To hear some parents and teachers tell it, fidget spinners were spawned by satan himself. They weren’t. A woman from Florida named Catherine Hettinger invented them in the early ’90s, but that’s not the point. Over the past month, these palm-sized gadgets designed to help kids with ADHD channel their nervous energy have exploded into the hottest toy fad since Pokémon GO. Every kid wants one (or two, or three… yes, they’re collectibles). Stores can’t keep them in stock. And teachers are desperate to cast them from the classroom. But for all the complaints, pleas, and online rants, the craze shows no signs of abating.
Fidget spinners are essentially a modern-day take on the good old-fashioned, foam stress ball. Although these handheld stress-relievers are made of plastic or metal and feature an integrated ball bearing in the middle that allows them to spin ⏤ either between two fingers or on a table like a top ⏤ for what seems like … forever. Some of the best ones can rotate for up to four minutes. By all accounts, they’re either insanely annoying or insanely addictive.
And while they were used for years primarily as a therapeutic tool to help children with anxiety or attention disorder maintain focus and concentration (although research remains inconclusive as to their effectiveness), they’ve even grown in popularity among adults as a substitute for a whole range of nervous ticks, from foot-tapping, to hair twisting, to drumming on your desk until a coworker hurls a stapler across the office.
Of course, kids just like collecting them. And at this point, manufacturers are in so deep that spinners come in every shape, size, color, material (from cheap plastic to titanium), and price ⏤ the most expensive ones cost around $200. Seriously, if the spinning doesn’t make your head explode, the staggering number of choices will. Before you fall down an online rabbit hole here are five smooth spinning models to get you up to speed.
The Anti-Anxiety 360 Spinner
The Anti-Anxiety 360 showcases the classic three-pronged design ⏤ by far the most popular spinner shape. In addition to the high-speed center bearing, users can also give it a whirl by holding the individual spokes. These mid-priced fidgeters run around $14, claim a spin time of between one to three minutes, and are sold in chrome and gold. There’s even glow-in-the-dark version.
The creators of the FidgetCube, Antsy Labs, asked for $15,000 on Kickstarter ⏤ they raked in $6.4 million. That’s how big this thing is. While not a traditional spinner, per say, one side of this six-sided fidget toy does indeed go round and round. The other sides let users click a button, flip a switch, or toggle it like a joystick. It comes in eight colors and is currently available for pre-order.
The Bokate Crusader
For the kid who will eventually obsess over Game of Thrones, the medieval-style Bokate Crusader is a smaller, oval-shaped fingertip gyro made out of a sturdy aluminum, brass, or copper. It gets strong reviews for its solid feel, pocket size (especially for kids), and three-to-five minute spin time right out of the box. Also, that two-shield iconography is pretty sweet.
The Turbo Flower
The festive Turbo Flower combines a distinct gear shape and high-quality R188 bearing ⏤ not to mention five different colors⏤ to catch the eye and clock three-minute spin times. It also boasts individual balls to offer anxious fingers a non-spinning outlet. At $10, it’s targeted more toward the budget-conscious (and/or to parents with forgetful kids), and comes in a variety of shapes.
The gold standard of spinners, Torqbar is one of the early models that helped fuel the craze. It was designed by an IT guy in Seattle and is made using a special computer-controlled mill; it’s availble heavy brass, aluminum, copper, or titanium. More for adults than kids ⏤ or maybe realllllly responsible kids, Torqbars start at $130 and top out around $190. That is not a misprint ⏤ $200 for a toy that does nothing but spin. If only there was a desk somewhere around to drum.