Jim Martin - what we always would you like to know ...

In December 2019 we got the opportunity to fire some question to Jim Martin, querying answers concering the background of design creation during the movie making in 1997. Furthermore, Jim digged out some "lost artworks" from this time, which we discuss here.

The Morita is one of the impressive props of the movie, therefore let's start with it.


SSTGD: What was the request for the weapon design? Or did you design a bunch of weapons on stock to let the producers chose what they like more?

SSTGD: The designs have a very high degree of details. What is your inspiration of all these details? Have you seen similar equipment in reality before or is it just out of your fanatasy?

JIM: From the beginning design process, we knew we needed an infantry weapon. I always imagined it would be a futuristic version of a Colt M16. I think that's why I always put the top rail. I ended up doing a pass of multiple design options so the production designer could offer the director a range of ideas.


SSTGD: How many design proposals you did for the main weapon of the troopers – the Morita and how the naming was given? In your drawing it is mostly mentioned as “rifle”, but not “Morita”, who did the naming?

JIM: I probably did about eight to ten different designs for the Director to look at. I also did some random designs when I was doing soldiers and armor ideas. I didn't know it was called the "Morita Rifle" until later. We just called it the "rifle". It was early on.

SSTGD: The most rifle drawings are showing a double functional weapon, two rifles in one. Was it a requirement or simply an imagination from you? How close was the adjustment and/or the feedback, maybe even design iterations of the Morita design process concerning the prop production?

JIM: The functioning prop was always going to be an actual automatic rifle encased in a shell. What I designed was the outer "dressing" to make it look like a future weapon. I kept putting in an underslung pump "shot-gun". It did make it into the final prop. I also remember needing to come up with a design for the rear magazine clip as well.


SSTGD: In the picture above you see the Morita types compared, from top to down: Jim's design drawing; the Replica Morita of the Starship Troopers German Division; an original shell, which wrapped the life weapons and an original stunt rubber Morita as it was used in the movie 1997.

SSTDG: We have some feedback on the use of the Morita from Captain Stevens from the field.

Captain Stevens remarks

JIM (Final Morita thought): The rifle is a nice mix of my artwork to design the look and surface detail, and the prop-makers (gun construction: Rock Galotti, property master: William Petrotta) taking the designes and applying them and making the whole thing work. It was a collaboration that resulted in the Morita Rifle. If you look at the final Morita, you can see where details are taken from my different rifle designs. Teamwork.

SSTGD: Also, thanks to Prop’r Effects for all the great prop construction.

Find out more about Jim's work at "Starship Troopers" on his website: www.jimmartindesign.co