My son has always loved the claw machine. So, we decided to try to make our own for his Valentine's Day box this year. While it doesn't actually pick up toys, the claw does move up and down. (Really the same result as the claw machines you see in the store!)
We started by spray painting two sturdy boxes. Then we cut a large hole out of the larger box. We cut a flap in the bottom box to represent the toy drop out slot. The joystick is actually a test tube container we had from a science kit. We put water and food coloring in the test tube to make it look dark. We used modeling clay to keep the joystick in place. The press button is the circle from a used roll of duck tape. We covered that with fancy duck tape and hot glued it to the box. I found a $2 sheet of Plexiglas material from Menards. That slid right into place to keep the toys in place.
The claw moves because of our Rule your Room LittleBits kit (https://littlebits.cc/kits/rule-your-room-kit). This kit has endless possibilities for the things kids can create. It is definitely worth the money if your kid is interested in circuits and creating things. We used the mechanical arm set up to make the claw move. The claw is just pieces of a wire hanger we cut and bent to make a claw shape. We hot glued and taped the claw pieces together and hung them from the mechanical arm.
The last step was cutting a small hole in the side of the box to flip the switch on so the claw will move.