Why is the Morita called "the Morita" and Was it in the Original 1959 Novel?
The Connection Between Total Recall (1990) and Starship Troopers (1997)
In the original 1990 Total Recall film, which is also directed by Paul Verhoeven, there is another bullpup brass-spitting rifle: the Federal Colony Soldiers' Muzzelite Carbine. Both the Morita Mk. 1 and that standard assault rifle of the Federal Colonies are made from the Muzzelite Bullpup Stock kit for the Ruger Mini-14. Both these futuristic firearms are designed based around Ruger Mini-14 rifles, however, both films had different armorers.
The Morita Rifle Mk. I
During the 1st Bug War, the Mobile Infantry and the Fleet use the iconic and (in)famous Morita Mk. I rifle that was the progenitor of the entire Morita family of MI firearms. This bullpup full sized assault rifle fires the NATO 7.62mm round from a 50 round magazine with an secondary 12 gauge shotgun with separate trigger for those close encounters. The weapon is over 44 inches long with an barrel length of over 30 inches(!). This science fiction rifle was created by Rock Galotti based on the notes from the studio that they wanted these MI troopers to be outfitted with a weapon to take down armies of bugs and they wanted a "real" weapon not a laser blaster.
Based on that requirement and the massive cinema battles between alien insects and humans that the Morita would be inolved, Rock Galotti used one of the most reliably blank-fire weapons: the Ruger Mini-14 and the AC556. Some of the Moritas on set where live-fire, others were rubber stun props, and most of the background Moritas were fiberglass; and only one had the working shotgun. The live-fire hero props were handbuilt and no two are alike. One interesting design element was the shotgun trigger located under the assault rifle trigger, allowing the user to operate with very minimum adjustment...handy when a bug comes a callin'. This design detail is seen in the real-steel FN EGLM grenade launcher.
The Morita Rifle Mk. II "Advanced Systems Rifle"
This Morita is a bit of a mystery, the Morita at the end of the 1997 film in a FedNet Propaganda segment. The weapon is called the "Morita Tonshi (Japanese for sudden death)" and it was not based on any real-steel weapon. It is on-screen for about 30 seconds, and it never appears in live-action form again. So, what the frak is it? The Morita Mk. II Advanced Systems Rifle was a major update to the individual destructive power of the MI trooper's Morita assault rifle. It is shown bring the hate on a mesa, but it is uncertain which barrel produced that blast or how.
The Morita "E-Pulse 44" Directed-Energy Rifle
Okay...this is not completely an "Morita", but it deserves a place here. In the 2004 straight-to-video shitty Z-Rated sequel to the 1997 film, we see our hapless MI troopers locked in a deadly Rorke's Drift scenario. Instead of the familiar 7.62mm Morita Mk. I rifles, we see the MI troopers uses an DE weapon called the "E-Pulse 44 rifle"? SST II: The Hero of the Federation is not a good film and the inclusion of a DEW Morita could be due to budget. Blank ammo costs money and the laser gun flashes seen in the film could have been cheaper than blank ammo. In fact, after seen the film, I believe that the E-Pulse 44's trigger was rigged up to a lightbulb at the barrel of the prop gun to show the visual effects minions were to put in the DE laser flashes. The overall design of the E-Pulse 44 is not bad at all and unlike the Moritas from the 1997 film and 2008 films, this one was not based around a real-steel weapon, it is just a plastic-fantastic snowjob. The E-Pulse 44 rifle was only seen in the second film.
The Morita Rifle Mk. III
In the continuing trend of SST borrowing liberally from ALIENS, we now have a 10x50mm caseless variant of the Morita rifle: the Morita rifle Mark III. As seen in the 2008 not-too-bad 3rd film, the Morita III is similar in overall design to the Mk. I, but sports an traditional layout from the bullpup, an optical aiming system, flashlight, and a grenade launcher. The Mk. III feeds from an 90 round magazine of 10mm caseless rounds with a magazine-fed 30x71mm grenade launcher that has a 4+1 capacity. This allows M.I. and Fleet Marines to engage the bugs for longer and with more tools to cut down the number of incoming hostiles via the grenade launcher and the larger magazine.
The Morita Rifle Mk. IV
The Morita "Invasion" Rifle
The Morita Rifle Variants
The Morita Carbine
In one of the cool real-world touches that the 1997 film uses in their firearms was the inclusion of an carbine variant and who uses them. In the film, Fleet personnel, Marines, Special Forces, and NCOs are seen with a cut-down carbine of the Morita Mk. I. The film gets the issue of who gets to use the carbine variant correct (to my surprise) and that the carbine is devoid of the shotgun attachment. During the climax of the 1997 film, we also see that the escape pods of the Roger Young have Morita Carbines stowed inside to fend off nasty bugs.
The Morita DMR
In the 1997 film, we see an interesting variant of the Mk. I Morita: the "sniper rifle" in the hands of badass Sugar Watkins of the Roughnecks. There is only one sniper variant of the Morita Mk.I seen in that film. This weapon is wrongly called a "sniper rifle", instead it is an Designated Marksman Rifle (DMR) because it is using an existing assault rifle foundation for a more accurized weapon.
The Morita Mk. III "Survival Rifle"
The Force-on-Force DE Morita Trainer
The Morita Mk. III SAW LMG
Well, it only took three movies for the Mobile Infantry to get an frakking light machine gun! The Morita SAW is an LMG variant of the Morita seen in the CGI Invasion film and the handheld phone game. There is nothing on this gun save for it being in the film. It is heavily dotted with barrel shroud for heat ventilation/air cooling and has a bipod. I'm guessing that if the Morita rifle calibers the .338 Lapua that the SAW would be firing the same round which seems completely insane and you would need powered armor to deal with the recoil of that package.
What Does the Morita Rifle Say About the Federation?
Under the Plastic: the Morita Rifle Blank-Fire Weapons
Why is the Morita Rifle So Popular?
The Morita Mk.I has become one of the most popular science fiction weapons of all time, ranking up there with the M41A1 Pulse Rifle, the Lightsaber, and Deckard's PKD. Today, it is easy to find live-fire Moritas, even ones that fire airsoft, paintball, and display props littering the internet...but the question is why is the Morita such a popular sci-fi gun? One reason could be that the Morita rifles in SST films bang harder on-screen than pornstar Gianna Michaels and the bolt can be seen cycling away as brass flies in a nearly pornographic display of firepower.
More than 300,000 rounds of blank ammunition was used on SST and it says something about how hardcore the Morita is...this is no "phasers on stun" sci-fi weapon system! This more realistic hard-edged reality of the Morita over raygun laser sci-fi weapon could be another factor coupled with the spitting brass and huge muzzle flash. Also, SST is a cult favorite and a guilty pleasure, and combined with the coolness factor of the Morita itself, could be another source of the gun's popularity. To the fans of SST, the Morita is their Lightsaber or phaser, you cannot have a cosplay MI trooper outfit without the Morita.
The Things that Piss Me Off About the Morita
Where Else Have We Seen the Morita?
The Starship Trooper PC Game (2005)
Before Strangelite was bought by Rebellion, they gave us the 2005 SST PC video game. This had the player take the role of a powered armor equipped elite member of the Mobile Infantry's Marauder Program. Marauder Zero Six is tasked with a number of missions on planet Hesperus too tough for the regular troopers, and besides the powered armor, Marauder Zero Six has an entire armory of weapons, including two Moritas. The Morita Mk. IV is the endless plasma DE Morita and the Morita Mk. I is featured and is to be used against armored bugs. This game was raped at the time in reviews due to errors in the programing and a lackluster experience overall. However, it was cool to take on massive amounts of bugs with cool SST universe weaponry.
The Galoob SST film Action Figures
It is hard to believe that SST had a toyline and that said toys were marketed to children considering the hardcore gore and nudity in the first film. Galoob's line of SST toys did feature some of the core characters from the film, however, much like the Kenner ALIENS toyline, the characters are mere shadows of themselves. Some figures were packaged with the standard infantry Morita Mk. I. As you can see, the Morita is close to the film's and is just as long as the film's as well. This toyline sold poorly and was quickly forgotten. FWS will be explore and tying to explain the Galoob SST toyline in a future Military Sci-Fi Toys blog article.
IR "Laser Tag" Morita-like Rifles
The SST Comics
There have been a number of SST comics over the years with some being published by Dark Horse and other smaller presses. Some are set the world established by the 1997 film while others are based on the 1999/2000 Roughnecks: the SST Chronicles. The SST comic follow some of the gear and weapons seen in those works, while some artists take liberties with the weaponry and design new Moritas. I contacted a few friends that have the SST comics, and they informed me that during the Dark Horse run, the Moritas were front and center with additional variants. They could not provide me with scans of those other variants,
The SST Minature Game
In 2005, Mongoose Publishing released a miniature RPG wargame based on the Verhoeven SST universe. The game liberally borrow from heavily from the 1997 film, while other elements were culled from the Roughnecks animated series. The United Citizens Federation armies miniatures for sale had MI troopers from both the film and animated series with Moritas to match. The game was disconnected in 2008.
Next Time on FWS...