I was looking for different ideas to keep my eight year old son entertained over the summer holidays and wanted a few options for things to do at home. When the idea of combining his love of construction with the ability to play games with his creations was mentioned to me I knew we should spent time getting to grips with Nintendo Labo.
Designed to work with the Nintendo Switch games console, the Nintendo Labo is available in three different kits – Variety, Robot and Vehicle. The Nintendo Labo Variety and Vehicle kits are aimed at children aged 6 years and over, whilst the Robot kit is aimed at those over the age of 10.
So what are the Nintendo Labo kits? Well, they are sets giving children the option to make a number of different cardboard products which then become part of a play scenario when used with the Nintendo Switch. You all know that we aren’t a really techie family, but my son is about to enter Year Four and I know that his friends really enjoy using their Nintendo Switch consoles, and I knew my son would really like the idea of building items that then interacted with technology.
We decided that the Variety kit would give him the best way of getting to grips with Nintendo Labo. This set comes with a Nintendo Switch game card containing software for use with Variety Kit, 27 different cardboard sheets to construct five different ‘Toy-Con’ and an additional sheet for customisation and a pack of build accessories/spares).
I was interested to see how easy to use this would all be as we spent time getting to grips with Nintendo Labo as well as being new Nintendo Switch users. In fact, I think the Variety kit has given my son a really good introduction to the console and how the controllers work.
It’s well worth having your Nintendo Switch on charge when you are working your way through the instructions to build the various Toy-Con constructions. The RC Car takes roughly 10 minutes to build, but the more complex builds can take up to 3 and half hours to build, and you do need the console to follow the build instructions properly, and of course, you then want to actually play with the finished item with the console.
Insert the game card provided into the slot on the Nintendo Switch and you basically follow the instructions.
It’s very child friendly and my son needed no help to work his way through the steps.
Getting to grips with Nintendo Labo is really easy as you follow the step by step guide to make a few accessories before starting on the actual Variety Kit projects. This gives children an understanding of how to construct the cardboard objects.
The first Toy-Con my son made from the Nintendo Labo Variety kit was a RC Car (although my son thinks it looks more like a beetle) and he keeps going back to play with it a few weeks after the first build, which is always a good sign. The whole idea is unlike anything my son has ever tried before and the fact that he’s made it himself really makes it very special in his eyes.
As I’ve already mentioned, the build instructions are simple and very visual, and he could easily make the Toy-Con by himself. It might be easier to construct the Toy-Con on a table, but my son was adamant he knew best, and actually, he managed ok.
It didn’t him long to build the RC Car and fit the Joy-Con controllers to it. He was then ready for the really clever part of the Nintendo Labo concept. Getting the car to move using his Nintendo Switch. He was amazed.
He was fascinated and this Toy-Con alone has kept him occupied for ages. Simple but very effective and it certainly made him excited to spend more time getting to grips with Nintendo Labo.
The other Toy-Con you can make with the Variety Kit are a Toy-Con Fishing Rod (build time approx 2 and half hours), Toy-Con House (build time approx 3 hours), Toy-Con Motorbike (build time approx 2 and half hours) and Toy-Con Piano (build time approx 3 and half hours). My son decided that he liked the idea of the Toy-Con Motorbike, so we set to work.
I was concerned that the long build time must mean that the build was really complex, but it really wasn’t if you followed the visual instructions. Each sheet is labelled as are the pieces and making the introduction items and RC Car first really helped my son understand how the motorbike was constructed. You can also speed the visual instructions up, as you get more confident in folding the cardboard pieces.
We did take a few breaks as my son made the Motorbike and I was there for a little guidance for a couple of the trickier fits, but it was pretty much his own work and the sound effects had started before he’d even fitted the Nintendo Switch console and Joy-Con’s to the Nintendo Labo Motorbike!
It’s so clever, you can work the throttle just as you would on a real motorbike. It was a hit before he’d even started to play the Nintendo Switch game element. But add in that element and he was away.
Now it’s worth pointing out that my son is a really novice gamer. It’s a whole new world and he’s got a lot to learn about his hand eye coordination, but his determination has been rather amazing. He’s crashed his motorbike more times than I can mention, and he hasn’t cared one bit. He’s designed his own track and raced and raced. The great thing about having the Nintendo Switch is that I’ve already set up the amount of time he’s allowed to have screen time per day, so once he’s reached his limit that’s it. Although you can override this as a parent for the Nintendo Labo Toy-Con if you so wish.
I’ve been impressed with the quality of the cardboard in this set. There’s been some quite aggressive driving going on at times and the Toy-Con has held together nicely.
I was concerned that he’d build the Toy-Con, play the game with it once and then put it to one side, but that hasn’t happened. In fact he’s so happy playing with the two Toy-Con he’s made from this set at the start of the school holidays that he wants to save the other builds for later. Which I’m happy with, for me that means the Nintendo Labo is going to continue giving good play potential for a long time to come.
The only downside in my opinion is that there’s nowhere to nicely store the finished Play-Con, as they don’t fit back in the box unless you dismantle them. But that aside, getting to grips with Nintendo Labo has provided hours of fun with lots of play potential and my son has really enjoyed the construction element too. I’m itching to try the Toy-Con Piano for myself, but I’ve been told I’ve got to wait!
My son is quite happy to keep his Toy-Con plain, but you can colour them in and paint them to make them totally unique if you want to. There’s also a Customisation kit. I’ve included my Amazon Affiliate links for your information below.
disclosure: we were sent the items mentioned in exchange for an honest review