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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.

Not to be confused with Fashion Model.


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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 in… questionable activities.

    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).
  • As does Willard Whyte in Diamonds Are Forever. 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 says the trope quote, which includes the fact that one of Megacorp's enterprises is a factory that builds models of factories.
  • 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.
  • 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 the children learn anything if they can't fit in the building?!.

    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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    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.

    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 assesnote , 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.


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