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Silly Putty, The Great American Mistake

clock October 18, 2011 14:08 by author Office Toy Guy

Silly Putty Museum Display Many products have been created or discovered by accident and Silly Putty might be one of the most popular and best selling mistakes of all time.

During World War II there was a shortage of rubber in the United States. The government funded research into synthetic rubber compounds in an attempt to solve this shortage. Silly Putty was created in 1943 during this pursuit. The new product had useful qualities: it bounced like rubber, stretched like taffy and had adhesive qualities; it also broke into pieces and had the ability to lift pencil marks off paper. However, Silly Putty was not the sought-after substitute for rubber.

Silly Putty was called Nutty Putty when the little pink blob made of silicone polymers packaged in an egg-shaped plastic container made its debut as a toy in 1949. Its sales soared to the top of the toy chart that year. In 1961, Silly Putty went worldwide. It even reached the Moon in 1968, courtesy of the Apollo 8 astronauts who used it to secure their tools in zero-gravity.

After its success as a toy, Silly Putty was found to be useful in medical and scientific fields. It is widely used by physical therapists for rehabilitative therapy of hand injuries and as a fidget item for stress reduction. A number of other brands have emerged which alter the material's properties offering different levels of resistance, color and size of the product. Some of the names it is marketed under are Power Putty, TheraPutty, Thinking Putty and Bouncing Putty.

To date, Silly Putty has sold over 300 million eggs. Crayola, LLC (formerly the Binney & Smith company), which also owns Crayola crayons, owns the trademark name Silly Putty and currently sells 20,000 units per day.

It doesn't look like this American icon has to worry about popularity as its unique qualities continue to provide fun, exercise and stress relief to users of all ages all over the world.

Image courtesy of Eugene Peretz.

Top 5 Office Gadgets

clock October 13, 2011 15:30 by author Office Toy Guy

Gadget is defined as "a small specialized mechanical or electronic device". People love gadgets in the workplace because they offer some character, color and stress relief to a busy day. Office gadgets offer an ideal holiday gift for your boss, coworkers or customers. Give out some office gadgets this year and you’ll be a holiday hero. To make your holiday shopping easier, we have built an entire category of Office Gadgets for you. Here are the top 5 Office Gadgets for the 2011 Holiday Season:


Gumby vs. Mr. Bill

clock October 12, 2011 15:15 by author Office Toy Guy

Who would win a battle between Gumby and Mr. Bill? Both are animated clay figures that made their first debut to the public on popular TV shows, both have made their way into feature length films, and both are immortalized as bendable figurines. We decided to collect the facts to predict the winner of this potentially famous battle.

Gumby Bendy Toy Name: Gumby
Debuted: August 1956
Creator: Art Clokey
Best Friend: Pokey
Nemeses: Blockheads
Claim to Fame: Gumby starred in his own television series, The Gumby Show, that aired from 1957 to 1967 and in 1988
Best Characteristic: Flexibility
Accomplishments: cameo appearance in 1987 film The Puppetoon Movie; 1995 feature length film Gumby I (aka Gumby: The Movie); 8 DVD collections (2000s); video game Gumby vs. the Astrobots (2005); appeared in campaign ads for Library of Congress (1994-1995) and Cheerios (late 1990s)

Mr. Bill Name: Mr. Bill
Debuted: February 28, 1976
Creator: Walter Williams
Best Friend: Spot (his dog)
Nemesis: Mr. Sluggo
Claim to Fame: Mr. Bill starred in several short sketches on the television show, Saturday Night Live from 1976 to 1980
Memorable Quotes: "Ohhhh noooooooooooooo...", "Perfectly awful!", "Stunningly bad!"
Accomplishments: 1986 live-action movie Mr. Bill's Real Life Adventures; 1998 television show Ohh No!!! Mr. Bill Presents; appeared in television ads for Pringles (1980s), an anti-drug campaign (1988), Pizza Hut (1990s), Subway (2008), and MasterCard (2008)

Based on the character's personality, history and popularity, Gumby wins the battle hands down. However, we believe it's all up to the circumstance and personal preference. Take the battle into your own hands to determine who you think is the real winner.

The History of National Boss Day

clock October 10, 2011 11:56 by author Office Toy Guy

Boss Day Gift

National Boss Day has traditionally been a day for employees to recognize and thank their supervisor or boss. It started in 1958 when Patricia Bays Haroski, then an employee at State Farm Insurance Company in Deerfield, Illinois, registered the holiday with the Chamber of Commerce of the United States. Ms. Haroski's purpose was to designate a day to show appreciation for her boss and other bosses. She also hoped to improve the relationship between employees and supervisors. She believed young employees often do not realize the challenges bosses face in running a business. Ms. Haroski chose October 16 because it was her father's birthday, and he also happened to be her boss.

During the early years of National Boss Day observance, the holiday was mocked as Hallmark Holiday. In fact, Hallmark did not offer a Boss's Day card for sale until 1979. Recognition for Boss Day has grown tremendously in popularity and Hallmark responded by increasing the size of its National Boss Day card collection by 90 percent in 2007. National Boss Day has become an international celebration in recent years and now is observed in countries such as Australia and South Africa, in addition to the United States.

Image courtesy of Luz.

How Scary is Your Office?

clock October 5, 2011 16:01 by author Office Toy Guy

It’s the time of year where ghosts, witchesand goblins are making plans for their favorite day of the year, Halloween. Have you let them visit your desk yet?How Scary is Your Office?

Halloween isn’t just for children dressed as spooky (or sometimes adorable) creatures, going door-to-door asking for candy; you can have just as much fun at work! This year, bring the spirit of Halloween to the office. Here are some ideas for making your workplace "spooktacular"!

  • Decorate your desk or cubicle walls with a row full of smiling pumpkins
  • Host a number of spooky Halloween contests: Scariest Costume, Jack-o-Lantern Carving, Pumpkin Seed Spitting, and Best Decorated Desk
  • Hide fake giant spiders in your co-workers’ desk drawers
  • Ask each of your co-workers "Trick or Treat?" Give those who say "treat" a piece of candy from your Gumball Machine; pull a fun office prank on everyone else
  • Place some Bendable Halloween Characters in random places all over the office
  • Bring a large bowl of Halloween candy to share or bake a batch of Halloween cookies
  • Turn on some funky Halloween music and see how many Jack-O-Bop Wind-Up Toys you can get going at the same time

Adding a little Halloween spirit to your workplace can make your day a little more exciting and everyone a little happier. Try out some of our ideas and let us know how it goes!

Image courtesy of Elvia Dametto.

Your Guide to the New Halloween 2.0 at Work

clock October 1, 2011 10:34 by author Office Toy Guy

Halloween Tree at Work

Has anyone else noticed that Halloween is rapidly turning into Christmas in terms of celebrating the "season"? I drove my kids around last night to look at Halloween lights on houses. Remember when people only put out pumpkins and a few decorations? These days, we’re seeing full blown lights on the house and haunted scenes in the yard. Folks set up life-sized skeletons, mummies, monsters and graveyards. We went by one house that displayed a lifelike werewolf on the roof and a Psycho shower scene behind their front window. Talk about getting into the spirit. I can't decide if these people are cool or crazy, but either way, next year I'M IN.

Do you notice the growing amount of shelf space reserved for Halloween paraphernalia in the stores? Sure, there has always been candy and costumes. But today, the shelves are packed with all sorts of Halloween props and shenanigans. The entire month of October is dedicated to the last day of the month. Just like the entire month of December is geared towards Christmas day. Halloween is on a serious tear right now and I say bring it on.

This rapid adoption of Halloween spirit as the major contender to Christmas spirit started me thinking about what it means to people working in an office. Here are my predictions of what Halloween will be like in the coming years for the corporate world. I call these predictions Halloween 2.0 at work:

Halloween 1.0 - Plastic spiders on a chair
Halloween 2.0 - Real spiders in a drawer

Halloween 1.0 - Wear a costume on Halloween day
Halloween 2.0 - Wear costumes all throughout October

Halloween 1.0 - Dress up as a witch
Halloween 2.0 - Practice real witchcraft at your desk

Halloween 1.0 - Cute little happy Halloween cards from co-workers
Halloween 2.0 - Big Halloween bonus checks from management
                         (just kidding, that won't happen)

Halloween 1.0 - Collecting treats from your co-worker’s desk
Halloween 2.0 - Smashing pumpkins over your co-worker’s head

I hope this guide helps you be on the cutting edge of this booming holiday for years to come. What will Halloween 3.0 entail? Real chainsaws? Who's the boss now?!

Happy Halloween!

Spooky Wishes,
Bill Ross
The Office Toy Guy
We make work fun!

Image courtesy of Suzie T.

Working with Aliens

clock September 22, 2011 08:17 by author Office Toy Guy

Do you work with aliens? How would you know if you did? Finally there's help, here's a simple guide to discovering who among your colleagues are from another planet:

Working with Aliens

Food – Aliens don't eat normal human food. Look for colleagues who you've never seen eating. Offer them a slice of pizza because nobody from this planet would refuse free pizza.

Performance – Aliens are way smarter than humans and so they are typically successful. Look for those in your company who are high up in the organizational chart. Aliens are looking to run things, not be bossed around. For example, Bill Gates (Microsoft) and Jeff Bezos (Amazon) are aliens.

Social Skills – Aliens are not very good networkers and never play the role of office clown. Look for the ones who don't talk much and have a very difficult time conducting a conversation. Aliens don't have hobbies, they don’t have "good weekends" and they don't say "TGIF".

Office Romance – Aliens don't mate with humans and thus the aliens in your office won't ever get caught up in office romance. That should eliminate many of your colleagues as potential aliens.

Limited Time – Aliens don't just grind away at the corporate rat race. They are at your business for a specific reason, maybe to run a few experiments you would rather not know the details about. If one of your co-workers just vanishes one day, instead of a new job, they may have just returned to their home planet.

Now that you know who the aliens are at your company, you can begin the process of uncovering the robots. Stay tuned...

Bill Ross
The Office Toy Guy
We make work fun!

Image courtesy of Steve Jurvetson.

Best Practices in Using Stress Balls for Meetings

clock September 6, 2011 08:21 by author Office Toy Guy

Toys, such as stress balls, can make your meeting or training event more successful. There are certain variables to consider when you shop for your next batch of meeting stress balls. (See all of our Stress Balls here.)

Distribution – We recommend laying out a variety of stress balls together, maybe in a large bowl, and let the attendees take their pick. The folks who show up early get the best pick and the ones who are late get whatever is left (they won’t be late again).

Top Picks – Here are some of our best Meeting Stress Balls:

Koosh Ball
Koosh Ball
Mood Dude Happy
Mood Dude Happy
Cyber Gel Ball
Cyber Gel Ball
Happy Face Stress Ball
Happy Face Ball
Gripp Stress Ball
Gripp Stress Ball

Make the best choice for your meeting:
Noise – Some stress balls make noise and that is too distracting for a business meeting or training event. Avoid balls with water or any liquid inside since they’ll make a squishing sound when squeezed. Also, some stress balls actually talk back when squeezed. While that is funny the first couple of times, it doesn’t work when the meeting really gets underway.

Filling – Any stress ball with liquid or gel inside has the potential to break. Our stress balls are strong, we don’t sell weak ones, but sometimes they do fail. You don’t want the contents of a liquid-filled ball or Gel Stress Ball all over the table during a meeting.

During these stressful business times, giving out the right stress balls at your next business meeting, training session or event will yield huge returns.

Bill Ross
Founder & CEO
Office Playground, Inc.

Boss Day Gift Giving Tips

clock August 29, 2011 10:10 by author Office Toy Guy

Boss Day gift giving can be tough. Right off the bat, you are trying to buy the perfect gift for your Boss and that can be nerve racking. Your boss is the one who will decide or significantly influence your destiny in the company. Thus, don't give him/her a lame gift on Boss's Day. Since we specialize in Office Toys and unique corporate gifts, we felt it was time to provide some help to those seeking the ideal Boss Day Gift.

Buy a physical thing – Not a gift card and not lunch. That stuff is not memorable. Buy them something to display in their workspace. That means they will remember your kindness all day, every day, forever.

Don't be late – Give it to them on Boss's Day and not after Boss's Day. Giving a Boss Day gift says "I really appreciate you and I'm on my game". Giving a Boss Day gift late says "whoops, I blew it". Not giving a Boss Day gift at all is, well, not advisable.

How much to spend – This is the classic question surrounding Boss Day Gifts. The amount you spend is directly proportional to how much you like your boss or how badly you want a promotion. Our research indicates the perfect amount, in most cases, is $20.

Personality Type – Get your Boss a gift that corresponds to their personality type. You'll really score if you match the gift with their true self. Here are some of personality types to get you thinking:

Technology Geek

The Thinker

Playful Eccentric

Stressed to the Max!

Outside of work Interests – People tend to have little reminders of stuff they love in their office. Ask yourself "what do they love to do when they are not at work?". Since I love to fish, for instance, I'm a sucker for fish oriented toys on my desk. Here are some ideas:

The Golfer

The Animal Lover

The Jock

We hope this helps you nail the perfect Boss Day Gift this year. For more ideas, please see our Boss Day Gift Guide Here. We are happy to offer you free Boss Day Gift consulting, just call us at 800-458-1948 or email us.


Bill Ross
The Office Toy Guy
We make work fun!

Business Decisions

clock August 24, 2011 13:29 by author Office Toy Guy

Magic 8 Ball Bad business decisions are something every company tries to avoid, but they happen. Some legendary ones include the makers of M & M's decision to not allow their candy to appear in the movie ET. Reese's Pieces were used instead and the sales exploded. Jerry Yang decided to walk away from Microsoft and missed out on receiving $44.6 billion of Bill Gates' money. Many book editors rejected the Harry Potter book series and Decca Records had the opportunity to sign the Beatles and didn't.


An example of important decision making can be shown through choosing stock investments. The Chicago Sun-Times wanted to illustrate the often chance nature of picking stocks, so they had a monkey sit on newspaper stock pages and make marks on five stocks. As of January 2007, the stock-picking monkey had beaten the market four years running.

If you don't have the resources to hire a monkey, perhaps a fortune-telling item such as the Wall Street Guru Ball, the Mystical Orb, or the time honored Magic 8 Ball may help. The Dartboard Decision Maker is a fun and active alternative.

Dartboard Decision Maker Affirmation Ball Next time you're faced with a landmark decision, give the Affirmation Ball a shake; its response might be "Brilliant Idea!" However, the Sarcastic Ball might warn "Not a Chance!" and the Wall Street Guru might suggest "Ride it Out". The Dartboard Decision Maker offers many options. Give it a spin and toss the dart, which might land on "Take a Vacation," "Stay Late," "Call a Meeting," "Hire" or "Retire". A fortune telling ball or decision maker may not offer the appropriate advice, but it's sure to generate some lighthearted stress relief.

About Office Playground

phone: 800-458-1948

The Office Toy Guy is passionate about office toys and spending a little time playing at work. He also enjoys imaginary pinky wrestling (it’s similar to thumb wrestling but you use your pinky and you conduct matches in your mind against imaginary opponents), cooking, underwater speed-reading, massages, and an occasional lighthearted office prank. (He’s really the CEO of Office Playground!)

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