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The coolest desk toys for tech people

The Newton's Cradle is fine. Really. It is. Unless you consider these ...

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Topic: CXO
1 of 16 ThinkGeek via YouTube

Because the office is watching

Tech offices are supposed to be about collaboration and innovation. And for the most part, they are. But perhaps no offices are also more competitive than those in the tech space. One subtle way to get an edge in that eternal competition: Get a really, really cool desk toy...and don't let anyone know where you got it.

These Japanese-made eyeballs are wirelessly connected via infrared, allowing them to blink simultaneously in a way that's not subtly unsettling at all.

They're tough, but not impossible, to track down these days. Attach them to anything-say, the back of your laptop-and watch your rivals squirm.

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2 of 16 Mr. Jones's Tengu

Tengu

Put simply, this is a sound-reactive USB character that sits on your desk and won't make trouble; he plugs into a USB port and reacts to sound without making any. It doesn't sound all that impressive ... until you plug him in. Then you realize he's reflecting all the stresses you endure every day ... in silence.

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3 of 16 ThinkGeek

Perpetual motion machine

ThinkGeek's desk-friendly perpetual motion machine isn't really perpetual; it stops working when, you know, the sun does, because it's solar-powered. But if that doesn't impress you, nothing will. Plus: Marbles!

4 of 16 ThinkGeek

Ferrofluid

We. Are. Mesmerized.

What are we seeing, here? An iron-rich fluid in a jar, and a magnet on the other side of the jar. Concept Zero's ferrofluid is all kinds of scientific and impressive. But it gets even better. For your inner billionaire, there's always ...

5 of 16 ThinkGeek

The limited-edition gold version

Bonus fact: This scientific bling is made in the U.S. of A.

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6 of 16 Carry the What

3D-printed steampunk gear heart

Etsy has some gems out there for tech people in need of desk flair.

These mechanical hearts lose and gain their form as you spin the gears. Buy one that's already been 3D-printed, or 3D-print your own using the open-source plans.

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7 of 16 ThinkGeek

Portal 2 Turret Desk Defender

If you're a fan of the game Portal (and, seriously, of course you are) then maybe you want this desk toy.

Powered by USB, the turret has wings that open when it detects movement. The gadget will then announce the acquisition of a target-say, the intern. Nothing really happens after that, but by that point, the intern has fled anyway.

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8 of 16 The Creative Home

Free Universal Construction Kit

What is this 3D-printable wonder? Call it a universal translator ... for your favorite toys. Per the creators: "The great open-ended construction toys we all know and love-LEGO, Duplo, Fischertechnik ... are largely closed systems, meaning they can't be used in connection with other products.

"Now imagine this all changed, and you could create the world's first construction toy mashup."

Best of all, this plan is 100 percent free.

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9 of 16 What on Earth catalog

Crookes radiometer

Inside a cool, hand-blown glass globe, vanes spin, powered by light...even the sad, yellow-green light from inside your office.

10 of 16 Creative Whack Co.

Ball of Whacks

No true math-and-science geek is ignorant of the iconic Ball of Whacks.

The brainchild of workplace creativity consultant Roger von Oech, this 30-sided polyhedron is assembled from 30 tiny magnetic pyramids. The result: Endless configurations, and endless inspiration.

Google once shelled out for 7,000 Balls of Whacks for its programmers and developers.

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11 of 16 Mathmos

Mathmos Aduki ni light

Think of it as a lava lamp for the new millennium. Mathmos, the company that brought us the original lava lamp, also offers this incredibly cool, USB-powered mood light. Tap it, and it'll start glowing first in one color, then another. Tap it again if you want the color parade to halt on a hue you like.

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12 of 16 ThinkGeek

A wee desk fridge

We firmly believe that a good desk toy should have no real functionality whatsoever.

If you disagree, fine: The remaining desk toy recommendations are for you.

Sick of having your stuff stolen from the office fridge? Avoid that ugly fate with your own tiny desk fridge, powered by-yep-USB.

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13 of 16 Sharper Image

Solar-powered wind turbine clock

The description really speaks for itself, but just to spell it out: If you're sick of all of our USB-powered options, here's a desk toy powered by the sun. It does turn, just like the bigger versions, and it tells the time.

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14 of 16 Brookstone

Virtual keyboard

They're not on Brookstone anymore, but we've managed to find these virtual laser keyboards via other sellers. And, yep, they actually work.

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15 of 16 Office Playground

USB robot hub

Until robots actually take over your job, they'll have to settle for taking over your desk.

Everybody loves a USB port, so, here's a robot that has four. It also has blue light-up eyes and moveable arms.

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16 of 16 Fancy

Coffee cup humidifier

File this functional desk toy well within the office-warfare category. It looks like a to-go latte from some fabulous, new, nearby coffee shop. A coffee shop that, in fact ... does not exist. Unless you choose to let your co-workers believe otherwise.

Even better, it's a humidifier, so it steams just like a real cuppa ... while keeping your skin looking flawless.

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