How do you count your collection?
August 6, 2008

Back in March over at Star Wars site Galactic Hunter Adam Pawlus set out to get some sort of near-definitive count of how many "different" Star Wars action figures had been released by Kenner/Hasbro since 1978 (you can read his results/method of counting here).  The number he arrived at was eye-opening to say the least, but a number of people questioned what he considered "new" or "different enough" to be added to the tally.  I actually had a different reaction; I didn’t think that he took the definition of "figure" far enough in his count.  I thought about my method of accounting "figures" which I know would lead to a much higher number the way I would count it.  Admittedly I haven’t even started my own count because I just can’t get myself to actually settle on what rules I use to define a figure…  When I do get around to doing my count I want to try to do it right the first time and I want to put it together into a database format so that by pulling different parameters a user could get a count based on their own definitions — a daunting task to start with, I’m sure, but once started it should go quickly and be easy to keep up-to-date (well, that’s what I think right now, anyway…).

Right now, here are my "rules" for what defines a Star Wars figure:  Any human, alien, droid or creature counts regardless of size, articulation or pack-in status.  My reasoning for such a crazy rule?…  Why, for example, should a pack-in Pit Droid not count if there is a basic carded release that features two of them?  Why shouldn’t a pack-in Gonk Droid count separately from the Jawa when it was later sold carded as the main figure in the pack with another pack-in droid?  Why should Jabba not count as a "figure"?… Is it because he was sold as a "beast"?…  If that’s the case, why should the Nexu count as a "figure" even though it was sold as a deluxe figure since it is obviously a "beast"?  Why shouldn’t the patrol droid packed with the Sandtrooper in the 3D Cantina count as a "figure"?…  It’s a small droid, does that mean that R2-D2 shouldn’t count because he’s a small droid?…  What of Wokling Nippet from the just released Leektar and Nippet pack?…  Sure the Wokling doesn’t have any articulation but it gets "name credit" on the package, so why shouldn’t it count?  The original 3 3/4" sized hologram figures that were sold at Wal-Mart weren’t articulated but what should keep them off the list when the other hologram figures that have articulation would make the cut?  Why would an articulated Pit Droid count when the folded one packed with Jar Jar wouldn’t, they are both the same type of droid after all?  What of the droids in the Episode I accessory packs, shouldn’t they count as figures?  How about "dedicated" (non-removable) figures like the Cruisemissle Trooper or the Ammo Wagon Gungan (admittedly I did stop counting starfighter droid domes as figures — although I still count the R2 and Luke in the FX X-Wing, and I never counted the Battle Droid that gets "battle damaged" in the ATT)?

As you can see, my reasoning is a bit on the "creative" side and that’s what’s going to make the list a challenge to put together and put together right.  I know that many of you will laugh at the lengths I’ve gone to in defining what is a "figure" but I just have a hard time with saying that a pit droid is a figure but the folded pit droid isn’t…  Why is an Astromech droid a figure but a Hailfire Droid isn’t?… I think that the only places that I’ve really drawn the line beyond the droid domes is with the little hologram figures (like the Leia that came with the CommTech R2, not the bonus pack-ins from 2006), the chubas that come with Gragra and the skeleton that’s packed with Amanaman (they are dead, afterall), those aren’t figures by my definition (but that may change by the time it’s all done).  Hmmm,… That brings up another question,… Should the brain in the jar and the spider droid that make up the B’omarr Monk figure be counted seperately?…  Hmmm…

So by my counts,…

  • Rancor?… Figure. 
  • Treadwell Droid (the one packed with Aunt Beru)?… Figure. 
  • Tauntaun?… Figure. 
  • IT-0 Interrogation Droid?… Figure.
  • Faamba?… Figure.
  • Dead Chubas?… Not a figure.
  • Wal-Mart Holographic Qui-Gon Jinn?… Figure.
  • Accessory pack Sith Probe?… Figure.
  • Jedi Starfighter Droid Dome?…  Not a figure.
  • Ammo Wagon Gungan?… Figure.
  • Hailfire Droid?… Figure.
  • Destroyer Droid from the R2 Carry Case?… Figure.
  • B’omarr Monk brain jar?…  Not sure…

All right, you’ve seen the madness to my methods, what say you?…  (Psst,… you don’t have to limit discussions to Star Wars, I’ve got these kinds of crazy ideas about Mattel’s DC stuff, too…)

(Gotta give a thanks to Cantina-Dan for giving me the inspiration for this blog.)

Jim Abell
DC collector from the Mego days, specifically Hasbro and Mattel releases. Also Hasbro and Disney Star Wars/Star Tours toys, Masters of the Universe Classics and most anything Four Horsemen related.
Read other articles by Jim Abell.





  • OddJob says:

    Not sure what the point of this blog is, lol, but I’d count anything that is a character a figure. Unless it’s painted in or something like that.

    So for JLU, I’d consider Skeets a figure, although he’s technically an accessory.

  • H-Balm says:

    I understand your point. I collect JLU, but in “my world” I don’t count repaints as different figures. Out go the many designs of Superman/Lantern/Batman.

    Though, like you stated, their can be fine-print caveats. I do count the Justice Lords as figures. I suppose I base it on the character, rather than their look. Lex Luthor purple, Lex green, and in the future, Lex Orange, are all Lex in my book.

    Language flows, to fit each individual’s needs.

  • Danny Cantina-Dan says:

    All I know is that if someone is going to put a definitive spread sheet together, you’re the man, Jim!
    I found myself going, “Hmm, that’s a tough one.” a few times reading your post. (Like the folded pit droid that came with Jar Jar.) My first gut reaction was that only one figure should count per card but that obviously doesn’t work. Going back to the very first Ewok 2 pack with WIcket and Logray – you have to count them individually.
    Well, this is kinda like pondering the limits of the galaxy…

  • jzachery says:

    I consider it a figure if it’s a character.

  • Erik superfriend says:

    Lets go back to JLU and Skeets. Skeets is Booster Gold’s robot sidekick. Clearly in terms of the comics and the JLU cartoon, Skeets has become a character in his own right. However in the JLU toy line, he is clearly a pack in with the Booster Gold figure. Just like a Green Lantern battery, a Batarang, or a chunk of Kryptonite. In terms of the toy, “Skeets” appears to fill the accessory role. (Skeets is also the wrong color and has no painted details – but that is another topic.)

    to me,
    Skeets = accessory.

  • bnjmnrlyr says:

    So along the lines of conuting “characters”

    Do you then sub-categorize for variations of that character?

    For example… Luke Skywalker
    DO you count Tattoine Luke as separate from X-Wing Luke separate from Dagobah Luke, etc.
    And then … do you count the endless variations of Tattooine Luke individually: “He-Man” Luke, “Poncho and binoculars” Luke, “Jedi” Luke, new “Turban Jedi” Luke, etc.?
    Or are they all simply Luke?

    For me, if it is a character or somehow independantly mobile then it counts. Robots (no matter how far into the background) are characters, tables are not. Also, I don’t count pieces-parts as being “character/figures”. An arm is just an arm, it becomes “Luke” when attached to the rest of the body … although an argument could be made for Ash’s hand in Evil Dead …

  • TPTBeyond says:

    Personally I concider a new character if it is a sentient being who has or can interact with someone who is definitively a character. Take JLU, for instance (since it’s already been brought up):

    -Skeets- Character
    -Black Mercy- Character
    -Justice Lords- Characters (They’ve been on screen and interacted with regular universe characters, so they count)
    -Luthoriac JL Drones- Characters (Same as above. They’re as legitimate as having Brainiac henchmen around)
    -Various Luthor paint schemes- Not seperate characters
    -Phantom Zone projector- Not a character
    -Atom (regular size and small)- Not seperate characters.

    Basically, if you were watching JLU and Superman walked up to JLord Superman and Luthoriac Superman at the same time, it would still make sense. If he walked up to 2 differently colored Luthors, it would need some explanation.

    But that’s just my criteria.

  • Jim Abell Jim Abell says:

    Thanks for the comments and insight, guys. I must admit that I do count Star Wars and JLU differently but JLU still has it’s own quirks that could be just as strange as the Star Wars quirks I’ve listed above. With JLU (as I believe most of you do) I count more from a different character standpoint than by different figure. My counts for JLU really concern having each character *and* having any “show accurate” variations. Yea, I count Superman, Justice Lords Superman and Luthoriac Superman as three different characters but “battle damage” Superman would be a variant of the first character and still one I would want. Black suit/blue cape Superman? Not on my radar. Suit Luthor, puprle/green Luthor, olive drab Luthor and prison orange Luthor?… Yeah, I want all of them but I won’t display them together. I want both versions of Huntress even though she counts as one character. All versions of Amazo (we’re up to 5 of those now, right?) to represent his different powers/change of allegience. The normal, Martian-form and phasing versions of Martian Manhunter. Justice League/Justice League Unlimited looks for John Stewart. Hawkgirl and Shayera Hol.

    I plan to have three displays for my JLU collection when I get around to re-doing it. One will be the core seven plus Aquaman (since he was actually released before the JLU line, but I’ll use the non-hook version because of the show’s timeline) and the villians that were released before JLU — suit Luthor, Darkseid and Ultra-Humanite. The second display will be the Justice League (with only one version of any given character on display, Shayera will be my choice here instead of Hawkgirl for example) and the third will be the villains and sub-groups like the GL Corps and Fourth World characters (again, only one version of a character will be displayed here). I’ll have the other versions safely stored away along with the 9 POA variants and accessories that don’t display with the groups (I want things like the Phantom Zone projector and Wonder Pig but I won’t necessarily display them).

    With Star Wars and DCSH/DCUC I take a much more “Hall of Fame” approach to displaying. With those lines figures go on the shelf by wave. If I end up with two of Vader or two of Superman side-by-side, so be it. With those lines the figures are generally screen/comic accurate and it’s not as easy as dismissing a variant like JLU’s “Anti-Amazo Flash”.

  • Brainlock says:

    ok, NOW we have a problem.

    Most people will consider Skeets a separate character and not an accessory (like R2), but WONDER PIG?

    I’d have to put her into the same category as the JLords: unique variation of standard character. If JLord WW counts as a separate character, then so should Wonder Pig.

    otoh, JL John vs JLU John…??

    and btw, are we getting the Booster repaint as single with Skeets, or in another 3pk?
    Skeets is one of the few figures I’ve missed out on, and would C-I-L-L for a second chance!!

    and no, it’s never ok to chloroform your friends, Terry!
    ro pust dronk!

  • John Cage says:

    I agree with Jim Abell — if it’s a show accurate repaint, to me it counts as a figure worth getting. The caveat to that though is that the repaint has to really be show accurate for me to want to put it up on the shelf (and considering how many figures have been put out in the line, space is getting a little scarce at this point). So I’ll definitely get and display prison garb Luthor and Legion of Doom green suit Luthor, but not green and black suited Luthor.

    Same thing with the various Amazo variants — I only have the gray and gold versions on my shelves despite having at least two other versions. The reason they’re not up is because they might stand as legitimate variants (although even if that’s the case it can’t have been for more than a few moments of screentime), but aren’t as prominant as the others and I don’t really need every Amazo on the shelf. Unless I wind up with eight or so different versions. In that case it’d be neat having them all together.

    Where I split with Jim is the ‘battle damage’ figures. Unless they’re from a moment in the show, I’m fine with not having them. But if they put out a BD Superman from his battle with Doomsday that’ll be as important as any original figure. As far as BD figures go most of the time, I think of them as just another repaint.

    Have a good day.
    John Cage

  • Arsenio3 says:

    My first thought when I read the topic was: I count my action figures with numbers.

    Anyway Wonder Pig is not a new character–she is a variant.

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