How About " Cubicle in a Box? "

Our picks for the best and worst of desk kitsch.

Everybody loves desk kitsch. Serious-minded drones grumble that such trinkets are the worst sort of office annoyance. But when no one's looking, they're squeezing that rubbery bulging-eye thing, too. The Best Desk Toys Ever! by Chuck Doyle (Lyons Press, 2003) separates the gems from the junk, rating each toy on status and productivity-boosting potential. Here are our picks.

* * * * * * * : Through the roof
* * * * * * : Extremely high
* * * * * : Excellent
* * * * : Good
* * * : Decent
* * : Low
* : Very low

Executive Hammock ($19.98)

The genius lies in its frameless design. The full-size hammock requires resources only an executive with clout could muster: two willing subordinates to hold each end. Perfect for power naps or just thinking really big thoughts, it rolls up to the size of a small fruitcake.

Productivity: *
Status: * * * * * *

Barista Action Figure ($8.95)

If you can't make it to the coffeehouse, make the coffeehouse come to you! Meet Nico, a miniature barista action figure who comes complete with dyed, short-cropped hair (in two shades!), Daniel Libeskind-style glasses, arm tattoo, and grande mocha latte in hand. Missing: the normally ubiquitous Starbucks logo. That's right, it's unauthorized.

Productivity: * * *
Status: * * * *

Beach in a Box ($9.99)

Winter blues got you down? Or maybe you live in landlocked Iowa. So bring a little escapism to your Formica-covered deskscape. This handy diorama arrives in a 4-inch-by-4-inch reusable plastic box and includes sand, shells, beach chair, toothpick umbrella, sandals, and life preserver. Sun, water, and relaxation sold separately.

Productivity: * *
Status: * * *

Martian Popping Thing ($7.50)

A classic! Every desk denizen deserves one of these things. Who knows where it came from (and frankly, who really cares)? Give a good squeeze, and its eyes and ears swell and pop. It's a sensation that feels inexplicably gratifying, like some new sanctioned form of smoking in the office.

Productivity: * * * * * * *
Status: * * * * *

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