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Surprisingly Functional Toys

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When a character is shrunken or is naturally under three inches tall, and said character encounters a recognizable object scaled to the character's tiny size, the object will retain the function and properties of the full-sized object, Square-Cube Law and Law of Conservation of Detail be damned. For example, characters small enough to fit in a Hot Wheels car will be able to actually drive it as if it were a real car (including actual interior, rather than a generic hunk of moulded plastic), characters the right size for a dollhouse will be able to actually cook with the plastic kitchen appliances, and so on. This is much easier to Hand Wave away in stories that involve shrinking characters, since some type of magic or Applied Phlebotinum is obviously already in play.

If an honest-to-god toy is manufactured to be functional, it's My Little Panzer. If the toy behaves as a living creature, that's Living Toys.


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    Anime and Manga  
  • Justified in Doraemon: Nobita's Little Space War - a pint-sized alien crash-lands near Nobita's house, and Doraemon uses his pocket full of goodies to create a fully functional living space out of one of Shizuka's dollhouses.
  • In Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea a toy boat is expanded until it's big enough to carry two young children, and works perfectly well. This is all part of the magic, of course. Played with when a couple of items are left in the boat when it shrinks back, really do become perfect miniatures.
  • Justified in Arrietty because the borrower-sized dollhouse was made specifically for borrowers to inhabit.

    Comic Books 

  • Night at the Museum:
    • The movie runs into a lot of this with the Roman and Western displays, presumably due to the tablet magic.
    • We also get a remote control car with which can be entered and driven by the miniature Romans. Presumably made more realistic by the same magic tablet.
    • Averted with Jebediah's useless plastic guns. "Now you know Jebediah's secret shame."
    • The sequel has a fully functional model plane, and judging by the urgency involved in trying to stop it, a space rocket. Bear in mind they're at the Smithsonian.
  • In Alvin and the Chipmunks (2007), Simon's glasses were from some sort of toy Santa. In the unlikely chance that they even had any sort of "lenses" they wouldn't be made to help vision. And even on the off chance they were, it's unlikely they would be Simon's prescription.
  • Beetlejuice. After Adam is shrunk down to a couple of inches tall, he drives a toy truck that handles and sounds like a real truck. The Hand Wave being that Betelgeuse had been using the Maitlands' scale model of their town as his hideout, and he and other ghosts have the supernatural ability to add in whatever stuff they want (Juno installs a fully-staffed cathouse at one point to keep Betelgeuse occupied).
  • In Gremlins, Gizmo finds a toy car in the department store that he can drive like a real car, using the steering wheel instead of any sort of remote control.
  • Justified in Ant-Man. Hank Pym blows a tank keychain up to normal size and uses it to bust out of a building, but it's an actual tank that he shrunk down and disguised as a keychain. Averted with the Traintop Battle involving the Thomas & Friends toy, as it stays well within a toy train's capabilities and merely runs around a circular track.

  • In Stuart Little, Stuart gets a custom-made car, just like a real one, but miniature. Hilariously, it can also become invisible, which poses a problem when Stuart absentmindedly presses the button from outside the car.
  • The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary, where the eponymous mouse is able to make a toy motorcycle go by making engine noises.
  • Averted in The Magicians of Caprona. Two characters are shrunk and put in a dollhouse, and before they realize what's happened, they wonder why nothing in the house works.
  • Justified in The Indian in the Cupboard series; toy objects don't work as they are, but can be turned into functional versions of themselves through the same "magic of the cupboard" that brings toy people to life. For example, putting a toy doctor's bag in the cupboard turns it into a fully-stocked medical kit, and toy guns (unfortunately) turn into functional guns. An action-figure-sized gun is far too small to do any real damage to a full-sized human, but it works just fine on a transformed toy, and if you give them a gun and then send them back to their own time via the cupboard, they return with a real gun that they can use however they like.
  • Averted in The Rescuers series of children's novels (the inspiration for the Disney movies). In the novels Miss Bianca is the pet of an ambassador's son, so she lives in a dollhouse, but most other objects are not simply mouse-scaled props, but are indeed fabricated from other objects. For example, spools of thread are used as chairs, the salt shakers are really thimbles with bottoms attached, combs leaned against piles of books are staircases, and so forth. This happens in the movies as well a bit, but most of the props there are literally shrunken versions of human objects.
  • Used with a normal sized protagonist in Stephen King's The Eyes of The Dragon. The main hero is framed for murder and imprisoned at the top of a tower. He convinces his jailers to let him have the doll-house he used to play with as a kid to help pass the time, then proceeds to use the fully functional, though tiny, spinning wheel it contains to fashion a thin rope out of threads from the napkins he's given with every meal. Justified as when the doll house was first mentioned, special note was made that his father had made sure everything in it was constructed as realistically as possible.
  • Played with in Sixty Eight Rooms using a magical key that only shrinks a girl who holds it - along with anyone else in physical contact. Not only do the miniatures in the Thorne rooms work, including a violin that plays and an awesomely comfy bed, the painted backgrounds are transformed into portals to the time period whichever room is dedicated to. However, a certain miniature object must be present for the portal to function.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Semi-averted in the Doctor Who episode "Night Terrors"; the dollhouse itself is way too realistic, but contains fake food and wooden frying pans.
  • Inverted in an episode of Lost in Space; the Robot somehow becomes huge and inexplicable contains rooms you can walk around in and human-sized equipment like tape drives.
  • Played straight in the The Twilight Zone (1959) episode "Miniature". The single doll woman comes alive and starts playing a piano, two other people show up, and at the end, the main character Charlie Parkes shrinks and joins the woman, sharing a stereoscope.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In Peanuts, Schroeder's Piano is a toy, but plays like a grand. The black keys are actually non-functional. When asked how he manages to play as well as he does, he replies with "lots of practice." That must also be how he makes it sound like three different kinds of keyboards in A Charlie Brown Christmas.

  • The doll's house owned by Queen Mary, now on display at Windsor Castle, is about as close as it's possible to come to a Truth in Television example of this trope. Not only does it have working electric lights (not so impressive nowadays, but in the 1920s that wasn't universal for real houses) but hot and cold running water and flushing toilets. The books on the shelves had genuine text on them, including some written specifically for it, and there's even a fully working miniature bicycle as part of the collection of accessories. This would have been the kind of Conspicuous Consumption that causes civil unrest except for the fact that the end result was put on public display at the Empire Exhibition of 1924, and most of the contributors took part of their fee in free publicity.

    Video Games 
  • In Harley's Humongous Adventure, he got parachutes, dynamite and toy tanks.
  • In Paper Mario, to get anywhere in Shy Guy's Toy Box, you have to drop in a toy train from outside. The Toad conductor inside is able to drive it around just as easily as the real train you ride earlier in the game.

    Web Original 
  • SCP Foundation: SCP-115 is a plastic toy dump truck that functions exactly like a real dump truck, except that it's smaller. It weighs about 90 tons, can carry 120 tons, and runs on diesel fuel.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Looney Tunes short "Feed the Kitty", the kitten Pussyfoot manages to "hotwire" a toy wind-up car and drives it around erratically. As a tribute, director Joe Dante has Gizmo do the same with an RC car in Gremlins.
  • Averted in Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends; an imaginary friend tries to drive a toy car only to realise it doesn't work that way.
  • In the rare times that Pinky and the Brain interact with other civilised mice ("The Third Mouse" comes to mind), toy cars end up acting this way. When they try it in "A Pinky and the Brain Christmas", it's subverted—it's an RC car, and they don't have the remote themselves.
  • ReBoot has a game where the characters are the size of dolls. The User character (also doll sized) used cars and a plane that were fully functional. Since the context here is a video game, it's excusable.
  • The Penguins of Madagascar has the penguins use many strange toys in Kowalski's inventions, but they have a pink toy car that at first doesn't seem to have been altered at all, but still functions like a real car.
  • The Misterjaw cartoon "Shark and the Beanstalk" involves the titular shark and his catfish sidekick encountering a giant in a castle. After a lengthy chase, the two find a room filled with toys and make their escape from the castle using a toy plane to fly off.
  • The miniature boat used by Chip 'n Dale in the short "Chips Ahoy!": One can only guess why a former Ship in a Bottle is equipped with miniature captain and sailor outfits for the chipmunks to use, a miniature mop and a bucket, a fully functional miniature water pump, fully equipped cabin quarters, a rather heavy miniature anchor (as Donald Duck found the hard way) and a rudder that's actually connected to the ship's wheel.
  • Inspector Gadget: The episode "the Incredible Shrinking Gadget" has a shrunken Gadget driving a toy version of his car. The villain responsible for shrinking him, Professor Dumkopf, gets shrunk too and escapes in a toy plane like the above Misterjaw example.
  • The 1941 Warner Bros. cartoon The Brave Little Bat opens with Sniffles the Mouse driving in a toy car through the countryside. The car breaks down and literally falls apart, forcing Sniffles to take shelter in a nearby barn.

    Real Life