Stuffed animals, video games and cigarettes: Chinese claw machines

Claw machines aren’t something I have fond memories of at any point in my life.  (Link thanks to  If you are unfamiliar with the premise, you first rob your parent or guardian of all of their silver coins, hasten your step towards the joystick and attempt to control the claw/crane/ufo in seizing a by-product of ephemeral joy, inevitably made in China…more on the latter part, later.    Usual prizes/batteries-not-included items include video games, dvds, small stuffed animals, big stuffed animals, harmonicas, and other junk I never wanted to know existed.  (Link thanks to  They are particularly popular in Japan, the ROK and Taiwan, although I’m led to believe China is also catching on with their own spin…

"Cancer only one yuan!"

Most of the time I was living in China was spent in Shenzhen (a metropolis on the border with Hong Kong), which is nothing to boast about, other than the good variety of Chinese food available and close proximity to better cities.  In any event, while taking a stroll in Shenzhen’s Baishizhou (白石州) area, I came upon this doozy.  (Link thanks to Google Maps) It’s just one of many in the city, although typical claw machines do still outnumber cigarette ones.  What better way for a grade school student to start the habit than dropping in a few one yuan coins (as of today, 1 yuan=US$ 0.16)?  Well, in a country where a local government has at least once forced its volk to smoke, there are many.  (Link thanks to

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6 Responses to Stuffed animals, video games and cigarettes: Chinese claw machines

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