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Only a Model

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So this is what the building she's in looks like.

Number Two: Over the last thirty years, Virtucon has grown by leaps and bounds. About fifteen years ago, we changed from volatile chemicals to the communication industry. We own cable companies in thirty-eight states.
(the thirty-eight states illuminate on a map)
Number Two: In addition to our cable holdings, we own a steel mill in Cleveland.
(a steel mill miniature illuminates in Cleveland)
Number Two: Shipping in Texas.
(a model ship off the coast of Texas illuminates)
Number Two: Oil refineries in Seattle.
(a model oil refinery illuminates in Seattle)
Number Two: And a factory in Chicago that makes miniature models of factories.

Models of larger things are often used in fiction for a variety of reasons. Heck, if there isn't an immediate thing happening with the model in one scene, it's likely something will happen later.

One common use is models to describe plans (that will go wrong of course). Often overlaps with The Big Board, Exposition Diagram and Planning with Props.

Another is a Corrupt Corporate Executive showing the plans he makes for some place he is going to rebuild after tearing down some place (that the heroes have to save).

Sometimes a model can actually be one of the special effects props on a show, thrown in as a nod to attentive fans.

A Super-Trope to:

Compare Fun Size.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In The World God Only Knows Haqua tries to summarize the events of her introductory arc with a miniature model of the school and animated dolls. It ends up with the figurines of Keima and Haqua engaging inů questionable activities.

    Comic Books 

    Comic Strips 

    Films — Animated 
  • In Despicable Me, Gru gives a pep talk to his Minions, during which he reveals that they had stolen the Statue of Liberty- "The small one from Las Vegas," that is, as well as a respective replica of the Eiffel Tower.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The climax of Hot Fuzz is in a model of the town (including an infamous weaponizing of it).
  • Diamonds Are Forever: Willard Whyte has a rather large image of the United States on the floor with models of all his enterprises. This provides a "Eureka!" Moment where the Supervillain Lair is, when Bond points out a model of an offshore oil rig that isn't part of Whyte's business empire.
    Whyte: Baja? I don't have anything in Baja!
  • On Austin Powers, Number Two lists the many businesses owned by Virtucon, which are accompanied by models lighting up. One of the businesses mentioned is a factory that makes these models.
  • Battle of the Bulge. Col. Martin Hessler is being shown models of Germany's new wonder weapons, including one of the King Tiger tank. He snarks, "It's a very beautiful model, General. It proves that the Germans are still the world's best toy makers." However the general just smiles and takes him to inspect the very real King Tigers they've assembled for the upcoming attack.
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail names the trope when Arthur's servant snipes that Camelot is just a special effects model (and is immediately shushed), after all the knights act amazed at the sight. Ironically, it wasn't a model; the filmmakers used a real castle because a model would've been too expensive.
  • Zoolander: When Mugatu shows Derek a model for the "Derek Zoolander Center For Kids Who Can't Read Good And Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too," Derek thinks the model is the actual school and destroys it in a rage.
    Derek Zoolander: What is this, a center for ants? How can we expect to teach children to learn how to read if they can't even fit inside the building?!.
  • Fred in The Flintstones, in his first executive board meeting where Cliff is describing the pre-planned community he plans to build with his new revolutionary automated construction system that will make traditional quarrying obsolete. After unveiling the model of the community, Fred stands up, picks up one of the model houses and asks aloud:
    Fred Flintstone: If we build houses this small, who's going to live in them?
  • Wrong is Right. Sean Connery's character is briefing the White House staff on what will happen to New York City if the two suitcase nukes hidden there by terrorists explode, when he's apparently Killed Mid-Sentence along with everyone else amid scenes of the city burning and melting amid a fiery mushroom cloud. We then see everyone staring glumly at a smoldering model of New York that's just been destroyed in a simulated blast.
  • The 1979 Disney comedy A Spaceman in King Arthur's Court opens with a NASA rocket apparently flying through space, then a hand reaches over and removes the Space Plane from the payload bay and holds it up to show a roomful of government bigwigs who are there to approve the building of the real rocket and spaceplane.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Black Adder Goes Forth Melchett and Darling show George a model of the stretch of ground that has been captured in the latest battle. It turns out that the model is on a scale of 1:1, so the actual gain is only a few square feet. Closer examination reveals that it's not even a model — it's the actual square of turf.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: In "The Gang Hits the Slopes", owing to its theme of parodying '80s ski movies, Frank plays the Corrupt Corporate Executive who is in the works of buying the mountain and shows Charlie and Dennis a model of the luxury resort he plans to build on it. As he describes it, he notices Charlie eating one of the model trees and tells him to stop. Charlie claims he heard Frank say the model was made of candy, which was Frank denies (but according to Dennis, Frank totally did before the scene began).
  • In The Mighty Boosh episode "The Nightmare of Milky Joe" there appears to be a ship in the distance that may rescue our heroes from the island they're stranded on. It's only a model, as Vince proves when he reaches out and plucks it right off the horizon.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus In the Architect's Sketch, the second architect (the one who didn't design an abattoir) shows a model of a high rise block of flats that falls apart in various ways during the presentation, ending with it catching fire. The developers nevertheless decide to go with the design, saying it will probably be OK if the tenants don't weight very much and they have a spate of good weather. But it's mostly because the architect was a Freemason.
  • The Goodies. "The Lost Island of Munga", opens with a model longboat floating in the water while Graeme's voice tells how long ago a crew of Vikings were blown off course by a mighty storm. (It's an adaptation of an earlier radio sketch, see below)
    Graeme: Suddenly the sea gets rough, there is a mighty wind, and a fearful noise fills the air!
    Bill: Because Thor pulled the plug out!
    Reveal Shot shows Graeme is actually reading out loud from a book while sitting in the bath with a toy longship.

  • The Goodies' sketch (above) of a Viking ship foundering in a mighty maelstrom which turns out to be a model in a bathtub first saw the light of day in the show's radio precursor, I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again, also written by Garden and Oddie.

  • Babes In Outer Space, a parody of 1950's sci-fi B-movies by Steve Lovett, opens with a space station apparently being destroyed by a Death Ray. The next scene is a press conference where it's explained that someone is destroying space exhibits at theme parks throughout the country to discourage humanity from the exploration of outer space.

    Video Games 
  • The Mann vs. Machine map Coaltown in Team Fortress 2 includes a small museum containing, among other things, a model of ... the map itself.
  • The "Cold Reception" level in James Bond 007: Agent Under Fire contains within it a model of an oil rig. Snapping it with the Q-Camera will award you a Bond Move, for Bond will visit it later on.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons:
    • In the season eight episode "Homer's Enemy", Homer enters a "build a model nuclear power plant" contest for kids... and not only kicks their asses,note  but humiliates his antagonistic co-worker into a Villainous Breakdown and accidental suicide!
  • Close to the halfway mark of the VeggieTales episode "Rack, Shack, and Benny", Mr. Nezzer shows the titular characters a model of the giant amphitheater and bunny statue that he's constructed so the workers can bow down and show their love for the bunny.
  • In Star Trek: Lower Decks episode "An Embarrassment of Dooplers", Tendi and Rutherford spend the episode building a model of their ship, the USS Cerritos. A fully functional model, complete with phasers and a working warp core. At the end of the episode, Tendi decides to up their game with a model of Deep Space Nine, complete with miniature Jadiza and Erzi Dax!