Follow TV Tropes


Schematized Prop

Go To
And now you know how a sandvich works.

Skulduggery Pleasant's car was a 1954 Bentley R-Type Continental, one of only 208 ever made, a car that housed a six-cylinder, 4.5-litre engine, and was retro-fitted with central locking, climate control, satellite navigation and a host of other modern conveniences. Skulduggery told Stephanie all of this when she asked. She'd have been happy with, "It's a Bentley."

Animators love machines (except the ones that only like airplanes). If a series has any kind of Bonus Material, you are very likely to find whole pages devoted to detailed diagrams and blueprints of Props and items used in said show. These can be as long as character biographies, and some end pages are specifically filled with this kind of information. For some series, this information is frequently All There in the Manual.

If a show has the budget, this will even extend to the depiction onscreen. Even when objects might not behave in a realistic way or are slightly souped up versions of real machines, they will certainly look accurate. Similarly, any show taking place in the present will feature technology right up to date to the time of the show's production (e.g., USB drives or Memory Sticks instead of Magic Floppy Disks). If the obsession is extreme, there's usually a character who is an otaku about the subject, and a good chance that character is an Author Avatar.

Its real origin is the cutaway drawings of airplanes in popular magazines during the Second World War, which were imitated in the British comic Dan Dare as centerfolds of spaceships.

Humongous Mecha series take this to the extreme, where it becomes a kind of Fanservice; a Real Robot is almost expected to have Schematized Props. This also extends to weapons seldom being neutered onscreen. Swords have a deep heritage in the country, and guns are much more difficult to get in Japan.

Of course, this is endemic to any science-fiction series which might attract Geek fandom; Star Wars, Star Trek, even many Comic Books. For example, an entry in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe describes Spider-Man's webshooters: Because the fluid almost instantly sublimates from solid to liquid when under sheer pressure, and is not adhesive in its anaerobic liquid/solid phase transition point, there is no clogging of the web-shooter's partsnote . If only Stan Lee could have worked the phrase "anaerobic liquid/solid phase transition point" into Spidey's first appearance, imagine how well it would have sold!

Remember; this has only a stylistic similarity to Shown Their Work. It is actually the blueprints of Minovsky Physics adhering substance.

Often ends up as Technology Porn. Closely related to Description Porn. Compare Technobabble.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • The Trinity Blood DVDs have bonus material with detailed schematics of the airships and all sorts of other machines seen in the show.
  • The detailed designs in both Ah! My Goddess and You're Under Arrest! reflect their creator's obsession with motor vehicles.
  • Likewise the weapons and vehicles of Ghost in the Shell, Appleseed, Riding Bean and Gunsmith Cats. (Masamune Shirow for the first two, and Kenichi Sonada for the second two). In the Ghost in the Shell manga, Masamune Shirow also loves continuously footnoting character talk with explanations, down to the point where entire scientific theories are outlined in a small block of footnote text.
  • The Gundam series is so schematized that they have grades of model kits for the Humongous Mecha that actually have working, accurate gears, pistons, and the like, with full range of mobility, incredibly intricate components, and removable armor plates to show off the inner workings.
  • GaoGaiGar uses line drawings and technical specifications sheets as commercial bumps. These can be for anything from the Monster of the Week to the new weapon system to the car the protagonists happen to be in at the time.
  • Initial D: Nearly all of the races have characters describe to great detail all the traits and characteristics of cars Takumi - and later Keisuke - are facing off against, usually diving deep into Car Porn territory. It's also often visually used to showcase the inworks of cars while racing, usually those of the main characters.
  • The end of each volume of Battle Angel Alita features this sort of information on all sorts of props and elements of the Scrapyard.
  • Each volume of Saint Seiya illustrates how each Cloth (a Saint's signature suit of armor) transforms to and from a statue representing the Saint's respective constellation. Many of these are implausible, mind you (parts have a habit of being way out of scale), but seeing how most of these designs are for one-shot villains, it's a surprising amount of detail.
  • Each episode of the latter half of Patlabor began with a narrated CGI intro (then a new innovation) showing off the specs of the titular mecha.
  • Arguably half the point of Initial D. Aside from the fandom holy war of whether grip or drift is faster, the various car modifications are reasonably technically accurate.
  • Due to its Humongous Mecha influence, the Lyrical Nanoha franchise has these, with blueprints of the different Intelligent Devices being shown in the last chapter of the StrikerS supplementary manga. There's also Nanoha Force Next, a monthly feature in Nyantype Magazine that gives the blueprints and details of the new weapons and upgrades in Nanoha Force. Technology Porn at its purest.
  • Super Dimension Fortress Macross went out of their way to extensively use Brand X to name their parts. Henceforth the names like Mauler, Bifors, Remmington, etc.
  • Played for comedy in One Piece's Arabasta arc. While Usopp was fighting Mr. 4 and Miss Merrychristmas, Usopp suddenly whipped out a giant mallet that he called the Usopp Pound and knocked Mr. 4 out cold. After a game of whack-a-mole with Miss Merrychristmas, a cannonball set the Usopp Pound aflame, and its entire head vanished in the fire. A full schematic of the hammer revealed the whole thing to be an inflatable balloon lined by enormous frying pans to make its ends harder and give the hammerhead its distinguished shape. Eiichiro Oda has included the blueprints of several vehicles and ships used by the Straw Hat Pirates including the "Going Merry" and its replacement "Thousand Sunny".

    Comic Books 
  • Tintin: Destination Moon uses a full page to show the blueprint for Moon-Rocket.
  • The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe (at least the earlier versions) is practically dedicated to this trope, as mentioned above. We learn how practically everything works, from Nomad's stun disks to Iron man's armor. And, as mentioned above, Spiderman's web shooters.
  • 2000 AD was rather fond of this trope in its early years with several cut-out-and-keep sections on gear from strips.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Played with in Batman Forever, where Bruce tries to use his cars in this manner to get Dick to stay. It fails. Then Dick sees the motorcycles, and he starts rattling off specs.
  • Inception: The Portable Automated Somnacin IntraVenous (PASIV) Device, a briefcase containing apparatuses, wires, and a big yellow button, is essentially an automatic anesthesiologist ensuring One Dose Fits All of an extraction team's needs. As is essential for film, it's a brushed-aluminum Zero Halliburton.
  • In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, all of Tony Stark's tech is designed with this in mind, the most impressive example obviously being the Iron Man suit itself. The first movie gives an especially good look at the mechanics of the suit, focusing on its development, flight control surfaces, assembly and weaponry and showing off just how much thought went into designing that thing.
  • Pacific Rim's Humongous Mecha were actually designed using these. Part of the development process included in-depth schematics of how the entire machine worked.
  • Ghostbusters (2016) employs these for all of Jillian Holtzmann's equipment.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Par for the course when it comes to Star Trek, not only with the schematics and cutaways employed on the shows themselves, but taken to extremes with both official and fan publications, particularly with the full deck-by-deck (all 42 of them) blueprints of the Enterprise-D.
  • Doctor Who had a 1960s annual, The Dalek Book, which showed a cutaway of the inside of a Dalek. A later volume, the Technical Manual, did this in a Broad Strokes way for the Doctor's toolkit and several of the Doctor's enemies, including every iteration of the Cybermen up to "Revenge of the Cybermen."
  • Warehouse 13 produced blueprints for the Farnsworth.
  • Thunderbirds had technical information and cutaway diagrams produced for every vehicle and gadget featured, often included as part of the annual.
  • The Heisei-era Kamen Rider shows love this.
    • Go to the official Toei website for most of these shows and you can get a detailed breakdown of exactly how any given Rider's suit, weapons, Transformation Trinket, etc. function. Want to know how Den-O's armor appears from thin air, or what function Wizard's Badass Longcoat serves? Now you can!
    • Build, being a technology-oriented series, plays with this immensely. All of the suits are literally formed on screen through runners and tubes, and in the first few episodes the camera would enter the Driver to show gears and pistons cranking!

  • Williams Electronics' Junk Yard includes a blueprint for the player's time-traveling flying jalopy on the playfield. Components include a cuckoo clock, a fish bowl, a weathervane, and a fan.

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech's sourcebooks often show schematics of its BattleMechs and other vehicles, along with exploded views of individual components such as their fusion reactors.
  • The players' half of the Dalek sourcebook for FASA's Doctor Who RPG was presented as an in-universe document from a Time Lord symposium on the creatures. It contained a speculative cutaway diagram, theories about their nature, and "artist's renditions" of the creature inside. All of this information was dead wrong — and the Game Master's half of the sourcebook showed the far more horrible truth.

    Video Games 
  • ANNO: Mutationem: A collectible item is a diagram detailing a blueprint for the Cyber Neko statues found throughout areas.
  • The Nintendo Power guide for Star Fox 64 featured pull-out blueprints of the various vehicles used by the team, including details regarding their top speeds, propulsion systems, cost, and manufacturers. The guide also featured planetary information on all of the levels in the game, though it had minor issues with scaling such as making a planet smaller than a satellite that orbits it.
  • Metal Gear:
    • Metal Gear Solid has Snake extracting all sorts of information from people on the other side of the radio on his weapons and gear. Parodied with Nastasha giving an impossibly thorough and detailed description and history of the cardboard box.
    • In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Naked Snake starts reciting the customization of a Colt 1911, demonstrating just how much more interested in the intricacies of his new firearm than the scantily clad woman standing next to him he is.
    • Half the stuff Naked Snake mentions in that particular scene is either nonsense or just superfluous. He gets it right when talking to Sigint about the gun later, detailing seventeen different points about the gun's various improvements. In addition, if you call Sigint with other weapons equipped, there will be a detailed discussion about them. Snake has a few...colorful words for the prototype XM16E1 assault rifle, which hadn't been introduced at that point in history, and his suggested improvements are the same ones brought up by Vietnam soldiers and later incorporated into the weapon.
    • One page of the Japanese MSX manual for Metal Gear presented specifications for the TX-55 Metal Gear.
  • The original Wing Commander came with blueprints of the space fighters you flew in the game. Versions of the very first game before the Kilrathi Saga compilation required you to input a random detail from these specs to get the game to start as a form of Copy Protection.
  • More recent incarnations of the Metroid series have taken up this trope, most notably using a Power Suit schematic as the item/weapon status screen (Zero Mission, Prime, Prime 3, Super, Fusion; the schematized suit was also seen in the instruction manual for Metroid II). Other examples include the model of the FS-176 solar system in Metroid Prime (who knew Zebes and Tallon IV were in the same solar system?) and the detailed descriptions of items, ships and upgrades throughout the Prime games.
  • The wireframes in StarCraft veer perilously close to this well as providing a handy way of estimating damage.
  • The Armored Core series has each end every part have exact and in-depth specifications for any attribute the it applies to, to such an extent where you would consider purchasing a different head unit because not only does your current choice seem a bit heavy, it may drain too much energy, lack the stats to support your Fire Control System, not have a built-in radar function, not have a bio sensor, lack ballistic defence, is not very sturdy, and a whole host of other things you wouldn't even give a second look at. And that's just the head. At least, you need a Core (body), Arms, Legs, Generator, Booster, FCS, and Weapons. Depending on the game, you also need Radiators, Inside Units, Hanger Units, Main Boosters, Side Boosters, Back Boosters, Overboosters, Extensions, Shoulder Weapons, etc. has stats enough to fill in a small page.
  • As seen on the page image, Valve has done this with several items from Team Fortress 2... including a sandwich.
  • Valve seems to like this kind of trope: in Portal 2, there was a scene showing turrets being assembled piece by piece, from the metal frame right down to their tiniest parts. Also, in some trailers, diagrams are provided for the turret and portal gun. Additionally, several of the loading screens for the co-op puzzles contain these.
  • The intro to Silpheed Super Dogfighter shows wireframe models and extensive technical specifications for the SA-08 "Silpheed" and the various types of enemy craft.
  • Escape Velocity would show a schematic for any targeted ship in the status window.
  • Various Kerbal Space Program "Vessel Viewer" mods allow the easy making of Schematized Props from your spacecraft, from generating and printing exploded views and cutaways to displaying a wireframe of the ship overlaid with various important parameters.

    Western Animation 

Alternative Title(s): Schematic Porn, Schematised Prop