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Which claw machines are best?

Many people can recall a time when they attempted the addicting claw game at their local arcade. These simple machines feature a metal claw that can be lowered to retrieve a toy or snack from behind a glass window, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. 

Fans of the game can now hone their skills by purchasing a mini claw machine for their home. The Constructive Playthings Carnival Crane Claw Game is the top pick because it features realistic sound effects and a durable metal construction. 

What to know before you buy a claw machine

Types of claw machines

Most traditional claw machines are found in restaurants and arcades, and they typically require payment before the game can be started. In lieu of real coins, many at-home machines come with a number of plastic tokens that can be dropped into the coin slot to activate the game. You can also find devices that function like interactive piggy banks, allowing you to drop in spare change and retrieve it at a later date. 

Claw machines are usually designed for kids, with bright, colorful designs and flashing lights, but you can also find devices that are intended for adults. These claw machines usually feature a larger joystick and may come with adult-oriented prizes instead of toys. If you’re buying this claw machine as a gift, think about which of these types the recipient is going to enjoy the most. 


Classic claw machine games come with a very simple control panel that consists of a joystick and at least one button. The joystick is used to maneuver the claw itself, with the ability to move forward, backward, left and right. Pressing the button lowers the claw onto your target. Once the claw is lowered, it automatically closes around your prize and brings it to you. You can also find machines with two or three joysticks, one for each direction. This type of claw game is a little tricky to master but can offer precise control once you get the hang of it. 

What to look for in a quality claw machine

Empty vs. prefilled

You can either purchase a claw machine that’s empty or already filled with prizes. A prefilled machine offers more bang for your buck, but you won’t have any control over the quality of the prizes. An empty device lets you choose the prizes yourself, from cute stuffed animals to educational books and even smartphones. If you choose an empty machine, just make sure that the claw is going to be able to grasp your added prizes. 


Your machine’s power source is usually going to depend on its size. Miniature claw games are typically powered with replaceable batteries or charged via USB cable, while larger devices may need to be plugged into a power outlet. If the claw machine is a gift, consider the power source ahead of time so the recipient can start playing right away. 


Most claw machines are constructed from either metal or plastic. Look for a game that’s made with food-grade materials or plastic that’s free of bisphenol A, commonly known as BPA. This is particularly important if you’re using candy as prizes. 

Special effects

For an extra-immersive experience, look for a claw machine that comes with realistic sound effects or flashing lights. These features can add some excitement and make it feel as though you’re at a real arcade or carnival. 

How much you can expect to spend on a claw machine

The cost of a claw machine will usually depend on its size and whether it comes prefilled or empty. That being said, you can probably expect to spend around $40-$100 for a solidly built game that people of all ages will enjoy. 

Claw machine FAQ

How do I beat a claw machine game?

A. While no method is guaranteed to work every time, practice makes perfect. Learn how to handle the joystick properly, and look for prizes that are resting on top of the pile. 

Are claw machines safe for all ages? 

A. While claw machines are generally considered safe for most children, avoid small prizes that could pose a choking hazard and any machines with a prize slot that could trap a child’s hand.

What’s the best claw machine to buy?

Top claw machine

Constructive Playthings Carnival Crane Claw Game

Constructive Playthings Carnival Crane Claw Game

What you need to know: This popular claw machine has a classic look and is constructed of metal and BPA-free plastic. 

What you’ll love: Three joysticks are included for precise claw control, and you can choose to use the included tokens or real change when playing the game. Realistic sound effects of applause and carnival music play every time you win. 

What you should consider: This compact claw machine is only big enough to hold tiny prizes like candy or small stuffed animals. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top claw machine for the money

Joyin Extra Large Claw Machine

Joyin Extra Large Claw Machine

What you need to know: This kid-friendly claw machine comes with a ton of accessories, including prizes. 

What you’ll love: This machine is charged via USB cable and comes with 10 plush toys, 12 tokens and round capsules so you can add your own mini prizes. The device also features immersive lights and sound effects.

What you should consider: This colorful claw machine is perhaps best suited for young children. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Bundaloo Big Rig Claw Machine Arcade Game

Bundaloo Big Rig Claw Machine Arcade Game

What you need to know: This claw machine features a construction site theme and comes with 30 reusable tokens. 

What you’ll love: The device features realistic arcade sound effects and a unique tractor design. The claw machine comes empty so you can fill it with your own small toys, candy and more. 

What you should consider: This claw machine is powered by three D batteries, which aren’t included. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Patrick Farmer writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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