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The Staff



Invader Zim Action Figures

Five cartoonish action figures invade our galaxy from a quality show sadly canceled before its time

*Invader Zim Action Figures
*By Palisades
*MSRP: $14.99 each

Review by Sean Huxter

S omewhere deep in space, the Irken race meets at a massive convention to dole out galactic invasion duties to each and every Irken operative. The Irken leaders, the Almighty Tallest, implement "Operation Impending Doom 2," sending out a single agent to spearhead each planet's invasion effort by softening up the population in preparation for the full invasion force.

Our Pick: A+

When the last of the assignments has been handed out, a haggard Zim shows up. But as Zim was the cause of the abject failure of "Operation Impending Doom 1," the Almighty Tallest are understandably reluctant to give Zim an assignment. In fact, they tell him that he wasn't invited to the party. They are, in fact, surprised to see him at all, because he had been exiled to Foodcourtia. Zim announces that he has "quit being exiled" and has shown up for duty. The Almighty Tallest fear that the only way to get rid of Zim is to give him an assignment after all. So they send Zim to a completely unimportant little world, not actually part of the invasion plan, identified on the huge starmap by a simple Post-It note—and, of course, that unimportant little world is Earth.

Zim takes on his new duties with vim and vigor, thinking this the most important of all of the worlds in the invasion vanguard. Each Irken is given a robotic assistant, but as Zim wasn't really part of the plan, the Almighty Tallest slam together a robotic assistant for Zim out of spare parts. The result is a somewhat quirky robot who is not exactly the brightest bulb in the house.

Upon reaching Earth, Zim infiltrates a middle-school classroom to learn more about the planet he is preparing for invasion. He feels his disguise is adequate, and, sure enough, he fits right in. Except that one boy in the class, Dib, spots Zim for what he is right away. Unfortunately, no matter how much he protests Zim's presence, the other kids in the class, and their tyrannical teacher, Ms. Bitters, don't believe Dib and insist he stop picking on "the green kid."

This bizarre and quirky show is a gem of animation and deserved better treatment. Canceled by Nickelodeon partially due to its dark humor, it was probably the finest cartoon series in recent years, and now has a huge following of fans who can't get enough of the show.

Palisades Toys has met the demand for Zim merchandise with a fine set of Invader Zim figures that accurately portray the characters in the show.

The first series consists of five figures—Zim, Dib, Gir, The Almighty Tallest Purple and Ms. Bitters. Each figure comes packed with a nice assortment of accessories that are pulled from various episodes of the show.

Solid souvenirs survive the ax

Creating action figures from cartoonish characters can be tricky. Translating a two-dimensional drawing into a three-dimensional figure that has all the characteristics of the cartoon is rather difficult. Playmates had a lot of success with its Simpsons lineup, and now Palisades is doing a great job with Invader Zim.

Sealed in rather large plastic packages, the figures are brightly colored, are excellently modeled and contain a bunch of accessories.

Ms. Bitters, the wraithlike teacher, is a tall figure (7.5 inches) and has articulated shoulders and wrists. Her legs rotate around their axes only, but her head is on a ball joint that allows it to take just about any position. Ms. Bitters comes with a Skoolroom display base, a worm-infested apple, inkblot tests (on which Zim has labeled each of three inkblots as "human slave"), a Ms. Bitters nameplate and a hall pass collar (a device that goes around a student's necks when he has to travel to the principal's office, programmed to explode if it leaves school grounds).

The Almighty Tallest Purple is around 9 inches tall and is articulated at the waist, shoulders and head. His clawlike hands rotate at the axes, and his head, like Ms. Bitters', twists on a ball joint to any position. He comes with a Mobile Command Platform Thingy display base, Irken monitors, monitor display stickers, connector tentacles and pins, Irken soda, a Tallest Red punching doll, an Irken donut bag and an Irken burrito.

Gir, Zim's robotic sidekick, is a tiny 3-inch figure and has most of the same articulation as Zim and Dib. He comes with a Saucer Moron Convention display base, a convention banner, a crowd rope, a flying pig, a suckmonkey beverage cup, a Krazy taco bag and a Saucer Moron hat.

Dib, Zim's archnemesis, is just over 4 inches in height. Dressed in black, he comes with a World Invasion Defense Workstation display base, a main computer desk and monitor, monitor display stickers, a main computer hard drive and media stack, a laptop, headphones and file folders.

Zim himself comes in just under 4 inches in height including his antennae, and shares most of the same articulation points as his fellows. He comes with a Hidden Sumterrainean Laboratory display base of DOOM!, a spider-legs Irken backpack (which Zim is often seen using to creep around like a spider), Irken monitors, monitor display stickers, connector tentacles and pins, a mini-moose, an Irken sandwich and a robot bee.

The accessories that come with the figures are well thought out, and each has a special meaning. For example, when Zim shows up for his assignment, the Tallest try to dismiss him by handing him a sandwich. The exploding hall pass is used in a particularly dark episode in which Zim is stealing the internal organs of his fellow students. The flying pig that Gir is equipped with was used by Zim in an attempt to retrieve his crashed Irken ship—he found himself in the midst of a gathering of "Saucer Morons." The stickers that can be applied to any of the monitors are humorous and show scenes from the various episodes, including one that shows a demented ape from a TV show Gir is addicted to watching.

My only complaint about this set of figures is that Zim himself has a rather serene expression on his face—an expression he does indeed wear, but only during brief moments of confusion or surprise. Zim is almost always seen with a much more manic face, with eyes that are different-sized and -shaped.

Kudos to Palisades. It has a winner with Invader Zim. It's too bad Nickelodeon isn't as appreciative of such good fortune.

Invader Zim is probably the best new cartoon series in the past decade. Once again a fine series is axed before its time. But thanks to Palisades, we can hold on to a piece of this show in a tangible form. For those lucky enough to be in the vicinity of a Hot Topic store, they have a series of exclusive figures with different accessories and facial expressions. I can't wait for the next series of figures, which I dearly hope includes Dib's sister, Gaz, and their enigmatic mad-scientist father. — Sean

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