Why Kids Keep Getting Stuck in Claw Toy Machines

PHOTO: Colin Lambert plays inside the claw crane game at Browns Creek Coin Laundry on Oct. 21, 2014. The 18-month-old boy was freed by Maryville police and firefightersPlayCourtesy of Diana O’Neill
WATCH Boy Found in Claw Machine

Like a moth attracted to the flame, kids just can't seem to keep their tiny bodies out of toy claw machines. The latest incident started when 18-month-old Colin Lambert climbed into the game in Maryville, Tennessee, while his grandmother wasn't looking.

The fire department quickly retrieved the toddler from the toy machine at Browns Creek Coin Laundry, but not before his grandmother took several obligatory adorable photos (naturally).

"I took a bunch of photos," Diane O'Neill, 62, told ABC News. "As long as he was okay, it was funny. He thought it was fun, like, 'Look what I can do. I’m clever.' He was smiling until he wanted to get out, and then he became unhappy."

States including Wisconsin have regulated claw machine games as they do gambling activities -- limiting the value of prizes -- but not as safety hazards.

Claw machines are designed to be tantalizing, said Barbara Eldredge, design researcher and writer for creative agency Real Art, which made the world’s biggest claw machine, according to Guinness World Records. It is being re-installed and opens this week at Proto BuildBar in Dayton, Ohio. The claw game is 17 by 8 by 12 feet and costs $5 to play.

PHOTO: A customer at Commonwealth Coin Laundry in Lexington, Ky., saw that Kaytlyn Campbell, 2, was stuck inside the machine on Valentine’s Day and alerted Della Gallagher, who works at the laundromat.ABC News
A customer at Commonwealth Coin Laundry in Lexington, Ky., saw that Kaytlyn Campbell, 2, was stuck inside the machine on Valentine’s Day and alerted Della Gallagher, who works at the laundromat.

"The prizes are so close but they are also just out of reach. The appeal of going inside is like entering a magic land. It’s kid-sized and if the kid can fit, why not?" she said.

Only about a foot away, O'Neill's grandson had been playing with the machine's door, which made a loud sound when it was pushed open, then closed.

"He likes things that go 'bang' and climbing. He’s just at that age," O'Neill, of Long Island, New York, said. "I was listening to the 'bang bang.' I personally think he was hitting it with his head then he realized he could get through."

O'Neill said in the seconds that she looked at a message on her phone, the toddler had climbed through the game's door, which she estimates at about 8 by 10 inches. The only thing she saw was his feet through the door, but when she grabbed his feet, he kicked her grasp away.

The laundromat worker didn't have the key to open the machine, so O'Neill called 911. The fire department swiftly removed the boy.

"They literally popped the glass part where the toys were, took him out and gave him a toy," O'Neill said.

Other incidents include the teary 2-year old in Kentucky rescued from a claw machine, also in a laundromat, in 2012.

PHOTO: A customer at Commonwealth Coin Laundry in Lexington, Ky., saw that Kaytlyn Campbell, 2, was stuck inside the machine on Valentine’s Day and alerted Della Gallagher, who works at the laundromat.ABC News
A customer at Commonwealth Coin Laundry in Lexington, Ky., saw that Kaytlyn Campbell, 2, was stuck inside the machine on Valentine’s Day and alerted Della Gallagher, who works at the laundromat.

Then there was the Nebraska toddler in April who had somehow wandered out of his home to a nearby bowling alley and promptly climbed into its claw machine. Both the mother and the bowling alley had called 911.

Last year, another boy was rescued from bowling alley claw game, because the machine's key was handy.

Back in 2010, a Pennsylvania toddler with a pacifier climbed into the toy machine in a mall to the horror of her mother.