Odds are that your office desk has a few toys on it -- you might have a Rubik's Cube, an action figure or some sort of kinetic art. But they may not be right for idly fiddling with while you brainstorm, though, or for relieving stress by mashing stuff together. For that, you might want to check out some of the desk toys from Speks, a company that specializes in "mashable, smashable, buildable" desk toys made of rare earth magnets. And right now, for Cheapskate readers on everything storewide when you use promo code CNET30 at checkout.
Speks is best known for its sets of eponymous tiny neodymium magnets, but there are a number of different toys on the site. Here are my favorites.
This is the stuff. Each box of Speks comes with 512 small (2.5mm) magnetic spheres, which you can form into shapes, pull into a long chain, wrap around your wrist as a makeshift bracelet or turn into a miniature version of the time portal from Star Trek's City on the Edge of Forever. You can get a single package, or combine multiple sets of Speks together for larger projects.
Speks are available in a wide assortment of colors and come with a small metal base on which you can stick your designs, or you can go free-form -- after all, Speks are about unlocking creativity. Each package comes with the common-sense warning to keep them away from children, because these are powerful magnets and can be dangerous if swallowed.
Each package of Supers includes three 33mm supersize magnets that stick together with the kind of tenacity you generally only see from a defiant teenager. Think of them as an artistic desk organizer -- you can use them as a paperweight or stick them to small items like paperclips. Or just turn the balls into a sculpture. You might think your options are limited with just three balls, but I've turned mine into a dog.
The Super balls come in three colors and arrive with their own magnetic silcone base.
If spheres of varying size aren't your particular jam, maybe some Tetris-like blocks are more your speed. Each Unblocks package includes a pair of L-shaped segments and a pair of straight segments; combine them however you wish, or add them to other sets of Unblocks. They're magnetized, of course, and the polarity of each block can make them stick together or interfere with each other in interesting ways.
You can get Unbocks in eight colors or finished in aluminum.