Invader Zim Special Edition set of Doom
Shadow Ms. Bitters, Screaming Human Zim, Hypnotized Dib,
Doggie Suit Duty Mode Gir, and Grimacing Tallest Red

Once in awhile, something totally unexpected happens. Most often, this is a bad thing. As much as we like unwrapping presents and horror movies, we really aren't all that into surprises in general.

For some people, the demise of Palisades was one of those surprises. They couldn't or wouldn't see it coming, so when it did happen, the shock was all the more painful. Oddly enough, Invader Zim fans got a surprise this last week relative to the Palisade's line of Zim goodies.

What was once thought to be Trek dead has coughed one final time. I could make a comparison to the involuntary twitches a corpse can sometimes make hours after death, but that's just too damn depressing.

The Invader Zim boxed set, with repaints of Tallest Red, Dib, Zim, Gir and Bitters, shipped last week. No one was expecting this, but for those of us that had collected the line, it was certainly a welcome suprise. They also shipped the Voot Cruiser statue, but it's likely that this is the last we'll see of Zim product.

But who knows? If nothing else, it proves that the ghosts of the past can rise up occasionally, and that not all surprises are of the bad variety.

BTW, it's important to note that it's unlikely that anyone who was a former Palisades colleague had anything to do with the final version of this set. From all indications, it looks like they ignored any final paint corrections or improvements that had been made by Palisades, and that the set was pumped out by someone - perhaps Alvar Hanso - for maximum profit with minimum effort.

Packaging -  ***
Palisade's packaging was usually top notch, and this final box is certainly attractive and sturdy. The figures are held in with a plastic tray, and there are only three twisties in total. These aren't used to hold in the stuff, but rather hold the center of the plastic lid tight to the tray.

That's a nice feature, because it means you can pop things back into the box for storage if you'd like. I know that's what I'll be doing since I still haven't even begun on my NEW DAMN TOY BARN *&%$^&!$#~! Ahem.

There is a negative though that holds it back from a better score. You can't see Bitters at all. I don't mean sort kinda, I mean not at all. She's completely hidden by the front. Considering she's one of the more interesting repaints - and that the Tallest, who's a fairly boring repaint, is front and center practically - I think this was a big mistake.

Then again, they probably made about 3 of these boxed sets, so convincing people to buy them probably wasn't a big concern.

Sculpting - **** 
Every one of these figures got four stars for sculpt the first time around, and these are identical.  While I'll be complaining about other aspects later, the sculpts haven't suffered.  Interestingly though, in a case where the sculpts are identical to previous figures, their value towards the overall score becomes less.

In case you're wondering where these guys are from - Bitters is a repaint of the series 1 Hot Topic Bitters, Tallest Red is a repaint of the regular series 1 Tallest Red, Dib is a repaint of the regular series 1 Dib, and Gir has the Duty Mode head from series 1 popped on the Doggy Suit body from the Hot Topic series 2.  Not confusing enough?  Well, Zim has the screaming head from the Hot Topic series 1 Zim, with the added human hair from the Hot Topic series 2 Zim. *whew*

I was expecting cheaper plastic this time around, since I doubt there was little or no QC done.  However, the feel of these figures is very similar to the previous waves.  They all need their stands to keep their balance of course, but that's nothing new for this line.

Paint - **
Unfortunately, the paint jobs don't quite live up to past lines.  I was going to do a figure by figure break down, but everyone had some sort of issue.  The colors are inconsistent and patchy, especially on Tallest's head (where there's even a weird patch of odd color), and touch up spots, poor cuts between colors, and gloppy applications can be found.

My least favorite in this department is Tallest Red.  He's simply a basic repaint of the first Tallest Red, and on top of that, he has that annoying dark green skin of later Tallest figures.  Ugh.

Zim's hairline is atrocious - Dib's skin is VERY white - there's smudges on Bitters' glasses.  Clearly, the paint job is where this set suffered.

The one highlight though is Ms Bitters.  That's because of her 'shadow' effect.  While the main body is just painted black, the arms, legs and head are all cast from translucent plastic, and the black coating still allows light to pass through.  That's a pretty neat effect, and executed much better than I had expected.  To bad they slopped up her eyes and mouth so much.

Articulation - The Tallest ***; Dib, Zim, Ms. Bitters **1/2; Gir **
There's nothing new articulation wise with this set. We've seen these basic figures before, and they still have the same level of articulation.

The Tallest has the most articulation, and they are the best hidden as well. The articulation flows nicely with the sculpt, so that at first glance you don't even realize it's there. He has a ball jointed neck, ball jointed shoulders, bicep cut, small joint at the top of the 'gauntlets', wrist, fingers and waist. 

Gir is on the opposite end with the fewest points of articulation. That's never been a surprise with this line though, because of the awkward and difficult to translate design of the character. He has a ball jointed neck, and ball jointed shoulders. Once again, his head opens up to allow smaller accessories to fit inside.

Dib, Zim and Ms. Bitters fit someplace in the middle. There's no amazing articulation, but with the funky design, it's probably as much as they could get.

Dib has neck, ball jointed shoulders, and wrists. Ms. Bitters has a ball jointed neck, ball jointed shoulders, wrists and legs (at the top where they meet the body). Finally, Zim has a cut neck, cut wrists, ball jointed shoulders, and a cut waist.

You'll want to take care with many of these joints, as the limbs are quite thin and tiny. If they are painted tight, I'd recommend the old freezer trick to try freeing them, but be extremely careful when doing it. You might think the joint is turning, but in reality you're just twisting the plastic til it breaks.

BTW, regular readers may notice that I've waffled around a bit over the actual score for Dib and Zim's articulation over various reviews. Sometimes it's two and a half stars, sometimes three. It might have something to do with what I had for breakfast that morning. I'm not quite sure.

It's also worth nothing that the neck and arm joints on my Bitters are extremely loose, and getting her to hold up either was a real trick.

Accessories - ***
The set comes with a nice variety of accessories - not as much as you'd get with the five regular release Zim figures, but a lot more than most boxed sets like this provide.  Nothing's new, but there's plenty of it.

There are two hot dogs, two lawn gnomes, a squirrel, a pigeon, sack of tacos, two of the mutant vermin, a rotten apple complete with worms, mini-moose, Dib's briefcase, and a video camera.

Fun Factor - **1/2
As cool looking as the Zim figures have been, these aren't really supposed to be played with. The joints are too weak, and a normal eight year old would have them in pieces in under 45 seconds.

But the accessories add a fun dimension, and adult collectors and fans of the show will get a cheap thrill from them.

Value - **1/2
This score depends on whether you have these figures already or not. If you do, it's 5 fairly basic repaints for $35. Not a terrible deal, but perhaps not one you'll jump up and down about.

On the other hand, if you don't have any of these figures, getting five of them for about $7 each is a better deal. I split the difference and called it average.

Things to watch out for - 
If you get lucky and see these in person, look for the best paint ops. Once you have it open, be extra careful with those weak joints. Otherwise, you should be good to go.

Overall -  **1/2
How can figures that get four star sculpts get such a low overall?  Because these are repaints of sculpts we already got - that means the paint takes far more precedence over sculpt.  And unfortunately, that was the one category that this boxed set fell short on.

These are a pretty good basic value though, and do provide a hefty number of reused accessories.  If you missed out on the original versions, it's not a bad way to add these to your collection.  Even if you have the originals, most of them add value to your display, looking original enough to be interesting.  Okay, so maybe you don't need the rather dull Tallest Red, but Zim, Dib and Bitters are all interesting variants.

Packaging - ***
Sculpt - ****
Paint - **
Articulation - The Tallest ***; Dib, Zim, Ms. Bitters **1/2; Gir **
Accessories - ***
Fun Factor - **1/2
Value - **1/2
Overall -  ***1/2

Where to Buy -
I doubt you'll see this in any stores. However, some online shops got them in:

- Amazing Toyz has the boxed set in stock for $35.

- CornerStoreComics has this boxed set for $37, the Voot Cruiser statue for $58, and an assortment of the older figures as well.

- if you're looking for some of the older releases, Circle Red, Clark Toys, Killer Toys, and OMGToys still has some in stock.

Related Links:
It's been a while since I did any Zim reviews:

- there's the review of Germ Zim and Gir, along with the regular series 2 figures and Mega Gir.

- Hot Topic has their exclusive versions of this series, and I have my review.

- here's the Wizard World Chicago exclusive Old Man Zim and Dog Suit Gir.

- and the rest of the reviews, including the regular series 1, the Hot Topic series 1 exclusives, and the Angry Zim/Goofy Gir set.

- and let's not forget the Zim DVD boxed set with the exclusive Gir figure!

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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