Mission Viejo Man Cracked the Claw Machine

He's grabbed—and given away—thousands of stuffed animals, one claw drop at a time.

Stan Bent of Mission Viejo has grabbed an estimated 6,000-7,000 stuffed animals out of Orange County vending machines since he started in earnest in 1997.

"I won't say how much I've spent," he joked, but he said the price has doubled since he started from 50 cents to a dollar.

Bent said he's been fascinated with the claw vending machines for a decade and a half because of his professional interests.

"I'm a computer specialist and research analyst, so I like the challenge," he said.

See Stan Bent win another prize in the video above.

Clad in all-black, a habit he picked up working at IBM, Bent hits up local claw machines two to three times a week. Sometimes he visits the machine in Mission Viejo's Coco's, 27750 Crown Valley Pkwy., sometimes the Carrow's in Laguna Hills, 23952 Avenida De La Carlota.

His prize-winning record for one trip was 34, which Bent says he was able to wrangle out of two machines inside Katella Grill in Anaheim, 1325 W Katella Ave.

Bent said he has gotten to know the machine operators, and knows they can stiffen up the odds if one machine gives out too many prizes. So he likes to keep moving.

Instead of hoarding all those plush toys for himself, Bent said he usually gives them away to his church, Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. He said sometimes if he draws a crowd, he will give away a few of the stuffed animals then and there.

Bent offered these tips for the next time you try your skill on the claw machine:

  • Look for the one key prize that has locked the others into place, and jostle it
  • Drop the claw in front of the prize, then push it backwards
  • As you squeeze the claw, try dragging the prize toward the opening at the same time
Chuck Bennett September 20, 2013 at 04:21 PM
Head line reads caw should be claw. This is why I can't take you guys seriously.
Peter Schelden September 21, 2013 at 06:58 PM
No, the headline never read "caw." It's always been "claw," which you can tell by reading the story's HTML address. It was also spelled "claw" in the email newsletter.
Topper N Mitzi September 25, 2013 at 04:51 PM
giving away some of his prizes at the church is awesome but somehow I think this guy has never kissed a girl. arf.
Peter Schelden September 25, 2013 at 05:22 PM
Hmm, his wife may beg to differ, Topper.
SandraT September 25, 2013 at 06:54 PM
I can't for the life of me figure out what he's saying after the interviewer says, "What's the trick again?" "You _____________ and then you pull and drag... drop and drag at the same time."


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