Wacky Tokyo : UFO catcher Tips and Tricks - TheWackyDuo.com - Singapore Wacky Digital Underground Outpost

Wacky Tokyo : UFO catcher Tips and Tricks

UFO catcher is a claw game that is usually found in arcades. A bait , usually a stuff toy, is found in a machine that has a claw to catch it and place in the the chute for a win.

If you had followed us on Instagram , you would have noticed we caught a bunch of stuff from UFO Catcher in Tokyo. It would be suffice to say that we do have the 'expertise' to this area. However the skills do not come overnight. We caught the UFO Catcher bug back on our first trip to Tokyo in 2009, since then we had taken the opportunity to hone the techniques and learn some tricks in the process at various local arcades. Tips from youtube helps too!

Do note the following tips apply only in Tokyo. Other outlets especially those in Singapore are well known to have the odds rigged against you . Thus it may not be as 'easy' and in some case an impossible task compared to the Land of the Rising Sun.

Here are 18 tips for UFO Catching or Claw catching in Tokyo, Japan

1 Set a budget
Before you go on a catching spree. It is wise to always set a budget. That way, you will not go crazy and end up spending a bomb. Set a budget for the visit AND for each machine. Never overspend on one for a particular catch especially if it does not move from its original spot after 3tries.

2 Go for the bigger outlets
Taito Station Shinjuku
It is a myth when they say UFO Catcher owners will not allow you a catch. This is especially untrue in the bigger outlets such as Taito Station , Sega and our personal favourite Leisureland in Odaiba. There will be catchable baits and the crowds in these outlets will prove it . More often than not , you will see a customer carrying a soft toy and moving from one UFO Catcher to the next.

That said, avoid the smaller outlets .We had tried one at Odaiba and it was almost impossible to catch a single item then.

3 Don't take the obvious route or maybe you should

There are times when you need to take the less obvious route to catching a prize. Most claw catcher are not strong enough to lift a toy even if you position it right. In fact, it will be better to explore different options such as poking or pushing the prize into the chute. It was only on very rare occasion that the claw will carry a prize directly into the chute!

4 Test the strength of the claw
Always take the first attempt as a gauge to test if the prize is catchable. If the claw is weak and does not move the bait, walk away and try other machines.

5 Go for the machines that are near the entrance
Easy Bait near the entrance
The easiest catch will usually be located near the entrance. It is meant to give customers the intention that toys are easily caught to encourage the customers to explore the arcade.

During our trip, this Olaf machine was located near the entrance. It took us about 1 or 2 tries to catch one. At the end of the trip, we have caught enough Olafs to share with our cousins.

6 Look for displays with signs that toys had been won
Someone caught a toy
If a prize had been caught before in the machine, most likely the same prize can be catch by you too.Look out for machines that has either shown signs that a prize had been caught. You can usually tell from the way the boxes or prizes are displayed in thhe machine itself.

7 Look for popular toys
Popular toys
If you see similar baits in different machines, chances are these are prizes waiting to be caught. At Leisureland , we saw at least 5 machines with the same Olaf bait. It had became our most caught item as well.

The rationale is simple, the arcades would probably need to clear stocks and thus would make these prizes catchable. Also note, not ALL machines are position thte same. The same bait may be uncatchable in some machines, so choose your machine wisely.

8 Observe fellow players especially the winners
See fellow players in action. Note where they did wrong and do not follow the same route. Similarly if you see a winner, observe how he or she caught the prize and follow the same.

Sometimes a player does not win because the wrong technique is applied even though the prize has moved from the original position. If you are lucky enough, you might come across such a situation and take over the catch if the player gives up.

9 Don't be put off by positioning , try your luck
Try your luck!
You will never know if you can catch if if you do not try. We were skeptical of catching the box items, but after a few go at it, we managed to master the trick.

Tip for catching a box bait.
- the box should move out of its original position in 2 tries
- depending on the position of the box thereafter, angle the claw towards the end of the box that is lower than the other side. Keep doing it and it will eventually fall.

10 Two claws are usually more effective in pushing. Three claws are either winnable by pulling or luck
Two claws are great for pushing
Usually for 2 claws, you use the claw to push a bait down. This is especially true for toys and soft baits like blankets or pillows. Depending on the position of the toys, we either aim for the legs or the head but not the body. For 3 claws, it is usually not strong enough to life the bait and drop into the chute. Instead go for the pull technique. Angle it so you can drag the bait to the chute. On most occasions, it will take at least 2 tries to get the prize out.

11 Don't play the Giant Claw Catchers

That being said, avoid the Giant Claw catchers. It will take a lot of luck and coins to catch the heavy baits. Most of the time the premium toys are meant to attract couples , especially the ladies. Most of the time the guy will spend tons of money trying to catch it to impress the girl and fail.

These are money machines for the arcade. Avoid it.

To be fair , we did see someone succeed in the machine... after at least 10 tries!

12 If possible, don't play any 3 claw players unless there are no or low barriers
An Impossible catch
From experience, unless the barrier at the chute is shorter than the prize or if there is no barrier at the chute, do NOT play the 3 claws unless you are feeling extremely rich.

9 out of 10 times , you will literally hit a wall (barrier) or at the 3 claw is rigged. The best 3 claws are those with very low or no barrier around the chute.

13 Some machines are decoy, they don't pay out
If you happen to spot limited edition toys in seemingly winnable positions, do take note. Most do not pay out. Observe the display to see if any bait has been caught (see point 6). If not, try other machines.

14 Walk away after 3 tries , especially if it still lands on the same position

No matter how tempting it may be, if the bait does not move from its original spot after 3 tries, walk away. I tried the above machine and the Bear threaten to drop and swing wildly to and fro. However it always settle on the same spot. After 3 tries, I gave up.

15 Food items could be an easy catch
Want some Pocky
Food items are perishable. That means it needs to be discarded fairly often. In other words they might be more catchable compared to soft toys.

16 If you are successful in your strategy , you can always try again. The bait would be at the same spot

Most of the time, if the prize drop, the staff will replace the bait with the same one at the same spot. If you see them do that WITHOUT adjusting the claw, you can try the same machine again if you want the same prize. Usually by using the same technique you will get the bait.

However if the staff adjust the claw, you might like to walk away as it usually means the strength of the claw might have been rigged to make the next catch harder.

17 Ask staff to reposition the bait and if you charm them, they might even give you tips

If you have move a bait out of position and it could not budge, you could ask the staff to reposition it back to its original spot. Ask nicely and they might even give you tips on how to position your claw for a catch.

An innocent looking child with big sad puppy eyes usually result in additional advice for a catch.

18 Share the fun

UFO Catching is more fun if you do it with someone. During the trip, Little Lou and Big C was at my side for most catch. In face some of the prizes were caught by them.

Fun will double if there is someone sharing the same passion!

Have fun Catching!

For a visual tips, we recommend this YouTube channel. This guy is practically my 'master' in UFO Catching.


  1. For the one w/ a box sitting on two bars where it is almost impossible to push or pull the box into the spacing.... what do you suggest someone does to get it down? example is #10 with optimus prime, #9, or #6. This was the type of machine I saw everywhere and could never win a single thing :(

    1. Tip for catching a box bait.

      - the box should move out of its original position in 2 tries. Try positioning near the end of the box rather than the middle of the box for it to move

      - depending on the position of the box thereafter, angle the claw towards the end of the box that is lower than the other side ( ie the box should fall in between the 2 bars). Keep doing it and it will eventually fall.

      You would probably need 5 to 1o tries depending on strength of claw. If it does not move in 2 tries, move on.

      Good luck!

  2. We are in tokyo atm. Wasted a lot in akihabara. Didnt win aanything from the big centres eg sega and taito. Which game centres does the guy in the video that you linked on your blog go to?

    1. Not Quite sure. Have not been to akihabara to try, but the ones at Leisureland Odaiba and Taito at Shinjuka are catchable. Use the tips above to try and good luck!

    2. Thanks. I tried leisurrland and wasn't that successful with the big items. Won a lot of small plush though. However the next building over (divercity) we went up to round 1. They have a massive game centre there. Spent around 2k yen and got 3 massive plush. It was a hugeee game centre


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