A. Many modern machines are controlled by a microprocessor, which allows the operator to set a desired profit goal for each machine. That means in addition to the skill required to pick out an easily "gettable" prize and navigating the claw, you are also playing against the computer, which can repeatedly reduce the claw's strength afer the initial grab and intentionally drop the prize.
How rigged a machine is depends on the value of the prize in comparison to the cost per play. You might have a chance of winning approximately 1 out of 10 attenpts. In machines with more valuable prizes, the odds are even less. The prize will be dropped, if there have not been enough unsuccessful attempts, since the last time someone was able to win. There is usually no particular pattern, so unlike some older machines, you will not be able to count the number of plays it takes for the claw to have a strong grip.
On the flip side, there are still many skill-only cranes, such as the old Big Choice, Clean Sweep, Grayhound, as well as the Sugarloaf-branded machines, typically found at Walmart, K-Mart, Denny's, Toys-R-Us, and some other locations. These machines usually have a weak-to-moderate claw strength, mostly generic or difficult to win prizes, but they do offer a fair chance of winning, if you are able to spot a well-positioned item. The strength of the claw in these machines usually does not reduce, while the claw is carrying the prize back to the home position.
Check out the Videos page, where you will find a number of videos with tips on playing various kinds of machines, including those that are "rigged".
A. The average cost of a new skill crane is between $1,500 and $3,000.
Older, retired machines can be purchased anywhere between $300 and
A. If you find one locally, you can ask some friends to help you.
Depending on the nature of seller's business, they may be able to
deliver it to you for a reasonable fee. If you end up purchasing one
that isn't local, truck freight for a claw machine will probably be
around $300, depending on the size, weight, and seller's location.