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
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
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
Here are two versions of the 12" McFarlane LaDainian
McFarlane NFL 12" Regular Tomlinson
McFarlane NFL 12" Variant Tomlinson
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. Its a chase figure that
has two or more versions due to unintended differences.
The unintended version of the chase figure is the chase
McFarlane NFL 6 Smith Reg
NFL 6 Smith Chase
NFL 6 Smith Chase Variant
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.
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
theyre produced in very small edition sizes.
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 wasnt 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 wont go into a lot of detail here
because a custom figure isnt 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
sites 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 companys
retailers. Some figures are not marketed through normal
channels. They are figures created for specific events,
retailers or other situations. These are called exclusive
There are four situations where a figure is exclusively
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
Collector Club - McFarlane has created a small number
of figures to be sold only through their collector club.
The McFarlane collector club isnt really a club at
all; its simply a matter of registering with their
websites store. That said, some figures have been
created and sold only through the companys 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
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.
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.
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.
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