The following day (Friday) we decided to pop into the Disney outlet store that is a few miles from Disney Springs. Boy, were we surprised (and thrilled) to see a whole display of 18" plush Beasts for only $17.99. Wow! So, I set about picking one with a happy face and noticed that he had much nicer fur than the one I'd picked the day before. Not bad. The hang tag was different, so I figured these plush were the previous versions. We were all really surprised to compare them when we came home, so I took some pictures before returning the first one.
Notice the very visible differences in their heads and faces! The earlier Beast has very nice long fur that covers his head, just like Beast in the movie. The later edition plush has shorter fur, and there is none on the top of his head at all. The first Beast also has a sculpted face with cheeks and plush teeth and mouth. The second Beast has a flat face with appliqued polyester fabric teeth and mouth.