According to the Martian Technology Report: The mechanism it certainly was that held my attention first. It was one of those complicated fabrics that have since been called handling-machines, and the study of which has already given such an enormous impetus to terrestrial invention.As it dawned upon me first, it presented a sort of metallic spider with five jointed, agile legs, and with an extraordinary number of jointed levers, bars, and reaching and clutching tentacles about its body. Most of its arms were retracted, but with three long tentacles it was fishing out a number of rods, plates, and bars which lined the covering and apparently strengthened the walls of the cylinder... Its motion was so swift, complex, and perfect that at first I did not see it as a machine, in spite of its metallic glitter.
The fighting-machines were co-ordinated and animated to an extraordinary pitch, but nothing to compare with this. People who have never seen these structures, and have only the ill-imagined efforts of artists or the imperfect descriptions of such eye-witnesses as myself to go upon, scarcely realize that living quality...
...At first, I say, the handling-machine did not impress me as a machine, but as a crablike creature with a glittering integument, the controlling Martian whose delicate tentacles actuated its movements seeming to be simply the equivalent of the crab's cerebral portion. But then I perceived the resemblance of its grey-brown, shiny, leathery integument to that of the other sprawling bodies beyond, and the true nature of this dexterous workman dawned upon me.After the Fighting-Machine, the Handling-Machines seem to have been the most common artifact brought to Earth by the Martians. They were used extensively within the Martians' pits, either assembling other machines, or operating the devices used to refine earth into useful metals, or moving various items around the pit. It seems that the Martians are able to use these machines almost as extensions of their own bodies, having complete control over the actions of their myriad manipulatory appendages.
The machine itself resembles nothing so much as a large, metallic crab, flat and broad across the top of the carapace, with the Martian operator residing in a hood on top of the machine, from where it works a complex series of levers to activate the assortment of devices attached to the machine. The six articulated legs are activated by the sham musculature previously described. The various arms, tentacles, levers and instruments show a very high precision in engineering and control, allowing the Martians to handle even the most delicate items quite safely. Appendages which are not being used are retracted into the main body of the machine, in order to avoid encumbering the operation of the active devices.
Handling-machine in other mediaEditThe Handling Machine has a key role in Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds. It has 6 legs, 2 claws, two green eyes and a basket, in order to collect humans from Earth (Unlike in the novel, where the Tripods take this role).
In Jeff Wayne's The War of the Worlds (1998 Video Game), the Handling Machines role changes again - being the Martians main construction unit tasked with creating Martian buildings. The game also features a new machine called the Electric Machine, which appears to be partially based off the Handling Machine's design.
comicEditIn Superman: War of the Worlds the Handling Machines also make an appearance - albeit with some differences from their original design. The Handling machines in the comic are used by the Martians to guard humans and other captives in their pens / concentration camps, while the machines themselves are six-legged with claws on the end of tentacles. However, they are not much taller than humans and the Martians piloting them are visible and exposed with seemingly no cover. Furthermore, they do not have a basket for capturing humans as that function is given to the Tripods in the comic.Handling machines also appear in the dark horse comic version of HG wells war of the worlds, these handling machines look very similar to the tripods and are seen building machines and draining human blood.
Only two films to date feature handling machines, with the rest of the films either not featuring them at all or combining them with the Fighting-Machines, such as in the Spielberg version:
Pendragon Pictures' H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds: The handling-machine in this version is an almost perfect adaptation of the one in the book. It is relatively small - being slightly taller than humans - and is scorpion like in appearance.In The War of the Worlds: Goliath, a smaller tripod with a different design to the Fighting Machines (its appearance been more like the Martian Taxi from Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds) but with a similar function to the Handling Machine is seen in the Martian Factory. In the factory, they are shown transporting captured humans in cages that hang from their backs. The cages themselves appear to be made of a fleshy membrane-like substance that the Martians can control, as upon reaching the room where they store their captives they use their tentacles to remove the cage from their backs and merge it with larger cages that hang from the ceiling. When they require a human, the cage will open seemingly at their will (it isn't known if the material responds to them through telepathy or other means).
The Handling Machines in the film don't possess a large Heat Ray cannon like the Fighting Machines, but can fire heat rays from some of their tentacles. Furthermore, they don't have claws; their tentacles been used to grab humans and also possessing a probe that enter's a victim's mouth before draining their blood. While their amour is suitable in deflecting gunfire, they can still be destroyed by a handheld heat ray cannon or - as evidenced by A.R.E.S Lieutenant Raja Iskandar Shah's actions - repeated strikes with a sharp object such as a knife against the screen can shatter it; leaving the Martian pilot exposed and vulnerable.