GMC Pickup Giant Claw Machine Game

Since 2013, we’ve had the thrill of bringing GMC’s experiential activations to life at the Calgary Stampede. From creating a chuckwagon virtual reality exhibit to the award-winning ProShot game where contestants aimed a water gun at a target to lift a 7000-pound truck, we love wowing clients and crowds with big, bold, interactive displays. 

This year our team took on a new challenge: creating a larger-than-life claw machine game out of a GMC truck bed! Momentum Worldwide came up with this exciting idea, which took months of planning, prototyping, and fabrication once they approached us.

 The concept of the game was to have users control the claw from a control station that emulates driving a GMC Denali. A camera was mounted on the claw for users to gain a bird’s-eye-view of the truck bed, where they would try to retrieve hard-coated styrofoam prize boxes. The boxes had different graphics to represent a variety of exciting prizes to be won, including Yeti coolers, kayaks, BBQs, and more. 

One of the most difficult aspects of this project was building and programming a crane controlled by users through a custom control stand. The first step was to order a freestanding workstation crane from Kristian Electric. An aluminum claw was customized and built up with more industrial grave pulleys and cables. The use of aircraft cables ensured that the game could withstand harsh wear and tear while being used for 12 hours a day, for 10 days straight.

Next was connecting the claw to the control system. Forty hours of custom programming were required to prototype, test, and establish a connection from an Arduino electronic control board to the claw crane system. A… what? Arduino is an open-source platform that uses hardware and software to understand its environment; it affects its surroundings by controlling any machinery components that enable movement. Incorporating proximity sensors we created a way for the crane to go to a “home” position allowing for more precision.

Once that was sorted, the Arduino system was integrated into a custom-built freestanding control box. This included a monitor that displayed a live camera feed of the truck bed from above, and a 2024 GMC Denali steering wheel. It’s a unique custom feature that varies from using a joystick in a traditional arcade claw game. Custom welding was needed to make the internal framing for the steering wheel. The live camera feed was also displayed on two large tv monitors facing the crowd for others to view and cheer on the contestants. Yahoo!

Transparent polycarbonate sheets were used along with aluminum frames to create a truck box to hold the prize boxes. Why not just throw all the prize boxes right into the back of the truck? Having a custom-made oversized container for the truck bed avoided any scratching to the truck from the claw, and also allowed more boxes to be stacked higher so that participants could see them. The polycarbonate sheets have UV protection that fights any yellow discolouration over time and are also shatter-resistant. There is also a door latch that opens vertically so that prize boxes could be replaced and mixed around quickly when needed.

The prize boxes themselves are type III styrofoam with splattered paint for a concrete look. They were designed to look like heavy crates, yet wouldn’t be damaging to the truck or cause material to go flying into the crowd if dropped by the claw. These were manufactured by Foam Works and are much sturdier than the average craft store material! 

Other graphics included vinyl banners with wind slits, and large brushed ACM letters that we produced using our CNC router. These dimensional letters were accented with red edge-lit LED lights, which were held up with a truss system on the back wall. They were also printed to look intentionally gritty and industrial. Other elements on the stage included interlocking flooring and a custom-built counter. 

This project was an intricate and complex network of electronics, industrial machinery, and custom fabrication. We’re proud of our teamwork that produced a unique and exciting interactive game, which drew huge crowds of thousands over the duration of the Calgary Stampede.

Scroll to Top