REVIEW – Who doesn’t like having fun at work? Our friends at Spek deal in magnet-based desk toys that you can use to get your creative juices flowing, and have a bit of fun while you’re at it. Take a break. It’s time to play. We’re gonna make stuff! To the review!
What is it?
They’re magnetized spheres, blocks, and other shapes that you use to build, create, and fidget at your desk.
What’s in the box?
I’ve got a whole collection of goodies from Speks in my sample kit:
- 3 packs of the “classic” Speks 2.5 mm magnet balls in different colors.
- A pack of Super 33 mm magnet balls.
- A pack of Unblocks magnetic blocks.
Design and features
Spek makes what I like to call “thinking toys.” They’re things to play with while you’re musing on big creative thoughts, pondering important business-type stuff, or just taking a break from all that thinking. These are toys that allow your hands to build and create while the mind wanders off to do more important things.
One of the great things about Speks is how the whole packaging sets the tone for fun from the get-go. You’ll find whimsical little notes on the packaging, a fun little instruction books, and some secret surprises (like stickers) in each pack. I’ll point those out as we go through the review.
The original product are the namesake Speks — a collection of 512 2.5 mm spheres made with rare earth magnets. Your basic kit includes a guidebook, a storage box, a card splitter, and a stand. They’re available in dozens of styles and colors. The pic below is of the Luxe Silver set I got in my test kit.
Here’s the stand in action, with the Cherry Pop Speks from the Duotone collection. It’s a mix of red and pink metallic spheres. You can mash up the spheres in any shape you like and they’ll stick to that stand so that you can show off your creation.
If you’re seeking ideas for what to do with your Speks, the instruction guide provides some sample models you can make. I’m showing it here with the Sky Blue Speks from the Matte collection. There are so many styles to choose from, you’ll be able to find the perfect set to match your office motif.
Now… what to do with all of these little balls of fun? Besides mashing them into shapes, you can create structured forms and sculptures. I laid out those silver Speks on my desk end to end, and came up with a thread 50 inches long.
Then I started forming a flat hexagonal shape. Check out the shiny prettiness. It’s a might trickier to put together than you would think, because all of those little magnetic spheres just want to glom together. But patience brings calm, and calm brings rewards. Observe!
That splitter card helps you to break apart the Speks when you want to change up your creation. You use it to cut into the shape, to split or divide your creation however you like.
I peeled off a slice and folded it back to create a second layer. If you lose patience with geometric forms the whole thing can be mashed and shaped like a bit of clay, too.
You can also extend your build into 3D structures. Tubes, little boxes, helixes… here I turned my blue Speks into a snappy bracelet. With the stand, you can create free-standing figures or shapes as well.
The classic Speks tend to be more of an open-form kind of toy. If you’re the more structured type, fear not! Spek has you covered with a set a more traditional building-block set in the Unblocks collection. Each set comes with two long pieces and two corner pieces, all magnetized to connect as you build your structures.
Did you see that cool little set of stickers? Those were the surprise bits I was talking about. They look great on the back of your Macbook, by the way.
Spek makes these Unblock kits in 8 different colorways, each one featuring two block tones. You could add more kits to your set to build more advanced structures. I’d probably go for two or three sets to start with to expand my options.
If you’re looking for something that’s more of a fidget tool to keep your hand occupied while you’re on that conference call, you can check out the Supers! These are 33 mm versions of the classic Speks, sold in a three-pack. You can get them in gunmetal, gold, or a color called “oil slick” that I have here.
They’re lovely to look at, aren’t they? All that oozy, shiny, colorful goodness. They come with their own stand for display, and those strong magnets allow you to use them to attach stuff if you like. You could use them as a business card holder, or a place to keep those pesky gator clips from wandering off. Sit down, gator clips. You’re not going anywhere.
My favorite use for these, however, is much like those Chinese meditation/stress balls. Just roll them around in your hands while you’re pondering the imponderables.
Like Chinese meditation balls, I’m also finding them to be very useful for exercising my hands. Those strong magnets make for some work if you try to separate them. While they are not sold as such, I’m finding them to be great for building hand strength and coordination.
Ain’t that fun?
You’ll find more options on the Speks web site, too. The classic Speks come in 1000 piece starter sets if you need more to play with, and there’s a fancy display stand available if you want to show off our creations. There’s also a set called the Fleks that consists of rubbery silicone shapes (rods, wishbones, and X-shapes) that you can bend and connect to each other. I need to get my hands on that one.
Two final notes about safety. These are magnetized toys, so you’ll want to be careful around devices that aren’t shielded. Also, these are adult-oriented playthings that present a swallowing risk to children (and pets), so keep them away from your little ones.
What I like
- Fun & addicting to play with.
- Wide range of brilliant colors and styles available.
- Brain toys to fit every personality type.
What I’d change
- Not a con, but a reminder: these are adult playthings, and not safe for children and pets.
We’ve been having a blast with the Spek desk toys. I like to bring them out for creative meetings, conference calls, and thinking sessions as a tool to get the brain juices a-flowin’. Just make sure you have enough for everyone. Some of them may not make it back to your desk at the end of the day.