McFarlane Plans Major Change to Chases in Future Editions
Sports Picks to Feature More Chases With Subtle Differences and Alternate Jersey Versions Added to Regular Figures
Toys Posted 4/16/2008
McFarlane Toys has made a major announcement that will affect all future Sports Picks series releases, regarding a change to how chase figures will be released in future editions.
A "chase" is an intentional alternate version of the advertised figure, usually involving a different paint scheme. These chase figures are mixed randomly into casepacks and are sought by collectors for their rarity and additional value on the secondary market.
In the last few years, McFarlane has released chases for about half the figures in a typical Sports Picks lineup. Chases were typically alternate jersey versions of the regular figures in the series (home versus away jersey, retro uniform, etc.)
Starting with July's NFL Legends 4 lineup, every new figure in the series will have a chase version. The chases will not feature alternate uniforms, but will have subtle differences from the regular series versions. Some examples of these more subtle differences might include dirty versus clean uniforms, a different color armband or undershirt or a different patch or decal.
The traditional-style chase figures (alternate jerseys, throwback uniforms) will be added to future lineups, as a way to expand our series depth (from six to eight or nine players) while offering collectors the opportunity to purchase a figure they might have had trouble locating in previous series.
An example provided by McFarlane: The Joe Montana figure in this July's NFL Legends 4 will be released in a red San Francisco 49ers jersey, with the chase figure featuring a tweak of that jersey. A re-painted Kansas City Chiefs version of the Joe Montana figure is scheduled as an additional figure to ship with NFL Legends 5 in the summer of 2009. By making the Chiefs figure available as part of next year's lineup (rather than the chase version in this year's line) that "alternate" figure available to more collectors, and McFarlane will also be able to ship solid-packed cases of the Chiefs figure to stores that sell Chiefs merchandise strongly.
Historically speaking, most non-Legends lines have featured four new sculpts, two head-swaps or re-paints, and sometimes a surprise figure. Future series will continue this pattern but McFarlane will add two or three re-paints to each line. This means that the number of figures included in a new series will increase from six regulars and three to four chases/surprises, to eight or nine regulars with six chases. Surprise figures will not be released as frequently, since interesting repaints are often what are chosen for surprise figures.
McFarlane states that this change will help collectors in two ways. First collectors should be able to find chases in the stores more frequently. Because the variations in the new chases will be more subtle, they will be less likely to get picked off the shelf except by the informed collector who knows what he's looking for. Second, the alternate jersey figures which were hard to find and more expensive in previous series will be more readily available in future editions, allowing collectors to get home and away versions of their favorite players more easily. Case buyers will benefit as well; because chases of each figure will be released, cases will could include more than one chase.
This new approach to chase figures will also result in two versions of all new figures and three versions of the more popular players. This could help to bolster sales for McFarlane, depending on how well collectors accept chase figures that are minor changes to the regular figures.
Will collectors actively seek out a chase that is only unique due to a different patch or some other minor variation? Historical precedent offers mixed results. Series like NFL Series 1 offered variants of clean vs. dirty uniform figures and many of these are valuable on the secondary market. On the other hand, the NFL Legends 3 Roger Staubach chase is different than the regular only due to a red stripe on the helmet and these have not been as well received by collectors.
McFarlane does not release production figures for their series releases so it is unknown whether or not upcoming series will be shipped in greater quantities than previous series. If the company produces the same number of total figures for each upcoming series, this suggests that 1) regular figures will be issued in lower quantities, or 2) there will be fewer of each chase made than in previous series. This could bode well long term for collectors who pay attention to secondary market potential.
McFarlane has not yet said how this change will affect Super Chase figures.