be used on Skype.
  • Suck UK. Despite the name, this site doesn't suck. In fact, it's filled with a lot of goodies, including this moddable coffee cup that lets you tell everyone how you like your tea or coffee--even if you're the one who has to make it.
  • Gizoo.co.uk is home to a hearty selection of gadgets and office toys. My favorite of the bunch is the Echo Bot, which is setup to playback whatever 10-second message you record on it when someone walks by its motion detector.
  • J-Me is more geared toward home items, but if you're a music buff, their cassette tape Scotch tape dispenser is fantastic.
  • These are clearly just a few online stores for gadgetry. If you feel we've left some good ones out (which is likely), leave them in the comments.