Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Funskool Tunnel Rat

Tunnel Rat is easily one of the most popular figures in the Joe line.  He was released in the key Joe year of 1987, is an amazing sculpt, has excellent accessories, if colored near perfectly and has a likeness based on the father of the G.I. Joe mythos: Larry Hama.  Through the years, many other Tunnel Rat figures were released: pretty much all of them excellent in their own right.  Tunnel Rat was even given two international releases.  The Funskool figure, our subject today, features a paint scheme that is based on the 1990 Super Sonic Fighters Tunnel Rat, but is much brighter and more vibrant.  It's hard to see this as anything other than the worst Tunnel Rat figure.  But, the bright colors and excellent highlights give him a Funskool-chic that makes this figure a fun release to own.

Colorwise, Tunnel Rat is Funskool at its finest.  You get a powerful red shirt that announces the figure straight away.  It's offset by brown pants and darker red shoes.  The figure sports a odd brown bandana and gloves.  The chest, though, pops with a neon green grenade and offsetting silver and grey accouterments.  The figure is Funskool through and though.  (There is even an extra blob of yellow paint on Tunnel Rat's exposed chest/neck.  I don't know why, but it's there.)  However, the quality of the paint, the vibrant details and the appearance of a few useful colors all add up to a figure that should be terrible: but isn't.  Tunnel Rat is bright.  But, he fits in with other Joes from the 1980's since he features all of the painted details.  Funskool didn't try too hard (like Hasbro did with their 2000's era Tunnel Rat figures) but also was true to the spirit of the figure and produced something that's visually striking without being too over the top.

Funskool Tunnel Rat's gear is OK.  He includes a black version of the classic 1987 Tunnel Rat rifle.  This is great as it's the only weapon I associate with Tunnel Rat and helps to distinguish him from other versions that are missing his signature accessory.  He also includes a brown version of the Night Viper backpack.  It makes more sense for a tunnel specialist than the huge honkin' backpack from the original figure.  I'm not a huge fan of Cobra gear being re-purposed for Joe.  But, I give leeway for foreign releases.  Though, the technical look of the pack doesn't match Tunnel Rat, even if the color o the back is a nice match.  That's the extent of the gear, though.

For me, Tunnel Rat has always been the Joe team's light machine gunner.  As the 1987 figure was acquired during the height of my late childhood, he is both a sentimental and realistic favorite.  I've never had a burning desire to acquire more Tunnel Rat figures because the original version fulfilled my needs for the character and was useful in all situations where Tunnel Rat might be needed.  The Funskool version, though, is a useful addition to a vehicle crew or as a splash of color when I want a different look for a classic character.  I like the idea of the Super Sonic Fighters Tunnel Rat.  But, his muted, darker colors don't always translate to a photo or scene.  In that capacity, this Funskool Tunnel Rat excels and is able to be visually appealing and interesting without distracting like some of the brighter Funskool figures are wont to do.

Tunnel Rat got a lot of use.  In the vintage line, there was the 1987 original figure, a 1988 Night Force release and then a 1990 Super Sonic Fighters version.  All three of these figures are very well done and there isn't really a bad version of Tunnel Rat.  Hasbro then produced a Tiger Force Tunnel Rat that was exclusive to Europe.  Funskool acquired the mold and started releasing Tunnel Rat in the late 1990's or so.  They made him for years before returning the mold to Hasbro.  Hasbro then released a Night Force Tunnel Rat in 2004, a desert Tunnel Rat in late 2004 and a comic pack version with a new head in 2005.  There's plenty for a Tunnel Rat fan to collect and he exists in most of the major sub sets.  Tunnel Rat is a figure who Hasbro used well and left us wanting for little.

So, when I decided to profile this figure, I figured he was just like all the other Funskool figures of his era when it came to availability.  While he was likely no longer a $4 figure, I assumed a carded version would run around $20 or so.  Then, I went to look him up and found something shocking.  Aside from the fact that there were very few of them that sold, the prices were insane!  A carded version sold for over $200 at open sale.  There was another carded figure that sold for a buy it now for $100.  What happened?!?  Tunnel Rat was no more rare than any of the other Funskool figures of the early 2000's that were imported to the U.S. by the thousands.  Why does he now fetch stupid money while other, better repaints are available for $20?  It makes no sense to me.  But, there are simply tons of new collectors who were not around in the early 2000's when these guys sat unsold at every online dealer who could drop a few hundreds bucks on their Amex card with a reseller in India.  So, there is very much a false sense of rarity with many of the Funskool figures of this era.

Along with all the carded Tunnel Rats that were brought over, there was also a huge amount of bagged vehicle driver Tunnel Rat figures that were sold by some dealers for $1 each in 2003 and 2004.  Funskool returned the mold to Hasbro in the original batch of 18 molds in 2003.  Before they sent it back, Funskool ran a huge quantity of bagged figures.  As these were 2003 releases, they are the best quality figures and may be a cheap option for the highest quality figure...if you can find one.  I, personally, like this figure for his oddity.  It's a high quality Funskool release and gives Tunnel Rat something a little different than his darker and more drab releases from Hasbro.  But, there's no way in hell I'd pay more than $6 or $7 bucks for one....

2001 Funskool Desert Scorpion, 2000 Tunnel Rat, 2008 AWE Striker

Funskool Tunnel Rat, Blaster, Flint, Cutter, Monster Blaster APC, Mega Marines

Funskool Tunnel Rat, Blaster, Flint, Cutter, Monster Blaster APC, Mega Marines


  1. You wrote all of this for a falsely bidded up auction that the buyer didn’t pay. The other buy it now was probably a noob who seen the auction or eBay sold. Good day!

  2. "You wrote all of this for a falsely bidded up auction that the buyer didn’t pay. The other buy it now was probably a noob who seen the auction or eBay sold. Good day!"

    How is Mike supposed to know that that auction was a non-pay? The high auction sales price was not the reason for the article. Are you new here? Anyway, that same figure resold for $60 + shipping, which is still high for a funskool figure who should not be all that rare. You comments make no sense.

    Mike, nice article. Almost makes me want to try and sell my Funskool Tunnel Rat.

  3. Never had much interest in this one, just seemed like a variant of Sonic Fighters release. Funny the face camo is two splotches on his cheeks, like he's trying to creae a new facial hair style.

  4. Mike who? I am not new to answer your question. Are you knew? You seem to know how much it sold for... So with some research the author would also know the $100 figure was a OBO and sold for $50 not $100. In fact if you really dig $60 is for a moc and that is not high IMO. Supply and demand dictates price. I also know the second highest bidder on the first $202 auction and he was given a second chance offer. However it’s a classic example of someone bidding it up high and
    Not paying so they can try and offer to next guy up which is a known issue with EBay. I also know who the second Seller is and the buyer. Knowing is half the battle and don’t want to waste anyone else’s time reading false reporting. Good day!

  5. I really don't see what all the fuss is about. A quick scan of the internet and any amount of research and ebay sold shows that the funskool tunnel rat doesn't come around all that often. He may not be ultra rare, but obviously he is not your run of the mill buzzer, ripper, or croc master. 60 bucks, 200 bucks, whatever. Price is determined by a combination of supply and demand and what the seller is selling for and what the buyer is willing to pay. Plus these are recent MOC prices for a MOC display or a complete figure. We all know the pain international accessories can be to find. If u find a tunnel rat funskool for sale, I say good for you and snatch it up.

    1. The fuss is that this figure is your run of the mill Funskool offering. He was imported by the thousands and there are tons of them out there. My question posed is, "Why is this figure now expensive and desirable when there are far better Funskool figures from this era that remain cheap?". It's a thought exercise for collectors. What makes this guy in demand while Flint or the Night Viper remain relatively ignored?

      The final price for this figure isn't relevant. What's relevant is that he's increased in value by at least 15X in 8 or 9 years with no obvious reason while other figures of similar availability that are more popular remain cheap.

      It seems this figure and the situation is very near to you. But, that doesn't obfuscate the bigger question for the community in terms of what is now considered both "rare" and desirable by a new group of collectors who were not around in the days of ubiquitous Funskool figures.

  6. Thank you, Robor_Sonic for clearing up the original poster's issues. He seems to be a bit slow. He seems to think that this article was written with the sole purpose of pointing out how much this figure sold for. This is a collectors blog that showcases a different figure each week, regardless of that figure's current selling price. That is why I asked if he was new here. This is not an online price guide, geesh. Anyway, this was another well written article on a very interesting figure. Keep up the good work.

  7. Robert_Sonic, thanks for response. It doesn’t matter if you an old collector and or a new collector. It’s obvious it’s not 1980s pricing anymore. I am stickler for if you disseminate information you do so correctly with facts. Your only reference is EBay sold. Not stores, not India and not Facebook where this was shared. I bought my tunnel rat from India where they are still $10 USD shipped. Just because those that live on EBay and buy EBay doesn’t mean that is what the market is there are still
    Non EBay sellers. In fact in India you have to have a tax-ID to sell on EBay which makes the off EBay market better IMO. Great pics and decent write up just didn’t have the correct sales amount. I don’t want any joe collector to think 100-200 funskool Tunnel Ray is the new norm because it
    Most certainly has not been as stated.

  8. Hi there, my two cents is this figure is possibly on the rise. I absolutely agree with the early poster that this is NOT your run of the mill funskool character. Go to any online vendor, vintage toy seller, ebay, etc and there are tons of mercers, zartans, night vipers, and croc masters ad naseum. Now go to those same places and look for this figure. Good luck finding one. That is why the higher price is justifiable. There have only been a few on ebay and that was only very recent. The 200 buy, yeah that was really high, a zealous bidder perhaps. But 50 to 100 is nothing to flinch over nowadays for this figure, especially MOC.

    As for the desirability, it is an exciting figure and its tunnel rat! Lol, who doesnt like tunnel rat and funskool craziness! I think its just a combination of resurgence and rarity and a few coming available.

  9. My goodness, I thought the prices were crazy too but look at how many heated comments there are here! Apparently there's some insane amount of interests in this figure!

    Funskool Tunnel Rat going for even $50 is insane. Lots of collectors bought Funskool figures domestically and in general they were massively overproduced. Think about these prices in comparison to what a lot of other Brazilian and Argentina figures go for. Most Funskool figures are nowhere near that rare and yet the prices are starting to rival that (Funskool Tripwire is a good example too).

    I attribute this personally to GI Joe being dead. There's a lot of times I go looking for common 90's figures or stuff from the 2000's and can't find crap for sale. The lack of interests is lessening the supply and that's inflating the prices for the one or two examples of oddball stuff that goes up onto the market. I suspect this could be made worse by the possibility that the collectors who are still buying are of the OCD completionist variety and are just paying any price to fill a gap.