Invader Zim series 2
Regular Release

It seems to me like I've discussed Invader Zim a million times already. What with the Hot Topic exclusives, show exclusives, regular releases, and various scales and sundries, there has been a lot of product this year. And yet, the regular series of action figures from Palisades is only on series 2.

And series 2 is hitting all over the place now, if your definition of all over the place is the Musicland family of stores and the various online retailers. The set includes Zim, Gir, the Robot Parents, Tallest Red, and Gaz (Dib's sister). If that line up sounds familiar, it should be, since it's the same as the Hot Topic exclusive set of series 2, released last month.

Ah, but not exactly the same. Of course, everyone of the figures has a new head sculpt. And whereas the HT versions had a handful of accessories, these are packed to the gills with extras, including parts to build the front exterior of Zim's house.

Retail on these is about $15 each, and I have my usual suggestions of online sponsors at the end of the review.

Packaging -  ***
The clamshell packaging is attractive, sturdy and shows off the figure and accessories well. There are some inconsistencies - the sticker for Red includes the list of invaders (which came with the HT version but not here) - but in general the text is useful and the graphics are eye catching.

My one complaint is the lack of any instructions for putting together the house. No, you really don't *have* to have any to get it put together, but it would have taken less time figuring out how the various pipes fit on the side had they been there.

Sculpt - ****
I'm extremely happy with the sculpting across this entire wave, and these new heads are all pretty important to have in your display.

Zim is wearing his human disguise, but he's not happy. The eyes are irregular, the teeth gritted...somebody is pissing him off. The head sculpt fits in nicely with the rest of the army of Zim figures, and actually stands out from the crowd.

Gaz is the opposite. Her HT version was the angry look, but here we get her traditional disgusted look. Everyone's an idiot, especially Dib, and it's written all over her face. The eyes are sculpted extensions on the head, rather than simply painted on, which was a critical factor in making this expression look so good. Her hair is also well sculpted, and a very tough look to capture.

Tallest Red is screaming, exposed tongue and all. His eyes are half closed, and he's not happy with Zim. Of course the rest of the body is simply a reuse, but it's such a well done body sculpt that it's no problem.

We finally get the Gir we've been waiting for - in his full doggie suit. While the HT version was wearing the suit from the neck down, this version is all suit. And the sculpt is excellent, with terrific proportions and shape. There's not a ton of detail of course, since the design of the characters doesn't really call for it, but what's needed is here, including nice work on the suit's zipper.

That leaves the Robo-Parents, which come packed together but are really two full figures. The body sculpts match the HT versions, but I did find that my Mom leans over less than the HT version did. Not sure why, or if I just got lucky this time.

The Mom head is her basic blank happy stare, and Dad is smoking his pipe. Both head sculpts look terrific, and if I were forced to pick only the HT versions or this one on head sculpt along, I'd have to go with this pair.

Some of the hands are sculpted to hold accessories where it makes sense. Zim can stand fine on his own, but the rest require the use of their display stands due to the design.

I've included comparison photos with the HT exclusive versions so you can make a decision as to which head sculpts you prefer. In the case of Tallest Red, I shot him with the series 1 Tallest Purple for color comparison, but the Series 1 Purple has a very similar head to the series 2 Red HT exclusive.

Paint - Gir ***; Robo-parents, Zim, Gaz **1/2; Tallest Red **
Unfortunately, the one area where Palisades quality seems to have slipped recently is paint application. I'm not sure if it's a cost cutting problem, issues with the manufacturing plant, or just bad luck, but I'm sorry to report that the problems are here with this wave as well.

Gir is the best of my set, although I'm betting that most of these issues are one of general quality, which means each and every figure could be vastly different. My Gir has nice consistent colors, clean lines, and fairly white eyes. There's still a few stray marks here and there, but nothing to get seriously whiney about.

Mom and Dad, Gaz, and Zim all suffer from a few more issues. In particular, the whites of their eyes show rubs or marks, and the finer details are poorly masked, with over spray and bleed present. Zim's color is also a little darker than I'd like to fit in with the early figures, but he's very similar to the HT version in skin tone.

Tallest Red doesn't suffer from the same quality problems, and in reality, his work might be the best of the bunch. At least from a purely technical perspective. It's not perfect by a long shot, and the edges around the teeth and gums, as well as some of the parts of the suit, could use some work. But that's not the reason he's taking such a heavy hit in the category.

Nope, that's because he suffers from the same issue as the HT exclusive series 2 Red - a bad case of sunburn. Or some kind of burn. He's MUCH darker than the Tallest Purples we've gotten, and we're not talking a slight difference here. It's striking, and looks really odd. Now, I don't care who's fault it is - it could be Palisades, it could be the plant, it could be Nick and their screwed up color guides. But for the purposes of the end result, fault doesn't really matter, only that it's wrong.

Articulation - Robo Parents, Zim, Gaz ***; Gir, Red **1/2
I'm going a little easier on articulation with these guys, since they really have just about all the design allows for.

Red is the big winner here with lots of articulation, including a ball jointed neck, ball jointed shoulders, bicep cut, small joint at the top of the 'gauntlets', wrist, fingers and waist. The joints are extremely well hidden on this figure, making for a fairly seamless sculpt.

So why the low score?  He got a full point higher in the HT version...well, mine had a head that had fallen off.  I thought it would be easy to simply pop the ball back into the torso, but alas, that was not the case.  After much grunting and cursing and damning I managed to snap the neck.  &*#@^#$&.  I tried whittle out some plastic in the joint, but again, no luck.  Finally I just picked a pose and glued everything in place, but it's a heartbreaker to lose such a cool, useful joint.  If the head is loose in the package, I'd find another.  And if the head isn't loose, then you can add another half star to this score.

The Robo Parents have ball jointed necks, ball jointed shoulders, wrists and waist. I didn't have any trouble with any of the small joints painted tight this time, so there was no risk of damaging them.

Zim has ball jointed shoulders, cut wrists, waist, and cut neck. All his joints work well, although I still wish he had a ball jointed neck. Gaz also has ball jointed shoulders, wrists, and legs, but her neck is a ball joint. It doesn't have a huge range of movement due to the huge hair, but it's better than nothing.

Gir remains at the bottom of the pecking order, but it's not surprising, considering his tiny size. This version has ball jointed shoulders, and a ball jointed neck. He doesn't have the oddly shaped head though, since the hood of the suit isn't behind him, so he has less trouble standing with the base than the HT version.

Accessories - Zim, Gir, Gaz, Parents ****; Red ***1/2
While there's some heavy reuse in some cases, you can't fault them for not including enough stuff. There's literally a ton of goodies here, and the inclusion of the play set really boosts this score.

Let's start with Red, since he scored slightly lower. He has the Irken base, which can be attached to the other half of the base that came with the series 1 Red. That's a nice touch, and gives you a lot more room for displaying both along with the tons of screens we've gotten over the course of this line.

Red also comes with a couple more of those screens, four actually, along with three soft rubber connectors and three hard plastic connectors. No screens this time though, at least that I could find, so you'll have to use some from one of the earlier figures.

He also has an Irken burrito, drink, chips and popcorn, so he's ready for his Saturday night at the movies. While there's a lot here, there's also a lot of reuse, so he can't really pull a perfect scores.

The Robo-Parents include two accessories that were also with the HT versions - the brush and spoon.  They also have the same clear display stands, although I had less trouble getting either to stay standing than with the earlier set.

They also have the back wall, floor, and couch pieces for the living room display.  Add in the television that came with the HT Gir, and you're all set!  No one is actually going to ever sit on this couch, since they just aren't articulated that way, but it looks terrific and is a great backdrop for the figures.

Gir is really amazing in his number of accessories.  Sure, some of them we've seen before, but some are brand new, and he's one of the three figures with house pieces.

He has two of the soft rubber bendy connectors, three hard plastic connectors, two tacos, three cupcakes, the small pig, a flattened version of the  squeaky moose, a stack of waffles, and his stand.  His piece of the house front is the very top section.

Gaz has the baseball bat again, Game Slave 2, can of pop, er, poop, slice of pizza, laptop computer, and the very cool Professor Membrane "floating" (there's a clear plastic stand to support it) communication device.  Her section of house is the front yard.

Finally, there's Zim.  He comes with the Irken scanner, two lawn gnomes, a remote control, a I Love Earth Flag, and the front door section of the house.  There are also three large cables and four small ones that attach to the sides of the house.

The house parts snap together great, and you can place the flag on the top of the roof, or on the lawn.  You could also add additional monitors to the lawn or the top of the roof if you'd like.  The set stands a whopping 16" tall when assembled, and you can easily fit three or four figures on the front lawn.

The paint ops aren't perfect though, and there's some real over spray issues around the windows and door.  The masking wasn't done tightly, and there's far more slop here than we've come to expect.

And if I didn't mention it, all the figures come with some form of display stand.  While Zim doesn't require it, the rest do.

Fun Factor - ***
These would be really fun toys if not for the rather fragile nature of the characters.  The articulation is great, the sculpts are great, and the accessories are really amazing.  Still, small kids will break them pretty quickly, and they are better suited to kids looking for displaying their favorite cartoon characters, rather than using them in sandbox battles.

Value - Robo-Parents, Zim, Gir, Gaz ***; Tallest Red **1/2
Red is a nice, average value, going for pretty much the current specialty market price, with a nice set of accessories and good articulation. Sure, there's a fair share of reuse, which holds him back from that three star rating, but he's no rip off.

The others get a boost in their value score mainly due to the playset/living room pieces. All of these are quite large, and a very good value when added in with figures that are already at an average price without them.

Things to watch out for - 
Don't assume like I did that if the head is loose on Red you'll be able to just pop it back on. Big mistake.

And as with the previous series, be careful with the joints. I didn't have a single one painted tight this time around, so it was a non-issue for me, but you'll still want to take some care.

Overall -  Doggy Suit Gir, Zim, Gaz, Robo-Parents ***1/2; Tallest Red **1/2
I've included a ton of photos with these guys to help you compare to the previous series.  I certainly am glad I didn't try to choose, because the head sculpts on both the HT versions and the regular versions are just too cool.  If I had to skip one, it would be the HT release Tallest Red, since his expression is so close to previous versions.

I beat up Red again here in the overall score though, because he just doesn't fair as well in terms of paint (I hate the skin color) or accessories.  At $15, he's not the same value the other figures are.

The rest of the figures are damn close to four star work.  If the paint ops had been at the level of quality that we've seen from Palisades in the past, there's no doubt that the extra half star would have been there.

The addition of the house playset is a wonderful touch, but then I'm a big softy when it comes to playsets and dioramas.  This thing will make a great backdrop to your display, although once again I do wish the paint application had been a little neater.

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

Where to Buy -
These are at some Hot Topics along with their exclusive versions (and their exclusive Germ Zim), and you can find them at Suncoast, Sam Goody and Media Play as well. Online options include:

- Amazing Toyz has the lowest price on the full set for just $63, and the individuals for $13 each.

- Circle Red has a great price on the full set at just $64, and they still have sets of series 1 in stock for that same price.

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

- YoubuyNow has the single figures for $15 each.

- Killer Toys has the individuals for $15, or the full set for $70.

- Yikes Comics has the individuals for $17.

Related Links -
It seems like there's been a ton of stuff this last year:

- 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! 

Coming up soon will be the review of Mega Gir and the Hot Topic exclusive Germ Zim as well!

There are a TON of photos here as well, so keep scrolling down!

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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