The fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) are set to become some of the biggest employers in the future, so it makes sense to start piquing the interest of kids at a young age. STEM's toys are already teaching kids the basics of coding, robotics and electronic circuits, and now the gaming giant Nintendo is jumping in with Labo, a set of DIY cardboard construction kits that turns the versatile Switch console into things like a playable piano or even a wearable robot suit.
Each kit comes with sheets of press-out cardboard pieces that fold and assemble into accessories that Nintendo calls "Toy-Con". Some of these kits seem to get pretty complex – like the Toy-Con Fishing rod has a working reel and line, with one Joy-Con in charge of spinning the crank and the other sending vibrations down the rod to let you know when you have got a virtual bite.
The one that stands out the most is the Toy-Con Robot, which includes a pulley-packed backpack, a visor, and ankle attachments. It looks like four Joy-Cons are needed for this robot to jump into action: One sits in the visor to monitor head movements, one clip to each ankle to track your steps, and the last slot into the backpack, using the infrared sensor to watch over the pulley's movements as you punch and thrust with your arms. All these gestures are translated to a giant robot on the TV screen, which is bordering on a makeshift Nintendo VR system.
Nintendo Labo launches worldwide on April 20 with two kits. The Robot Kit packs the wearable mech suit for US$79.99, while the Variety Kit includes pieces to build a Toy-Con RC Car, Fishing Rod, House, Motorbike and Piano for $69.99. To dress up the crafty creations, the Customization Set includes stickers and stencils for $9.99.
Check out the action of the Toy-Con DIY kits in the video below: