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Dan Looks at Office Toys 193

Daniel Rutter writes "In a move that's made me wonder afresh whether I'm actually living this life or just dreaming it, I've just put up a review of a bunch of office toys. Two rubber band guns, a pneumatic ping-pong ball launcher, a bubble gun, some iridescent bouncing putty, a frickin' CROSSBOW that shoots sucker darts, and a couple of high-flying ring-ins that aren't really suitable for indoor play at all."
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Dan Looks at Office Toys

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  • So where do I get a job that allows me such freedoms?
    • by motardo ( 74082 )
      how about any job? ;)
    • Well, considering Dan Rutter at least writes for (not sure if he works there), I'm sure that atomic magazine [] would be a fairly likely candidate.

      For those of you in Aus, Atomic is the best computer mag I've found in Australia - hardly any ads, and interesting articles which are actually worth reading and not trivial.
  • Work wasn't suppose to be fun?
    • Well, horseplay fun yes. I like many others just get a charge out of playing with BIG iron UNIX servers and other types of servers. So, work is fun for me, but it is work. Leave the toys at home boys! Oh unless it's a PDA, Digicam or laptop! :)
  • Huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 06, 2002 @10:54PM (#4022940)
    Wait, didn't all the .com's go out of business because of this crap?

    I dislike work as is, do I really need someone shooting darts at me?
    • Consider it a case of workplace Darwinism. Nothing motivates the guys in the cubes like the knowledge that a dart barrage to the head will follow a missed deadline.

      Even better, nothing makes the team go berserk if they can open up on the boss if they do -really- well.

      • yeah okay. Because nothing keeps HR etc from reducing headcount to raise revenue per employee like a good game of "shoot a rubber band at me."
    • I dislike work as is, do I really need someone shooting darts at me?
      I'd rather bring a plate.
    • Mod that guy up! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by fmaxwell ( 249001 ) on Wednesday August 07, 2002 @02:27AM (#4023574) Homepage Journal
      That was a +5 insightful/funny comment if I ever read one!

      For you folks that haven't looked lately, the job market for computer professionals is in the toilet. Restored arcade video games, all the free soda you want, bringing your pets to work, dressing like a you're at a Grateful Dead concert, and running around the office like a kid with ADD who forgot their Ritalin is out. Companies can hire professionals that look, dress, and behave the part. If you refuse to work somewhere unless they have a shiatsu massage chair, then apply at Brookstone because you're not going to find a tech job that does anymore.
    • No, they want out of business because they got money soley on hype. You give someone 10+million, and they have only a scethcy busniss plan with no managment experience, you will fail with or without toys. The toys just keep people happy until the cash in on the IPO. The there rich so they have no incentive NOT to play.
      "Never hire someone who can call in rich"
  • by acehole ( 174372 ) on Tuesday August 06, 2002 @10:54PM (#4022943) Homepage
    It's all fun and games till someone looses an eye.

    (Even then you point and laugh)
  • ...and in other news, the DOW is down 800 points since March.
    • Ughh, this article would be nice if:

      1. Worked in an office
      2. Had a job
      3. Had money to buy toys
      4. Had time to play with them.

      Other than that . . . GREAT article.

      In spite of all of this I still want that rubber band gattling gun [] that was featured on /. [] a while ago.
  • What about the iMac []?
  • While some of these toys look like great fun, particuarly the crossbow ( anyone remember Secretary with a Crossbow from Dilbert? ), I'll stick to playing UT and such at work. More safe violence, less effort.
  • a pneumatic ping-pong ball launcher

    Hmm, I didn't know sex toy's were getting advanced enough to do THAT!!!! ;-P

  • A "Give-the-boss-an-Enema" (tm) voodoo doll.
  • Now I see why IT is a dead industry. If only I would have had such insight when I was choosing my studies at the University. Then again, I probably would have been smart and started working right out of high school. (WANTED: Applications Programmer. 3+ years experience required.)

    At least I have my vast knowledge of liberal arts to keep me warm at night and my degree in case I run out of toilet paper.
    • is this what they do in the real world? I am trying hard as hell to find a job and people that have them get to run around shooting fucking rubber bands at e/o instead of doing work.

      My last job I worked 100% of the time that I was there. I didn't have downtime to talk on AIM or surf the web (well, we weren't allowed to in the first place). The most free-time I would have was the hour of breaks.

      Hey, anyone out there who is looking for a responsible, recently unemployed, history major with geek status please let me know. At least I won't be wasting your money shooting off all the spare rubber bands in the utility drawers.
    • Score 3 insightful? How about -1 has rod up butt. Nobody actually PLAYS with the toys in cubicles now that the bubble has burst. But they still impress the casual visitor...
  • Uh.. slow newsweek is it, lads?
    • WTF are you talking about? Earlier today they reported on that new Windows exploit! HELLO?! Windows has been exploited. This is history here!
    • well I guess it doesn't come much more nerd-ish than this eh? Spending lots of money on plastic office toys... me, I am saving up for skydiving lessons :-))

  • Ya know, Daniel, after 10 seconds of watching your computer virus scanner banner and a blank page, I kinda lost interest and wandered on over to Think Geek [] and induldged in their cube goodies. I tell ya though, you almost got me with the fitness pop-up It was close... Think Geek or Scrub site... Think Geek or Scrub site... Choices, choices.
  • by lingqi ( 577227 ) on Tuesday August 06, 2002 @11:17PM (#4023014) Journal
    like this []?
  • NERF (Score:2, Interesting)

    While the things on the site were all well and good, I doubt any of them compair to the line of nerf products. These things will start wars to end all wars in many cubicle farms, and only end when all ammo has been destroyed.
    • Re:NERF (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ellesar1 ( 242470 )
      I must agree whole-heartedly. My Nerf Powerclip is an accurate, fully-automatic weapon. It is very accurate around 20+ feet. I mounted a little laser to the side, and I could draw a red bead on the back of someone's head.... and BAM! Either a double tap, or just fully unload 10 rounds in 20 sec. It was a thing of beauty. The suction darts stuck half the time, so that was cool, and the whistlers flying past one's ear were too cool. (unfortunately, our company kind of dissolved, so my toys are home now :( )
      • by Genom ( 3868 )
        I think I worked for that company. I clearly remember a powerclip-wielding madman taking pot shots across the office, into the air, etc... All that ended in March. So sad. It was fun while it lasted.
    • you scruff nerf herder! oh wait...

      Nerf is second rate. there was a company that came out with pump dart guns that could shoot a dart 30 feet, very accuratlly, and hit hard enough to make my co workers jump.
      unfortunatly NERF bought them, then started there own, less powerfull pump products.. sigh.
  • Play time? (Score:2, Funny)

    by yeoua ( 86835 )
    Wait, they got recess after lunch at these companies now? Damn... I'm working at the wrong place, we actually have to work here.
  • by crystalplague ( 547876 ) on Tuesday August 06, 2002 @11:23PM (#4023028)
    me and my friend use to set up pillow bunkers in his room about 20 feet apart and use his 2 rubber band guns in wars. those things HURT. Especially when the main tactic was to make a fully enclosed bunker except for an eye hole...which in retrospect was not a good tactic. Ever been hit with super stretched rubber bands from 20 feet away in the eye at 5hits/sec? not fun...oh the blindness, the pain. all in all though it was good fun until one person decided "screw this" and rushed the other, ripping down his bunker and holding the gun up to whatever bare skin he could find and unloading.
  • does anybody know where one could find a set of mini remote control submarines? 50-galon fish tank size ones, so we can duel it out the office? i've seen pictures and some stuff about ones in japan, but cant find buying info.
  • The Bandit Crossbow! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Mzilikazi ( 115009 ) on Tuesday August 06, 2002 @11:30PM (#4023059) Homepage
    I had one of those when I was a kid. Or rather, my little gun nut brother did, but I used it frequently. Back in the 80s, toy guns didn't have to be bright fluorescent colors, so it was a sleek matte black. The little suction cup darts were fun and all, but this toy definitely lent itself to some modification.

    First, you could get more power out of each shot by looping the string around the ends of the bow. This slight modification meant that the suction cup darts would go way to fast to stick to anything, but would hurt like a muthafucka. The next step, naturally, was to replace the safe and cushy ammunition with sharpened pencils, which worked great. They would stick in the wall if aimed properly. (Of course, eye protection was important here, because occasionally shots would get flipped straight up instead of horizontally.)

    Steel ball bearings didn't work as well, but that's what the slingshot was for. :)

    God that thing was fun.


    • This has to be the first time a Slashdot post has been referred to *in the original article*!
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I'm glad to see they changed the Bandit from its old black paintjob to the new yellow. I had one of these in college, and when walking across campus with it one day (we were going to ambush a math prof outside his, I don't remember why) I was stopped by the police (real cops, not campus police).

      Needless to say, it took a bit of convincing (and me shooting my roommate who was with me) to prove it wasn't dangerous.

      Ah...the Bandit...great toy...
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I had a matte black bandit crossbow and I have an older brother.. hm.. ;)

      Seriously, these things did hurt like a motherfucka when altered as you said. I found the best trick was to ditch the default rope that came with it and use a tighter wire, but still wrap it around the corners of the bow. Pencils were not really the best ammo since they were so thin, they sometimes got swept over and didn't fire, or fired waaaay off kilter when did. No, the best ammo when properly tightened is a fat Crayola(tm) magic marker, of course with the cap off ;)

      The best ammo I ever made for it was a small amber medicine bottle filled with ball bearing. My gullible best friend let me shoot things off the top of his head. Even when experimenting with the bottle o' bearings. Let's just say I didn't account for the weight of the bottle slightly dropping it, and my (one time) best friend didn't appreciate his hospital visit.

      God, that was fun.
    • we just removed the dart and placed a ppush pin in its place. those thing will stick to anybody.I mean anything.
      by sling shot, I assume you mean wrist rocket ;)
    • Steel ball bearings didn't work as well, but that's what the slingshot was for. :)

      I had a similar suction cup crossbow when I was a kid, only mine was made of wood. I used it to fire small firecrackers (up to 3x3/8"). We lived next to a park, and after about a week of practice I could fire right into the park at good accuracy and make the crackers explode at about head level, scaring the hell out of anyone passing by because they didn't know where I was....

      God, that was fun. And evil, too.

  • I fucking hated office toys at ricochet support. Some of you might have read my former comments about the company and it's culture, well here's a bad tale of office toys from the evergrowing adventures of toqer...

    I got my job at ricochet right after quitting my job as a grey market motherboard salesman. Somehow I manged to convince Mike Newton that I was phone support material and subsequently landed the job. I excelled at my post to the point where some of the lackies started to ph34r m3.

    One of the first things I noticed was all the "old school" staff had these nerf guns. I asked Jaqueline Schuman if I could get one of these.

    "No only LEVEL 2 techs may have them"
    Fucking bitch. Fuck you.

    The senior techs used to love waste hours of the day just having nerf wars back and forth, unfortunately it was us level 1 techs that got caught in the crossfire. Here those jackasses would screw off all day, and on top of it make our jobs harder by pelting us with nerf balls.

    On this paticular day, I had been on the phone trying to help a customer when a nerf ball hit me right in my plantronics. I knew where it came from, I looked over at Jaquelines cube to see her pretending to be innocent.

    I grabbed that ball and hurled it. I wanted to hit above her head to scare her a bit, but I misjudged, held the ball too long, and it struck her right in the face. Hard.. Really hard..

    Mark something a rather just saw my volley, he didn't see hers. BLAM fucking asshole picked up the ball, and I got nailed in the plantronics a second time.

    Well after I got fired from there (after numerous underhanded attempts to get me to quit) I vowed never to work in an office that allowed this kind of horseplay again, and I never did.

    • and I never did

      Good to see I won't have to put up with your martyr attitude any time soon.

    • Oh, the irony that the company was named "Ricochet."
    • So -you're- what happened to the kid that cried when we pelted him with the dodgeball in 5th grade. Glad to see you're doing well.

  • My vote goes to the Levitron [], a magnetic top that actually levitates. Awesome for parties. Just don't get it too near your CRT... (for the 3% of you who still have CRT's, that is...)
  • This isn't 1999, and some people who are qualified and didn't work for a dotcom still can't find jobs, even after 7 months. Maybe I am bitter since a group of programmers I worked with used such toys and escaped the lay off. ( Well okay I'm not bitter, they're not really programmers, just asp and VBscript monkies.)

    But anyway, play your games, but don't be surprised when suddenly your revenue per employee number is just not cutting it for the quarter and that's the reason they give when they 'right-size', even though your department has been trying to hire 10 people for 3 months.

  • What surprised me about this was that I owned probably at least half of the toys when I was a kid, which gets longer and longer ago...

    I still own the crossbow, the rubber band pistol, and a burp gun.For the record, the crossbow -does- sting like hell when shot with it. Not that some friends of mine and I used to go around in the woods with them or anything...

  • it is not funny at all.
    i will buy all of these.
    and use them on you.
    if you do not give me back my stapler.
    are you trying to take my stapler? []
    I wouldn't advise it.
    If you do.
    There will only be one thing left [].
  • I'd like to work in an office that has a fish tank of red-bellied piranhas in them, with frikkin' crossbows on their heads.
  • There's something about responding to pages from a cranky datacenter while reading an article like this... it just takes me back. :-)
  • Full disclosure: If you follow any of the Backyard Artillery or Puttyworld links in this review and then buy stuff, I'll get a cut of the profit. This fact has not influenced the content of this review at all. The booze and prostitutes these nice people sent me, now they influenced the heck out of me. But the percentage of the sales? Not at all.
    While this may be true...I'm sure the kickback for being an affiliate was incentive enough to submit a late night story to /., now wasn't it...

    Methinks it's time someone shot Dan from a trebuchet [].

  • Mere Childs Play (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    All these pitiful guns could easily be topped by one simple device, a 3 to 4 foot peice of PVC pipe that fits nicely around a nerf dart. It is incredibly intuitive to aim and disturbingly powerful.You can easily hit anything from as much as 30ft away. In a nerf war simply peeking around a corner could get you a dart suckered to your face.
  • I think I will mount one of these [] in my office.. you know.. just in case I want to beat the crap out of someone. Now that is a rubber band gun. ;)
  • a frickin' CROSSBOW that shoots sucker darts
    I'll get excited once they have 'sharks with frickin LASER BEAMS attached to their heads' [] (link to wav file)
  • by IntelliTubbie ( 29947 ) on Wednesday August 07, 2002 @12:18AM (#4023217)
    Why a standard-issue ergonomic office chair is the ultimate cube toy:
    • Can be operated as a stand-alone unit (chair goes up! chair goes down! chair goes up!) or in a networked environment (a vigorous game of CHAIRBALL).
    • Easily disguised as an "innocent" piece of furniture.
    • Unlike a rubber band machine gun, your company will probably pay for you to have one.
    • Marginally more comfortable to sit on than a crossbow.
    • Don't forget ChairLuge. I know some of them kids are doing the ChairSkeleton, but they be crazy.

      One office I worked in even had a 4-man ChairBobSled team...don't ask...

      The best technique is to find (install) 2 comm racks to create a starting gate. Races work much like a dragrace.
    • Well, do you know those solid fuel rocket motors they use for model rockets?

      I was just thinking what would happen if I bought a set of those and attached them firmly to a cow-orkers Office Chair.

      My only problem is to decide whether to set them all pointing in the same direction for maximal linear thrust, or like a catherine wheel?

      Any suggestions?

  • Aftering see all these office toys on that web page, you wonder if some office cubicle workers need to be paid combat pay with those rubber band guns, "burp" shooters, and crossbow dart shooters. :-/

    It might be needed in places like Google and Microsoft, where hijinks using these devices are quite common. (shrug)
  • by zenyu ( 248067 ) on Wednesday August 07, 2002 @12:40AM (#4023317)

    I just keep repeating that over and over again in my head. $800+S/H.

    I could finally discover how big a silly puddy ball can get and still bounce...

    I could glue a cat to the wall by it's paws!

    I could transfer an entire newspaper to puddy!
    • A friend of mine did this. He bought a 100 pounds of silly putty, broke it into one pound chunks and sold them for $12.

      100 pounds of silly putty is about the size of two boxes of printer paper.

      Playing with a pound of silly putty is so much cooler that one of the dinky little eggs.

  • Why not... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Polo ( 30659 ) on Wednesday August 07, 2002 @12:53AM (#4023374) Homepage
    Why not cut to the chase and bring
    • THIS []
    to work...
    • In case you were ever wondering about trebuchet's, they have this nice little disclaimer:
      WARNING! This model contains a fast moving beam that can whack you silly if you get too close when firing. Always use under adult supervision.
      hrm...after reading these threads...I don't think adult supervision counts for much anymore =)
  • Where was all this stuff when I was playing Killer []? =)

  • by guttentag ( 313541 ) on Wednesday August 07, 2002 @01:38AM (#4023473) Journal
    • PS2
    • Wireless DSL connection
    • Cable TV
    • Full-sized refrigerator
    • My couch
    • My backyard
    • My bed
    Oh, wait. Do you have to be employed to answer this survey? I can't remember what toys I used to play with... they all seem so insignificant by comparison.
  • Great (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Millions out of work, and we're making lists of office toys.

    No wonder business fails to produce anything.
  • when were kids (no wife, I promise I don't do this anymore! :)) we used to extract the spring from a spring piston airgun (you know, every family has...erm... had one :) . Then attach it to an innocent looking thick marker pen, and Voila, you can shoot your schoolmates so accurate and with such power that you are bound to become the Borg and rest of them will be just... assimilated.... well this lasted only as long as that kid with red pimples on his face made up a good design on machine gun, based on otherwise same design, but used compressed air instead... and now you can get those guns in every little shop.
  • ...he's upstaging Taco.
    Dan Looks at Office Toys
    Does he really belong in the coveted three-letter moniker class with RMS? Is his first name so recognizable that I should be slapping my head and saying, "Oh, Dan!" <WHACK>

    This isn't a troll, all I ask is that we try to include the last names of people-who-didn't-come-up-with-something-like-GNU- or-emacs in headlines when we use their first names. Or leave the name out of the headline altogether and just focus on the subject of the article?

    • Dan is da man!! He's the geek's geek. A veritable god of the technophile.

      RMS? He's got nothing on Dan ... let's face it, Dan has a much better sense of humor.

      Cmdr Taco? As much as we love out beloved Commander and his anime fetish, it just doesn't stack up to Dan's love affair with LED lights, CPU coolers, and radio controlled Sherman tanks.

      If you feel compelled to find out more about Dan, just visit his website: . You will not come away unenlightened.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Employees running the halls with rubber-band guns while the executives stuff their pockets with options, expense accounts and investors' money, and HR refuses to hire anyone?

    Or are they just thumbing their nose at everyone?
  • 1) twist the rubber band before let go it will fly further and straighter.
    2) the ultima weapon is a telephone, it's a reloadable weapon as long as you still hold the handset
  • nerf and stuff (Score:2, Informative) has a lot of good nerfing stuff, although it's pretty dead lately with the lack of new guns.

    If you want to see how to make your own darts, complete with a few videos, check this out: ht ml
  • What's the justification for that? Can you picture some guy moving down people with a crossbow, or concealing it in his pants?
  • This [] may be the coolest geek toy I have ever seen. Four horizontally mounted propellers on a carbon fibre X-frame. Gyro stablized and electrically powered. 5 minutes of free-flight time.

    Yours for the low, low price of {cough}{cough} US$799. :)

    A guy can dream, can't he?


  • by lugonn ( 555020 ) on Wednesday August 07, 2002 @01:47PM (#4026209)
    I still think this [], is the best toy Dan's got.

    I built one almost like it. but I didn't use a kit. Just some Bass wood stock/dowels, glue, large paper clips (trigger, release), and hemp cord.

    Shoots quarters/nickels 30 ft. w/1 lbs. counter weight. Needs more weight so I can shoot heavy split shots though.

  • It's called a computer. You should see all the stuff it can do.

Loose bits sink chips.