For Alien fans growing up in the 90s, it’s almost a certainty that your first Alien figure was either a resurrected and cybernetically augmented Colonial Marine from James Cameron’s Aliens or a wild and wacky hybrid Xenomorph XX121 produced by Kenner! My first Alien figure was certainly one of those hybrid Aliens – the Bull Alien.
It’s a figure that I’ve always had a soft spot for, and I’ve been impatiently waiting for NECA to release their take on the concept like they have done with many of Kenner’s older releases such as the Scorpion, Snake, Boar and Panther Aliens.
One of the more charming things about Kenner’s original figures was that they included little mini-comics, which were focused around the marine or Alien the comic came with. All of the mini-comics formed a loose narrative around the concept of the resurrected Colonial Marines – or Space Marines as they are called here – battling Aliens around the galaxy and seemed to be very much a stylistic continuation of the aborted Operation Aliens TV series. Click here to find out more about Operation Alien!
Each of the comics opened with the following blurb, setting the tone for the tale that was to follow over the course of the 12 comic narrative.
Sometime in the future…Humankind has begun to explore space, colonizing planets throughout the galaxy. Leading the way are the SPACE MARINES, the toughest heavy metal warriors in the galaxy! Armed to the teeth with state-of-the-art weaponry, they keep the peace in a universe filled with danger…and ALIENS!
Vicious, gruesome and deadly, the Aliens spit acid, and use slithering face huggers to capture their prey. Led by their sinister Queen, the Aliens are spreading everywhere, mutating into more deadly forms as they go. Earth’s last defense: The Space Marines, known throughout the galaxy as the best bug-fighters around.
The Bull Alien is introduced as part of the 3rd storyline of the comics, beginning in “Showdown”, the 6th comic that came with the Corporal Hicks figure. After having already dealt with Alien infestations on Tanaka 5 and Zeevan where they had encountered Scorpion and Gorilla Alien hybrids, Sergeant Apone and his squad of Space Marines were taking some well-deserved R&R on Earth Colony Terraform 3.
While heading into the local Western styled settlement known as Tuva Settlement, the Space Marines’ rest and relaxation was quickly interrupted by a terrified local rancher who came speeding in to town on a gravity-modified ground transport.
The Marines immediately recognize that the panicked rancher had just had a close-encounter with some Xenomorph XX121. “Sounds like he’s got a Bug story to download” remarked Corporal Hicks. The rancher explained to the Marines how his cattle had been going missing, so he had decided keep watch over them. It was during one of these watches that the rancher spotted something odd amongst his cattle…something that resembled a Bull.
Noticing it was being observed by the rancher, the Bull Alien charged and broke the fence. The hybrid Alien didn’t attack though, it stopped and hissed at the observing rancher, who despite his frenzied state was able to get into his transport and make it back to the Tuva Settlement. What the rancher hadn’t realized though, was he led the Bull Alien right to the population center.
Charging into the ranchers transport, the Bull Alien leapt onto the damaged vehicle. Somewhat in awe of this new Alien hybrid, Bishop observed that the Bull Alien was “remarkable. This Xenomorph is unlike anything we’ve ever seen.”
The Bull Aliens are depicted as quadrupedal, like the Alien encounter on Fiorina 161 – and have two tusks, or mandibles, towards their necks, in addition to two very prominent horns at the front of their skull which are demonstrated as being capable of tipping both civilian and military vehicles. In additional to the typical black hue of the Alien exoskeleton, the Bull hybrids also have prominent red highlights which is a coloration not seen on their hosts.
Quick to act, Corporal Hicks opened fire on the Bull hybrid Xenomorph XX121 with his missile launcher but the Alien was unscathed by the explosive. “You didn’t even faze it” Apone exclaimed as the Bull Alien emerged from the blast without a scratch on its carapace.
Ever the tactician, Hicks quickly adjusted his aim and opened fire on the fuel tank of the overturned ground transport that the Bull hybrid Alien was stood on. While the missile hadn’t been able to damage the Alien, the ignited fuel of the ground transport proved fatal.
Bishop quickly noted that “this breed of Alien, while very powerful, is extremely vulnerable to heat!” Suggesting that the marines better “stock up on Ripley’s favourite toy,” Hicks remarked that they still had some Aliens to wrangle. The Bio Data cards that came with the Kenner figures would note that the Bull Alien could withstand temperatures up to 327 degrees Fahrenheit (which equates to 164 degrees Celcius).
The story continued in the 7th comic, titled “Stampede,” which came with the figure of the Bull Alien itself. With the imminent threat of this variation of Alien, the Space Marines sent out an alert to all of the ranches on Earth Colony Terraform 3. All but a single location responded. The unit split up into four Stinger XT-37 Fast Attack vehicles and headed off to investigate.
They found a ranch overran with Bull Aliens. Drake’s Stinger was quickly disabled when one of the Bull Aliens rammed and tipped it. Despite the 19 new contacts heading towards them, and the Bull hybrid’s armour continuing to be resilient against the marines more conventional weaponry, the marines were able to defy the odds and hold their own using flamethrowers.
But suddenly the Aliens began to retreat, being called back to the hive by the Queen. While the marine’s Stinger vehicles couldn’t match the speed of the Bull Aliens – which has been recorded at 49 miles per hour – they were able to track the hybrids back to the hive. They had established a nest on a ranch on the outskirts of Tuva, inside of stable 91, and now the marines knew the source of the infestation.
The 8th comic and third part of this storyline came with Lt. Ellen Ripley’s figure. “Fireball” sees Ripley eager to push in to the stable to put an end to the Xenomorph XX121’s presence on Earth Colony Terraform 3.
“If we’re not out in four minutes, notify command that terminal action is required” Ripley ordered Bishop. Taking point, Ripley soon came across an old favourite not far inside the stable – a Kennerfied power-loader! The Space Marines’s attention was soon pulled away from the equipment as Bishop’s sensors detected movement. The Queen and the entirety of the hybrid hive was on its way to confront the invading marines.
Ripley opened fire with her flamethrower, but unfortunately for the Space Marines the stable’s fire suppression system was still functional despite the hive resin. Not only was it operational, it was also very effective, completely neutralizing the marines flamethrowers. Apone, Drake, Bishop and Hicks retreated from the oncoming powerful Alien hybrids, but Ripley strapped up in the power-loader to intercept the Queen.
The two engaged in combat, and Ripley was nearly impaled by the Queen’s tail. “I’ve had enough of this close encounter” Ripley exclaimed as the power-loader clad Lieutenant threw the Queen into her brood.
With the odds once again stacked against them, in a very determined fashion Ripley rallied the rest of the marines behind her, telling the unit that: “No matter how many of these bugs we face, or how deadly they are, we can never give up. We keep fighting until this Alien invasion is history!”
Their savior comes in the form of the ATAX special forces marine in the 9th of the Kenner mini-comics titled “Night Strike” that came with the Snake Alien. Hopelessly outnumbered by the Bull Aliens and their Queen, and with only their ineffective handheld weaponry, it looked like the Space Marines had finally come to the end of the line.
That is until a hovertread tank appeared in the sky, piloted by the ATAX. The cavalry had arrived. The Bull Aliens were cutdown by the hovertread’s superior pulse fire, while Ripley used the distraction to put an end to this particular hive’s Queen using her remaining flamethrower fuel.
While the story continues on Earth Colony Terraform 3, and its moon, this is the last we see of the Bull hybrid Aliens in these mini-comics. But it wouldn’t be the last we heard of them though. The Bull Alien would get a reference and make a cameo appearance in the Den Beauvis illustrated Operation: Aliens subset of Topps’ Aliens Predator Universe trading cards set released in 1994.
The trading cards came with a narrative on the back to accompany Den Beauvis’s always gorgeous artwork. A squad of Colonial Marines are deployed to Grant Corporation Station 13 when the Xenomorph XX121 specimens being held for research break containment – as they so love to do!
As the marines find themselves attacked soon after touching down on the secluded moon that was home to the Grant Corporation’s lab, the squads commanding officer Lieutenant Roberta Benitez notes something strange about these particular Aliens.
“As Benitez ran deeper into Station 13, some of the creatures followed but they looked different than what she had encountered on Arcturus 4. Something familiar about them: a bull, a gorilla, a snake… What had happened on Station 13?”
The surviving Colonial Marines proceeded further into Station 13 where they came upon the actual lab. Surrounded by Aliens in specimen containment tubes, in the lab they discovered that the Grant Corporation was experimenting with gene splicing. Benitez speculated the purpose being to domesticate the Aliens to better control them.
Lieutenant Benitez and her marines continue their retreat, making it back to their dropship through the Alien hive. As they took off to “nuke the site from orbit” their dropship was attacked by a flying Queen. The dropship’s armament was powerful enough to destroy the flying Queen, and the squad made it back to their orbiting mothership, Grant Corporation Station 13 a mushroom cloud behind them.
In 2019, when Free League’s published the corebook for Alien: The Roleplaying Game, it started to reintroduce some elements that first debuted in Kenner’s mini-comics. While the actual Alien hybrids themselves were not referenced in the corebook, the Bull Alien’s home of Terraform 3 and their bovine hosts, along with the Scorpion Alien’s hosts and the planet Tanaka, were also expanded upon in the core rulebook.
According to the RPG, Earth Colony Terraform 3 is located on the Frontier of human explored space, on the planet Gamma Leporis A3. Terraform 3 was the third attempt to terraform a planet in the Gamma Leporis system which is located in the American Arm of colonized space, near the Tartarus Sector and relatively close to where the second Anchorpoint station was established.
“Each of the trinary stars of Gamma Leporis has one world within its habitable zone, and all three were at one time colonized. Only one of those colonies has thrived. Dubbed Terraform 3, the planet listed below is actually the third attempt to terraform a planet in the Gamma Leporis system.
The first, orbiting Gamma Leporis B, ended in catastrophic failure when an asteroid collided with the planet. The second is more confusing. Contact was lost with the Seegson sponsored terraforming colony orbiting Gamma Leporis C in 2175. When the company went to investigate, they found that all the colonists had simply disappeared without a trace. The colony itself was undisturbed, save for the fact that the atmospheric processor had been shut down. The planet is generally avoided and whatever happened remains a mystery to this day.
Despite the severe dust storms that occur every winter which force the cattle underground for protection and to graze, Terraform 3 is well known as a prime food source for the frontier colonies and is especially well regarded for its bovine burgers. And though Weyland-Yutani has little interest in the planet, other corporations such as Lasalle Bionational have been purchasing huge tracts of land to establish automated meat processing plants.
And that’s really it for Terraform 3 and its native bovines in Alien: The Roleplaying Game! While the DNA reflex has been making a comeback over the last 5 years or so – such as in Alien: Echo’s Lion-Worm Alien, or NECA’s re-working and re-releasing of some of Kenner’s crazy hybrids – the Bull Alien has not yet a re-appearance within any of the books or comics or receive a re-release from NECA. It did get some love thanks to a new statue from Eaglemoss, who like NECA, had done several new iterations of Kenner’s hybrids.
I’d also like to thank Marc Cawiezel on the Kenner Aliens VS Predator Facebook group for the better quality scans of the comics!