If you have kids who love DIY crafts and technology, you should check into Nintendo Labo—a game with cardboard construction creation. Use Joy-Con controllers to build and create Toy-Cons from the Kits. Then, use your Nintendo Switch to make them move, work, and play games. Great STEM for kids projects and educational toys!
What Is Nintendo Labo?
If you haven’t heard about it, Nintendo Labo is a kind of add-on for the Nintendo Switch gaming console.
I say “kind of” because it’s hard to describe unless you’ve experienced it.
Someone asked me, “Is the Nintendo Labo just cardboard?” and I was like, “Yeeeeeees, but noooooo. Not really. Kind of . . .”
I’ll be the first to admit, I didn’t really get it when my daughter was explaining it (87,722 times each day).
Maybe it was because I was tuning her out, or maybe it’s just because I’m . . . old.
What do you need for Nintendo Labo?
It wasn’t until we got our Nintendo Labo Variety Kit and I saw it all working together that a lightbulb went off in my head.
You need a Nintendo Labo Kit and your Nintendo Switch. From those two things, you will create Toy-Cons to play games and other creations.
Nintendo Labo Review: Think of the Nintendo Labo like one of those monthly subscription craft boxes, except for your Nintendo Switch and way, way cooler.
The Kits are cardboard templates that you punch out, build, and decorate.
(I joked that we spent money on a Switch only for her to play with a cardboard box.)
Then, you use your Nintendo Switch console or controller with each cardboard creation for a different game or experience.
(They’re called Toy-Cons, short for Toy Consoles. Yes, I was corrected 417 times by my daughter.)
They work by infrared motion sensor, IR motion camera, and even an HD rumble feature, which makes it vibrate and move.
(Too techy? OK. Let’s move on…)
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Nintendo Labo has been nominated and won several different awards since 2018!
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Nintendo Labo Kits
Nintendo Labo provides a variety of Kits that are used to create individual ToyCons (which vary by Labo Kit). The current Kits include:
- Variety Kit
- Robot Kit
- Vehicle Kit
- VR Kit
- Interactions with Other Nintendo Games, for example the Toy-Con Motorbike is compatible as a motion controller for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Nintendo Labo Variety Kit
The Nintendo Labo Variety Kit is a good place to start because you get a variety of different kits options to play with.
What’s in the Nintendo Labo variety Kit?
Toy-Con RC Car
“The Toy-Con RC Car is powered by vibrations in the Joy-Con controllers and can even follow a path of magnetic tape by using the IR motion camera in the right Joy-Con controller.”
Toy-Con Fishing Rod
“Build a working rod, then go fishing on your Nintendo Switch.”
“Play with a mysterious (and cute!) little pet in this custom home. You can earn treats for your pet by playing mini-games, then you can touch the screen to feed these treats to your pet to see it change its color or pattern!”
(The house has been my daughter’s favorite so far!)
Build a simulated motorcycle and “you can rev the throttle by twisting the right handle, just like the real thing!”
“The Toy-Con Piano can be used to play simple songs or even to create and record more complex compositions, making it fun for amateurs and accomplished musicians alike.”
[Descriptions from the Nintendo website.]
I have to admit that it is pretty cool.
There was some serious engineering that went into making cardboard simulate things like a piano and fishing pole.
Nintendo Labo Robot Kit
There is also another kit, the Nintendo Labo Robot Kit.
This Labo Kit allows your child to transform into a robot using the DIY Toy-Con Robot Suit.
Then, you can battle others in games, demolish surroundings in your game, and even invent new ways to play with the Robot!
Nintendo Labo Vehicle Kit
With the Labo Vehicle Kit, you create:
- Toy-Con Car
- Toy-Con Plane
- Toy-Con Submarine
- Toy-Con Pedal
- Toy-Con Key
Then, you use these to play games on land, sea, and sky!
It is also with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
Nintendo Labo VR Kit
The VR Kit is what Nintendo is calling, “most immersive, robust Nintendo Labo kit to date.”
With the VR Kit, you can experience virtual reality and play VR games, and even use a programming tool to create your own games and VR experiences!
Feel your creations come to life as you and your family blast through an alien invasion, create 3D works of art, dive into an oceanic photo safari, soar atop a bird, and go wherever else your imagination takes you.
Nintendo Labo Review Questions (FAQs)
Nintendo Labo Price: How Much Is the Nintendo Labo?
I know, one of the first things people wonder is, “How much does Nintendo Labo cost?”
I think the Nintendo Labo (Variety Kit) falls in the mid-price for a robust tech game (considering that Lego kits can cost as much or even more).
I was actually happier with the price (and pleasantly surprised) after I understood and saw all of the things that you could do with the Labo.
(As of this writing, my kid had it for three weeks and she’s played, programmed, created, and decorated with it almost every single day.)
If you already have the Nintendo Switch and have a kid who loves to create, then this is a great addition for your switch.
Side Note: If you’re looking for a gaming console, we’ve been really happy with the Nintendo Switch and the portability.
You can play it at home as a console, but also pop it out and make it about the size of Nintendo 3DS and take it with you wherever you want.
What age is Nintendo Labo for?
The Nintendo Labo lists the ages at 6+, with directions for parents to help kids with Kit construction to the age of 10.
There were some parts that my daughter (age 10) found difficult or confusing.
Instead of jumping in to help her out, I just encouraged her to figure it out.
And, eventually she did!
So the age for Nintendo Labo varies . . . and, it’s not just age, it’s learning level for your kids.
Some kids may need more assistance and others kids may be more independent and can figure out the Labo.
Also, I need to point out that several of the games get your kids up and moving around (the fishing game, the motorcycle game). So, it’s not just sedentary tech game play.
Does Nintendo Labo come with a game?
Yes, the Labo Kits come with games (game cards). For some of the Kits, you can also the Toy-Cons for existing Nintendo Switch games.
The games that came with the Nintendo Labo that we have (the Variety Kit) were . . . OK.
They were pretty basic, but entertaining.
My daughter still enjoyed playing with them, but she definitely had more fun creating the Toy-Cons and figuring out how everything works then playing the actual games.
(This is her nature, anyway, so that might be more about my kid than the games.)
I, on the other hand, was amazed at how seamlessly a piece of cardboard worked with a piece of tech.
For example, the “fishing pole” is a few telescoping pieces of cardboard, but the reel clicks when you turn it, just like a real fishing pole, and you “cast” into the game console and “fish.”
And, you can even create your own crazy fish that appears in the game!
(My daughter had a lot of fun with that one.)
Does Nintendo Labo break easily?
The Labo Kits are made up of a super sturdy cardboard—sturdier than any flat cardboard pieces I’ve ever seen. For this reason, when you make the Toy-Cons and creations they are pretty strong and did not break easily for us.
So, if you’re wondering, “How long does Nintendo Labo last?” the Kit parts were resilient and my daughter didn’t have any issues playing with the pieces.
Nintendo Labo Educational Value
So, how does the Nintendo Labo review on the educational side?
I think pretty well!
A cool thing about the Labo is that not only can you assemble, create, and decorate the Labo creations, but you also have the ability to customize the software (games) that come with it to give the Toy-Cons your own instructions.
You just use technology and basic coding skills and all the instructions are provided with the kit.
(My daughter created her own fish on the fishing game in no time with zero help from me.)
Nintendo Labo Review on Educational Value:
Aside from the obvious technology educational value (just because it’s a Switch), the Kits also cover STEM learning (STEAM learning) like:
• Mechanics/building/motor skills
• Creative free play
• Problem solving
• Following instructions
And so much more!
Nintendo Labo Accessories and Add-Ons
If your kid loves to create and decorate, you probably want to grab the Nintendo Labo Customization Set for a little extra.
It’s a small decoration kit that comes with:
2 – Stencil sheets
2 – sticker sheets
2 – tape rolls
(And, it saved me a trip to the craft store for $49 worth of Washi Tape.)
In the photo, you can see the house that my daughter decorated and also an elephant.
She used a combination of the Labo Customization Set and also markers, stickers, and tape (and other items) that we had at home.
Overall, is the Nintendo Labo worth it?
I’ll leave it to my daughter’s words:
“The Nintendo Labo is pretty darn cool.”
My daughter has definitely gotten our money’s worth out of this toy and I appreciate the educational value of the Kits.
We will probably try out any new releases, also.
However, if you don’t already have a Nintendo Switch, then I’m not sure it’s worth buying one just to play with the Kits.