Nintendo’s Labo kits—build-them-yourself cardboard toys that use the Switch console as their brains—go on sale today. They’re among the most inventive, purely joyful playthings I’ve seen in eons, and if you have a Switch, I recommend them unreservedly. But I do have a few tips:
- Start simple. The most dazzling Labo creations are the complex ones, such as the Variety Kit’s piano and the Robot Kit’s backpack, visor, and other accoutrements. But before you dig into them, it makes more sense to piece together something that you can complete in one quick session, like the Variety Kit’s insect-like “RC Car.”
- Explore the app. Putting together Labo toys isn’t a mystifying experience along the lines of assembling Ikea furniture based on a single sheet of wordless instructions. The Labo app is wonderfully well done, letting you step forward and backward through the steps and rotate 3D renderings of pieces around.
- Grab a friend. The Labo construction process lends itself well to teamwork, which is an admirable trait in a product of interest to families. One person can pop out cardboard pieces and fold them while another focuses on later parts of the build.
- Take your time. As with any construction project, what counts is doing the job right, not completion time. Make sure you insert the right pieces into the right slots the first time, and don’t force anything. And when the app urges you to fold the Labo cardboard neatly, it isn’t kidding.
- Figure out how it works. The “Discover” part of Labo’s “Make. Play. Discover.” tagline is about understanding the ingenious ways the cardboard bits interact with the Switch—such as the infrared camera on a Joy-Con controller inside the piano noticing you’ve pressed a key. It’s possible that this discoverability is the single best thing about Labo.