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[[quoteright:350:[[Film/BackToTheFuture http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/docs_model.jpg]]]]
[-[[caption-width-right:350:"Let me show you my plan for sending you home. Please excuse the crudity of this model. I didn't have time to build it to scale or paint it."]]-]

->''Young Gray was fiddling about with a couple of Dinky Toys and a model of a street intersection. One of the buildings had a little flag and the whole thing looked terribly like a long-range elimination set-up for telescopic sights and I didn't interrupt except to remind him to lock the door as soon as I'd gone.''
-->-- '''[[Literature/{{Quiller}} The Sinkiang Executive]]'''

This is the use of models to represent the areas used to make plans, given that such things are easier when people have the context of an area to see what to do.

Of course, the UnspokenPlanGuarantee means the plan rarely works as expected. But it still lets the audience not only know the plan, but also have an idea of what's happening when things go wrong.

A miniature is one of the most common forms of model for this, but CGI models are getting more common. Sometimes the model can even be 1:1 scale, usually if precision in the plan is a must. [[HolographicTerminal Holograms]] are also popular in [[TheFuture more futuristic settings]].

In RealLife, relief maps were not widely used in the 17th and 18th centuries, so models were common--especially when it came to military engineering, where a model was a must-have if you were building or besieging a fortress.

TheBigBoard and PlanningWithProps are {{Sister Trope}}s, which often overlap with this.

A SubTrope of OnlyAModel. Compare ExpositionDiagram. Compare ThisIsWhatTheBuildingWillLookLike, which deals specifically with construction projects and is often (but not always) associated with bad guys.



[[folder:Comic Books]]
* In ''GIJoe'', Destro has been known to use little models to plan out his strategies--he does it in the famous "Silent Interlude" issue.

[[folder:Film -- Animated]]
* Disney's ''Disney/{{Mulan}}'' has one, when the general describes the planned advance to his son.

[[folder:Film -- Live Action]]
* A RunningGag in the ''Franchise/BackToTheFuture'' trilogy: Doc Brown builds elaborate models of city blocks or canyons to demonstrate his plans to Marty, then apologizes for "the crudity of the model". It also catches on fire, repeatedly.
* The Death Star attack plans in the ''Franchise/StarWars'' films ''Film/ANewHope'' and ''Film/ReturnOfTheJedi'' are with CGI models.
* In ''Film/{{Entrapment}}'', the protagonists plan a heist using yarn to practice navigating a LaserHallway.
* The plan in ''Film/TheDirtyDozen'' is largely with a model ([[PlanningWithProps and a Donald Duck figure]]).
* The ''Film/OceansEleven'' remake has the thieves building an exact, full-size replica of the vault they're planning to rob for practice.
* In the remake of ''[[Film/TheItalianJob2003 The Italian Job]]'' the thieves build a replica practice course in a warehouse to practice driving their escape route, and also have a CGI animation on their computer of the car as if it were traversing the actual route in real time for no apparent reason.
* In ''Film/TopSecret'', what begins as PlanningWithProps segues into this. The protagonists sketch their plan to infiltrate an East German fortress by drawing a crude map in the dirt. As the description progresses, the props get increasingly elaborate until they end up with a highly-detailed scale model of the installation complete with working train set.
* The French commandos in ''Film/TheLongestDay'' use a detailed model of the town they are to assault on D-Day for their MissionBriefing.
* In ''Film/RaidOnEntebbe'', Israeli commandos use a mockup of the Entebbe terminal to practice their assault plan.
* Film/{{Goldfinger}} had a very impressive scale model of Fort Knox and its surroundings.
* ''Film/SupermanReturns'' has a train set used this way. Lex Luthor throws part of a Kryptonian crystal in the model lake to show its effect. Made extra creepy when the camera zooms on little plastic people and you hear screams.
* ''Film/StarTrekBeyond''. Kirk and his officers plan their attack on Krall's base and the rescue of their crew using parts from the spaceship they're trying to repair.
* TheReveal in ''Film/TheKennelMurderCase'' involves this, as Literature/PhiloVance uses a model of the Coe residence and the apartment building next door to demonstrate how the murder went down.


* ''Literature/JackRyan'':
** In ''Literature/WithoutRemorse'', the model used for going over John Kelly's part of the GreatEscape [[spoiler:from the Song Tay Prisoner of War camp]] is mentioned in passing, with a note of the marker used to represent Kelly being a rubber band cut open, with two dots on one end for eyes, after Kelly's callsign of "Snake".
** A model found in an Afghanistan cave during a US Army raid becomes a plot point in ''Literature/DeadOrAlive''.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* Models are used to plan attacks in ''Series/{{Battlestar Galactica|2003}}''. At one point, the [[CameraScrew camera view of the models inverts]] just before a scene cut to show that a group of fighters depicted is concealing themselves by attaching their landing gear to the bottom of a freighter.
* Inverted in ''TheGilMayoMysteries'', where the team debates possible solutions to the weeks murder(s) by playing with models. The same eclectic set of models is used each week, so they bear no real resemblance who they are meant to represent. Except for that one time when the Reverend Beaver was represented by, of course, a beaver.
* "The Architect Sketch" on ''Series/MontyPythonsFlyingCircus'' has an architect who represents his plans for an apartment building with a model that gradually collapses as he gives his presentation, and then spontaneously catches fire. He gets the contract anyway, because he's a [[BrotherhoodOfFunnyHats Freemason]]. Or possibly because his competitor's plan involved corridors of rotating knives.
* Mentioned a couple of times in the first two episodes of ''Series/BandOfBrothers''. In the first episode, the soldiers are instructed to study various pieces of intelligence, including sand table models of their objectives. In the second episode, when one trooper asks another how he is so sure of their location, the trooper replies, "Cuz I studied the sand tables, genius!"
* The [=POWs=] in ''Series/{{Colditz}}'' use models of the castle made from Red Cross Parcel boxes to demonstrate their escape plans, including how to launch a [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colditz_Cock glider]] from the roof.
* BBC News, and later Channel Four News, were ridiculed and parodied for this when using sandbox models and toy tanks to explain British involvement in assorted wars and peace-keeping operations (First Gulf, Yugoslavia, Second Gulf). These were pushed around by an enthusiastic [[ArmchairMilitary Armchair General]] called Peter Snow.
* ''Series/TheAvengers''. In "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Station" the villain handcuffs Steed to a pipe so he can explain his EvilPlan with the help of a model train set.
-->'''Villain:''' I had you brought here to witness the final phase.
-->'''[[QuintessentialBritishGentleman Steed]]:''' That's very decent of you.
-->'''Villain:''' It's for me really, [[EvilGloating verging on megalomania you might say]]. But a coup is not a coup without someone to see.
-->'''Steed:''' ''(indicating cuffs)'' Excuse me if I don't applaud.
* ''Series/TheGoodies''. A BBC news broadcast simulates what will happen when the Goodies' moon rocket returns to Earth. [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Burke_(science_historian) James Burke]] demonstrates what will happen next by [[CaptainCrash dropping a model Apollo landing module on a map of Britain so it smashes to pieces]].

[[folder:Video Games]]
* One of these is used to plan a casino heist in ''VideoGame/SaintsRow2''. Then your gang decides to ignore the carefully-crafted plan and just "shoot the motherfuckers that are between [them] and the money", a TakeThat to ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoSanAndreas'', where a ''long'' series of quests are taken to plan and prepare a casino heist.
* In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVIII'' the LaResistance group Forest Owls used train models to explain the hijacking the railcar of an enemy president.
* Antonio in ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedII'' has a model of the Venice rooftops in his office in the Thieve's Guild.
* One of the pre-rendered cutscenes in ''VideoGame/{{Stuntman}}'' has the protagonist demonstrating how toy cars and miniatures are used by the stunt team to meticulously plan everything out. Of course, the player doesn't learn more than one or two key stunts before having to memorize the sequence on the job....
* Inverted/Accelerated in ''VideoGame/WarcraftIII'' in the final cinematic of the Undead campaign, when a newly-summoned Archimonde the Destroyer raises a model of Dalaran from sand. Then he swipes at the sand building... and the building it corresponds to crumbles.

%%* Used extensively in ''{{Webcomic/Erfworld}}''.
* ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'' has one with miniatures before the battle for Azure City.
* ''Webcomic/TheLastDaysOfFoxhound'' planned their fight with Solid Snake with clue pieces.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* An episode of ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries'' opens with the apparent explosion of a Gotham neighborhood, only for it to be revealed as a model, with the BigBad of the episode detailing his plans to make it really happen.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'':
** In the episode "Who Shot Mr. Burns? Part 1", Burns uses a model Springfield to show Smithers his plan to block out the Sun in order to make everyone more reliant on the power plant. After Smithers quits due to Burns' descent into "[[CardCarryingVillain cartoonish super-villainy]]", Monty begins stomping on the model for fun:
-->'''Mr. Burns:''' Take that, Bowlerama! ''(stomp)'' Take that, Convenience Mart! ''(stomp)'' [[RuleOfThree Take that]], Nuclear Power Plan-- ''(stomp)'' [[OhCrap Oh, fiddlesticks.]]
** In season six's "Bart's Comet," they used a model to show the different ways they can blow up the comet -- all ending with Moe's tavern being destroyed in flames.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheVentureBrothers'' Christmas special, the Monarch displays a scale model of the Venture compound as he gleefully outlines his plan to destroy Dr. Venture on Christmas Eve. Dr. Girlfriend is visibly ticked off.
-->'''Monarch:''' ...What??\\
'''Dr. Girlfriend:''' That model was ''supposed'' to be a ''surprise!''\\
'''Monarch:''' ''[sheepishly]'' ...I peeked?
* ''WesternAnimation/PhineasAndFerb''
** Dr. Doofenshmirtz does this sometimes. One episode shows a flashback to him working all weekend to make the model and hoping that Perry the Platypus appreciates it. He doesn't.
** In "Night of the Living Pharmacists," Phineas explains the plan to end the zombie apocalypse using a scale model. With the zombies breaking in as he speaks, Candace asks whether it was really worth the time to make the model. [[WorthIt He says it was.]]