Beat the claw machine, save your sanity.


How many times have you passed one of these annoying things and thrown 50 cents away? I'm hugely guilty of it. I can't resist them. One time I got six out in a row, then I've gone years with no success. Is there a secret?

Well, it seems there is. And seeing as how I've spent some time warning you away from a lot of fairground cons recently, I thought I'd try and be positive about at least one of them.

I did a little research and found several places offering some basic advice. I'm not entirely sure how much of this is based on hardcore scientific proof, and how much is just observation, but I'm willing to learn anything I can to beat the crane game system.

So, first here's a little advice from all over the WWW:

  • Go for 3-pronged claws. They are supposedly a little kinder to you than 4-pronged claws.
  • Don't believe the hype about grease. The claws aren't coated in it, but they are very shiny and polished.
  • Look carefully at the selection. The machine stockers will try to tuck most toys tightly together.
  • Use a friend. There are two POVs, and lining up your claw perfectly is easier with a guide at your side.
  • Timing is everything. Spend most of your time controlling the claw, and the last few seconds to grab.
  • Most important. BAIL after a couple of bucks. Don't spend $15 on a $5 stuffed toy.

All that is all well and good, but I knew most of it from the experience I'd had over the years I spent in front of claw machines. So I searched deeper, and found a show on G4 called Brainiac had done the hard research for me. And the results? Well, check them out in this cool video below. Next time you pass a claw machine, you may be armed with enough knowledge to beat it. Good luck, claw hounds.

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Andrea Karim's picture

I HATE those stupid machines! I've done all that you have said, but I swear that the vast majority are rigged. What usually happens to me is I will get the claw around a toy, and it won't grip it at all. I really feel like that kind of thing should be illegal.

Guest's picture

me and my bro al ways play those machines and one stands on the side of the machine and the other one stands at the controles we win almost every time

Guest's picture

I'm a 13 year old kid and the thing that it tells you to count how many people win and loose is not true! I went to CN SKATE PALACE on a field trip and ended up coming home with 12 stuffed animals! Same thing happened at a local pizza store!

Guest's picture
Guest Ting

Hello, i'm a Singaporean. And i would like to find out how really the toy crane machines work. Today, I've been playing like ard 4games, but my efforts are wasted. I'm currently in the midst of wooing a girl, and she seems to like the soft toy in the toy crane machine alot. Can someone please tell me ways of how to increase the success rate or some useful tips? Thanks in advance(:

Guest's picture
Guest Ting

Looks like nobody can give me any comments or any ideas or advices to help catch those toys. But it's okay. Thanks anyway ;D

Guest's picture

I'm from HK and I regularly manage to win toys. Here some of them are good quality Beanie toys or Disney characters. The machines do tend to have their own personalities. There is always one machine that is easier to handle. Try doing a circuit of the machines and get a feel for handle resistance and the time allocated before the claw starts dives.

Choose the toy carefully. It should be as near to the chute as possible. Aim the claw. Wait for it to stop swinging. Press the button then remove your finger immediately.
This part is important.

Some machines only muster enough gripping power every five or more cycles. The claw will pick up the toy, transport it a certain distance then drop it, again and again. You just need to dig in.

Try grabbing the neck for bulkier toys.

Don't be too stingy with your coins. You don't want to run out at the good bit.

One last word of warning. Watch out for creepy grabber stalkers! They hang back at a distance waiting for you to give up or scurry off to get more coins while they are silently counting the rotations on your machine. Then BANG they pounce!

I should know. It happened to me yesterday in Tsuen Wan. I was two coins short
of the prize but there was a lone man watching me like a hawk. I slinked off with a bad feeling and came back to see him gleefully grabbing the toy from the chute. He actually flourished it in front of my face and grinned.

Anyway, why do I love these machines? Well, a certain degree of technical skill is required and there is always a little bit of luck involved but when people win you hear them whoop with joy and they've got a little souvenir for their efforts.

Who wouldn't love that?

I hope this helps. Happy grabbing!


Guest's picture

but if you get six in a row then how does brainiac's thing make any sense ?

i don't think that that's how all of them work ><

Guest's picture

I find the one at my local fair really easy and I win almost every time. once I picked up 4 at once and that's no joke!

Guest's picture
another guest

you dont always have to grab them sometimes you can push them with the claw. make sure you can get a good grip on the toy to the point of the fingers meeting or almost meet go for higher up toys on your first try look how the claw spins down how far it goes and remember that on your next try

Guest's picture

Stupid machines I always see people on them at the shops and stuff I hate them why don't you just buy the toy if you really want it half the time the stupid thing dosnt even touch. I feel like a bit of an idiot because the other day I played one just for a stupid eagles football stuff me it cost $2.00 and no I did not win it.

Guest's picture

I want an Ipod from those infernal contraptions

Guest's picture

There is a voltage meter in the lower cabinet (locked) which controls the grip strength of the claw. The person who collects the money out of the machine usually tries to keep it so you spend about $8.50 per toy. If the operator wants to make more money, they simply turn down the voltage, thus reducing the claw's gripping strength.

Guest's picture
crane game

I find that the ones that have small basketballs and other types of balls are easiest to win at. Also, older machines have a set claw strength instead of pick it it up and drop it sort of thing. The cheaper the prize, the easier it is to win.

Guest's picture

These machines have a little box locked away at the back with a few dials on it. they're programmed to have a loose grip then tightens on a set go. if you fail to win at this point it lowers the amount of turns taken to win and so on until someone does win. then resets to a low PSI.

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