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Grab The Fun With The Candy Claw Machine - Arcade Game Maker Lab


Eye To Hand Coordination Doesn’t Always Work

Those of us old enough remember going to an arcade that was filled with pinball machines (yes going that far back) and more recently than that the arcade video game cabinets. Lots of noise and quarters swallowed and grunts and groans as players tried to either smash dump a pinball or blow aliens to smithereens. But lurking in a corner or side space and always laughing at everyone was the claw machine — a large glass enclosure filled with a unique blend of prizes that ranged from cheap to expensive, and spanned the ages of pop culture with plush and other toys based on TV shows and Japanese anime and portable video games and Hello Kitty and so much more that dazzled the eye if nothing else. And all it took was a couple of quarters and nerves of steel to operate the mechanism. Which consisted of a series of simple controls: one to make the claw on the inside go down and another to make the claw go up (with the claw opening and closing as necessary) and a joystick for going left and right and from front and back. The idea being of course to position the claw over the desired prize and then lower the claw and grip the prize and bring it back up and over to the drop off point. The simplicity of what you had to do belied the reality of being able to do it. This brought joy to the company owning the claw and pain and suffering (both mental and financial) to the person trying to own the claw.

So why deprive today’s young children of the opportunity to feel such a range of emotions, but in a positive and non-threatening way that won’t break their piggy bank? That’s why Thames and Kosmos’ Candy Claw Machine - Arcade Game Maker Labis such a doozy. Because it not only mimics what a claw machine can do, but teach the person assembling and using it about the makings of the workings: so hydraulics vie with levers and gears and belts and linkages and effectors — some of which is easily understood and some of which takes a bit to gain the needed knowledge.


Hand Powered Mechanics

First things first — there’s no need for electricity or any powered motors because everyone relies on mechanical interactions between the various parts and the source of the power which is the child’s hand (or parents). And because. it’s part of the name we should mention that the lollipops are included. As are a series of empty prize boxes (which could be easily filled and then mixed up inside).

The purpose of the Candy Claw Machine - Arcade Game Maker Lab is twofold: at its basic it’s about having fun and playing a game of “Claw” by engaging hand to eye coordination and learning to exhibit patience and confidence through execution. But of course it’s also all about STEM — standing for science, technology, engineering and math and being about learning basic and useful 21st century skills towards furthering one’s knowledge and education of the world, solving problems and gaining a better understanding of what makes the world tick. Critically thinking being a strong part of this as well.


Do It Yourself

It’s also important to note that this is not a put together once and that’s it process — the gear ratios can be adjusted to impact the claw, for example, and there are three different claw shapes to select from. And as is standard with most Thames and Kosmos STEM kits, a full color manual is included, and which ties in with online assembly and troubleshooting videos. Ages 6+ need some supervision and help, while 8+ can work through it on their own — all ages benefiting from encouragement as they take the assembly step by step.

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So the assembly is fairly simple — in that you follow the detailed instructions in order to actuate the claw’s movements. You’ll be putting cranks and gears and attached belts that will move the claw arm both directions horizontally as well as forward/back. Levers use hydraulics to actuate the arm vertically as well as open/close the claw so it can grip —most of teh assembly is straightforward and just requiring use of the materials/parts provided, but a bit of oil (olive oil used so non-toxic and okay smelling) is used for oiling. Also needed is a diagonal cutter so as to properly cut the parts out and not have jagged edges.


Gaining STEM Knowledge

Two other things need to be noted right away: the first being the trapdoor that will release the prize that has been successfully acquired is spring loaded, and the second being that having a time limit running in order to acquire that prize adds the important element of timeliness and (mild) stress so as to make performing under pressure part of the experience.

The assembly provides for gaining knowledge as to how the parts interact and what they do to make the entire machine of the claw function. And yes it’s about getting those lollipops out of the claw and into one’s hands followed by a quick trip to the mouth. For more details on the go to

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