It’s not difficult to get excited about the Nintendo brand. Everything the company makes is centred around fun for the whole family, with their ability to bring all generations together. It’s no different with Nintendo Labo – its new range of DIY craft kits that you build, decorate and bring to life with the Switch.

I attended the media event at the Nintendo Pop Up in Sandton in last week, and it was super fun to finally get crafty with the cardboard Toy-Cons. We started off with the easiest of the lot, the RC car, which admittedly was child’s play – haha. Nintendo South Africa had everything set-up, so all we had to do was take the RC car kit and use the Switch to follow on-screen instructions.

Btw, Nintendo SA are currently offering slots to try it at out at Sandton and Brooklyn (Gauteng only at this stage) so if you’d like to check it out, you can find a booking here on weekends at 10am or 2pm for May.

We had the choice to build anything else but due to limited time and deadlines, I opted to build them at home. I stuck around to try the Robot Kit which was already built and available for demos at the entrance of the store… which is entertaining for anyone walking by to see what you look like as a cardboard robot moving about. But… I just had to give this one a go as I’d seen a bunch of review videos with it and it looked like so much fun.

You’re basically destroying everything in sight, and if you squat, the robot becomes a car, but let me tell you, you have to be fit to able to drive around smashing things. I tried that particular mode very briefly but enjoyed stomping on things. You have parts attached to your legs and arms which the controller reads when you move, through the inside connected bits (the stickers on the Toy-Cons are read by the infra-red on the Joy-Cons). If you want a first person view, just put the visor on. 

The Toy-Con Variety Kit is recommended if you’re looking to get your kids or family involved. It’s available for R999 at various retailers online and in-store. It comes with five various crafts in the box – piano, RC car, motorbike, fishing rod and house, a bunch of accessories and the game card itself.

Just be aware that it will get messy with the cutouts, and well, make sure you are seated comfortably before starting. Once you insert the game card into the Switch for the first time, there will be a mandatory update (of course) for the console and the Joy-Cons. It shouldn’t take too long if you’re on fibre. 

I opted to make the piano first, which I knew would be time consuming. Nintendo mentioned at the launch that the piano with two people takes about an hour and a half. Anyway, I did it myself and it took two hours, with no break, using the on-screen instructions on the Switch. 

I propped the Switch on the kickstand and used the screen to zoom, rotate, or go forwards and backwards on the instruction videos. The kickstand is not the strongest, I must say, it fell a few times. You can go at whatever pace you are comfortable. 

The results of my hard work:

As you can see in the picture above, the part on the left with the ‘1’ on it is interchangeable and you have three other options. Naturally, I went for the cat mode first, LOL. The other ones bring different sounds. I would like to add at this point that I don’t actually know how to play the piano (I wish I did), so it woulda been cool if there were tutorials. The above is just the play aspect to it. You can still go into “Discover” mode for a whole lot of fun.

My Switch was charged 100% before I began, and using it for two hours of instructions left it on ~30% by the time I was done. You can keep the console on charge while following instructions, of course. If you’re doing it on your own, it does get tedious making all the keys. If you have company, it would be a welcome break to switch between two people.

I’m the type of person who prefers doing things on my own so I do it right (haha), which is probably why I didn’t take a break; I wanted it complete in one sitting. If you’re a parent, this is the ideal way to spend some time with your child as it is fun for all involved, especially for those who love crafts. It’s also very therapeutic. I did not get around to customising my craft, but this is where kids (and adults!) can go wild. At the Nintendo Pop Up there’s a variety of custom crafts on display.

If you’re unsure that this is something your kid would love (I, mean??) go check out the Pop Up if you’re in Gauteng. Nintendo SA tells Wired to the Web they are looking at getting the demo areas into other retailers like Toys R Us, so keep an eye for those announcements for other cities.

If you own a Switch, and have kids or just love crafts, Nintendo Labo is a must-buy. I plan to make more Toy-Cons once my other deadlines are out of the way.