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Old 01-31-2003, 10:04 AM
davesink davesink is offline
Join Date: Oct 2000
Posts: 229
arcade claw machine-strategy?

I've confess I've been lured into pumping a few coins into those arcade type "claw machines" that let you win a stuffed animal or some such crap and admittedly I'm no damn good at it. When it seems like the grabber is right on top of the thing, it slides impotently off the prize like a limp handshake. Still I've seen people winning at this game more than mere chance would seem to dictate, so I'm guessing there must be some sort of strategy involved. Any gurus care to share their secret?
Old 01-31-2003, 10:12 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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Location: England
Posts: 57,231
My sister is very good at these games; the 'strategy', if it can be described as one, seems to be picking a machine where the prizes are very loosely stacked and (if it is possible to estimate) not very heavy. Prizes of genuinely high value should be seen as a warning sign, as it will be pretty near impossible to get them out.

I wonder if there is more to these machines than meets the eye; I have played them and had the 'fingers' of the claw close completely around an item, only to have them slide open again (in exactly the manner you describe) when the claw rises - is it possible that there is some sort of randomising thing in the machine that only permits it to close tightly once in a while?
Old 01-31-2003, 10:28 AM
Gravity Gravity is offline
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Montpelier, VT
Posts: 1,203
The claw itself has a tension screw that determines how much weight it can hold. I've noticed in the past five years or so that the vast majority of the machines I've seen played have been set to a level of weakness that isn't fair for the players.

I think my dad said it best (he used to fix, maintain and fill these for his boss) when he said: "It's a sucker's game. Don't fall for it." And when my dad - a HUGE gambler! - doesn't think it's worth betting $.50, I know I'll stay away.
Old 01-31-2003, 10:55 AM
KneadToKnow KneadToKnow is offline
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Location: Charlotte, NC, USA
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That's funny, Gravity, because my dad used to say, "Everything works on TV."

That little sentence has saved me several shitloads of money.
Did you see that ludicrous display last night?
Old 01-31-2003, 10:58 AM
Tomcat Tomcat is offline
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Prague, CZ
Posts: 2,411
The only strategy that works for me: knock 'em in.

The people who own the things don't check them every hour (more like every week or two). After awhile, some will get stacked up to the edge with ones that *almost* went in, but didn't. Find the machine that has a prize near the edge that you can knock over into the chute. Basically, the claw doesn't do the work, the whole mechanism pushes/drags down the prize over the lip.

Old 01-31-2003, 11:21 AM
squid squid is offline
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: just over the horizon
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On a similar issue if you are into the "stuffed animal thing" make sure you hit the Midway/Arcade area of the state fairs EARLY in the day. They like to give out the big ones early to get people saying "gee look at all the winners" I should probably go play too.
Old 01-31-2003, 11:34 AM
Ethilrist Ethilrist is offline
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Saint Paul
Posts: 26,348
I helped a guy move a couple months ago who had worked as a chef at a restaurant that had one of these machines in the lobby. He had five big garbage bags (like, leaf bags) filled with stuffed animals he had taken out of the machine.

And those were just the "good" ones he had kept...
Old 01-31-2003, 12:26 PM
shelbo shelbo is offline
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 1,499
Look for a farily loose stuffed animal, with a head that looks like it would fit perfectly in the claw, that doesn't have anything that would obstruct the claws grasp. If there is no such thing, don't even try. Also, be aware that the most expensive thing in there is probably worth $1 or less.
Old 01-31-2003, 03:04 PM
ElvisL1ves ElvisL1ves is offline
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Location: The land of the mouse
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Only go for the stuffed animals with either heads or bodies (not both) large enough to just fit in the claws. That minimizes the chances of droppage in the lift. Smaller toys, and ones without fluffy sides that can put some friction against the claws, are hopeless.

As stated already, look only for toys that will lift cleanly. Many operators will stuff them in so that, even if you get a good grip, they cannot be lifted.

Also be sure to line up the claws directly over the targeted portion of the targeted item in both directions. You must have a good view of the case from the side as well as the front to do this. Then just push the button and wait. If you can't get it the first time, forget it and save your money.

With those precautions in place, I have had a pretty good success rate.
Old 01-31-2003, 03:19 PM
Yarster Yarster is offline
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: San Diego, CA, USA
Posts: 1,805
As a master of this game myself, my advise is the same as everyone else in terms of prize size, texture, and position. I do have a few other hints, however, that have not been mentioned.

Go right after the prizes have been refilled in the machine. At the Denny's near us, this is at 11:00am on Wednesdays. We make it an early lunch and clean up. Basically, some places will stack up a mountain of toys/ animals and the ones in the back are at the same height as the claw before it is dropped. Then all you have to do is get a claw arm hooked behind one at the top of the mountain in the back, and pull forward quickly to knock it down and tumble over the other animals over the edge.

Often a prize will be partially hanging over the edge, When this is the case, move the claw so that only one arm will hit the part hanging over and position the rest of the claw over the drop chute. When the claw drops, it will go all the way down into the chute (often disappearing from view. If you do it right, you can catch the claw on the prize and the rest of the weight will pull it all the way over.

There are also different version of the game. Some let you drop the claw part way and still move it around in the x and y direction. If you find one of those, it's pay dirt (they will often be called 'bump and win' machines). Drop the claw part way and use it to hit the prizes over the edge rather than grabbing them directly.

Finally, it terms of prizes themselves, the easiest thing to grab is a baseball hat (all things being equal and unobstructed) assuming the back plastic pieces are clipped together. Get an arm through the half moon shaped gap at the back and no matter how little strength the claw has, it still graps those most of the time.
Old 01-31-2003, 03:51 PM
drachillix drachillix is offline
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 9,789
Originally posted by Mangetout
is it possible that there is some sort of randomising thing in the machine that only permits it to close tightly once in a while? [/B]
This would be an illegal gambling machine in most areas if it did this.
The claw itself has a tension screw that determines how much weight it can hold.
[ex-amusement park ops guy checks in]

This is correct.

Most arcade redemption pays out 20-40% of income value. So you may want to shy away from high value prizes. This percentage gives the operators a balance between cost and replay value. If someone plays 3-4 times and wins a prize they will often try again. If the prizes cost $1 each, and 5 .50 cent plays get one prize, most people will be pretty happy with themselves.

Dragging prizes over the edge and such is possible but most machines these days won't let you do that.


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