This comic strip is so true!
I am one of those coworkers with little toys on my desk (one from one of my bosses). My favorite is a simple 3-D puzzle made out of plastic blocks, requiring you to figure out how to assemble them together to make a predetermined shape. On the really stressful days, taking a minute to play with the puzzle seems to lift the mood. Even my coworkers will come over and play with the puzzle while talking about work.
Unfortunately, there are a few coworkers that frown on making the office environment “fun.” I can understand that (to an extent), since I don’t like listening to my coworkers music or their telephone conversations down the hall from my office. But toys? Toys are harmless!
I do think that there should be a limit on the amount of novelty on the desk though, but more for practical reasons that for the distraction aspect. If you cannot spread out your paperwork and your files since your action figures or desktop putting green are in the way, then you have too many toys on your desk. Just take a few of the items off the desk, and then rotate them in and out over the course of the month. That will put the “novel” back into “novelty.”