Review by Chris Chung & Fred Meyer
Pics by Fred Meyer
G.I. Joe Collector’s Club Figure Subscription Service 3
Swamp Fighter – Code name: Muskrat
I’ll be honest, while I owned him; I was never a fan of Muskrat. I didn’t have anything against him per se, but he always felt like a second fiddle to the other Cajun swamp-born ‘Joe, Gung-Ho.
WOO HOO! GUNG-HO! Sorry, I’ll let Chris continue…
However, with that said, I did always appreciate his color combination and choice of gear, as it worked very well—and it seemed to fit with his swamp fighting specialty. Furthermore, with the release of the Swamp Masher, he did sort of fill the role of an anti-Dreadnok specialist, so that helped define him a bit more in my eyes rather than just another infantryman.
It’s funny but I didn’t discover Muskrat until over a decade after his initial release. It was during the “hiatus period” of the 2000’s. With no new product seeing release from Hasbro I started to review the original ARAH collection and Muskrat was one of those featured. He was a great addition to the team’s Ranger contingent and his sculpt had lots of character so I became a fan. I liked him so much that he was one of the reasons I snagged the 2013 Convention Exclusive Nocturnal Fire set, but that’s another review. (Coming soon— really!)
Like with the other Night Force figures redone in this FSS wave, I was a bit hesitant of his inclusion. Again, I’d rather see characters that haven’t been done yet over doubles. But as he stands, the quality and proper homage to the original is so well maintained, that I really can’t complain. At least that’s my take. Fred, how do you feel?
Let’s be honest here—with the size of the current Joe fan base contracting every year, the Club is going to find every way possible to stretch its production budget to the very limit. As such, any figure that shows up in a sub-team is most likely to see a re-release down the road. Personally I think that the GIJCC got lucky in the respect that the Nocturnal Fire roster was chock-full of characters that folks wanted released in their more traditional colors. Otherwise, even die-hard club fans might have had a hard time swallowing the FSS 3.0 roster.
Muskrat shares the same parts as his Night Force alter ego. While the parts look good overall, he is not without some irksome issues. First off, as with all those same legs the Hasbro and the Club keeps using, the left leg is shorter than the right leg, making him unable to stand unless straddle-legged, or assisted. With over two dozen figures using these legs, it’s high-time parent company Hasbro fixes these because I’m sick of paying for inferior parts on premium priced figures. The second issue is his head—which was originally planned for a cancelled Jurassic Park figure. It’s tiny. (Granted so are his arms, so it works on the figure by giving him a lean, wiry build.) But when compared to other guys like Psyche-Out or Repeater, his head looks inhumanly small. I’m not saying a standard buck needs to be automatically implemented, but head size seems to be an ongoing issue, so it would be nice if that was standardized to proper scales in the future. So this time we get a new head, but it’s not through Boss Fight. How does that stack up in your book, Mr. Meyer?
Okay, I never noticed the size of Muskrat’s noggin as much as Chris only because I was taken aback by how stern his sculpted gaze is. Seriously— I opened the figure and he’s glaring at me like I owe him money or something. The legs don’t bother me as much as they do Chris but I have to admit that I’m starting to have some “parts fatigue” where these particular limbs are concerned. Hasbro and the Club have made good use out of them over the past few years and while I’m all for some level of uniformity I grow tired of the fact that every figure that utilizes them comes equipped with the tiny pistol and silencer. It’s okay—some folks want a gun that just makes some NOISE!
As for deco, the colors are a great tribute to the original that immediately makes him recognizable as Muskrat. The greens are realistic and tactical, and the red on his backpack and swamp skimmer is muted enough so it wouldn’t be an issue. Mine had a bit of sloppy paint application on the brown on his boots, but it wasn’t bad enough to spoil the figure.
Any issues with your figure?
I got lucky with this one. It wasn’t like Night Force Falcon who had all sorts of stray paint splatter.
Muskrat’s kit includes:
Muskrat comes with a bare minimum of gear, but it is all practical and true to the original, except color. (As usual, most of the weapons are ugly and unrealistic Club-gray, done to “protect the value” of the original weapons, but as we all know, none of this stuff will be worth anything 50 years from now because too many people collect it and keep stuff MOC/MIB.) He comes with a shotgun and machete, plus the standard pistol and silencer combo we are all used to on the modern figures. In addition to his swamp skimmer, he also comes with a backpack originally from the Resolute Cobra Trooper, so that was a nice surprise, as I don’t think it was listed as coming with him. A spring trap, figure stand, and hat finish off his accessories.
For a guy that’s lurking around the swamp, this is a pretty decent assortment. Rifle and trap for hunting and the shotgun for anything that refuses to go “gently into the gumbo pot.” The boogie board puzzles me only because I just don’t see how it would be useful in a real swamp but that’s just me. I had the same question about the original 1988 version as well. However, the new accessory is nicely detailed and is a nice nod back to the vintage figure.
We do have two issues with his gear. First off, he can’t hold his shotgun very well. The hands are very small, and the fingers are quite rubbery and soft, so that’s something you’ll need to be aware of. Second, his Boonie hat will not stay on, so unless you affix it on his head, it’s a near-useless accessory.
Fred, anything you want to add?
Actually, my only major nitpick has more to do with the figure’s hands than the included gear itself. In many more recent figures, the hinged wrists have all but become the new standard. However, Muskrat lacks that articulation and therefore has some issues with holding both the included hunting rifle and the shotgun. Oh, he can grip the rifle like he’s posing for the cover of “Guns & Ammo” but there’s no way that he can assume anything resembling a realistic firing pose with it. It’s frustrating as the rifle is a logical inclusion in his kit but it’s all but useless due to a design oversight. C’mon GIJCC—you guys have shown moments of brilliance over the past two years! Don’t let such a simple oversight hamper an otherwise visually interesting figure!
Finally, the card art was decent. Muskrat keeps his original art’s pose, and his proportions and aesthetics look for the most part, to be correct. It’s too bad the art seems to be hit or miss on these figures overall, but I suspect some of the greats are too expensive or unavailable for the Club to hire. At least this art was good.
Overall Muskrat is a well-conceived figure and well-colored figures who is very true to his origins, and whose aesthetics keep him modern and relevant even if his basic design is over 25 years old. People can argue the merit of him being released as a repaint so soon after the Night Force set, but he’s never-the-less a solid release here. Some issues with his proportions and his gear not staying on, but from a purely form vs. function; he’s a great figure and a recommended purchase.
At the end of the day, is Muskrat worth adding to your collection? Overall, I’d have to say “yes.” He’s not a perfect figure but in an era where new figures are comprised of parts recycled from other releases he’s pretty decent! He’s a leaner and meaner update to the classic figure that still maintains the character of the original. The color scheme is good (even though I prefer the Night Force version) and I like the fact that he uses a head that we’ve not seen too much before. Aside from the lack of hinged wrists, I’m pretty happy with the figure even if I do wish he’d been able to see a mass retail release only so more Joe fans could easily get him. He’s no Gung-Ho but he’s pretty darned good!
The Bottom Line: A decent figure that could be made great with hinged wrists to better accommodate his gear.