Invader Zim Series 2 Hot Topic Exclusives
Tallest Red, Pustulio Zim, Gaz, Doggy Suit Gir, Robo Parents

The second series of action figures from Palisades based on the cartoon Invader Zim are now hitting Hot Topic. Okay, technically they are the Hot Topic exclusive versions of the second series, but you get my drift.

This set includes doggy suit Gir (different from the Toyfare version - more on that later), the Robo-Parents, the Tallest Red, Zim in human disguise (complete with his pimple Pustulio), and Dib's sister, Gaz. Since these are exclusive to Hot Topic, with very low production numbers (estimates in the few thousand only for this first run), the price is pretty steep at around $16 each.

The regular release of these same figures will have slightly different head sculpts of course - although with the Tallest Red, we aren't talking a huge difference. The regular series Gaz, Gir and Zim will come with pieces of the house, while the Parents will have Zim's living room, and Tallest Red will have the other half to the Tallest Purple base. You can expect to see those hit as well within the next two or three weeks.

Packaging -  Red **1/2; the rest ***
The packaging is identical in style and size to the series 1 HT exclusives, so you won't get any surprises. The clamshells are sturdy, the text on the back of each one is specific to the character, and they show artwork of the regular series 2 figures as well. The one negative is that the front sticker does not include any information on what accessories each comes with. Now, obviously I can figure it out by looking at the package, but when you're dealing with extremely episode specific stuff like this, I think it would be really nice to include that info someplace.

Another nice touch is the lack of twisty ties.  Out of five packages, there's only a couple twisties, and they used plastic covers on the trays to hold most stuff in.

Red scored a little lower because of one issue - the tape holding in the Invaders list.  The list is just paper, and a shiny paper at that.  No matter how careful I was, I couldn't get the tape off the paper without pulling up some of the shiny layer of paper.

Sculpting - Robo Parents, Gaz ****; Doggie Suit Gir, Zim ***1/2; Tallest Red ***;
In general, the work on this line is as fantastic as you'd expect. The Robo Parents are my favorite, with appropriately goofy expressions and old tilts to their bodies. They've managed to pull off the small wheels and weird center of gravity by including clear display stands, which makes perfect sense for this mechanical pair. While they can't stand without the bases, they can hold several of their accessories just fine.

Gaz is a close second, and I'm still debating as to whether I prefer her wide eyed angry look here, or the regular series appearance with squinted eyes. Let's face it, she spends an awful lot of time on the show looking pretty mad. Her hair is particularly tough to pull off, because of the blocky thick appearance and sharp angles, but they've managed to translate that into 3-D pretty well. She's sculpted to stand great on her own, but I am worried that over time her small legs will wilt under the weight of her heavy head, She can also hold a couple of the smaller accessories pretty well.

Zim takes a little getting used to. That's not because he has his huge zit on his face, complete with body and face, but because of the unique mouth position. I've included a shot from the show that someone used as a reference over at the Palisades forums, because I think it is the look they were going for. Zim often pouts that lower lip out, but it's a tough translation. It's not terrible, but you might find it odd looking at first, especially without any additional paint ops to break up the expanse of green. Zim has the same old body of course, and he stands fine on his own and can hold smaller accessories like the leash.

If you've been paying attention, you know we already got a doggy suit Gir with the Old Man Zim exclusive from Wizard World Chicago. This one has the same body, but with an all new head. Gir is screaming, eyes bulging and tongue going nuts. It's not my favorite look for Gir, but they did a fairly good job with it. He stands with the aid of a neat little display stand, but be careful attaching the clear pole to his body and to the base. It's quite thin, and can snap easily. And because I know you'll ask, no, this version of Gir does not have a head that can open. Since the screaming mouth takes up most of his head, there'd be no space anyway. There's also one other sculpting difference between this figure and the previous one - the ears on the doggy suit head are pointing forward, instead of backward.

The Tallest Red ends up with the lowest score, but not because of general quality. If you've like the previous Tallest Purple sculpts, you'll like Red, since it's almost identical. Actually, the body is identical, but the head is *slighty* different. The difference between this head and the non-exclusive series 2 Red is very slight as well, so if you have to skip one of these (or one of the regular series figures), make it Red.

Paint - Robo Parents, Gaz ****; Gir ***1/2; Zim, Red **1/2
The paint ops on this series are generally better than what we saw with series 1, particularly when it comes to basic quality.

When looking over my Robo Parents and Gaz, I couldn't find a single issue. No bleed, no slop, no poor definition, no inconsistency, nada, zippo, zero. Gir has a few minor issues with some gloppiness on his skin color, but nothing major. Gir also has some additional ops that the previous doggy suit version did not, like the stitching on the top of the head of the suit itself.

Zim and Red have very clean work as well, but what's up with their skin color? The Tallest Red is a much darker green than past Purple versions, and it's even obvious without having one of them around for comparison - just look at him compared to the puppet accessory! Maybe he's been out in the Irken sun a little too long.

Zim has a similar issue, but it's not nearly as distinct as Red. I don't recall his 'human' disguise looking darker than his regular face, but I might be remembering wrong. I am getting older, you know.  He hair paint also seems off center to me, although I might be the one off center.

The did use a translucent plastic for Pustulio's head, which gives the zit a more realistic appearance, in a cartoon sort of way. They didn't change from the translucent color to the flat green cleanly either, making it appear to be a more subtle shift.

Zim did have a few more problems with the white around his eyes, and with a few stray marks, than the other figures in the series, so it's a good idea to pay attention to the paint application on all five figures as you are picking them out to get the best possible.

Be forewarned though - I've heard reports from other folks of having serious paint issues, including more gloppiness and slop than I saw with my set.

Articulation - Tallest Red ***1/2; Robo Parents, Zim, Gaz ***; Gir **1/2
I've been a little rough on this line in this category in the past, and I'm lightening up a bit this time around. Red really does have a pretty amazing amount of articulation for the style of figure, including ball jointed neck, ball jointed shoulders, bicep cut, small joint at the top of the 'gauntlets', wrist, fingers and waist. The neck joint is nice and tight this time, unlike past Purple figures where the neck was much too loose. The joints are extremely well hidden on this figure, making for a fairly seamless sculpt.

Zim, Gaz and the Robo Parents all fall into the category of "not super poseable, but about as much articulation as you can get due to the design". That tends to be the problem with most cartoon licenses, and Invader Zim is no exception. Still, Palisades found a way to get a good number of joints in there, including the all important ball jointed necks.

The Robo Parents have ball jointed necks, ball jointed shoulders, wrists and waist.  The joints were painted tight though on the Dad's neck and wrists, and I snapped his neck trying to get things loosened up.  I didn't even try with the hands, since the wrists are so tiny.

Zim has ball jointed shoulders, cut wrists, waist, and cut neck. He could really use a ball joint at the base of the neck, and the neck joint is a little loose. Gaz also has ball jointed shoulders, wrists (I think - I didn't dare twist them enough to be sure), and legs, but her neck is a ball joint. It doesn't have a huge range of movement due to the collar of her clothes, but it's better than nothing.

Gir remains the poor robot with the fewest joints. Not surprising though, considering his tiny size. This version has ball jointed shoulders, and a ball jointed neck.  His neck is a tad loose too, like Zim, and the heavy head tends to cause it to bobble around a bit.  The heavy head also causes the most issues with keeping him standing, and you need to turn the base just right to keep him from toppling over.

Accessories - Gir, Zim ****; Gaz ***1/2; Robo Parents ***; Red **1/2
One thing there is never a shortage of is accessories when you're talking Palisades. They've loaded these boys up again, although none of the stuff is as cool as the play set pieces we'll get with the regular series 2 figures.

Red ends up at the bottom of the list not really because of quantity, but because of reuse. He has his clear plastic base, just like the other Irken leader, another view screen (different color of course, with a slightly different back than previous monitors), several connectors for the view screen, the same leader puppet that Purple had, only painted purple this time instead of red, a bag of chips, and a paper list of invaders.

I don't actually recall either the list of invaders or the purple version of the puppet on the show, but both are reasonable additions. But I've got enough damn screens at this point, and none of these accessories will really drive you to buy this version over the regular series 2 Red.

Robo Mom and Dad don't have a ton of stuff, but considering there's two figures instead of one, they have more than you might expect. They both have clear display bases, and there's also a toothbrush, spoon, extra monitor attachment, bag of flour and plate of cookies. The designs are basic, but well executed.

Gir has a ton of stuff, but considering his diminutive size, that's a very good thing. There is his display base of course, along with three cupcakes, two hot dogs, a hamburger, the stuffed animal (right out of the show), and the large television that he loves to watch so much. The television also has connector holes in the back if you want to attach monitors.  I particularly love the extremely episode specific accessories, like the stuffed monkey.

Gaz has a pack of crayons, another of those damn screens, a baseball bat, a 'poop' can, a pizza box (which opens to reveal a nasty pie - this is a reuse from the Muppets line), three pig pictures, and the Gameslave 2.  I don't mind the reuse of the pizza box, but the label on the outside of the box is on the wrong side - the pizza is upside down in the box.  It's a little tough to open the box, but trust me, it does open.  She can hold the bat just fine, but I'm disappointed that I couldn't come up with a way for her to hold the Gameslave.

Zim comes with a nice healthy dose of goodies, including two of the lawn gnomes (which have always reminded me of the underpants gnomes from South Park, or vice versa), the steak present for Gaz, an Irken communicator, pigeon, tube of Acne Blast, dog leash, and the goofy little character that Tallest Red was about to eat in one episode. He's got frosting on top. I wonder if he's jelly filled? I have no idea why they included this with Zim, rather than Tallest Red.

Fun Factor - ***
Small kids could easily break some of the fragile joints, and there's not a lot of 'conflict' play with cartoon characters like these. But if they are big fans of the show, and can control their desire to smash the figures against each other, the floor, or their sister's head, they'll enjoy the great accessories and excellent sculpts.

Value - Robo Parents **; the rest *1/2
The figures are still $16, same as the series 1 Hot Topic exclusives. Considering that the regular series figures, with the exceptionally nifty play set pieces, will only run you $13 - $14 tops, you can see how weak a value these are. The low numbers are part of the reason, but when you consider that you'll be spending more than $80 just for a set of these, you'll see what I mean.

Obviously, the Robo Parents score a little better here because there are two of them, for the same price as one of the other figures. Since they still have a reasonable number of accessories, they are definitely a better value.

Things to Watch Out for - 
It's always a good idea to pick out the best paint ops you can find, and that's true once again. Watch out for poor definition between the colors, and stray marks. Also, when putting the clear rod into Gir's base and body, don't go nuts. It's quite thin, and can snap if you're not careful.

Overall -  Gaz, Zim, Gir, Robo Parents ***; Red **
Another great series of figures crippled by an enormous price tag. If these were $12 - $14 each, like the regular series, they'd be ***1/2 and **** star stuff. As it is, the price is going to make you pick and choose which ones you really need.

Gaz and Zim are definites, but if you're picking up the regular series Robo Parents and Tallest Red, I'm not sure you really need to spend the $32 on this pair. And Gir is a tough call, but you might want him only if you really like the screaming head sculpt.

Packaging - Red **1/2; the rest ***
Sculpt - Robo Parents, Gaz ****; Doggie Suit Gir, Zim ***1/2; Tallest Red ***;
Paint - Robo Parents, Gaz ****; Gir ***1/2; Zim, Red **1/2
Articulation - Tallest Red ***1/2; Robo Parents, Zim, Gaz ***; Gir **1/2
Accessories - Gir, Zim ****; Gaz ***1/2; Robo Parents ***; Red **1/2
Fun Factor - ***
Value - Robo Parents **; the rest *1/2
Overall -  Gaz, Zim, Gir, Robo Parents ***; Red **

Where to Buy -
First the good news - Hot Topic stores all over the country are getting these in RIGHT NOW. Get your butt over there, and odds are good you'll find them. Now the bad news - word on the street is that won't have them available, because of the low production numbers and the fact that they tend to sell through at the brick and mortar stores. That means if you don't have a Hot Topic in your area, you better be sleeping with someone that does.

Now, if you're more inclined to pick up the regular series, you have lots of online options:

- has the individuals for just $13 each, but the set will cost you $69.

- Circle Red has the full set for $64.

- CornerStoreComics has the full set for $65, or the individual figures for $14.

- Killer Toys has the full set of 5 regular figures for $65, or $15 each individually.

- Yikes Comics has the full set for $68.

- Clark Toys has the set for $70, or the individual figures for $15.

Related Links - 
I've been doing a pretty good job of keeping up with Zim:

- 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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