9 Coolest Desk Toys

Awesome Desk Toys

1. Kate's Corner: What is Kinetic Sand?

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I have this pile of sand. It looks like regular sand. It feels like regular sand but it doesn't stick to your hands and falls apart before your eyes. This is called kinetic sand and we're going to talk about what makes it so cool.

This sand is a great alternative to regular sand. It doesn't make a mess but is so you can make things like sand castles with it.

So, what's happening here? Well, the kinetic sand website says this sand is 98% regular sand and 2% magic. that magic is actually a polymer. This synthetic polymer is called Polydimethyl Siloxane.

This is known for its unusual flow properties which you could see here. This polymer helps to make the sand mimic the physical properties of wet sand. The polymers keep the sand bonded and make clean up super easy.

If you are as memorized by this sand as i am, you may want to go out and get some yourself. Don't spend a lot of money just tune in to Kate's Corner Wednesday the 22nd when we make the sand ourselves with a few cheap ingredients.


2. Millions sold: Was the original fidget spinner made in Suquamish?

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In a large, converted 2,000-square-foot garage at the home of Scott McCoskery is where you’ll find what’s possibly the origins of many fidget spinners.

You know the gadgets, the “must-have” toys of the year, the small ball-bearing devices that do nothing but spin between your fingers. Tens of millions of various kinds of fidget spinners have been sold; so many, that teachers tell of facing a classroom full of kids with spinners in their little hands.

McCoskery and his partner in the firm, Paul de Herrera, believe they will prosper, but they’ll have to survive the cheap knockoffs and the short life span of fads.

Right now, the market is flooded with cratefuls of imitations, most from China. Some version of fidget spinners currently occupies all of Amazon’s Top 20 best-selling toys and games; McCoskery’s products are not among them as they can’t compete on price.

Here in the garage, a crew puts together the Torqbar, with its name registered and a patent applied for.

Sales have been “in the many thousands,” says McCoskery, 44, a former disc jockey and IT worker who says he came up with the concept back in 2014.

The Torqbar is an exquisite piece of work that Forbes magazine called “the iPhone of desk toys.” Materials used include titanium, tellurium copper and zirconium, not what you’d find in the knockoffs sometimes made out of plastic that sell for as little as $2.20 each.

The high-end quality costs.

Initially, McCoskery found buyers among people who look for the best and newest gadgets. He sold his first Torqbar in September 2015 online for about $300, and by the next year it was a full-fledged website.

These days, the Torqbar is sold in versions that begin at $139 and can reach $800 for custom-made ones in which the buyer chooses the material and finish on the metal.

“These are people with disposable income. They like very nice things and they want the best of everything, and the exclusivity of something nobody else has,” McCoskery says.

Patrick Lynn, a Los Angeles television producer who used to be with American Idol Productions, is one such buyer. He owns two brass versions that cost $139 and $350.

The Torqbar feels solid in your hands. The metal edges are smoothed out. The ball- bearing assembly makes no noise.

“I love this thing. It’s an amazing piece of engineering,” he says. “My Torqbars spin outward of six minutes each. It’s almost perfectly balanced.”

McCoskery tells how it all began.

He was working for mobile security firm and attended a lot of meetings. “I’d click a pen, fidget with something in my pocket,” he says.

From that, he says, the idea percolated of fidgeting with a gadget “that was quiet and cool and interesting.”

He taught himself the basics of computer-controlled machining and built a prototype. He began posting photos of the Torqbar on Facebook groups for gadgeteers and on Instagram.

“Within one day I had over 100 on a waiting list,” says McCoskery. “All I was selling were the custom ones. I’d have a conversation with the person ordering — what kind of metal, weight, what colors, titanium screws, every element. It’s similar to ordering a custom knife.”

Getting serious
It was time to get serious about the business. McCoskery brought in de Herrera, a friend, “somebody who respected the business perspective.” They are waiting on the long process of having a patent approved.

Of course, getting a patent doesn’t matter much if you don’t have access to money for lawyers.

Steve Faktor is founder of the IdeaFaktory in New York, an “innovation incubator.”

He says, “I’ve talked a lot of entrepreneurs out of a patent since in a lot of cases it’s only as good as your ability to defend it.”

Patent lawsuits, he says, “could run easily into millions of dollars” and be “decades long.”

If you go into the fad business you soon learn it is cutthroat.

On the internet, says de Herrera, a Chinese company duplicated the Torqbar’s website, logo, product images and wording, but sold the items at a heavy discount.

The site was operational until Monday morning. It’s now gone.

McCoskery and de Herrera say that once they have their patent, they plan to issue cease-and-desist orders to the knockoffs, or maybe reach licensing agreements with the big offenders.

Then there is the matter of figuring out who first came up with an idea.

There’s plenty of room for argument when it comes to spinners. After all, in 1892 a Brooklyn resident applied for a spinning-toy patent.

It gnaws at McCoskery and de Herrera that Catherine Hettinger, a 62-year-old woman in Winter Park, Florida, has been credited in a number of reputable publications such as The Guardian and The New York Times for inventing the fidget spinner.

It’s clear even to a casual observer looking at her patent drawings and description that Hettinger’s spinning toy looks nothing like the current fidget spinners.

Her patent shows a plastic disc that resembles a Frisbee, except there’s a dent in the middle into which you place your index finger. Then you start spinning it with the other hand.

The U.S. Patent Office shows she applied in 1992 for a “Spinning Toy,” and that it lapsed in 2005 for failure to pay the maintenance fee.

In a phone interview, she says about letting the patent lapse, “I don’t have any regrets.” She says, “In this country, they tax alcohol, cigarettes and new ideas.”

Market demand
In the fad-toy business, many customers are willing to forgo the high-end version if they can get something like it for a lot less.

Allen Ashkenazie is executive vice president of Almar Sales in New York City, a supplier of toys to such retailers as Wal-Mart and Toys ‘R’ Us.

He says that by the end of May his company will have shipped out 45 million fidget spinners that retail from $5 to $25 each.

“The market demand of speed and velocity surpasses any product that we’ve seen in our 50-year history,” he says.

Ashkenazie predicts fidget-spinner sales will start spinning down by the beginning of the 2018 school year. How long a fad lasts, he says, is measured “in weeks … a year is a long time.”

Ashkenazie theorizes about fidget spinners, “A consumer craze for children, and with parental support — nowadays anything physical that’ll keep them away from their obsession with tech.”

Plus, he says, there are “the potential health benefits.”

On the internet, fidget spinners have been touted as helping individuals with autism or ADHD curb anxiety and become more focused.

Experts are wary.

Mark Stein, director of the ADHD and Related Disorders Program at Seattle Children’s, says: “I’m not sure they’re directly harmful, but they take time and resources from addressing what the problems really are. It’s not really going to help them improve in school performance or their attention.”

There have been reports of fidget spinners being banned in schools because they’ve become so distracting.Some teachers in this area have banned them in their classrooms.

“We’re on high-end”
Ashkenazie says he understands the frustration of those who believe they’ve come up with an original toy. The firm has a legal team that looks over a toy “before we touch the product.” With fidget spinners, he says, “it’s become a generic product.”

Back in Suquamish, McCoskery and de Herrera say they realize that fads have a limited life span.

“But that’s the low end of the market, we’re on the high-end,” says de Herrera.

The Rubik’s Cube, Frisbees, yo-yos are still around, they say. “We believe we’re on that track.”

In a newsletter it puts out, the Patent Office made this unbureacuratic observation:

“ … always remember to dream.”


3. This Fun 3D Printed Metal Executive Desk Toy Acts as a Business Metaphor

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Diagrams are used within business, education, and construction to better depict what words can not. These useful sketched out tools have been used for millennia to get one’s point across in a clear fashion. With the advent of 3D technologies such as 3D printing, the diagram of the future may look very dissimilar to those of the past.
One company, called SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL, realized this in the creation of a metaphoric 3D printed executive desk toy, which in and of itself is fun and entertaining to play with.  Yet what it stands for is equally significant.

The prestigious, almost trophy-looking toy is a pyramid that stands on one of its points within a stand that is meant for display on an executive desk. The design concept was Williams’ idea, and it features two pyramids — one internal and one external — as well as four separate detachable elements for each of the three levels (see video below) that make up the pyramid. Using neodymium magnets to hold it together, the toy is definitely unlike anything we’ve seen before.

Williams presented this idea to Thomas Forsyth, who advised him on the practical design, including the size, materials to be used, and colors. Forsyth created the initial prototype and then ultimately the final metal toy on his Ultimaker 2 3D printer. The final design was coated with a bronze co-polymer material, and features a lightweight internal honeycomb structure within.


4. Force Fluid Ferrofluid Magnetic Interactive Desktop Display

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Fluux Design Lab based in Houston Texas has created a new Ferrofluid display desktop toy that when teased using magnets provides countless hours of fun distorting the unique Ferrofluid material that was created back in 1963 by NASA’s Steve Papell as a liquid rocket fuel.

The Force Fluid desktop chamber has now been created to provide access to this nanotechnology in a unique interactive display that can be teased using the supplied magnetic wands.

Watch the video below to learn more about this new desktop gadget which is launched via Kickstarter to raise the $12,000 the company needs to take the latest aluminium and glass display into production.

For more information on the Force Fluid Ferrofluid desk toy jump over to the Kickstarter crowdfunding website via the link below where pledges are available from just $34, with shipping expected to take place during May 2017.


5. What's Not to Love About This Lego Macintosh?

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It's hard not to love an inventive Lego build. But when those builds combine some Raspberry Pi creativity with an homage to iconic computers of the past, it's nearly impossible not to become an instant fan.

Take, for example, this Lego Macintosh Classic, created by programmer Jannis Hermanns. Using a Raspberry Pi Zero, an e-paper display, and of course, Lego, Hermanns created what is essentially the ultimate desk toy.

The really remarkable part is that this creation, packed into an adorably small package, also works. Hermanns soldered on a Wi-Fi module to a Raspberry Pi Zero and used a service called resin.io so he could update programs. Then he used software called Docker to get limited functionality out of that e-ink display, such as showing a clock and other bits of information.


6. Geared Whiplash Manual

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Geared Whiplash is a Yo-Yo-type gearing contraption with no obvious use other than tactile amusement. It is a snake of gears, in which each segment drives the next segment. The shape can be curled up quite compactly. It gradually unrolls and when it is nearly fully unrolled, it sweeps around like the end of a whip, hence the name "Geared Whiplash". After the whipping, the contraption rolls up again and the sequence repeats.


7. SUPER COOL SCIENCE TOYS REPLICATE THE GRAVITY OF THE MOON AND MARS

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The idea of bouncing around in the moon‘s low gravity is so appealing that an entire industry was formed to recreate the experience for kids at their birthday parties. But since walking on the moon is currently an impossible dream for most of us, it’s hard to understand just how different its gravity is compared to that of earth, or for us to comprehend what the gravity will be like when mankind reaches its next celestial destination, Mars. How can we non-astronauts tangibly grasp those differences when we aren’t going to space any time soon?

It turns out a brilliantly designed, handheld desk toy will let you see how much slower an object will fall on the moon or mars due to the very different gravity of each. “Inspired by space missions,” the Moondrop uses “simple physics” to make a slider fall at a rate equivalent to that of the gravity of the moon or Mars.

The moon’s gravity of 1.622 m/s² is roughly a sixth of our planet’s (9.807 m/s²), with Mars’ gravity of 3.711 m/s² roughly 2.6 less than earth’s. The two different forms of the Moondrop show the falling speeds of each celestial body.

Made with the “latest cutting edge technology using precision CNC machining,” the body for both versions, as well as the slider for the Lunar Moondrop, is made from “Aerospace grade aluminum,” with the Mars’s slider made out of pure copper. The design of each toy is based on physic’s “well known” Lenz’s law, which you can read about in more depth on the Kickstarter page, but the simplest explanation is “magnets.” The magnets inside create forces that slow down the slider, seamlessly mimicking the gravity of either the moon or Mars. You can remove the magnets though to return them to earth’s (boring old) gravity.

While we’re always super excited by a simple but awesome display of a scientific concept, we’re also really into their other selling point about how this is the perfect toy for fidgety people (guilty!). At roughly 2.7 inches in total length, this pocket-sized contraption is the perfect object to mindlessly spin around or play with while working, or letting your mind drift to the stars.

And it’s clear we aren’t the only ones, since with still almost four weeks left, they have easily exceeded their pledge goal of over 6,000 dollars U.S., with over a thousand backers contributing over $51,000 to the Moondrop. You can get one of your choosing for around 26 dollars, or get both (or two of the same if you prefer) for 44 dollars, with other packages available if you want a whole lot more. (As of this writing there are still a few early bird options available too, so if you want to save a little money act fast.)

With the project already funded, they say the parts will be ordered in April, with full scale production beginning in May, and a target date of June to start shipping orders.

And the nicest thing is that once you get your Moondrop you get to keep it, unlike those moon bouncy castles they only let us rent for a few hours. We prefer our moon gravity experiences to follow the laws of physics, anyway.

What other planets or celestial bodies would you like to have a Moondrop for? Drop down into our comments section at whatever gravitational speed you like and tell us what you think.


8. Nanodots may just be the coolest workplace toy you haven’t seen yet

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This is a paid placement and if you buy something through this article or on the BGR Store we will receive compensation from retail partners.

Want a workplace toy for your office desk that is unlike any other? Look no further than Nanodots. It’s yours for just $34.99.

Nanodots are magnetic spheres precision-milled from sintered neodymium-iron-boron. They’re designed to model atomic interactions on a human scale, which is what makes them such fascinating scientific toys. Nanodots are made out of the strongest permanent magnets and can lift 1000 times their own weight. You’ll be endlessly amazed by the incredible nature of this unique toy.


9. Tungsten Sphere

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I'd call the Tungsten Sphere a desktop toy, but given its high density--at just about 2" in diameter the sphere weighs over 3 pounds--I'm not sure how much fiddling or stress-relieving palm rolls you'll be able to do with it. Might be good for some isometric forearm or shoulder exercises during conference calls. And, ladies, ever heard of kegel balls?

No, the Tungsten Sphere is more desktop art than desktop toy. It's also a cool (and by cool, I mean kind of geeky) conversation piece since anyone who moves to pick it up will likely find himself perplexed by its heft, and possibly drop it on his foot, neither of which will ever get old for you.

The Tungsten Sphere comes with a 3D-printed red display base and, at printing, manufacturer Midwest Tungsten Service was offering a free 1" Tungsten Cube with each Sphere purchase.

Note that an Amazon reviewer, while happy with his purchase, points out that the sphere is actually an alloy with iron and nickel, and not 100%, but about 95% pure tungsten.


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