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50 mesmerizing desk toys that could replace your Newton's cradle

These stress toys and mind-benders will space you out -- in a good way.

Leslie Gornstein
Leslie Gornstein is a senior editor with CBS Interactive. For the past two decades, she's covered consumer and B-to-B tech; biotech; entertainment and various other subjects that seemed interesting at the time. She's the author of The A-List Playbook (Skyhorse) and she lives in Los Angeles.
Leslie Gornstein
1 of 58 ScienceGeek/Amazon

Newton's cradle 2.0

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 a lot of ideas. (This story was originally posted in 2019 and has been recently updated with a handful of new picks.)

Take ScienceGeek's twist on the classic office toy: It changes color as the suspended LED-light balls swing. 

2 of 58 RP Minis/Amazon

Advertise a tiny car wash

You won't be able to look away from this wiggling-tube man as he dances the day away. One review describes him as "someone you can really count on."

3 of 58 Wewinn/Amazon

Fidget in style

A fidget spinner for the professional who still fidgets, this grown-up toy promises brass gears, an aluminum frame -- and lots of spin time.  

4 of 58 Tiny Arcade/Amazon

A video game you can hide from your boss

Chase down tiny ghosts fueled by tiny power pellets on this mini Ms. Pac-Man video game that fits on a keychain. 

5 of 58 Sunnytech/Amazon

Coffee mate

Put Sunnytech's Stirling-engine contraption on top of your morning mug of hot coffee, and watch it whirl and hear it clink. When it stops, you'll know your beverage has reached a pleasing drinking temperature. 

6 of 58 Joeyank/Amazon

Fidgeting is futile

This fidget cube looks like a regular spinner that's been assimilated by the Borg. It's really satisfying to play with, too.

7 of 58 Underground Toys/Amazon

Who do you love?

On Doctor Who, the Adipose might have been useless, lumpen, space-alien creatures, but in the office, a toy version makes for a fine -- and squeezable -- stress toy. 

8 of 58 MagneBalls/Amazon

Have a ball

This is not just another magnetic-ball set. This is a set of 216 Magneballs magnetic balls that you can use as a stress-reliever, or as an excuse to make a TIE fighter.  

9 of 58 YaYa Cat/Amazon

A little beauty for your cubicle

The soothing motion and bubbles of this desktop sandscape will keep you calm, even during those terrible conference calls.

10 of 58 Nalakuvara/Amazon

Extremely mini golf

Now you can take golf course meetings without ever having to put on plaid golf pants. Or even put on pants at all, if you work from home. You do you.

11 of 58 Avtion/Amazon


Practice your basketball skills without leaving your office or having to shower in public.

12 of 58 Kikkerland/Amazon

Magnetic decision maker

Can't decide whether to blow off that meeting? Ask Kikkerland's handy magnetic decision maker. (Just make sure it's a yes or no question.) 

13 of 58 Bruce Charles Designs/Amazon

Get in tip-top shape

If you're wound up like a top, then unwind with this premium spinning top. 

14 of 58 RP Minis/Amazon

Play tiny cornhole

You'll never get anything done at the office again when you start challenging your colleagues to tiny cornhole. We're sorry, and you're welcome.

15 of 58 Willcomes/Amazon

A totally useless-but-fascinating box

Per its manufacturer, Willcomes, this wooden box doesn't do anything, except dare you to turn it on, whereupon it turns itself off. Hours of good, brain-restorative fun.  

16 of 58 Digital Energy/Amazon

Get in the flow

Hey, it's a kinetic flow ring! Um, what's a kinetic flow ring? Allow Digital Energy to explain: "Think of it as a Slinky for your arm."

17 of 58 ThinkGeek/Amazon

Need coffee, stat!

This 350-milliliter beaker mug from ThinkGeek will make your morning coffee fun, as opposed to just brain-stimulating.  

18 of 58 Creative Whack/Amazon

The whole Ball of Whacks

This think piece, developed by veteran workplace creativity consultant Roger von Oech is a 30-sided polyhedron that's assembled from 30 tiny magnetic pyramids and can be reassembled in almost any way you can, well, think of.  

19 of 58 Toysmith/Amazon

Cool, man

It spins. It hums. It fascinates. It's a Euler's Disk, and it'll space you out in a good way. 

20 of 58 Knock Knock/Amazon

Ding! Ding!

Is it coffee time at your work station or is it cocktail hour? Make things perfectly clear with this fun update on the classic call bell. 

21 of 58 Speks/Amazon

For when you need some big balls

What's so special about these magnetic metal balls from Speks, sold in sets of five? They're big: Each ball is more than one inch in diameter. Take that, paperclip clutter! 

22 of 58 Sky Viper/Amazon

This helpful robot

Mebo 2.0: Get us an energy drink, you 12-inch-tall, interactive, app-controlled, office-friendly robot, you! We can literally watch you run errands for us all day. 

23 of 58 Collectibles Buy/Amazon


Set your career course -- or dream of the open seas -- with this brass sextant. (And, yes, it works.) 

24 of 58 JM-capricorns/Amazon

This noble knight to hold thine pen

This noble knight pen holder isn't just handy (pen included!); it's also nice to gaze upon.  

25 of 58 RP Minis/Amazon

Take out your tiny aggression

Everyone gets frazzled at work. But you'll be the only one with this set of finger-sized boxing mitts and matching desktop punching bag to take out your stress, punch by tiny punch.

26 of 58 Crazy Aaron's/Amazon

Light it up

Crazy Aaron's specializes in what it calls thinking putty. We like Crazy Aaron's Strange Attractor variety because, one, it's magnetic, two, it comes with a magnet, three, the magnet makes the putty sparkle, and four, we just know it'll make us the talk of the office.  

27 of 58 Veronese/Amazon

It's retro time

Why have apps tell you when your next meeting is, when you can keep time on this 6-inch tall steampunk-styled, diving-bell-shaped (with octopus!) clock. 

28 of 58 Qwerkytoys/Amazon

All keyed up

Bring old-fashioned pizzazz to your desk with this tablet-stand-equipped, USB-powered mechanical keyboard that looks like a typewriter -- right down to the (programmable) return bar.

29 of 58 GoSports/Amazon


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

30 of 58 Uncommon Goods

Meet your new office friend

If you're tired of high-tech AI assistants, then let this old-school retro robot sculpture from Uncommon Goods keep you company and class up your desk.  

31 of 58 OwnMy/Amazon

Just the refraction, ma'am

Confuse and dazzle the office cat -- or maybe the intern -- with this four-inch-tall desktop prism.

32 of 58 Serafim/Amazon

Keys to cool

This laser-projected Serafim Keybo virtual keyboard actually works, and it leaves plenty of room on your desk for that four-foot desktop bowling alley.

33 of 58 Mokiki/Amazon

Fun with ferrofluid

Take iron-rich fluid, put it in a bottle, add two magnets to the outside of the bottle and what do you get? Peaks and patterns reminiscent of the black oil on The X-Files, all courtesy Mokiki's bottled ferrofluid.

34 of 58 Fortune Products/Amazon


Is perpetual motion possible? You'll think so if you gaze long enough at this swinging-sticks desktop toy. 

35 of 58 RP Minis/Amazon

Take a whack

Those long, arduous conference calls will be so much more lively when you have this tiny tetherball game on your desk to distract you.

36 of 58 Playable Art/Amazon


These 12 interconnected wooden balls are like a toddler toy for precocious VPs.

Da Vinci Trebuchet
37 of 58 Pathfinders/Amazon

Bombs away

The Da Vinci Trebuchet engine lets you lob a soft clay ball right into your officemate's coffee mug. Theoretically, anyway.

38 of 58 MOVA/Amazon

Earth globes are so 20th century

Get out of this world with a solar-powered, rotating Jupiter globe by MOVA. 

39 of 58 Liberty Imports/Amazon

This Earth globe is so 21st century

You can see the world from the comfort of your desk chair with this gravity-defying globe. It gently rotates as it floats over its base.

40 of 58 Kenley/Amazon

Makes work a beach

It ain't Waikiki, but this stylish miniature beach (or Zen garden!) may de-stress you... if you have a really, really good imagination.

41 of 58 Playable Art/Amazon

Give it a twirl

This arty helicone works like this: Twist the thin brass tube back and forth, and the 38 laser-cut wood pieces swirl rhythmically into a pine-cone shape.

42 of 58 Solarbotics/Amazon

Making moves

Powered by the sun (or indoor light), this desk-friendly motion machine will work until it gets dark. You know, kind of like you.

43 of 58 G-WACK/Amazon


Atop their magnetic base, these balls will bend to your executive will. Shape them as you see fit! 

44 of 58 Cool Fidget/Amazon

Space toy

If you've ever wondered how a sliding fidget toy would work on the moon or Mars, this fidget toy by Moondrop is for you.

45 of 58 Lonma via Amazon


This kinetic, golf-ball-size aluminum sphere promises a satisfying continuous helix (or the illusion of one) when spun on its base. 

46 of 58 Ideas In Life/Amazon

We lava this one

Turn this egg-shaped, liquid-filled paperweight over on its base and watch its red sand make like a lava flow. You'll probably put papers on your desk in order to have an excuse to expense this.  

47 of 58 Uncommon Goods

Flipping through time

Turn off your mind, and watch the time go by in style with this hourglass flip clock from Uncommon Goods. 

48 of 58 ifavor123/Amazon

Pin it

Anybody can put a pin in an idea. With this desk toy, you can put your hand, head or whatever into metal pins (and make art while you're at it). 

49 of 58 Shindel/Amazon

Still shopping?

Once you've bought all your new mesmerizing desk toys, cart them around in another one: a miniature metal shopping cart with four working, rolling wheels. 

50 of 58 RP Minis/Amazon

Very small skee-ball

Turn your desk into an itty-bitty arcade. Prizes not included.

51 of 58 Inside3 via Amazon

Labyrinth ball cube

A ball maze hidden in a cube!  Release the ball and move it the other side of the labyrinth before your boss walks in.

52 of 58 Monkey Pod Games via Amazon

So many puzzles, just one box

Literally hours of mind-bending fun in one box, with five brainteaser puzzles to...tease your brain. 

53 of 58 Bits and Pieces via Amazon

The King's Fortune puzzle box

A laser-cut wooden puzzle box which includes a hidden drawer where you can stash anything you don't want your office-mates to find. 

54 of 58 Running Press via Amazon

Teeny tiny weights

Blast your finger muscles with this tiny set of weightlifting equipment, including barbell weights, a very small resistance band, and a thimble-sized kettlebell. 

55 of 58 H XD Global via Amazon

Curved trihedron cube

It's not a Rubik's Cube - it's a  Curved Trihedron Magic Cube. And it's way harder.

56 of 58 Orijin Design Company via Amazon

Lava stone thinking egg

Find your office zen with this tiny carved lava stone thinking egg. You can put it in the palm of your hand and meditate, think, or just stare.

57 of 58 Kikkerland via Amazon

Like sands through this clock

This ultra-modern hourglass clock uses a red band to tell time with the minutes on top and the hours on the bottom. 

58 of 58 MoMA via Amazon

The Museum of Modern Art perpetual calendar

No ordinary clock, the MoMA perpetual calendar uses magnetic balls to denote the day and month. Then, on New Year's Day, you move the magnets back to the beginning. It can be desk or wall-mounted, and is sure to spark conversation. 

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