weapons of Starship Troopers are one of the most talked about features of
the movie, as they take on a character all of their own!”
Starship Troopers, the young warriors of the Federation travel to distant planets
to battle the vile Arachnid armies.
With them, they take a brutal arsenal of weaponry, consisting of missile
launchers, Nuke launchers, grenades, and most significantly….the infamous
Morita rifle is the mainstay weapon of the Mobile Infantry and the Federation
Morita took its name from a Sony Executive at the time of production, as a mark
of respect, and it became one of the most beloved and distinct weapons of the
Morita was the result of a culmination of efforts by the art, special effects
and weapons departments, according to John Richardson (head of ST special
There were two basic
types of Morita rifle – the more common long-barrel Morita (or “Morita rifle”),
and the short-barrel Carbine (or “Morita Carbine”), mostly used by Fleet
personal and Officers. The Troopers
used various other weapons, such as Nuke/Missile launchers etc, but the Morita
variants were the predominant weapons of combat.
The Morita rifle
(long barrel), was the standard issue assault weapon for the MI, and consisted
of a long-range rapid-fire automatic gun with a secondary under slung shotgun
for effective damage in close quarter fighting. The Morita rifle was really a futuristic fibreglass casing,
containing a Ruger Mini-14 semi-automatic rifle and an Ithaca 37 “Stakeout”
pump action shotgun. A few were fitted
with Ruger AC556 (Military Spec.) fully automatic rifles. The weapons for arranged in an “over and
under” configuration and were held in place inside the fibreglass Morita
casings by an internal and external metal “A” clamp. These clamps ensured that the weight of the shotgun did not bend
or warp the mini-14 barrel with its own weight. The mini-14s were further fitted with 22-inch barrel extensions,
so that the overall barrel would run the entire length of the weapon. The triggers for the mini-14 were relocated
and moved forward using a “Bullpup” design system, which meant that the
magazine would be located at the very rear of the weapon.
In total, around 70
fully automatic Ruger AC556s were used, 50 semi-automatic Ruger mini-14s, and
25 12-guage Ithaca “Stakeout” shotguns.
The Morita Carbine
(short barrel) was mainly used by Fleet personnel, Rank Officers and special
personnel in the Mobile Infantry. It
was basically a cut down version of the Morita rifle and was practically the
same minus the under mounted shotgun.
The fibreglass casing was modified into a short barrel carbine pattern,
and it only contained the mini-14 rifle with no shotgun. It utilised the same bullpup design feature
to relocate the triggers forward. These
were much fewer in number than the Morita rifles.
There was only one
other variety of the Morita rifle, and only one or two were known to have been
made, and for only one specific character.
For Sugar Watkins, his Morita rifle was fitted with an oversized sniper
scope. The Morita itself was a standard
live fire rifle fitted with a mini-14 and an Ithaca shotgun, but it was also
fitted with a large wood/fibreglass faux sniper scope, which would come into
use later in the movie. This is the
only instance of a Sniper Morita that we see.
The Morita appeared
in one other “variance” during the movie.
When the new Troopers are going through the Camp Currie boot camp, they
take part in a “Lazertag” futuristic training game; where they play a version
of Capture the Flag in full combat gear.
They use Morita rifles that have been modified to fire laser beams that
incapacitate an opponent (rather than live fire that would kill!). To do this, non-firing fibreglass Morita
rifles were fitted with a Lazertag tip, that masked the Morita barrels with a
faux laser gun emitter.
These weapons were
known as “Live fire” props, as they contained actual Live Firing weapons that
used ‘Live’ ammunition. For this
reason, the movie required a federally licensed co-ordinator and supervisor for
all firearms, mainly for safety reasons.
For this reason, the renowned Rock Galotti was brought in; whose
precious projects have included the blockbusters Broken Arrow and Face Off.
In addition to the
“Live Fire” prop Morita rifles, a large number of non-firing prop Morita
weapons were needed, for stunts and background purposes. For example, the movie producers did not
wish to use live firing weapons during stunt scenes for safety purposes, so
they would use either fibreglass Morita rifles (either empty or containing
resin mini-14s), or, they would use full-size rubber cast Moritas.
A large number of
fibreglass Morita rifles were produced, but rather than inserting real mini-14
firearms, the property masters used exact casts made of resin to give the
appearance of real firearms. These were
used for close-to-camera shots when real firearms were deemed unnecessary or
The same was done for the shorter Morita Carbines: a small
limited batch were produced as simple fibreglass shell casings with no real
firearms but rather resin replica casts to give the appearance.
For all other purposes, full size casts were used, made of
solid rubber. From afar these looked identical
to the real Morita rifles, but were twice as light and were much cheaper and
faster to produce. They were carried by
background extras, as well as were used for stunt scenes. The rubber Morita rifles were excellent for
use by stunt actors because they were much lighter and easier to carry, but
they could take serious damage and not be broken or seriously affected, whereby
a sharp blow to a fibreglass Morita would crack the shell casing easily.
The Morita rifles played a major role in the movie, especially
coming to the fore during the major battles against the Arachnids armies. Just like the characters and the actors, the
Morita weapons had their own cameo appearances, like the Sniper rifle playing
its own part in the merciful death of Sgt Gillespie at the hands of Rasczak, or
the last stands of Zander and Carmen with their faithful Carbines.
It has been said that the Morita rifles played as major a
part in Starship Troopers as the actors themselves did, and because of this
role the Morita props played, they are one of the most sought after and
collectable pieces from this blockbuster movie.