1988 Muskrat

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.

Muskrat

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.

88Swamp

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.

88Muskrat

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.

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8 Responses to 1988 Muskrat

  1. generalliederkranz says:

    Great, now I may never be able to look at Muskrat’s hat again without laughing, thanks a lot!

    As someone who got into Joes in 1989, and bought some 88s that were still lingering on the shelves, I’ve always been disappointed that “my” Joes got less exploration in the comics. I think Muskrat is right at the crossover point. 1988 was the last year where the new Joes got big intro, and then some adventures that were focused on teams drawn from the new class–issues #72, #80, #82, #86 and Special Missions #17, #21, and #22. A little more of that would’ve gone a long way. But Hama couldn’t stay focused on them since the real energy still went into keeping the Cobra power struggle going, and the omnipresent Snake Eyes/Storm Shadow saga. And then before the 88s could really take off, the 89s came along, and so did the Snake Eyes trilogy, and then the 90s and Benzheen and by the time that was over it was time to introduce the 91s. It seems to me that’s when Hama just gave up trying; the 89s and 90s filtered in here and there but there was no big intro, and no group adventure for the new guys.

  2. A-Man says:

    Where’s the baby blue machete?
    The swamp board is like Zartan’s chameleon…works by magic. They actually wasted a paint op on the board, too. Painted accessories weren’t that common.

    Louisiana’s Muskrat is a swamp guy but Florida’s Pathfinder is a jungle guy. Why is that?

    In the 2000’s Muskrat joined Salvo, 1994 Duke, WORMS, Mace and Subzero in the “parts used but no repaint of the actual character or entire mold”. Which is a clumsy way of me saying, they wasted chance for a nice Muskrat repaint.

  3. Mike T. says:

    A few silver highlights on the torso would have gone a long way to making this figure stand out more. I remember him for the shotgun as I was out of Joes in 1988. I stole a shotgun from a kid down the street as I thought it was awesome and he didn’t really care about it. Getting a bunch of them in the ’90’s, though, was bittersweet as the weapon lost its lustre when I had five or six of them.

    There was the wacky Muskrat with a Hydro Viper arm that showed up in the 2000’s. But, that was most likely a mold test and someone put the wrongs arms on them. Imagine a Muskrat and Hydro Viper comic pack in 2005. Might have been pretty cool.

    • A-Man says:

      Hydro Viper barely appears, unmasked to boot, in the Marvel Comic, though. He does appear in “European Missions” but I don’t think Muskrat is in that story.

      But hey, the Collector’s Club will announce their Cobra Diver sets any day now.

  4. mwnekoman says:

    I like Muskrat, but he definitely lacks the flare of a few of the other ’88 guys. Hit&Run and Shockwave are probably the first two Joes that come to mind when I think of figures from this year. His shotgun and machete were way nicer than Shockwave’s parts though, that’s for sure.

    At least the Battle Corps figure provides a nice alternative for a head on this figure. Albeit, that’s the only nice thing about that figure, but it’s something!

  5. paint-wipes says:

    muskrats shotgun did show up in the new scuplt era but with a fuckin’ sound attack tab on it.

  6. Pingback: 1986 Serpentor | Attica Gazette

  7. Pingback: 1988 Hit And Run | Attica Gazette

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