Scale-Model Destruction

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If a detailed 3D model shows up in Film or Live Action TV it should be prepared for a short lifespan, or at least heavy damage. Sometimes it's a Chekhov's Gun, but usually it's just present throughout the story and happens to get destroyed in the course of plot, especially if one of the characters has been working on it as a labor of love. Also, as you'll see from several of the examples, it's sometimes a excuse to show the characters in a Kaiju-esque parody of Godzilla trampling Tokyo.

A Sub-Trope of Only a Model.

Examples of Scale-Model Destruction include:

Comics[edit | hide | hide all]

  • On Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin often makes little cities on the sandbox with his toy cars and figures, then stomps on them pretending to be a giant monster.
  • A comedic example in a Gaston Lagaffe strip: Prunelle is busy presenting a model of a future office building for editions Dupuis to De Mesmaeker, wanting the businessman to invest in the project. Then comes an overexcited Gaston, eager to show a gift send by some of his fans: a miniature of the Gaffophone. Sure enough, on the first note played, the building model immediately crumbles.
  • The Adventures of Tintin: "The Calculus Affair" shows Calculus' ultrasound device used on a model of New York.

Films - Live-Action[edit | hide]

  • In One Crazy Summer, Egg Stork (played by Bobcat Goldthwait) gets trapped in a Godzilla costume and rampages over a real-estate developer's model, complete with the cheesy electrical arcs found in the old monster movies.
  • Beetlejuice had a model town, though it only sustained moderate damage.
  • Star Trek: First Contact: "You broke your little ship."
  • In Zoolander, Mugatu shows off a model of a school he's planning to build in Derek Zoolander's honor. Derek gets ticked and destroys it, because he doesn't understand the concept of a model.

Derek Zoolander: What is this, a school for ants? How can the children learn anything if they can't fit in the building?!.

  • In Moon, Sam is building a town model to pass the time. When the other Sam starts looking for the clone chamber, the model gets destroyed.
  • In the Street Fighter movie, Bison dramatically introduces a model of his future Egopolis. It gets totalled later by E. Honda and Zangief fighting, trampling it Godzilla-style...
  • Happens in RoboCop II when the massive model of New Detroit is revealed, and the new RoboCop (containing the brain of drug kingpin Kain) is elevated in the middle of it. Then someone waves a canister of the drug he'd been peddling in front of his own face, and everything goes to heck.
  • The Adventures of Pluto Nash has a joke around destroying only a single tiny piece of a scale model belonging to the Big Bad.
  • This is averted in Darkman, a movie whose central plot revolves around a shady real estate deal... but yet the model doesn't get harmed.
  • In a Monty Python sketch the model of a new hi-rise falls down and catches fire, but because the architect is a Mason he still gets the job.
  • Subverted (or averted?) in Hot Fuzz, which otherwise plays as many tropes straight as possible. The model village is mentioned early in the film, but while there is an epic punch-up there, no significant destruction occurs.
  • In Toys, one of the warehouses contains a scale model of Manhattan. The final battle takes place there, and much of it is blown up.
  • Averted in the Back to The Future movies: In the first movie, Doc Brown demonstrates the plan to harness the lightning to get Marty back home - the electricity overcharges the model car and it speeds off into a corner and starts a fire. Marty is not exactly reassured. The third movie also has a model layout, and again, the only thing that gets wrecked is the model steam engine... the same way they plan to sacrifice the real one.
  • Lex Luthor's model town in Superman Returns He didn't actually build it, and is unmoved by having it destroyed. A minor key in his dickishness.

Films - Animated[edit | hide]

  • Lilo and Stitch: Stitch makes a scale model of San Francisco in Lilo's room... then thrashes it in a miniature Kaiju rampage.

Lilo: No more caffeine for you.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • The novel 'Lullaby' by Chuck Pahaliuk has the main character building intricate models, before stomping them into the ground with his bare foot.
  • Moving Pictures has an In-Universe example; the Gone with the Wind parody made by some of its characters involves a detailed scale model of Ankh-Morpork, which is burned during the climactic scene.
  • In the book Emperor Mage by Tamora Pierce, Emperor Ozorne creates an illusory scale model of Tortall mage Numair only to destroy it.
  • In Monster Makers, Inc. by Laurence Yep, the protagonist works for a company that custom-makes genetically-engineered lifeforms. Their demonstration model is a foot-high replica of Godzilla that's been trained to trash a scale model of Tokyo on command.

Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • In an episode of Malcolm in the Middle, Hal and Dewey buy an inordinate amount of legos and other building blocks and create a huge model city inside their living room, complete with lights strung about. The mom comes in and accidentally destroys everything, stumbling about in slow-motion and howling like Godzilla.
  • Battlestar Galactica, although interestingly they intended to avert this until Olmos... improvised, not knowing that the ship model was on loan from a museum.
  • In an episode of The Love Boat it was Captain Steubing's birthday, and Gopher & Isaac commissioned a model of the Pacific Princess made out of matchsticks to give to him. At one point it got destroyed and they had to recreate it shorter, because the middle had been totaled. Then we come to his party and we see that everyone gave him boat-themed gifts and he was thoroughly bored with them. But wait...what's that ticking? It's coming from inside the matchstick ship! Steubing breaks it open to find a nice watch (one Gopher had lost while rebuilding the ship, which his mother gave him(?)) which Steubing assumes was his real birthday present, the ship being just a clever box making him think that was all it was. He's so thrilled with his watch that Gopher doesn't say anything.
  • Michael Bentine, once of The Goon Show had a sketch about a guest on a TV show who'd spent ten years building a beautiful model of St. Paul's Cathedral out of matchsticks. Unfortunately he forgot to take the match heads off, and under the hot studio lights...
  • In Prison Break, a major plot point throughout the first season is the Taj Mahal scale model that the warden is building for his wife for their anniversary. The roof is on the verge on collapsing and he has ceased work for the moment. He hears that one of the new prisoners (Michael Schofield, protagonist) is a structural engineer and asks for his help. Schofield initially declines to help, but later needs a favor and gets it by helping the warden. They work on it all season, but it still gets destroyed.
  • In an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, Joel builds a scale model of Monticello out of toothpicks. Then he allows Tom And Crow to destroy it, since he knows that's what they'll do the moment he turns his back, anyway.
  • In The Middle Brick tells his mom he needs to make a project of the capitol building. He makes one out of sugar cubes, then promptly destroys it and tells his mom that was just for fun, and he needed a pyramid instead.
  • In Ned's Declassified, Moze is having worries about being a Huge Schoolgirl after she accidentally steps on a scale model and destroys it.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

Take That, Bowlorama! Take that, convenience mart! Take that, nuclear power plant...oh, fiddlesticks.