The Parent's Guide to Nintendo Labo

Everything you need to know about Nintendo's cardboard construction kits

Two children play Nintendo Labo

Nintendo 

Nintendo is a company that's not afraid to experiment. One of the biggest examples of its innovative spirit is Labo, cardboard kits that interact with compatible video game software using the Nintendo Switch Joy-Con's motion controls. While anyone can assemble and enjoy a Labo project, they seem especially suited for younger gamers. So, how does Nintendo Labo work, what does it cost, and what do you get for the price? We'll break it all down for you.

All Nintendo Labo kits require a Nintendo Switch console to play them.

What's in a Nintendo Labo Cardboard Kit?

Each Nintendo Labo kit comes with cardboard cut-outs and other materials, like rubber bands, used to assemble various "Toy-Cons." Some have accessory parts as well, like tools for "fixing" the Toy-Con Robot. The kits also include software with interactive, step-by-step assembly instructions and compatible mini-games.

You don't need any special tools to build Toy-Con projects. Everything you need should be in the box.

Each kit also comes with an additional sheet of customization options. For example, the Variety Kit has a second roof for the Toy-Con House, while the Robot Kit includes another piece for the cardboard robot visor.

How Does Nintendo Labo Work?

Obviously, the first step in your Nintendo Labo journey is assembling a Toy-Con. The instructions are accessible on the Nintendo Switch system. There you can zoom in on pictures of what you're building, view things from different angles, or go back if you want to check something again.

You can make your creations look better with a technique Nintendo calls the "pre-fold." This basically means creasing the cardboard folds before assembling your Toy-Con project. It gives you sharper angles and a cleaner line, so the cardboard tabs and slots fit together better.

If you mess up somewhere along the line, don't panic! You can always go back and carefully redo a fold if needed. If you rip the cardboard, a little tape or glue will patch things right up.

Once your Toy-Con is built, you can insert your Nintendo Switch console or a Joy-Con into it. Each project interacts with the console in a different way. For example, the Piano Toy-Con mimics the real-life musical instrument, using the right Joy-Con's infrared sensor to identify the notes being played.

The Labo's various mini-games are also dependent on the project you're using. The Fishing Pole lets you play a fishing game, obviously, while the Robot lets you fly, smash buildings, and transform into a tank inside the virtual world.

Once you've spent some time with Labo, you'll unlock a feature call the Toy-Con Garage. This allows you to create and program your own Toy-Con using simple programming commands.

How Much Does Nintendo Labo Cost?

Nintendo currently offers three Labo kits:

  • The Toy-Con Variety Kit: Costs $70 USD and comes with several projects, including two RC cars, a fishing rod, a house, a motorbike, and a piano.
  • The Robot Toy-Con Kit: Costs $60 and includes a wearable backpack and visor. The backpack is supposedly one-size-fits-all and comes with adjustable straps.
  • The Vehicle Toy-Con Kit: Costs $70 and offers a car steering wheel, a plane's joystick, submarine controls, a pedal, and a "key." The steering wheel is compatible with "Mario Kart 8 Deluxe," which will set you back another $60, unless you find it on sale.
  • The Toy-Con VR Kit Starter Set & Blaster: Costs $40 and comes with a pair of Toy-Con VR goggles, the aforementioned blaster, a screen holder for the Nintendo Switch, and a safety cap. Two expansion sets for $20 each also include a Toy-Con Camera, Toy-Con Elephant, Toy-Con Bird, and Toy-Con Wind Pedal.
  • The Toy-Con VR Kit: Costs $80 and includes all seven new projects: the Toy-Con VR Goggles, Toy-Con Blaster, Toy-Con Camera, Toy-Con Bird, Toy-Con Wind Pedal and Toy-Con Elephant — along with the screen holder and safety cap.

    Since Labo projects are made of cardboard, it's inevitable they'll get ripped or smashed. Nintendo sells a variety of replacement packs that generally cost between $5-$12. It also sells a customization pack for $10 that has two tape rolls, two sticker sheets, and two stencil sheets.

    You can see all of the Labo products offered in the Nintendo Store here.