Nintendo Labo Toy-Con Variety Kit review: Brilliant building, with a little learning thrown in


The Nintendo Labo Toy-Con Variety Kit comes with materials and instructions to build a piano, motorbike handlebar, remote control robot, fishing rod, and toy house, plus extra bits that can be used to experiment and make your own models.Nintendo

Score: 8/10 
Platform: Switch
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: April 20, 2018

The best way for parents to look at Labo – Nintendo’s ballyhooed new cardboard-construction-cum-video-game experiment – is not as a game but rather a crafting kit for kids.

Most moms and dads buy dozens of little craft projects for their sons and daughters as they grow up. Some involve paint, some involve yarn, some involve those little round plastic beads that melt into mosaics. In my experience, these kits typically run between a few bucks and maybe $30. That makes the Nintendo Labo Toy-Con Variety Kit – which runs a whopping $90 – a pretty pricey proposition by comparison.

But Nintendo works hard to justify that cost.

First off, the quality of the cardboard punch-out models is outstanding. Nintendo hasn’t cheaped on the cardboard stock, providing dozens of firm and durable sheets. And the hundreds of individual pieces contained on these sheets pop out with almost no effort at all. If you follow the terrific video tutorials – which lead you through every single fold, tuck, and connection with detail and even a bit of wit – you’ll end up with several wonderfully sophisticated mechanical contraptions that you probably wouldn’t have thought possible to make with just cardboard, a few plastic eyelets, some nylon string, and stickers.

The Variety Kit includes a retractable fishing rod with working crank, a motorbike handlebar, a skittering remote control robot, and a toy house loaded with switches and buttons. My favourite model, however, is an intricate piano that includes cardboard springs for the keys and makes use of the Joy-Con controller’s infrared motion camera to detect which keys are being pressed. There’s maybe seven or eight hours’ worth of curated cardboard crafting fun here, and it’s an absolute blast – for kids and grown-ups – from start to finish.


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