WikEd fancyquotes.pngQuotesBug-silk.pngHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extension.gifPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifier.pngAnalysisPhoto link.pngImage LinksHaiku-wide-icon.pngHaikuLaconic
File:City1 4470.png

It's made of popsicle sticks, old lava lamps, and held together with pure smugness.

So a character, often a Corrupt Corporate Executive, has a big construction project planned. The problem is that the odds are this project will not come to fruition, or even if it does, we are just likely to see ground broken on it at the end. So the writers have this character show a model of it so the audience can know what it would look like.

Or perhaps the building is already made, but it's not going to be shown, so the model is just so we can see what it looks like without showing the real one.

Often paired with a Dramatic Curtain Toss.

Important: If we see the actual building in anything before the last minute of the show, it doesn't count.

A Sub-Trope of Only a Model.

Examples of This Is What the Building Will Look Like include:

Comic Books

  • The Mansions of the Gods begins with Caesar showing off a model of the Roman development that is to be built around the little Gaulish village.
  • In one gag of Gaston Lagaffe, Prunelle shows Demesmaeker a model of the new offices of Spirou, which Gaston then causes to collapse with a model of his Gaffophone that he got from a reader.


  • In Zoolander, he confuses a model for a finished design, and asks how it's supposed to help people "when they can't even fit inside the building?"

  "What is this?! A center for ants?!"

  • Hook features a model of a new hospital, built thanks to Wendy.
  • In RoboCop, the model of "Delta City", intended to replace the old Detroit, is displayed on several occasions.
    • It shows up again in Part 2.
  • In Batteries Not Included the big bad corporation has one of these.
  • Bisonopolis from the Street Fighter movie. In the climactic battle, Zangief and E. Honda are fighting among it like a Kaiju film.
  • The Hawk Plaza in Herbie Rides Again.
  • A twisted take on the concept occurs in One Crazy Summer. Bobcat Goldthwait, through a series of contrived coincidences, gets stuck in a Godzilla costume while spying on the Big Bad's business party where he is showing off his planned project to some Japanese investors. A cigar idly tossed away (still lit) ends up in the godzilla suit's mouth, Goldthwait goes berserk trying to get it out... and the Japanese investors are treated to the sight of Godzilla roaring and screeching, stomping the model flat. They find it hilarious, naturally.
  • In Darkman, Louis Strack Jr shows a model of his new waterfront city development to Julie.
  • The model of the Museum of the Strange in Beetlejuice.
  • You Don't Mess With the Zohan has Walbridge's planned shopping mall with a roller coaster. For added comedy there's also one of his hot supermodel girlfriend.
  • The 1983 movie Get Crazy follows this trope explicitly, as the corrupt music producer displays a model of his big sinister skyscraper to a meeting of big sinister investors. All that stands in his way of building it is the old-school music theater run by the good guys.
  • Shows up in Iron Man 2 with the miniature Stark Expo model. Also becomes a plot point when it turns out that the model is also a "blueprint" of sorts for synthesizing an element that can replace the potentially-toxic palladium currently used for arc reactors like the one keeping Tony alive.
  • Lampshaded in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me when Number 2 shows Dr. Evil a collection of minututre models of companies they own including a factory that makes miniature models of factories
  • The waterfront stadium plan in Vancouver -- I mean, San Francisco! -- in Romeo Must Die.
  • Spoofed in Freaked. Evil freakshow owner Elijah C. Skuggs shows off a model of his facilities, then proposes that the Everything Execept Shoes Corporation upgrade it to 'Super Mega Freak World', which is represented a larger version of the same model.
  • Reflecting history, Downfall has Hitler obsessing over a massive scale model of what he wanted to turn Berlin into.
  • Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones features a miniature hologram of what is soon known as the Death Star
  • In The Brady Bunch Movie, Mike Brady displays scale models of three different buildings he's submitting designs for. All three are clearly the same model, and identical to the Brady house, aside from the sign out front.

Live-Action TV

  • Monty Python's Flying Circus. During "The Architect Sketch", a man comes in with a model of a tall apartment building, and as he talks the model tips over, then some of the floors collapse, then it catches fire... See what happens next. (relevant part starts at 3:20, to pick up from end of this description go to 3:55)
  • In the Inspector Morse episode "Twilight of the Gods", Corrupt Corporate Executive Andrew Baydon plans to endow a new college, and the model of it is on display.
  • From News Radio, Jimmy James' Jimmy James Towers, a colossal pair of J's.
  • All architects in How I Met Your Mother build models. Occasionally models of dinosaurs that breathe fire.
    • And, on one occasion, a model which evidently looked like a giant... towering... tower.
  • A Saturday Night Live James Bond parody sketch didn't even get that far - archvillain Christopher Walken has Bond captive in his lair that's still under construction and way behind schedule, and he has to resort to showing Bond conceptual renderings of the various deathtraps he would be subjected to.
  • One of these shows up in the second series of Waterloo Road when Roger Aspinall intends to rebuild the school as the Roger Aspinall Academy. His disaffected son later trashes it with a fire extinguisher.

Video Games

  • There's a model of how Shinra wants to remodel Midgar in their building in Final Fantasy VII; you have to restore its missing pieces to move on.

Western Animation

  • The model of Kuzcotopia in The Emperors New Groove.
  • In Part 1 of The Simpsons two-parter "Who Shot Mr. Burns?", Burns shows Smithers a model of Springfield to demonstrate his plan to block out the Sun. After he kicks Smithers out, Burns starts stomping the buildings, only to accidentally crush the miniature power plant.
  • An episode of Rugrats had Angelica trying to sneak away from her mom's boring business meeting so she could play with the scale model of the theme park he company was planning. Yes, she utterly wrecks the set.
  • Lampshaded in the unaired pilot episode of Clerks the Animated Series when the Big Bad, Leonardo Leonardo [sic], shows off his city of the future to much fanfare only to reveal an empty table. He then says with some embarrassment that he had ordered the model and it should be arriving some time next week.

Real Life