We've all had teachers like Ms. Bitters: hateful, hatchet-faced bitches who stood at the front of a classroom not out of some love for forming the minds of children, but because they typed too slow to be good secretaries. Gladys Jones, this one's for you!
Dib and Zim's teacher at Skool, Miss Bitters embodies all that is inhuman and negative in the world. She slithers like a snake, and takes it upon herself to crush the spirits of all of her students.
Ms. Bitters almost looks inspired by Tim Burton's artwork: long and angular, she'd fit in with Jack Skellington or Oyster Boy perfectly. She has the bright and shiny fashion sense of an 1800s mourner: black shoes, black hose, black dress with gray buttons. The only real color on the figure is the blue lenses of her glasses.
Ms. Bitters moves at the neck, shoulders, wrists and legs. The sculpt is good, for the most part. Ms. Bitters stands surprisingly well on her little high heels, and there are a few subtle wrinkles on her dress. The clothes are fine - it's her head that's weird.
Her head is square and blocky, just as it should be, and the wrinkles on her lips are sculpted in. That's all fine; the weird part is her bun. Presented with a fairly standard cartoon hair bun, Palisades instead made it this very stylized starburst. You can see how it could work, and it certainly suits the figure, but it's still quite the odd choice.
Palisades is famous for including tons of cool accessories with all their figures, but this time they've gone even further, giving all five figures in this line a large, detailed display base. Ms. Bitters has her desk from the front of the classroom, including the blackboard behind her. It's a very nice piece, measuring 6 3/4" across, 4 1/2" deep and 8" tall to the top of the intercom.
There's a drawing on the blackboard - the one Dib used in the pilot to explain Zim's alien status to his classmates. That Dib: he's always sayin' stuff. The floor and desk are both designed with a forced perspective, so the set looks deeper than it actually is. Though you're unlikely to see it in a display, the back of the desk is sculpted with all the appropriate drawers and knobs.
Bitters' desk doesn't actually connect to the base - it just rests on it, so you can place it wherever you like. There's a peg near the front to help keep Ms. Bitters standing, though she will stay up on her own. As for accessories, this set has a nameplate, a hall pass, a worm-ridden apple and three blotch test cards. Zim has already filled his out, identifying the blotches as a human slave, a human slave and, finally, a human slave.
Before the line's official debut, Palisades offered a set of five variant figures available exclusively at pseudo goth/punk shop Hot Topic. Exclusive Bitters is angrier than her regular counterpart - obviously Dib's done something in his quest to reveal Zim that has pushed her too far. Her mouth is open in a snarl, revealing rows of age-stained teeth. Even her little glued-on eyebrows are floating at a sharper angle. Dib's really done it this time.
The Hot Topic figures also have unique accessories designed to complement those included with the regular figures. Exclusive Ms. Bitters has Crazy cards, the spooky Chihuahua and the auxilliary hall pass - a giant radiator. The cards are the weakest of the bunch, because the hall pass is a great joke and the dog's almost another character in his own right. Heck, his origins even stretch way back to Jhonen Vasquez's comicbook Johnny the Homicidal Maniac. Unfortunately, like Gir's squirrel, it won't stand on its own.
Hot Topic is, as usual, grossly overcharging for these figures: at $16, they cost more than the regular line, but come with fewer accessories. Is Ms. Bitters worth it? Yeah, probably - the new head sculpt is nice, and the accessories are cool. Besides, with the regular version, you can have dueling Bitterses.
My biggest disappointment with both versions of this figure is an action feature that could have been included, but was overlooked: when Ms. Bitters appears, she's accompanied by the sound of swarming cicadas. The figure's body is hollow - it would have been unbelievably cool if Palisades had put something inside to make a rattle when you shook her.
Who's your Ms. Bitters? Tell us on our message board, The Loafing Lounge.