The Parents’ Guide to… Nintendo Labo

Whether you’re five years old or fifty, Nintendo Labo has something for you. This creative kit mixes gaming with construction, letting you build interactive toys out of cardboard and then link them with your Nintendo Switch.

Play piano! Drive a motorbike! Decimate a city as a rampaging robot! You won’t find experiences like these anywhere else.

Find out how Nintendo Labo opens up a whole new world of making, playing, and discovering with our handy parents’ guide.

What is Nintendo Labo?

Released in April 2018, Nintendo Labo is a series of construction kits containing cardboard sheets and other materials. You assemble these into various types of ‘Toy-Cons’, which are controller cases you use to interact with your Nintendo Switch in new and exciting ways.

What’s in the box?

Nintendo Labo comes in a range of individual Labo Kits. Each of these contains a set of pre-made cardboard cutouts, string, rubber bands, and other materials to make one or more Toy-Con.

For example, the Vehicle Kit features the means to make one a car, a plane, and a submarine, while the Robot Kit includes parts to make a wearable mech suit.

All Nintendo Labo kits also contain a Nintendo Switch game card giving instructions on how to assemble the Toy-Con. And there’s the all-important software for the Toy-Con to interact with, too, whether that’s a fishing game or motorbike arena.

What kits can I buy?

Right now there are three Nintendo Labo kits. The Variety Kit is a great one to start with, as it lets you build five individual Toy-Con. These are the fishing rod, motorbike handle, house, piano, and remote-controlled car.

The second is Robot Kit. Build its supplied backpack and visor then link it to the accompanying Switch game and you can rampage through the virtual world presented on the screen.

The third pack, Vehicle Kit, includes the cardboard parts to make steering consoles for a car, plane, and submarine, for your budding engineers to mess around with.

How does it work?

First you build your Toy-Con. Then you’ll insert the Nintendo Switch console and/or the Joy-Con controllers according to the instructions. Simple.

Take the motorbike build. Here you’ll slot your Joy-Con into the handles and the Nintendo Switch display into your created cardboard dock. You then tilt the Toy-Con to turn your on-screen bike, and rev the handles to go faster. You can even veer the device back and pop a wheelie.

Another example lies in the piano build, which lets you play and record your own music. You can go up and down an octave with the lever on the side, and adjust the top-mounted knobs to change your sound. No Toy-Con works the same, and that’s Nintendo Labo’s charm.

What else can I do with Nintendo Labo?

Nintendo offers a Customisation Set that includes stencils, coloured tape, and stickers. So if you want to bring your piano to life with a set of cartoon eyes, or write your name on your little house, you can do.

Nintendo Labo is not only a toy, but a method of self-expression. It’s yours to customise however you want, whether that’s drawing on it, slapping on stickers, or covering it in glitter.