Desktop toys have never been my thing. When I need distraction from my work in front of a computer, I pull the drawing tablet and start doodling. Or I leave the desk altogether and do something else. The first time I grabbed ahold of a bunch of Buckyballs, however, I found a third option for my occasional distraction.
Before someone gave me my first set of Buckyballs, I didn't even know what they were. After I opened the box, in fact, all I did was look at the contents, wondering what the hell I was supposed to do with these bunched up round objects.
After a quick internet search, I found out that Buckyballs are actually very tiny rare earth magnets, which happen to be the roundest and most symmetrical large molecule known to man. Because of their shape and magnetic properties, you can hustle them up in bunches, then twist them into an endless number of creative forms. Using multiple balls (the one I got came in a set of 216), you can put together practically any shape -- from simple spheres and cubes to highly-involved complex patterns.
Playing with the 5mm magnetic spheres is like building with Lego, except far simpler to get creative with and a lot more flexible in the things you can do. In fact, it's my go-to desk toy every time I'm on a Skype conference call -- makes even the dullest meetings instantly tolerable. Plus, when somebody asks why you haven't uttered a single word during a meeting, you've immediately got the best canned response: "I'm playing with my balls. Wanna watch?"