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Clawed Companion

by yo go re

Anybody got a quarter?

Meet Clawed Companion! Otherwise known as Clamper Crony. They're quite a real catch! Being a crane is their game. Winning entry in the 2019 Rthro Design Contest. Created by Greeno357.

Well that's neat - imagine winning a design contest in a videogame and then later having your creation turned into something real! Well, okay, Roblox is "not" a game: it's "a technology platform for developers to develop games on." In other words, it's a game whose main gameplay loop is designing other games. Like Little Big Planet, Mario Maker, or last year's Dreams. The "blox" part of the name comes from the fact that all the characters looked vaguely like Lego men, though programmers have really branched that out now (the game's been around since 2006, and has gone through several major patches and updates). Does the Clawed Companion look like a Lego man? No way!

Per the original design, this is the standard "Rthro" body (like "anthro-", but with an R for "Roblox" at the start) with the proportions squished a bit. Just like skins in any other game, the Rthro pieces go onto an invisible mannequin that allows them to move - while Clawed Companion's arms and legs are normal (well, they're robotic, but the size is fairly average, which is what we're discussing now), the torso was reduced vertically, meaning the entire claw machine you see here is technically a really fancy shirt. Who says men don't care about fashion?

Looking up the history, claw machines came to prominence in the 1980s, which seems way more modern than you'd expect. Yes, it's weird to call something from 40 years ago "modern," but pinball machines date back to the Great Depression, so you'd think these grabby little quarter-wasters would similarly pre-date Reaganomics. (Although what could better symbolize an era of Republican hegemony than fruitlessly handing your money to a faceless machine with only the vague promise of a reward that is, by design, unattainable for most people and really only benefits said machine's owners?) This machine is red with a blue joystick and button, and even has sculpted coin slots on the front. The "glass" is clear, and there's even a moveable claw inside - a notch on the top lets you slide it diagonally through the cabinet. The robot's hands are the same type of claw (though with a red knob in the center, instead of being unpainted silver).

A claw machine with nothing inside it would be pointless, so this one is full of toys - separate toys, even (mostly) packaged apart in the tray. What can you win from inside here? A sitting brown cat; a smaller, standing, pink cat; and a purple thing that I initially took for a Thomas the Tank Engine-style purple submarine, but swiftly realized was actually a unicorn laying down and taking a cute little nap. Aww!

There's also a big brown teddy bear head, larger than any of the other toys, but there's a reason for that: cleverly, the bear head is the character's "real" head. It fits onto a large peg, so it will stay in place even if you shake the toy around (unlike the other tony sculpted plushes in there, which will shuffle all over the place).

You're not locked in to that bear head if you don't like it, however. The set also includes two large, full-body stuffed animals that In no way fit inside the claw machine, but they both have removable heads that can be swapped for the bear's: a brown cat with pointy ears, and a panda that shares the same mold as the bear. They've both got the same body, just painted different ways, and their heads can be swapped into the machine if you like. And the bear's colors match the cat's, so it won't look too bad if you put it on that body.

In addition to the mobile grabber inside the machine, Clawed Companion has swivel/hinge joints at the shoulders, elbows, and knees, plain swivels at the neck, wrists, and ankles, and plain hinges for the hips. The machine's black power cord serves as a tail, and it can swivel around as well (though it really only looks right when it's hanging down). The design of the hips and the ankles means there's only so much posing you can do with him, but he looks good enough flailing his arms around.

If you actually play Roblox, the figure includes a code to get a free in-game version of this skin in different colors; known as the Clawed Buddy ("I am so cute! And you will never, ever get my prizes no matter how many quarters you spend."), it's green and orange instead of red and blue. The code - 377568929558 - is on a little cardboard disc in the corner of the package; so you can't just look at it in the store, it has to be scratched off like a lottery ticket.

A claw machine is the best idea for a robot since a gumball machine. I don't pay any attention to the Roblox toys - they just take up space in the aisle when I go to Walmart or Target - so I didn't know about this figure until someone brought it up for last year's ToYs. But it's a clever design and fun to play with, so yeah, I can totally see why someone would nominate it.

-- 03/03/21

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