Education, Parenting

Can Families Make, Play, and Discover with Nintendo’s Labo? (A Review of the Toy-Con Variety Kit

My husband brought home the new Nintendo Labo for some quality family time on my birthday.  I have to admit I’ve been intrigued by the concept since it was first announced, but I’ve wondered whether or not Labo would capture my child’s curiosity long-term or if it would be a passing interest.  After all, $69.99 seems a bit steep for a box full of cardboard that may eventually be shoved in a corner and forgotten about.

We spent about three hours this past weekend unboxing the kit and completing three of the builds:  the Joy-Con Controller, the Toy-Con RC Car, and the Toy-Con Piano.  The Joy-Con Controller build is a simple tutorial which simply adds a cardboard piece to your existing controller.  It serves no real purpose other than to get you acclimated to Labo’s build process.

See us build the Joy-Con Controller and Toy-Con RC Car in our video Nintendo Labo Build With a Kid and a Kitten (Unboxing, Build, and Review).

We then attempted the Toy-Con RC Car.  This build took about 10 minutes despite some help from our kitten, Mr. Eugene Eddie Fitzherbert (yes, that is what the five-year-old named him).  The boys had one argument and Lil’ Man got distracted about half-way through the build, leaving his dad to do most of the work.  This was to be expected.  Once the car was constructed, Lil’ Man had fun taking it for a test drive, and it even piqued the kitten’s vs toycon car

So what about the longer builds?  Can a family survive those?  Sure, but I recommend doing only a build a day with small children.  We built the Toy-Con Piano after the RC Car, so we had already been playing with Labo for about an hour.  The piano’s build time is estimated to take around 3 hours.  It took my husband just a little over two hours to build.  This was once again with the “help” of the kitten and several arguments with our son.  At one point in the build the child was even rolling around on the floor.  A typical kindergartener move when losing interest.

Labo Cat Piano
This is purrfect! A cat piano!

While the piano build was long and repetitive (you build the same part over and over again), it was well worth the wait.  Lil’ Man, who is currently in his first year of piano lessons, is loving this build.

Yes, It’s Educational!

What I like about Labo is the Discover section of the software.  It is in this section that Lil’ Man learned about the science behind the Toy-Con RC Car build, and that it is the vibrations of the Joy-Cons that propel his “car” forward.

During his screen time yesterday, Lil’ Man spent time in the Discover section of the software and learned he could make his own “wave chips” to change the sound a piano key makes.  He then went about drawing and cutting his own wave chips out of paper and testing out the different sounds that could be made by different “waves”.

What do Mom and Dad Think?

Only time will tell if this will be more than a passing interest for Lil’ Man.  Will he play with it as much as he does his Legos or Minecraft?  I suspect not.  After all, with Legos and Minecraft he can make an infinite amount of creations of his own design whereas Labo is a little more finite.  My husband did see that people are expanding on their Labo builds through programming, so there is potential there.

The builds are not difficult and the cardboard was surprisingly easy to perforate.  Lil’ Man managed to due some minor damage to one piece, but nothing that couldn’t be fixed.  Overall, our family found Labo to be lots of fun despite the arguments (we laugh at our own dysfunction), and I love the educational element behind it.  If you think you and your family have the patience for the long, repetitive builds, I recommend starting with the cheaper variety kit.  The Robot Kit retails for $79.99.

UPDATE 10 May 2018:  Our review and build of the Labo Piano is here!


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