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"Do All ALIEN Troops Buy Their Weapons From EARTH?" Topic

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Cacique Caribe10 Oct 2009 5:16 p.m. PST

Ok . . .

Even if the Aliens are sculpted as basically "humanoid" in built . . .

WHY do most species of Aliens look like they are armed with firing weapons purchased from a human arms dealer?

WHY can't we have more Extraterrestrials armed with decidedly un-human-like firing weapons?

Here is a good example of figures with firing weapons with a very Alien look to them:


More non-human-looking firing weapons, this time from Martian Chronicles:

YouTube link


Uesugi Kenshin Supporting Member of TMP10 Oct 2009 5:28 p.m. PST

Their ARE a lot of excess Russian weapons sitting around these days ;-)

I agree. I always wonder why all hostile aliens have to be humanoid looking as well (bi-pedal, 2 arms, etc…).

CPBelt10 Oct 2009 5:30 p.m. PST

Yes. Usually at S-Mart.

Shop smart. Shop at S-Mart.


Coelacanth193810 Oct 2009 5:30 p.m. PST

Some basic weapons are probably going to look alike no matter what species invents them. That's just simple physics.
More exotic weapons, like those from the movie "District 9" is another can of worms entirely.

GreatScot7210 Oct 2009 5:40 p.m. PST

This always bothers me as well. Unless there is a backstory that somehow ties the aliens to humans, I don't like them to have human-ish weapons or clothing. That's one reason I can never look at the GW Space Ork fluff without gagging.

For a non-human look I am partial to something like the weapons of the Palansi: link

Pictors Studio10 Oct 2009 5:45 p.m. PST

The GW Tyranids never had anything even close to human weaponry.

Steve Hazuka10 Oct 2009 5:45 p.m. PST

Well the evolution of the rifle stems from the length and the method of aiming. Your eye has to look straight down a barrel to aim which is similiar to crossbows and even a regular bow.

Now what alien race will you develop and then explain why they had to projet an object instead of always fighting manually. An interesting story might be because they had no such weapons before and always fought hand to hand but when they encounter humans learned that we liked to use projectile weapons and had to adapt or be defeated.

Humans used bows and spears because our early prey was to fast and had better senses so we had to be able to kill without being close.

So thats one reason.

Whatisitgood4atwork10 Oct 2009 6:05 p.m. PST

Their own planets have gun control. They have to come here.

Garand10 Oct 2009 6:13 p.m. PST

Well, I agree with the point above: if form follows function, why would alien weapons look radically different from terrestrial ones of the same type? A selective fire rifle type weapon probably will not be THAT much different from terrestrial ones, because there are only so many logical ways to propel bullets down barrels. Save for ergonomics, I don't expect them to be so different…

In the end, a lot of "alien" weapons tend to be unconvincing (the Palansi weapons FREX, or the Greys weapons above -- why exactly do they have a handguard for the supporting hand?)


Lee Brilleaux Fezian10 Oct 2009 6:13 p.m. PST

It's an old issue.

In 'Zombies of the Stratosphere', a series from the early 1950s, the green Martian zombie characters (including a young Leonard Nimoy) not only worked in tandem with Earthling gangsters on a nefarious plot, but apparently borrowed weaponry from them.

They never hit anyone, which was lucky because they were only opposed by three people, one of them in high heels.

Cacique Caribe10 Oct 2009 6:21 p.m. PST

These could be a compromise, at least:


At least it doesn't look like it was bought off a rack at a local gun or bazooka shop.

And, if I recall correctly, Predator had a firing weapon that shot from the back of his fist. Or am I confusing it with something else?

PS. And, before this thing opened up and exposed all the human machine-tooled barrels and rockets, it looked very alien-like or, at the very least, some sort of hybrid firing weapon:

Given Up10 Oct 2009 6:44 p.m. PST


Zorg products.

Always ask about the red button.

Why do alien weapons look like human weapons? Because we humans cannot imagine what alien weapons will look like. We can't even imagine aliens very well. What we imagine is us in various costumes.

Can we imagine something totally different, totally unrelated, to what we have experienced?

Or can we only imagine variations on a theme?

Inquiring minds want to know.


GreatScot7210 Oct 2009 6:45 p.m. PST

Sure, basic form will follow function, but when you see alien weapons that look like only slight variations of human items, it doesn't exactly help with suspension of disbelief.

I always thought the Tyranid weapons were pretty unusual and interesting too.

Steve Hazuka10 Oct 2009 6:53 p.m. PST

Now energy weapons may change the whole thing. Without the need for a barrel and a magazine the weapon can take on a different appearance

Given Up10 Oct 2009 6:55 p.m. PST


I agree with you. The Tyranids and their weapons are pretty good. I was disappointed though that they had weapons. I was pleased the weapons were mostly living organic things, not machined metal, etc., if I remember correctly. It's been a while.


Top Gun Ace10 Oct 2009 8:18 p.m. PST

I really liked the variations on the theme in District 9 one of the better items in the movie, although there were many to choose from.

I am ignoring the paint-ball CO2 cylinders on some of them, but still, even if you do choose to critique that too, they still looked excellent.

The Chig fore-arm weapon extensions are interesting too, from Space: Above and Beyond.

And, or course, I have always liked the Klingon hand disruptors as well.

Eli Arndt10 Oct 2009 8:18 p.m. PST

Honestly, until designers start making aliens who have more than a cosmetic difference in anatomy to humans then why should they look much different?

It has already been said, but guns work along certain principals which means they have to look certain ways. Alien Greys, Tyranids, the Martians from Martian Chronicles aren't famous for their "5.64 kravtnim gas operated slug projectors" so they really don't count.

When your weapon is some sort of psychic emitter, beehive with a trigger or deathray projector, you can make it look however the heck you want. But if it has bullets and an ammo feed and a place for that ammo to eject spent casings (caseless ammo withstanding) they have to go someplace.

I will say that this is a bit of a bane if you ever try to convert human soldiers to alien soldiers beyond simple rubber suit changes. Lengthen the arms and/or the necks of the aliens and you modify the firing position relative to the torso so most human firing postures go right out the window.

Some notable miniatures equipped with guns that do not look like human guns are GZG's Ixx and Phalon troopers. The Ixx are obviously carrying tech but it has a stylistic difference. The Phalon weapons reflect the biological origins of their equipment.

The old Star Frontiers RPG had a few good picture interpreting the same basic equipment for the various races. The insectoid Vrusk had to use knob like grips on their weapons with pressure activated trigger buttons to accommodate the radial nature of their fingers. Sathar aliens, having no finger or thumbs had weapons that had their own unique trigger and grip. But, all this being said, they still had a barrel, a magazine, and sights, all laid out in a linear arrangement.


JimSelzer10 Oct 2009 8:29 p.m. PST

whole thread reminds me of those ugly non gun looking weapons from space 1999

terrain sherlock10 Oct 2009 8:29 p.m. PST

Okay.. what is a weapon..?

Hmm.. mass x velocity = energy

Using the definition that it is something used to project energy..i.e. a bullet does not kill you.. it is the kinetic energy from the exploding powder being transferred from the shooter to you that does the job.

The bow, the crossbow, the thrown spear all use stored anergy – be it taught bowstring, spring steel or sheer muscle power.

Now.. for this type of weapon.. form will follow function..
If the aliens are throwing glass needles, depleted uranium
slugs or whatever. **

So the question is.. what *other* things can be done
to help the other guy see the reasonableness of your
very peaceful requests..?

The Tyranids (as I recall) have a system to deliver
living bio-constructs that then eat you. Or dissolve you..
depending..:-) (These have always seemed a bit limited in rangle to me.. but whaddu I know.>?)

Some things that come to mind..

* electrical type 'lightning bolt' thingies..

* a ray that would break down the bonds between atoms.
so that your armor.. and you.. dissolve into useful
chemical residue.

* a portable microwave.. turning your brain into
a tasty, warm treat.. (here we need to assume the aliens have the equivalent of mustard, to make your brain
somewhat palatable..)

* a gravity-concentrator.. so that uhm.. you sudenly feel very sluggish..? (No idea, but it sounded cool)


** an aside.. it was this idea that led to the change from the big but slow moving slug of the Martini-Henry to the
smaller but faster slug of the Enfield.. When I first
saw the M-16 slugs, I thought they was .22's..:-)

Captain Apathy10 Oct 2009 8:41 p.m. PST

CC have you looked at the weapons from the movie District 9?


Eli Arndt10 Oct 2009 9:26 p.m. PST

The guns from District 9, though cool, look like they escaped an FPS video game. Also, I would say that all of them fit the function they were designed for. However, the aliens in D9 also had projectile weapons and their projectile weapons looked pretty much like ours save for minor stylistic differences.

I will agree that there is room for some style choices in alien weapons and I wish that sculptors would look into this, BUT, I also want them to do so with some restraint at the same time as innovation.

A weapon CAN look too crazy and even stupid. Just because it's outlandish, doesn't make it good. Also consider interesting ways to make old ideas work.

When it comes down to it, go ahead and make up new guns but don't leave me asking, "What the hell is that?" or, "How do they use that thing?"


Cacique Caribe10 Oct 2009 9:53 p.m. PST


How would you describe this then? Too weird, too human, or just right?



Cacique Caribe10 Oct 2009 9:53 p.m. PST

Or . . .

How about some of these others?



kokigami10 Oct 2009 11:05 p.m. PST

It is always difficult to imagine a variation on a theme when one changes the theme drastically. What would a rifle look like, if it were built by and for Deer?

Kilkrazy11 Oct 2009 2:13 a.m. PST

Any kind of weapon is a solution to an engineering problem. Most problems have only one or two best solutions, so that's why all guns end up looking the same. For instance, we have revolvers and self-loading weapons.

If you want to change the look of a weapon you must disguise it cosmetically, which would be sub-optimal in simple terms of cost-effectiveness, but might appeal to a culture with a highly developed sense of individuality or fashion. Remember the mobile phones which had a snap-off cover you could change for all sorts of patterns? In Japan, a lot of people decorate their phones with beads, sequins and other stuff to individualise them.

The other reason to change the look is to change the engineering problems. Suppose you built a gun which fired cartridges comprising Explosively Formed Penetrators. There would be no need for a barrel, because the 'bullet' is formed and directed by the blast of the explosive in the cartridge. The weapon would need a very strong firing chamber though, because the cartridges contain high explosive and detonate with a lot of force. For the same reason it would need a lot of recoil protection. I imagine this weapon would be quite short but fat in appearance.

Personal logo Dances With Words Supporting Member of TMP Fezian11 Oct 2009 4:38 a.m. PST

So you're looking for a 'logical' explanation in a 'fictional' setting???? oooooookay…

If we assume most 'non-terran' species still have a humanoid form, then if they have any sort of technology above throwing rocks…then a lot of the other goals/generic qualifications as to what a weapon should do and look like will be the same. (with exception of 'bio-tech' sorta like tyranids/others who vary from bipedal to non and multilimb).

The 'Bugs' from Starship Troopers used biotech into making different species of themselves AS weapons…but they still had to cut/slice, puncture, spray, claw, bite, chew, expel etc….AS a weapon would.

Totally non-bipedal/humanoid species developing 'tech' would still need some sort of 'manipulative' organs, (like the puppetters from Known Universe series of stories, who used their 'knob-like protrusions' on their twin necks, each with it's own eye? to do 'tech'?)

it could be as simple as a 'wand' or rod with sphere to point at someone/something… or a crystal/sphere (like those tall martian types from Gullivar of Mars stories?)

Or perhaps just mentally-projected energy bolts or telekenetic energy, visible or not…like the Talosians etc??? (or the 'acid bath embrace' of the HORTA from 'Devil in the Dark')

IF the 'evolutionary' system provides similar 'outcomes' to producing higher intelligences…such as the Star Trek 'nose/fore-head appliances of the week' club/aka Hodgekin's law of parallel planetary development…then the weapondry for most humanoids (unless bio-tech/the Vong from Star Wars?), is going to have SOME similarities…(look at all the WWII stuff 'modified' for star wars…like Han Solo's Broom-handled…BLASTER???)

In short….either it would have some design/appearance similarities (in most cases) to some form of weapon we'd reocognize…or be so utterly 'alien' we'd never know it till they used it….(you mean that really wasn't a marital aid, but the Transdimensional fracknizickle of Doom? Well, she SEEMED to 'enjoy' it…up till the moment she VAPORIZED!!!!!)

Sgt DWW-btod (bartentacle of doom…hey 'overly ripe' frog-grog-nog-qualifies doesn't it????)

khurasanminiatures11 Oct 2009 7:38 a.m. PST

I think the answer is that all customers buy their miniatures on earth. wink Fact is that SF gamers mostly want their models very orthodox -- they want tanks, infantry, support guns -- some even want mortars and the like, all very mid-20th century. (In fact, it's likely that warfare in the far future won't even be fought on the model we use today.) But if that's what sells, it's because the gamers can connect better with familiar concepts.

Also most aliens are humanoid so they would use weapons of a similar shape to those used by aliens.

That said, I am releasing some non-humanoid aliens soon who have weapons fitted to their different anatomy (three vertical handles on the Nemotocyst harpoon, one on top, two on the bottom, to accommodate their three tentacles), and I'll let you know after a few months' sales how non-typical alien hardware appeals. grin

GarnhamGhast11 Oct 2009 7:43 a.m. PST

I think a lot of sci fi alien weaponry has too many twiddly bits on it – functional first should be the motto. Anything overly cumbersome and not easy to point and shoot shold be avoided.
What kind of "hand" weapon would an octopoid use? could they hold someting steady enough to fire it?

khurasanminiatures11 Oct 2009 7:47 a.m. PST

What kind of "hand" weapon would an octopoid use? could they hold someting steady enough to fire it?

Depends on the octopoid. grin

They wouldn't have "hand" weapons, they'd have tentacle weapons!

And even extant, non-sentient octopuses having amazing dexterity with their tentacles.

YouTube link

GarnhamGhast11 Oct 2009 9:10 a.m. PST

Which is why I wrote "hand" :)
Thanks for the video, that was great!

Top Gun Ace11 Oct 2009 9:17 a.m. PST

That is one flexible octopus.

I hope someone is working on forcefield technology, since when the octopod aliens are captured, standard jail cells will not hold them.

No crabs were injured during the filming of the above sequences.

I imagine if you gave a gun, or a laser rifle to an octopus, it would have little difficulty activating the trigger. Sighting in on the target might prove a bit more challenging at first, but they seem to catch on rather quickly, especially when a crab dinner is involved…..

BlackWidowPilot Fezian11 Oct 2009 10:00 a.m. PST

"The GW Tyranids never had anything even close to human weaponry."

Bio-tech is a handy game changer, but IMHO some basic realities still would factor in whether the technology is biologically or mechanically based or even a fusion of both elements:

1) Physics. Whether delivering a projectile, or a bolt or beam of energy, the Laws of Physics will still apply.

2) Ergonomics. The critter must interface with the weapon in a manner consistent with their physiology, allowing for a maximum degree of efficiency and above all *accuracy* under combat conditions.

3) Technology. What can the xenos actually manufacture? What resources do they possess that would drive their weapons development?

4) Damage resistance. What kills the xenos, as any weapons development would be rooted in the time-honoured principle of *what works against our immediate neighbors.* For example, kinetic weapons kill humans with frightful efficiency, hence our continued propensity to use weapon systems that generally shoot projectiles of varying sizes at one another.

What if the xenos were highly resistant to kinetic damage, but were even more vulnerable that the scum-sucking planet-grabbing humans to injury due to heat or fire?

IMHO if one is seeking to create reasonably plausible non-human weapon systems, then these are the issues that must at the minimum come into consideration.

Leland R. Erickson
Metal Express

Kilkrazy11 Oct 2009 10:12 a.m. PST

What if the enemy were intelligent clouds of gas? A weapon might actually be a vacuum cleaner. It still needs a power source, a suction fan and a means of directing the suction towards the enemy instead your own side. It would probably end up looking something like a flamethrower.

Eli Arndt11 Oct 2009 12:34 p.m. PST

CC, my general thoughts on those gun in order -

1) Seems believable enough with some alien styling but also seems way bulky. I would want to know what alien is wielding it and what it's intended for.

2) Overly simplified and very pulpy. Not a good example because of them inimalist styling of the cartoon it's from.

3) Odd and in the realm of those alien exotics that really don't fit under the topic here. If you are talking exotic weapons that defy conventional tech, then you can have them look however you want.


Eli Arndt11 Oct 2009 12:36 p.m. PST

It occurs to me that a good example of a conventional weapon being modified to fit an alient tech is in the first of the Honor Harrington books where the Medusans have been armed, by humans, with primitive black powder weapons designed for their alien anatomy.


Cacique Caribe11 Oct 2009 12:48 p.m. PST

Oh well. I tried. :)


farmdog6311 Oct 2009 3:08 p.m. PST

What would a rifle look like, if it were built by and for Deer?

Like this:


Eli Arndt11 Oct 2009 3:15 p.m. PST

Depends, does the deer have hands? If not, how did he evolve tool use with just hooves?



Eli Arndt11 Oct 2009 3:17 p.m. PST


A bit of a challenge to you. You have shown us plenty of pictures of what you think alien weapons should look like. Do you have any pics of the ones from existing miniatures that you have issues with? Maybe they are more alien than you think?


Cacique Caribe11 Oct 2009 5:52 p.m. PST


Actually, I wouldn't be able to single any of them out. As so many of the posters above have indicated, there are lots and lots of aliens with Earth-like weapons (I've seen dozens in 28mm, 15mm and others).

It was a lot easier to provide the two initial examples (the Griffin Greys and the Martian Chronicles "gun") as just two of the very, very few exceptions to the rule.

This incorporates recognizable features, and yet seems somewhat exotic (alien-like):


By the way, here's another example of a firing weapon that is not held as a typical rifle:



Frontovik12 Oct 2009 5:31 a.m. PST

It's for humans which kind puts it out of place but I always liked the Shield Gun from the, otherwise dull, Dr Who story Underworld.

Eli Arndt12 Oct 2009 8:58 a.m. PST


The top one is pretty cool and would be what I would consider an acceptable alien weapon design. Structurally it's still sound but the aesthetic is decidedly inhuman.

The second one is obviously not a conventional firearm so could really be shaped any way it wants and is hard to fit into this arguement.


DS615112 Oct 2009 10:16 a.m. PST

Once humanity meets another race, one of the first things we'll do is sell them weapons. It all seems right to me.

chironex12 Oct 2009 7:35 p.m. PST

The most familiar anatomical configuration to develop sentience has hands so a weapon would be made to fit hands and be operated with those hands. A gun would look like a gun because it has to work like a gun. An alien resembles a human because there's no real reason an alien civilisation would be THAT different from human. Therefore they would have devices that would be recognizable to humans. The Octurill (mentioned but not depicted in Rifts) have weapons built to fit their tentacles, and there are many more weapons that shoot but don't look quite like guns even without considering the magic items. But still there is no real reason why all aliens should be so different.

Cacique Caribe12 Oct 2009 10:16 p.m. PST

Just because we are the most "advanced" life form on Earth, any other advanced life form in the Universe must, naturally, be and think human-like?

Sounds a little bit humanocentric, don't you think?


Eli Arndt13 Oct 2009 9:16 a.m. PST

I don't think that's what Chronex meant. What I got out of his post was more a sort of "most likely" statement. There will always be exceptions, but it is safe to assume that tool users are going to have manipulating limbs with some sort of manipulating digits. Certain advances in technology are nearly impossible without some form of fine manipulation on the part of the species making them.

An alien species with big meety hands might be able to advance itself pretty far, but would it ever be able to minituarizeits equipment or build fine-tooled parts?

Thepoint goes back to what I said in one of my earlier posts. If an alien is built pretty much like a human and is using conventional projectile weaponry, then there is every expectation that his weapons are going to bear a resemblence, at least on a basic level, to Earthly weapons.


Cacique Caribe13 Oct 2009 9:57 a.m. PST

Sorry. Didn't mean to sound accusatory at all.

Do you guys think these opinions or ideas have merit, or may be useful?

PS. I tried to look up similar articles on alien physiology, but most of what I came up with did not sound impartial at all (they were either Star Trek material, descriptions of the creature in "Alien" or about alien abduction stories).

chironex13 Oct 2009 3:14 p.m. PST

Hands, pincers and tentacles is the range. And often there is no way around making a gun that works like a gun look like a gun, even if you are imagining an alien that has boob-like structures for end effectors it will still look more like a gun than a bra (I saw this on a movie once and it ended in tears. The girl wearing the armoured flamethrowing bra stared down the armoured villain and suddenly lost flame, her teammate sheepishly confesses that he used the gas to cook his noodles…..)

Eli Arndt13 Oct 2009 3:22 p.m. PST


I am not saying there isn't room for innovation and creativity in the minis sculpting, but I also think that if you look at the aliens and what they are carrying, that most designers have presented a reasonable set of weapons.

Honestly, a greater arguement could be raised for why nearly all humanoid aliens seem to dress in Earthly fatigues with human-like kit. There is a much greater range of vartiation for this within functional limits.


chironex13 Oct 2009 7:17 p.m. PST

Why wouldn't they dress like that?

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