Here's a quick quiz for you, and I'm expecting honest answers. Look at your desk - if you're at home, or using your laptop while sitting on the toilet, think of the desk you generally sit at - do you see a Newton's Cradle, lump of Silly Putty or magnetic sculpture made of paperclips? If you've answered yes to any of these options, immediately take out your credit card and pay a visit to the good people at Hammacher Schlemmer, purveyors of the pricey but interesting. You're looking for this:
That's right, you guessed it... it's a Desktop Music Composer. But not just any Desktop Music Composer, no; it's a winner of the Oppenheim Toy Award. Basically, by placing the differently shaped pieces on the board you can create up to 1,159 different sound and lightscapes, built up from categories such as Cosmic, Strings, Bass, Percussion, Keyboards, and Soothing. Additionally, a cuboid piece can be programmed with up to five seconds of sound - your chattering teeth, perhaps, or the distinctive hoot of a coot. The base unit can respond to three different pieces at a time, with controls for adjusting tempo, pitch, reverb and echo, and you can route your iPod (or anything else - it's a standard mini-jack audio input) through to mangle mp3s with those same effects. All the time your music is accompanied with a variety of time-synced lights.
Throw away your clichéd desk toys; this is the future. $59.95 and available now.
Desktop Music Composer [Hammacher Schlemmer]