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UFO Catchers!

I have a new addiction, and it is UFO catching.

I don’t think that they really go by the same name overseas, but you will certainly know the machines when you see them. They are large boxes filled with gleaming goodies, whichYOU MUST HAVE as soon as you glance at them. But to get them, you must insert coin after coin and direct a mechanical arm so it can reach down and pluck the treasure out. It looks so simple and logical! It’s just a matter of aim! But soon you realise that the arms are too weak to hold something like a three pound plushie and you storm off in a huff at how game arcade operators are just trying to rip you off.

Not in Japan. These machines are everywhere – most commonly in gaming arcades but even in department stores, next to the capsule machines. And there is a real technique to winning the toys.

It’s called: Staff.

The staff around the UFO catchers all have a big set of keys so they can open any machine at random and position the thing you’re trying to win at a better angle.

Now, to me, that’s CHEATING! That defeats the purpose! It’s supposed to be a game of skill, where the reward is worth all that much more for the battle you had to fight! If the staff open the case to move it into a better position, they may as well just hand you the damn toy!

But then again, if it weren’t for the staff, I probably would’ve pumped in 2000 yen for this rather than 800.

Still, I prefer the UFO catchers where the idea is to pull a small keyring or similar down into the catching box using pincers. It’s more about skill and the staff can’t help you much, if at all. I’m getting quite good at them too *preens*.

The best part about UFO catchers is that their prizes are often exclusive. This makes them a target for anime and manga otaku who can’t find anything interesting in Akihabara (well, it could happen!). And while you probably end up pumping in more than the toy is worth, the feeling of success is sweeter than Ramune Candy!

UFO catcher

Posted by Chidade in Misc | 12 Comments »


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12 Responses to “UFO Catchers!”

  1. tantan Says:

    I won the best toy ever from one of those machines. It was a raccoon. You’d have to see it to know how awesome it was. Cutest plush toy ever. It had a plastic sucker to stick it onto a window. I got it by accidently grabbing the plastic sucker (!!) When it came time to drop, the sucker had stuck to one of the claws, so I had to get a staff member to get it out for me.

  2. donkey Says:


    just last week, i tried the ufo catchers in sagami-ono, and i find addicting… now, i have snoopy, mickey and minnie, and pooh…


  3. jesslee Says:


    just last week, i tried the ufo catchers in sagami-ono, and i find addicting… now, i have snoopy, mickey and minnie, and pooh…


  4. chook Says:

    Hello. I stumbled upon your post. Um, is it ok if I ask you the price range of playing these machines? I’m hoping to get someone in Japan to get me some anime plushies (kyo kara maoh) and wanted to know how muc it’d cost. Thank you if you can help. ^^

  5. Chidade Says:

    Depending on the size/value of the prize, the usual price is either 100 or 200 yen per play. Many machines also have a “3 plays for 500 yen” option. If you’re good at these machines, you can expect to win a prize in between 5-10 plays.

  6. becca Says:

    hi, im really hpoing to go to japan, and i was wondering if you know any good places with these machines,(sanrio plushies ^-^) lol. can you tell me what cities and palces they are in please. and do the staff really help you???!!!! lol! thanks!

  7. Chidade Says:

    Becca: you’ll find these machines in game arcades and even department stores. They’re very easy to find, especially in the larger cities, just have a walk around and you’ll definitely stumble upon one. Sanrio machines are pretty popular because, you know, Hello Kitty is like God here.

  8. Alexis Says:

    okay, so… i’m not living in japane, but!! i’m going in Agust!! and the
    UFOs sound really cool!! man! as soon as if get of my 16 hr flight i wanna play!! if i don’t pass out from lack of sleep… but i wanna play!! i will get my dad to give me money to get it!!! oh, and cool radish prize^_^

  9. Darek Says:

    Yea! I won a He is my Master Anna Plushie today! ^__^
    That was a UFO-catcher.
    I then tried getting a Chopper from a 3-pronged Western-crane.

    As goes the rumors, I think it is rigged. I actually had Chopper in the air and when it started moving towards the chute, I still had the chopper until half-way…then it fell miraculously.

  10. Strawberry Says:

    These things look sooo much fun!
    One question:
    is this just a trend that will be gone in a month,or are these here for good?

  11. ufocather08 Says:

    i was really addicted… many stuff there where
    really good…
    i have lots of toys, bags, anime…etc..get in the UFO…
    i reallt love to play with it..
    it relieves stress and it challenge own capability n technique……

  12. Exian-Phil... Says:

    damn you all childish minded—
    fuck the hell are you all damn it…

    cuz i can win either.


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