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HolidayBuyer's Guide

The next Newton's cradle?

It's for my allergies, OK?

The whole Ball of Whacks

Earth globes are so 2013

This thing


Desktop prism

Floating world

Virtual keyboard

Ferrofluid flask

Kinetic compass desktop sculpture

Crookes radiometer

Tiny beach

Retro steampunk clock

Corporate espionage


Perpetual motion machine

USB typewriter

Playable art ball

Office guest book

Sure, the Newton's cradle reigns supreme as the world's most mesmerizing desktop toy. But if you're looking for a replacement, we've got options for you.

At a mere 18 inches long, the Da Vinci Trebuchet lets you lob a soft clay ball right into your officemate's coffee mug. Theoretically.

Caption by / Photo by Marbles the Brain Store

According to maker BestFire, this gimcrack serves as a pen holder, sterilizer and humidifier and is recommended for office use.

Caption by / Photo by Amazon

In 2004, veteran workplace creativity consultant Roger von Oech developed the Ball of Whacks, a 30-sided polyhedron assembled from 30 tiny magnetic pyramids. More than just a puzzle, the ball can be reassembled in myriad ways, spurring creativity.

Google has bought 7,000 Balls of Whacks for its programmers and developers.

Caption by / Photo by Creative Whack Co.

Desktop globes sure are stately and educational. But you could get a 21st-century upgrade.

Consider a spinning globe of Mars, Titan, Jupiter or the moon instead. Their rotation is powered by solar cells.

If you insist on kicking it old school, there's an Earth spinning globe, too.

Caption by / Photo by ThinkGeek

You're looking at a piece of the Free Universal Construction Kit, a 3D-printed tool available via The Creative Home. Its function: allowing all of your construction sets (Legos, Tinker Toys) to talk to each other.

If that descriptor doesn't sell you, consider: It looks incredibly cool. And it's free.

Caption by / Photo by The Creative Home

Got an executive-size desk? Call a meeting and make the middle managers watch you go for a strike on this 4-foot-long desktop bowling set.

Caption by / Photo by Brookstone

Confuse and dazzle the office cat (or maybe the intern) with this 4.5-inch desktop prism.

Caption by / Photo by ThinkGeek

The Levitron Ion is a magnetic floating globe crafted using NASA imagery. The manufacturer, Fascinations, also makes a gravity-defying top.

Caption by / Photo by Fascinations

This laser-projected virtual keyboard actually works...and it leaves more room on your desk for that 4-foot desktop bowling alley.

Caption by / Photo by Brookstone

An iron-rich fluid in a jar? Check. A magnet on the other side of the jar? Check. The effect? Concept Zero's jarred ferrofluid, which forms peaks and patterns reminiscent of the black oil in The X-Files.

Caption by / Photo by ThinkGeek

Artist Michael Stromberg created this art using walnut, maple, mahogany, zebrawood and a strategically placed magnet.

Caption by / Photo by Uncommon Goods

Glass bulb plus partial vacuum equals vanes that rotate when they come into contact with light ... even flat, fluorescent, office light. This Gerald Vogel version of a Crookes radiometer sells at the Museum of Modern Art online store.

Caption by / Photo by

It ain't Waikiki Beach, but this 7-inch, elegantly packaged "Executive Sandbox" might destress you ... if you have a really, really good imagination.

Caption by / Photo by Brookstone

Reminiscent of an old train scheduling board, this clock, available at Dot & Bo, updates via a flip action every 60 seconds and runs on a single D-cell battery.

Caption by / Photo by Dot & Bo

Face it: An office isn't an office without a little backstabbing. Get ahead of your rivals with this desk-size spy scope made of mahogany and brass.

Caption by / Photo by Brookstone

John Edmark's desk toy -- nay, art -- works like this: twist the thin brass tube back and forth, and the 38 laser-cut wood pieces will swirl rhythmically into a pine cone shape.

Caption by / Photo by

Powered by the sun, ThinkGeek's desk-friendly perpetual motion machine will work until it gets dark. You know. Kind of like you.

Caption by / Photo by ThinkGeek

Bring some old-fashioned pizzazz to your desk with a gadget that links your tablet to a typewriter via USB.

Caption by / Photo by

Everybody loves a colorful ball, right? These interconnected beechwood balls are like a toddler toy for precocious vice presidents.

Caption by / Photo by Marbles the Brain Store

Bosses love to keep employees waiting at their desks while they chat away on the phone. If you are this boss, consider leaving out this tongue-in-cheek guest book.

Caption by / Photo by Marbles the Brain Store
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