I will use some variant of Arduino as my controller. Last year I prototyped my projects on Uno and produced using Arduino Pro Mini to save cost. I'm likely to build this on a 6 foot table/stand with 4 to 6 cranes. I think this might be simple enough to run 6 games from a single controller, but I'll have to watch my pin count and do a better job planning my wiring.
I have some servos from the Make Ultimate Arduino Microcontroller Pack. I'll have to figure out later which ones to use for production, I suspect based on the weight of the crane.
I am going to start looking for Tonka type toy cranes. If it already has a working bucket, it will probably save me a lot of effort. I will have to be able to mod it with my servos. I like the idea of a metal crane, but I don't work with metal, so I'd rather find this than make it.
I like the idea of getting the crank handle to look like the original game. When you turn it, it needs to have some resistance to it, but in actuality, I will probably just have an encoder tied to it to operate the servo.
I'm not sure what I'll use for the case. Glass is too breakable and heavy, but I'm not sure plexiglass will be durable enough. Looking for suggestions.
My carnival is free, so no need for a coin acceptor, but I do need a start button and a button to move the crane from rotational to dropping the bucket. Not sure if I'll do one button or two. I like the big LED buttons from either Adafruit or Sparkfun.
My carnival is usually too noisy for sound, but this might get some use at smaller events. I am debating about adding a speaker or piezo buzzer for some sound effects. This will be the last feature to add, so not likely to get done this year. It would also be cool too flash a light and make some noise when a price is dropped in the prize chute.