logo for Sports Action Figure.com Home - Sports Action Figure.comContact Sports Action Figure.comSports Action Figure.com Sitemap
Figure News BlogSports FiguresNonsports FiguresResourcesAbout SAF.com 
 McFarlane Toys
  • Search NFL Sports Picks
  • Search NHL Sports Picks
  • Search NBA Sports Picks
  • Search MLB Sports Picks
 Upper Deck
  • Search All-Star Vinyls
  • Search Pro-Shots
 Pro Specialties Group
  • Search Gladiators Gridiron
 Gracelyn Re-play
  • Search Gracelyn NFL Re-plays
  • Search Gracelyn MLB Re-plays
 Hartland of Ohio LLC
  • Search Hartland MLB Figures
  • Search Hartland NFL Figures
  • Search Hartland NBA Figures
 Headliners & Microstars
  • Search NFL Headliners
  • Search NBA Headliners
  • Search NHL Headliners
  • Search MLB Headliners
 Romito Sports Figures
  • Search Romito Baseball Figures
 ToyQuest NFL Probots
 Other Toy Companies
 Search Across Brands
 Printable Checklists
 More . . .

 Action Figure Articles
 Sports Figure Blog
 Toy Collector Dictionary
 Action & Sports Figure Links
 Link Exchange
 More . . .

 About SAF.com
 Action Figure FAQ
 Advertising on SAF.com
 Contact SAF.com

 McFarlane Military Figures
 More . . .

What is a Chase, Variant or Super Chase Figure?

Lots of Different Types of Figures, All Explained Here

The question of what are the differences between chase, variant, super chase, surprise and exclusive figures.

The fact is that people use these terms differently, sometimes interchangeably, especially when listing figures on Ebay. McFarlane has provided their definitions in their FAQ, but many do not follow those guidelines.

On this site I will use specific guidelines for classifying figures. Those guidelines are listed below, with examples so you can see very clearly how I differentiate the figures.

Here we go:

Regular - A regular figure is the standard issue, the figure pictured on the packaging and website and all. These will be the most commonly available figures. McFarlane, Gladiators of the Gridiron and Gracelyn Re-plays do not announce the number of regular figures created; Upper Deck announced edition sizes for Gamebreakers and does the same for All-Star Vinyls.

Chase - A chase is a version of the regular figure that has been modified intentionally in some way by the company. This modification could be a different jersey, a different uniform or team, a hat rather than a batting helmet, leaving the helmet off entirely, or other differences. The chase version of a figure may or may not be pictured on the packaging. The key is that a chase is an intentional variation of the regular figure. The term “chase” comes from the fact that it is produced in smaller quantities than the regular figure and collectors are expected to chase it down at the stores to get it. McFarlane has created many chase figures. Upper Deck has planned variations in the works for their new All-star Vinyls but those will be given separate catalog numbers; time will tell if they are considered chases or just separate regular releases of the same player.

McFarlane Regular Polamalo McFarlane Chase Polamalo
McFarlane Regular Polamalo Action Figure
McFarlane Chase Polamalo Action Figure

See the difference? The regular has a grassy base. The chase has a snowy base.

Here's another example:

McFarlane NFL 7 Regular Favre
McFarlane NFL 7 Chase Favre
McFarlane NFL 7 Regular Brett Favre Action Figure
McFarlane NFL Chase Brett Favre Action Figure

This is your typical chase - a different jersey is the distinction. Remember, the key is that a chase is an intentional variation of the regular figure.

Variant - A variant is a different form of the regular figure due to an error in the manufacturing process or because of a decision to change something in the midst of production. Variations like a different facemask color, different color stripes or socks and changes to gloves typically fall into this category. The difference between a chase and a variant is intent; a chase is a planned variation and the variant is unintentional.

Here are two versions of the 12" McFarlane LaDainian Tomlinson:

McFarlane NFL 12" Regular Tomlinson
McFarlane NFL 12" Variant Tomlinson
McFarlane NFL 12" Regular Tomlinson Action Figure
McFarlane NFL 12" Variant Tomlinson Action Figure

Notice the difference? The regular LT has an almost white face mask. The other figure's mask is clearly a middle gray. This was an unintentional variation, making the figure on the right a variant.

Variants are extremely subjective. Some differences are accepted by collectors and others are ignored.

Chase Variant - Sometimes there are variations of the chase versions of a figure. Those are – you guessed it – chase variants. It’s a chase figure that has two or more versions due to unintended differences. The unintended version of the chase figure is the chase variant.

McFarlane NFL 6 Smith Reg
NFL 6 Smith Chase
NFL 6 Smith Chase Variant
McFarlane NFL 6 Smith regular Action Figure
NFL 6 Smith Chase Action Figure
NFL 6 Smith Chase Variant Action Figure

In McFarlane's NFL 6 series the regular Emmitt Smith figure had a white jersey and white gloves. The chase was intended to have a red jersey and white gloves. Somehow some of the figures ended up with a red jersey and red gloves, creating a variation of the chase - a chase variant.

Sounds confusing? It gets worse - there was a red glove variant on the white jersey regular figure. Further, there is a SECOND chase of Smith in NFL 6, showing him in a Cowboys uniform, as shown to the right. That's right - guys who built complete sets had to get a regular, two chases, a variant and a chase variant just to cover all their bases.

Some collectors who try to build complete sets do not go after all the variants, which are simply painting or decal errors. As stated before, variants are very subjective. Do the different color gloves mean much to you? It's your call.

NFL 6 Smith Chase Action Figure Dallas Cowboys

Super Chase - Chase figures are produced in smaller quantities than the regular figures, and as a general rule this makes them more valuable than the regulars. In some cases a variation of the chase will be created intentionally, in very limited quantities. This is called a super chase. Super chase figures can sell for hundreds of dollars because they’re produced in very small edition sizes.

McFarlane NFL 12 McNabb Regular
NFL 12 McNabb Chase
NFL 12 McNabb Super Chase
McFarlane NFL 12 McNabb Regular
NFL 12 McNabb Chase
NFL 12 McNabb Super Chase

The regular McNabb in Series 12 wore a green jersey. There was a chase to this figure in a black jersey. In both the regular and chase versions, McNabb wore his helmet. A third version was released (in very small quantities) with no helmet. This was a super chase figure. There is no marking on the package to indicate this is a super chase figure. You would just have to know it or find it out on the Spawn.com Sports Picks forum. Todd McFarlane has stated that super chase figures will not have dramatic differences from the chases or regular versions - no helmet vs. helmet variation is a good example of this.

Surprise (Chase) - A special form of a chase figure is the surprise chase. In a sense all chase figures are surprises; the company does not typically announce that a chase version of any figure will be issued. However, chases are intentional variations of regular figures in a series. If a series has a chase Brett Favre figure, it also has a regular Brett Favre. On occasion the company will include a player in the lineup that wasn’t announced at all. This is not a variation of a regular figure in the series; it is an entirely different, unannounced figure. This is called a surprise, or surprise chase figure. Collectors may debate whether a surprise figure is a chase or not. The key is that a surprise figure is a new player added to a series intentionally without being announced before the series is released.

Surprise figures are not marked as such on the packaging or the figure, so there is no need to show photo examples here. If you find a figure and you don't see it included in the checklist on the back of the package, you probably have a surprise figure.

Custom - I won’t go into a lot of detail here because a custom figure isn’t something released directly from a company. A custom figure is a regular figure that has been repainted, recrafted or otherwise modified by an artist (called a customizer) to represent a one-of-a-kind piece. Some of the work done by customizers is absolutely remarkable; that said, custom pieces are not part of this site’s database. You can learn more about custom figures by visiting the Custom section of this website.

Exclusive – All of the figures discussed so far have been figures issued as part of regularly released series. That means the regular, chase, chase variant and surprise figures were all released as part of scheduled series that were sold throughout the network of the company’s retailers. Some figures are not marketed through normal channels. They are figures created for specific events, retailers or other situations. These are called exclusive figures.

There are four situations where a figure is exclusively released.

Event Exclusive - If a company attends a major sporting event like the Super Bowl, Hall of Fame induction, All-star game or some other gathering, they may choose to release a special figure to commemorate that event. This figure will not be sold as part of any series and will not appear in normal retail outlets. This is an event exclusive. Typically the number of event exclusives will be announced. The figures are sold during the event by the company, normally at a show booth. Normally the figures are sold out by the end of the event. Event exclusives have their own listing in the series lists on search pages and checklists.

To your right is the Troy Aikman exclusive created for sale at the 2006 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies in Canton. The figure is almost identical to the Aikman released in the Legends series with two differences: First, there is a logo patch on the front of the exclusive's jersey. Second, the base has a name plate on it. (Note: This was the first event exclusive figure to have a name plate.)

The exclusive's packaging is different than the regular figures' packaging. It is smaller and is marked with the event (you can see NFL CANTON EXCLUSIVE on the bottom right of the package) and the edition size (below the event on the package you will see "1 of 3,000"). With very few exceptions, exclusives are the only figures released with publicly announced edition sizes.

McFarlane Troy Aikman exclusive sports pick figure

Collector Club - McFarlane has created a small number of figures to be sold only through their collector club. The McFarlane collector club isn’t really a club at all; it’s simply a matter of registering with their website’s store. That said, some figures have been created and sold only through the company’s website estore and those are referred to as collector club figures. Upper Deck plans a collector club for their All-star Vinyls but it has not been announced as to whether they will have club figures or not. Collector club figures have their own listing in the series lists on search pages and checklists.

To your right is the Matt Leinart exclusive created for sale at through the McFarlane collector club. This figure coincides with the release of the red jersey Matt Leinart figure sold as a surprise chase figure in NFL Series 13. This figure was marketing only through the Spawn.com estore (referred to as the collector club) and the Spawn retail store in Arizona.

The exclusive figure has a white rather than a red jersey. Also, the packaging is smaller than a regular figure's packaging and it says EXCLUSIVE at the bottom.

Several of McFarlane's most popular figures have been released as Collector Club pieces. For example, the four Deion Sanders figures in Atlanta and Baltimore uniforms were very heavily sought by collectors, especially the first two of the figures.

The Matt Leinart exclusive created for sale at through the McFarlane collector club

Specific Retailers or Regions - A retailer sometimes asks a company to produce a figure or a series that will be available only through that retailer. Toys R Us has requested some of these from McFarlane, figures that are not sold anywhere else. Likewise, some hockey figures are sold only in Canada . These do not show up as exclusives on this site but I will typically describe them as “TRU Exclusive” or “Sold only through Meyers” in their descriptions.

Here is a 3" Don Mattingly figure created for sale at the Toys R Us store in Time Square, New York City. You can see that the packaging is clearly marked as an exclusive.

This type of exclusive has been released in 3", 6" and 12" sizes at various stores, in Canada and for different sports. From a collector's perspective, the fact that a figure was released only in Canada or sold only through Toys R Us doesn't mean much, other than it is more difficult to find.

Some chase figures are store-exclusive as well. In NFL Series 14, a surprise chase figure of Kevin Mawae was sold only through Toys R Us. Other stores who sold NFL 14 had a surprise chase of Matt Leinart.

3" Don Mattingly figure created for sale at the Toys R Us store in Time Square, New York City

Stadium Giveaway / Promotional - Some sports teams will contract with a company to create a figure to be given away as a promotional item at one of their games. Over the course of the season the teams give away many items, including bats, baseballs, photos, t-shirts, etc. Some teams choose to give away figures. Stadium giveaway figures have their own listing in the series lists on search pages and checklists. Upper Deck also created a limited LeBron James figure in collaboration with Nike as part of their release of James’ latest line of athletic shoes. That promotional figure would fall under this category as well.

To your right is a two pack of figures given away at a New York Yankees game in 2005. You can see the date (August 27, 2005) on the packaging. Giveaway figures are typically 3" figures.

A two pack of figures given away at a New York Yankees game in 2005

Return to the top

Figure News BlogSports FiguresNonsports FiguresResourcesAbout SAF.com 
Copyright 2007 © Action Toy Collector.com