Since 2005, fans have been asking "so what number is Hasbro up to on the action figure line?" Most of us figured that the 500 number in 2005 was way off, especially since the 300 number in 2000 included the vintage line. Well, I did some counting, and you are in for a big freaking surprise.
Vintage line (1978-1985): 116 figures
14.5 figures per year, assuming an average price of $3 per figure that's about $43.50 per year
This includes: all figures from the 92-back, 3 more variants of R2-D2 and C-3PO, Yak Face, the Max Rebo Band, Sears' Blue Snaggletooth, and the 16 animated figures from Ewoks and Droids.
Modern line: (1995-March 23, 2008): 1,249 figures
89.2 figures per year and counting, assuming an average price of $6.07, that's $541.44 per year
This includes: so damn much stuff. It gets tricky, so let me explain the tally: this includes unique figures and significant variants ONLY. This is meant to be a "complete" tally if you were able to buy 1 of each unique action figure out of the package.
(Example: 4 colors of the Episode I Battle Droid count as 4 figures. Long and short lightsaber figures do not. Figures with deco changes and new accessories are new figures. Old figures released with a display stand are not. In my world, there are 3 Cantina Band figures [1997 POTF2, 2007 Tin, 2007 Disney edition.] Star Tours' Jedi Mickey & Yoda are on counted, as are all the Clone Wars cartoon figures and silver figure exclusives. Major OTC repaints are counted [Gamorrean Guard, Jawas, Tuskens] and minor ones are not [X-Wing Luke]. "New" figures assembled incorrectly [2002 Scout Trooper, 2007 Battlefront Destroyer Droid] are new figures. Most Saga Legends figures are not counted. No Episode III Greatest Hits or Saga-era Best-of lines are counted. No cup figures are counted. Any figure which cannot be removed from a vehicle was not counted. The 1995 Toys "R" Us Classic Edition 4-pack was not counted. Unproduced action figures do not count. Old figures with new/swapped heads count. Figures with added dust/snow count. Significant repaints [like select Tin figures] count. Most running change variations [saber changes, minor color changes, altered CommTech chips, stands, and holo figures] do not count. Packaging variants do not count. Head variants count as new figures. Redecorated Clone Troopers and Wookiees count as new figures. Clone Troopers with intentionally different Battle Damage are new, but Super Articulated AOTC troopers of rank are capped at 8-- 4 clean, 4 dirty. Unique bonus Pit, Battle droids are counted. Repackaged figures in Wal-Mart's DVD sets are not counted. Figures with glued down helmets do not count as new figures unless new/exclusive accessories/stands are included. Beasts do not count as figures except when sold as carded Ultra action figures. Vehicle, playset pack-ins count. In my tally, there are only 6 total "Bonus Pit Droids" between the Episode I and Saga Legends releases, but differences may lead you to count differently. Figures with unique pack-in accessories are not different figures, as coins, slides, and holo figures are not considered part of the actual toy.)
I should also count that this brings us up to today-- the Jedi-Con Shadow Trooper 2-pack and the new figures from Target's Force Unleashed Battle Pack are included in my tally. 2008 Clone Wars TV and Legacy figures are not included, nor are upcoming summer exclusives. I don't profess this whole count to be 100% accurate, but it's pretty gosh darned close.
Some interesting findings from my counting:
Please remember that this is an estimate based on how I collect-- you might not consider the Anakin Skywalker, Mace Windu, and Obi-Wan Kenobi figures from the Jedi vs. Sith Battle Pack to be unique figures. I do, due to the head and/or accessory changes. I may have left some things off. I may not have counted some things you would count, or perhaps you would have counted things I wouldn't.
- Until 2002, it's fairly straightforward to count and define figures as new. Starting in late 2002/early 2003, Hasbro introduced a number of significant changes to a single SKU, repackaged older figures in the main line, and started to rerelease gift sets with 1-2 new-ish figures and several older, unchanged figures.
- 607 unique action figures qualify as basic carded movie-style figures-- no cartoons, no multipacks, no silver figures, no vintage figures. (2-packs count as 2 figures, so Wicket and Logray are 2 and not 1.)
- Roughly 524 unique action figures from this tally have been released since January 1, 2005.
- Despite being the fan-favorite line, the 2004 Original Trilogy Collection had few new releases-- only 7 new sculpts were introduced with lots of repacks and repaints.
- If you were to buy all 1,249 figures at retail you would end up with significantly more figures-- it wasn't possible to buy several figures outside of multi-packs which require the purchase of 2 or in some cases more figures that you may already own, or multiples of the same figure.
- If you want every accessory, you're going to have to buy more figures. The cases for the bonus Pit Droids Wave 2 came with different deco in their original incarnation than their Saga Legends releases in 2007. This list counts most accessory changes but does not include figures with repainted blasters, boxes, or other add-ons as unique.