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McFarlanes Sports Update, Issue #001 -- What Is A Super Variant?
October 15, 2007

 FRIDAY 13th Sports Edition

Welcome to the Sports Edition of my e-zine. In time I hope to be able to set up two separate mailing list in order for you to be able sign up for either the sport or non-sport update, or both.

There are some excellent new releases planned for the coming months with the exclusive Toys-R-Us NFL 3 packs  and the equally exciting team sets.

I am particularly looking forward to the NBA Series 13 which looks to have some nice new sculpts as well as three completely new players.

Next years scheduled releases looks equally exciting and I'm pleased to say that after a few disappointing series this year, especially NFL Series 15 & 16 that next year looks a lot more promising.

New Releases

B. Urlacher (collector)

NBA Legends 3

NHL Legends 5

P. Manning (collector)




Do You Know What A Variant Or Chase Figure Is?

Do you know what a variant figure is?

A chase figure?

What’s the difference between a Super Chase figure and an Exclusive figure?

Not sure?

Whether your new to collecting or been collecting for a while it’s important to know the difference.

These days there are more and more names being given to the different levels of rarity when talking about figures as well as the grading of figures (I cover grading in another article).

 As a resulting it is becoming increasing difficult to know what is available, not only that, but to make matters more difficult some companies are very secretive about exactly what is available.

So let me try and explain for you what the most common terms used mean, but it can get a little complicated at times. J

Why do you need to know?

Even if you’re a casual collector it’s important you know the difference so that you recognize an important or valuable figure when you see it.

After all, would you want to swap out that $100 James LeBron Variant figure? or that $80Dan Mariano series 19 Chase figure?

Or maybe you’ll miss an exclusive figure up on eBay or some other auction site for only few bucks. 

OK, ready….

First we have the basic or:

A Regular Figure

A regular figure is just that. It is the most common figure in a set or series. It is your bog basic standard figure.

This will be the same as the figure pictured on the box, shown in magazines or seen on the TV ads.

They are the mass produced figures and end up in the local Wal-mart store. Generally the quantities made are unknown and often new “runs” will be produced if they sell out and demand is sufficient.

A Limited Figure or Series

A limited figure or Series is one that has been produced to a limited quantity or production run. A limited release series of figures may have both regular and chase figures available within the production run but the availability and quantities is generally known.

Often the manufacturer will number the individual figures on the base, e.g. 233/10,000 (number 233 of 10,000 produced), or issue a certificate of authenticity.

A Chase Figure

A Chase figure is a different version of one or more of the regular figures within a series or set.

This variation maybe something as small as the color of the eyes, as in Tiffany from the Spawn Series 30 releas, or Sarah O'Connor from T3: Rise of the Machines where the chase figure had no cap and windswept hair, or a different color uniform, shirt etc.

A chase figure is usually an intentional and planned figure that is usually publicised before its release.

The availability, or rarity of these figures is also generally known with a quoted ratio of its availability compared to a regular figure given.

For example a case of figures will normally contain 12 or 24 figures with maybe one chase figure in each case (a ratio of 1:24).Therefore the greater the ratio the higher the rarity and therefore its value. A figure with a 1:48 ratio is therefore rarer than one with a 2:24 ratio.

The term "chase" comes from the fact that diehard collectors will often search out these figures to add to their collections, therefore literally "chasing" them out.

A Variant Figure

A variant figure is very similar to a chase figure but a variant figure is usually an unexpected variation on the figure or in the set.

Generally variant figures aren’t publicized before their “discovery”. A variant figure is usually considered rare than a chase figure as the variation is often due to an unplanned change during production.

A variation  often occurs during the production of a licensed line when the licensee decides they don’t like something on a figure and production has to be stopped to make the change.

A recent example of this is the Baseball Series 18 set that has two version of Mariano Rivera. The first figure, produced in very small quantities, has the full version of the glass players entrance door but because this was found to be to big and bulky for the packaging the regular figure only has the door section.

The main difference between a chase figure and a variant figure is that a chase figure is planned and intentional whereas a variant figure isn’t.

Ok, with me so far?

This is were it begins to get complicated.

A Chase Variant Figure

A chase variant figure is exactly that.

It is a chase figure that also has an unintentional variation.

A good example of this the McFarlane's NFL Series 6 Emmitt Smith figure.

The regular figure came with a white jersey but the chase figure a red jersey.

However the chase figure was intended to have white gloves but there was a variant that had red gloves, so the figure with a red jersey and red gloves was the chase variant figure.

OK, got that?


Because it gets worse...

There were also variants of the regular figure with red gloves instead of white AND there was also a SECOND chase figure available!!

So recapping this series had:

A regular Emmitt Smith figure (with white jersey), a variant regular figure *with a white jersey and red gloves), a chase figure (red jersey, white gloves), and a variant chase figure (red jersey and red gloves)!

This example is a very unusual case and it is very rare to have this number of variation of the same figure in one series, but...

Super Chase

A Super Chase figure is an intentional variation, like a chase figure, but produced in very small quantities therefore making it both a lot more difficult to find and more valuable.

Instead of one figure per case it maybe one per container.

 Surprise Chase 

A surprise chase figure is an unplanned addition to a series that usually hasn't been publicised and isn't included on the official checklists.

But there is a certain amount of debate however as to whether these truly are chase figures as often they have the same production run as a regular figure but are just last minute addition to the series.

A prime example is the Trevor Hoffman figure in McFarlanes MLB Series 18 Baseball figures. The problem with these figures again is because there generally isn't any further information on their production run nobody really knows which are a chase figures or regular figures.

My best suggestion here is to keep an eye on the auction sites, online stores and forums. By listening to what others are saying and gauging the quantities and prices available you should get a reasonable idea whether the figure is a true “chase” figure or just a late addition to the set as a regular figure.

An Error Figure

An error figure is completely unintentional and often passes through the normal quality control checks unnoticed, for whatever reason.

As a result these are not publicised in anyway until "found". Often even the manufacturer will not be aware of their existence until the error comes to light. The error could be missing paint, or the wrong colour used somewhere on the figure. It maybe something missing accessory or …

An error figure is just that, an error, a mistake, unintentional and unknown until found.

 This makes them extremely rare and often very valuable. An error figure is often a “one off” or in very low numbers and are therefore probably the rarest and most sought after.

Very rarely the error is intentional and "planted" by a member of the production team. A famous incident where this happened is the infamous  "C3 P0" trading card from the original 1977 series of Star Wars bubble gum cards where, on some, C3P0 was given a bit of male anatonomy. This card now error card can now exchanges hands for $1000's.

An Exclusive Figure

An exclusive figure, unlike all the others mentioned, is not part of a regular series or release and is NOT distributed through the normal channels, distributors or retailers.

An exclusive figure is one that has been especially commissioned by a company, business, or team for their own promotional uses.

There are generally four different types of exclusive figures:

Distributor/Retailer Exclusive-Toys R Us have commissioned many exclusive McFarlane releases including the NFL 3 packs and usually the first series of baseball figures at the start of each new season. Diamond Comic distributors also often carry exclusive figures that are only available to retailers through their distribution network.

Many NFL, NHL, NBA and MLB teams have commissioned special event exclusives or stadium giveaways over the years as well.

An Event Exclusive- This type of figure is usually unplanned and released outside of the normal release schedule usually to "celebrate" an important event, a good example of this is the Bond 756 figure,  the annual Fanfest exclusives or a Hall of Fame exclusive.

A Stadium Giveaway/Promotion- This is a figure usually commissioned by a team or organisation to giveaway at one of their games or for a special event. This type of figure is generally not available anywhere else and has different packaging, often dated when and where it was given away, and has a seperate checklist.

Collectors Club figure- These figures are only available through McFarlanes online Collectors Club, which is free to join.

And that’s it.

I hope you found this short guide helpful and I look forward to hearing from you.



Coming Soon:


12-Inch W. Payton

Cowboys 3-Pack

Eagles 3-Pack

Elite Club 3-Pack

NFL 15

NFL Ultimate Team Sets


49ers 3-Pack

49ers 3-Pack (collector)

NFL 16

12-Inch B. Orr


NBA 13

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