FSS 3.0 Muskrat
FSS 3.0 Muskrat is kind of a big deal for me since he’s about the only member of the lineup I wasn’t exposed to as a kid. Yes, I had Battle Corps Muskrat growing up, but that guy is so bizarre, looking back, I don’t know if I ever used him as Muskrat. He was usually a cyborg super soldier rather than the Joe team’s resident swamp fighter. It’s nice to have a version of Muskrat that actually looks like himself. I thought Muskrat was definitely one of the highlights of the Nocturnal Fire con set and this FSS 3.0 version is even better thanks to some added accessories.
Like the other Nocturnal Fire re-releases, FSS 3.0 Muskrat uses the exact same parts as his con set counterpart. Nocturnal Fire Muskrat was a well-designed figure so this one is as well. FSS 3.0 Muskrat is the first FSS figure I’ve gotten that wasn’t a simple head swap. Muskrat’s legs are from Pursuit of Cobra Desert Battle Snake Eyes II and that’s a great call for this figure. The vintage Muskrat had his pants tucked into his boots since he was working in the swamps and wanted to keep them dry and had a holster and a sheath for his machete on his legs. These details are all present on the PoC Desert Battle Snake Eyes II legs, so it’s a great decision, even if some reviewers say that we’ve seen way too much of these parts over the last few years and that the legs themselves are lopsided (something I’ve never personally noticed). His upper body comes from an unusual place, 25th Anniversary Alpine. I never saw that figure at retail, so it’s a new torso to me and it surprises me how well a piece designed for a mountain climber works for someone who spends his time fighting in the hot, sticky swamps. Without 25th Anniversary Alpine’s jacket over it, it just looks like a sleeveless shirt and that makes perfect sense for Muskrat. Over the 25th Anniversary Alpine torso, Muskrat is wearing the same vest that came with the 25th Anniversary Lamprey. I think this vest works very well on Muskrat because it looks much more like a vest than a personal floatation device. There are all sorts of great details on the vest and while they don’t mesh up perfectly with what the vintage Muskrat figure had, they’re close enough. The only detail from vintage Muskrat that didn’t get carried through that I wish would have is the radio up by his shoulder. It was a neat detail I discovered reading Joe reviews back in the day and I think it would have been nice to see it here. Having personally known quite a few police officers and sheriffs in my day, I loved that Muskrat wore his radio transmitter up there because that’s how officers carry their radios to make them hands-free. I can see a Joe like Muskrat, who spends a lot of time out in the swamps scouting ahead for the Joes, doing the same thing out of necessity. Muskrat’s arms come from Pursuit of Cobra Jungle Assault Duke and I think that’s perfect. While I do kind of miss the added wrist articulation, they’re probably the best-looking set of bare arms Hasbro tooled up. Plus, they’re pieces haven’t been seen a lot, so it’s nice that the GIJCC gave us some good parts that aren’t overused. They give Muskrat a nice wiry build to them that makes me see Muskrat as someone who is still a tough guy but is nimble and adept at working his way through the swamps.
Topping off the figure, FSS 3.0 Muskrat has the same new head that the GIJCC used for the Nocturnal Fire set. After doing a little digging on the Internet, it looks like this head was also a refugee from the Joe-Rassic Park figures. Much like 30th Anniversary Mercer, Muskrat appears to use a head that Hasbro tooled up for a Joe-scale Jurassic Park figure that got cancelled pretty late in the process. It’s a nice enough head, I’m just not sure I like it for Muskrat. It does do an excellent job of mimicking the grimace Muskrat had on his vintage filecard, I just doesn’t fit with my conception of Muskrat. Neither the original 1988 version or the Battle Corps Muskrat I owned had that grimace. Both of those figures gave off a bit of a good ol’ boy vibe and I kind of liked that. This grimacing Muskrat gives me a bit cruder vibe than I’d like from him. I can’t deny that the face sculpt has character, it’s just not a character I initially planned on associating with Muskrat. To finish off the figure, FSS 3.0 Muskrat has the boonie had from the Rise of Cobra PIT Commando and while it does complete the Muskrat look, it also doesn’t fit his head very well. I’ve had it on just about every way humanly possible and it’s consistently extremely loose and that bugs me. I like hats and helmets to stay on relatively snuggly because that means I don’t have to worry about accidentally knocking them off. I don’t want them to fit so tight that they cause paint to rub off the figure, but Muskrat’s boonie hat definitely goes way too far the other way.
The primary difference between FSS 3.0 Muskrat and Nocturnal Fire Muskrat is the color scheme and the GIJCC did a bang up job on this figure. The colors are all lifted from the vintage Muskrat figure and they look great on this version. The majority of the figure is a nice dark green. It looks appropriate for jungle warfare and makes perfect sense for a swamp fighter. Like the classic figure, the straps on his legs and vest and his gloves are black and it’s a nice offsetting color. The GIJCC even went as far as replicating the brown fronts on his boots. Until I was looking at the pictures of the vintage Muskrat, I’d just assumed that was a new detail the GIJCC threw in because that would have been harder to do back in the 80s, but Hasbro managed to pull it off back in the day and the GIJCC recreated it here as well. Underneath his hat, Muskrat’s still got reddish hair, though he’s definitely wearing it much shorter than he used to. The only color not on the original Muskrat is a lighter green for his undershirt. Since the undershirt wasn’t visible on the original figure, the GIJCC has a little leeway with color choice and the lighter green meshes very well with the rest of the figure’s look. My only real criticism of Muskrat’s colors is that I wish his skin tone were a little darker. Much like Recondo, I see Muskrat as a guy who spends most of his life out in the field so he’d pick up a bit of a tan. Muskrat’s awfully pasty for a guy that spends most of his days in the swamp. However, I’ll freely admit, that’s a personal preference so I understand why the GIJCC didn’t do it. I just know that Hasbro’s gotten pretty good at tweaking skin color to show that some characters spend so much time out of the base that they get tanned or sun burned and it would have been cool to see it here as well.
FSS 3.0 Muskrat is a very well-equipped figure and unlike some of the Nocturnal Fire repaints, the FSS version has more equipment than the original release did. Starting off small, we’ll look at the pieces that are shared with the Nocturnal Fire version. To fill the sheath and holster on his right leg, Muskrat has the same boot knife and silenced pistol that everyone that uses the PoC Desert Battle Snake Eyes II legs does. They’re simple pieces but I’m glad they’re included for completeness’s sake. Muskrat also carries around the same large machete that the Nocturnal Fire version came with. It’s a decent piece and I do like that it’s large enough to look like it would be useful in the field, but I’ve never actually seen a machete with a curved blade like that. It just looks a little odd to me. The FSS version and the Nocturnal Fire version of Muskrat both come with shotguns, but the FSS version is carrying a different model and I like this one a bit more. The 30th Law shotgun is a great piece, but to me, it doesn’t fit with a swamp fighter. It looks right in the hands of an urban operator like Law who would want a shorter, more maneuverable shotgun, but I don’t think it’s something that someone like Muskrat would carry with him. Instead, FSS Muskrat gets the shotgun the Retaliation Joe Colton and Kwinn came with and it’s a bit better piece for a swamp fighter. The longer barrel helps with accuracy and makes it more effective in his specific combat situation. Plus, this shotgun is a dead ringer for the one that Muskrat had back in 1988 so I think it’s a better choice here. Of course, a shotgun isn’t the best weapon to use for long range combat, so Muskrat is also carrying the same rifle Hasbro first used with Resolute Scarlett. Much like its inclusion with Kwinn, I think this is a great piece for a swamp fighter like Muskrat to have. It’s a sturdy rifle that he can use effectively at range, but it’s not going to weigh him down too much. My only real complaint is that because the PoC Jungle Assault Duke arms lack the additional articulation that Kwinn had, he can’t really hold this rifle in a realistic firing position. I’ll admit, he doesn’t have the rifle in his hand that much since the shotgun looks so good in Muskrat’s hands, but I do wish he could hold the rifle in a way that looks like he can shoot it at someone. Like Retaliation Kwinn, Muskrat also comes with a foot trap and I see him using it in a similar fashion as Kwinn. Since he spends so much time in the field, Muskrat might need to rely on the swamp for his food. While the design of the trap is more for trapping people, which seems a bit sadistic to me, I can at least justify its presence here as something Muskrat might want to use should he exhaust his food supplies while on a long mission in the swamp. Unlike a lot of modern Joes, Muskrat actually gets a backpack. It’s the small piece that first came with the 25th Anniversary Resolute Cobra Trooper. It may not be able to carry much gear, but it’s at least something. Finally, we have to talk about Muskrat’s unique accessory, his swamp skimmer. I’ll admit, I’ve never quite understood the fascination with this piece. I don’t know how useful a boogie board would be in combat situations, but it was something that was unique to Muskrat back in 1988 and it’s nice to see the GIJCC had Boss Fight Studios tool up a new version of it to satisfy the vintage fans.
While I don’t quite understand its purpose, I can’t deny that it looks really good. It’s still got the foot peg so he can skim along the water with it but it’s also got a handle now. The handle is a conceit to the fact that even the GIJCC questioned why Muskrat had it, so the filecard mentioned that it’s coated in “ballistic-resistant materials” so now the swamp skimmer isn’t just an impractical method of getting around the swamp. It’s also a mildly practical shield. It actually looks pretty cool in Muskrat’s hands and I’m glad the GIJCC found a way to make the swamp skimmer a reality. My only regret is that I couldn’t use the handle to hang it off his backpack like I’d hoped. Personally, the feature I found the best about the original swamp skimmer was that Muskrat could wear it as his backpack as well. The swamp skimmer and the backpack get some attention from the paint team. They’re both still mostly green, but they also have matching red stripes running down the center of them. They both also have some black detailing on them and they fit very well with the overall figure that the GIJCC created. The accessories really help flesh out Muskrat and I’m glad the GIJCC swapped out some of his gear to make his equipment a little closer to the classic figure as well.
Even though I never had the original figure, Muskrat was another FSS 3.0 figure that I had high expectations for, especially after the GIJCC announced they had Boss Fight tool up a new swamp skimmer for him. Though his parts come from quite a few different figures, they all work well together and the vintage-accurate color scheme looks great on this modern figure. I know that some of the people who bought the Nocturnal Fire con set back in 2013 were pretty bummed about all the repaints in FSS 3.0, but I’m not because A) I couldn’t get that con set and B) I think the original colors are far more iconic than the Night Force versions. Honestly, I was really bummed when they were released in Night Force colors in that con set because I thought that might mean the GIJCC wouldn’t ever bother to release characters like Repeater and Psyche-Out in their original colors since they figured the demand would be low for them since they released them already. Mercifully, my fears were unfounded and I’m glad I got a chance to get a figure that I’ve never had before. I think Muskrat was probably the strongest Night Force figure out of the Nocturnal Fire con set and he’s definitely got the potential to be the strongest figure in this particular round of subscription service figures. Considering how good FSS 3.0 has been, that’s definitely saying a lot.