There was a period of time in the early 2000s, where Muskrat was not a popular figure, but he was rather common. It was an odd phenomenon as it wasn’t like there’d been an upswell in awareness of Muskrat. He was just a fairly common figure, who found himself in dio stories, customs and other fan content. I assume it was more to do with 1988 figures being plentiful, and the Funskool version being $2.99, than anything else. Still, it was one of those odd happenstance situations that made a figure have somewhat of an impression. The one other thing I think probably had something to do with Muskrat’s pseudo popularity, is the bare arms, the figure has. Those are always very popular with custom makers, and Muskrat is a legitimately solid figure, so there’s a good chance the occasional specimen purchased for arms on a Storm Shadow custom would wind up staying intact.
As a figure, Muskrat is pretty good, he’s definitely one of the stronger 1988 figures, but still isn’t head and shoulders above figures like Repeater. He has a decent design with fairly good colours, he lucked out and got paint apps on his torso, which was beginning to be a rarity in ‘88. Though while he figure has good colouring, it’s almost too plain, as the figure features no real breaks, it’s just drab green or flesh. That’s not always the worst, but the green isn’t a particularly dynamic shade, and while a figure like Gung Ho used the same design tropes, he had a much more unique appearance, and the paint apps on the figure weren’t just a couple of highlights.
I’ll readily admit, that I’ve never been a fan of his head sculpt. While the face looks fine, it’s the boonie hat. All I can ever see when I look at that hat, is a squashed stovepipe hat. I understand that it was the best attempt they could do, and it probably wouldn’t have worked as a removable headgear, but I still laugh every time, because it makes me think of a really cartoony scenario where John Wilks Booth assassinated Abe Lincoln with a large mallet, like it was a Looney Tunes cartoon or something.
The best thing about Muskrat is his shotgun, it’s a well detailed gun, that’s better scaled than a lot of the guns from 86-on, where everything seemed to get too big, almost over compensating for the almost undersized weapons of 82-83. His shotgun is great, and a lot better than both Flint and Falcon’s shotguns, and despite it’s common usage in the 1990s, it would’ve been a gun I would have appreciated seeing in the repaint era, much more so than Ambush’s rifle and Shockwave’s pistol.
Muskrat also includes one of the strangest, and most questionable accessories in the line. The boogie board. I think it was referred to as a swamp skimmer or something, but it was a boogie board that functioned as both a backpack and a figure stand. The purpose of it is puzzling to me, as it’s not something that actually floats, doesn’t look good as a backpack, and is often missing it’s foot peg, as that broke off in some foot back in the late 80s. The missing peg isn’t a huge deal because, as a stand the thing sucks, and you can hide it via wearing as a backpack. 1988 was the year of strange “ridable” backpacks, as Blizzard also has a similar contraption. Luckily that was a one year failure.
I might be a little harsh on the Boogie Board, but that’s probably because it’s such a disappointment, to me. It’s hilarious and could’ve been a lot cooler, if it was done a little better. I’m not really sure how that could be done, but I’m sure it was possible.
Muskrat really isn’t much of a character, he showed up at a time where the cartoon (where he likely would’ve been a prominent character) was no longer on the air, and the comics never really seemed to feature him as much more than a background guy. This is a bit of a shame for Muskrat, as he’s a solid figure, but also isn’t a good enough figure, like Hit ‘N Run, to overcome the lack of character.
Though, Muskrat’s lack of character doesn’t bother me too much. I’m quite a big fan of a lot of the ’87 and ’88 figures, but they don’t wind up being thought about the same way, I think about the 82-85 era. I even like a lot of the comic stories they were featured in, but I just tend not to think about them in ways other than “This’ll be a cool photograph”. I think a lot of it comes down to there not being a great enemy figure for them, as the Viper is a figure I feel leaves a lot to be desired of, and the specialty Vipers don’t often match up terrain wise.
Muskrat’s a very solid figure, but that’s the problem, he doesn’t really exceed any expectations, he’s actually above average in sculpt and colours, to the point that it’s detrimental, because he’s a figure that really doesn’t have any form of “hook”. He’s not bad, but he’s also not amazing. He’s usable, but not really a figure that’s going to stand out all that much. It’s unfortunate, because in a vacuum Muskrat is excellent, but once put in the context of G.I. Joe, he kind of becomes not much more than an “army guy in green”. In theory he should be a top figure from 1988, but he doesn’t even beat out as many of the other single carded Joes as one would think, despite the fact he’s probably the first 1988 Joe to come to mind.