Pound a nail, win a prize!
November 23, 2009 10:31 AM   Subscribe

I want to create some authentic carnival games at home so I can practice my stuffed animal gathering skills with some friends. Does anyone know of plans for such games, or info on the type of materials used, etc.? Here's one I found for the bottle/ring pickup game. Any others like this? I'm mainly interested in the basket toss, but unfortunately the name of that game is also a cheerleading move, and I'm swamped in GO Team!
posted by jsmith77 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total)
Any grafter worth his salt will not let you win the big prizes. Every game can and often is setup to cheat you. You're better off reading some books about carnival games rather than practice throwing an overinflated basketball at an undersize, out of true basket at an uncomfortable distance and height.
posted by splice at 10:57 AM on November 23, 2009

I used to work, when a high school and college student, in the games (carnival) section of an amusement park.

So, here's what i know. The absolute best way to win at that "ring toss over the neck of the bottle" game? Get a nearly broken ring, or one that is very scuffed up. The shiny, bouncy rubber rings are designed to fly off the bottles. We used to go through buckets of the rings and remove the ones that had seen a lot of wear. So it's hard to practice that one at home and win it, but you can certainly buy the rings and the bottles (WARNING: Annoying Auto-Play music).

You can get bulk stuffed animals really inexpensively if you run a carnival (business to business marketing). For private use, Oriental Trading would be a good source for your prizes.

Be aware that you will be covered with stuffed-animal synthetic fur all day you are doing this, especially if you get sweaty.
posted by misha at 10:59 AM on November 23, 2009

Does Skee Ball count?
posted by bondcliff at 11:04 AM on November 23, 2009

Oh, and what splice said is true for carnivals, but for theme parks like Busch Gardens, etc., the games are designed to be winnable, but not easily so. They actually get the prizes really cheaply, so they make a profit whenever you play, whether you win or lose.

The basketballs are overinflated, but they do fit through the hoops. The hoops are not "regulation sized," which gives people problems. Most folks are used to arcing the ball up but you have to have a straight-in shot for them to go through--any touch of the ring and they will bounce out.

The hula hoops that fit over the huge stuffed-animal prizes and the block under them do fit perfectly, but you cannot win the game unless your toss is precisely right. The closer you are, the easier it is, so employees can "show you" how it is done from within the game, but when you are on the other side of the counter, it is much harder.

To win the "whack-a-mole" games, you have to stay with just one or two holes, and keep the paddle ready over them, not try to follow the mole around. If you watch the game being played for a while, you can usually figure out which holes the mole comes up through most frequently.
posted by misha at 11:07 AM on November 23, 2009

Thanks for everyone's comments so far, but I wanted to add that I'm doing this for fun, not as a means of getting rich off the proceeds. I realize you can just buy these toys from Oriental Trading Co., but the ability to win is the goal, not the prize itself. Thus, the want to make my own carnie games at home.

That skeeball link is awesome, though. Wish I had the room for it.
posted by jsmith77 at 11:57 AM on November 23, 2009

Cover the spot
posted by Herschel at 1:15 PM on November 23, 2009

This article doesn't have instructions on making your own games, but it does have some good tips on how to win.
posted by mogget at 3:14 PM on November 23, 2009

Okay, you can build a shooting gallery like these guys for under $35 for a target game.

Make a Plinko board, have them slide disks down (probably buy air-hockey discs for this), win the prize in the appropriate slot on the bottom.

DIY bean bag toss games.

Mini "hit with the hammer and ring the bell" Carnival game, made out of K'nex.
posted by misha at 3:49 PM on November 23, 2009

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