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Overly Cool Play Space

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Because everyone has a green table and a wall with rainbows, clouds and circus tents painted on it, right?
This trope applies to any Toy Commercial featuring children (often, but not always, boys), using an elaborate play setup unrelated to, and often more interesting than, the toys themselves.

For action figures, the children have set up an elaborate play environment made of rocks and sticks that must have taken hours more to assemble than the 30 seconds seen that it took to play in. For toy cars, the children have a kitchen that has over wide stretches of spotless,note  uninterrupted linoleum or going through a dirt track a little too obviously built by an adult.

This is not to say that there aren't kids out there who make their own playsets, but the trope is to make the toys seem even more exciting to the potential buyer. Toy manufacturers sometimes put a disclaimer to the effect of "background set not available" at the bottom of their commercials if they're playing this trope straight.

A subtrope of Rule of Cool. Pops up in Fridge Logic. Compare to Adjacent to This Complete Breakfast where unhealthy food is displayed next to healthy to make you associate the two.


  • This Batman action figure commercial features a whole homemade play set, including a barrel of "sludge", which is almost definitely not included in the "figures and vehicle sold separately" disclaimer.
  • This Hot Wheels set seems to be filmed in an overly dark basement with a lot of strange, swinging lamps. You can only wonder what these boys' parents do in that room when the kids aren't playing with their race track in it.
  • This Burnin' Key Car Commercial uses an overly large kitchen, easily 50 feet across.
  • A commercial for action figures based on the Green Lantern (2011) movie featured a Coast City playset which was explicitly stated to not be available for purchase.
  • When toy cars could be received from Kelloggs Cornflakes, an advert showed two children playing with the cars on a very elaborate model town.
  • LEGO commercials and pictures of the models (such as space stations and pirate ships) displayed in the manuals and on the box often invoked this trope.
  • A windup stunt cycle commercial of the 1980's had a car tire which had been severed at one point and pulled sideways and placed as a loop-the-loop with the road being the inner surface of the tire. Not unless those kids dad let them use some pretty impressive tools, or they spent the better part of an afternoon with a hacksaw...
  • Commercials for Nerf guns and Super Soakers often cross into this territory. Large groups of children or teens are often depicted playing on courses that seem more suited to paint ball or even military training than for guns that shoot foam darts or water.
  • Ads for backyard playground equipment often depict a lawn so large and open you wonder why the kids would need a playset anyway with all that room to run around in.
  • Homestar Runner: A Parody Commercial for Cheat Commandos toys has Homestar, Strong Bad, and Coach Z playing with the action figures in the Field, and using The Stick with a pie tin balanced on it as an "enemy radar dish".
  • The terrain and backdrops used by many miniature wargames to provide examples of play are often magnitudes better than what the average wargamer can put together. And then there's how well they're painted...
  • Defied by Blue Peter back in the nineties when Thunderbirds was enjoying a bit of a renaissance. All the Thunderbirds machines were available as toys, but there was no proper Tracy Island playset for them. After receiving a staggering number of letters asking for help with this, they dedicated one of their famous craft demonstration segments to how to build your own. The official Tracy Island playset that showed up some time later couldn't really compete.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: Parodied in the episode featuring the film Gamera vs. Barugon, where one of the host segments is a commercial for a Kaiju attack play set. In Tom Servo's Motor Mouth legal disclaimer, he admits that "Some parts do not exist," which probably includes the massive terrain piece that the toys are set on and is never explicitly mentioned as being included.
  • Parodied in Two More Eggs when a commercial for "Gankroar" turns out to actually be a real estate commercial for the homes being used as the backdrops.