So, Star Wars Rebels. Yes.
I'm watching it; I'm enjoying it. But you know what they say: it's not a Star Wars thing until there's a sticker album and a deck of Top Trumps*1. The 'Trumps are on the way (apparently), so all that remains in between weekly forays into the Lothal uprising is to squander concerning amounts of disposal income on a pastime designed to separate children from their pocket-money.
We all wonder when we start a collection (whether it be stickers, trading cards, action figures or the mummified corpses of our enemies), if we'll have the willpower (read: combination of cash and availability) to complete it. As the album pages are gradually completed and the pile of swaps builds disconcertingly and acceleratedly higher, we all wonder how much longer we'll be going into the newsagent's and slapping down our cash, in the forlorn hope of there being at least one sticker per pack that we don't already have.
If we had the patience (because let's face it, if we're collecting stickers we've got the time), we'd have been keeping some sort of progress-list of the collection. Of how much the hobby's been costing us, if nothing else.
I've got the patience to build that list, and I've got the Microsoft Excel obsession to give it some semblance of life.
But why would I do this in the privacy of my own headspace when I can inflict my twin loves of Star Wars and statistical analysis on you, dear reader?
So, I'm going to track my sticker album for you. And for me, obviously. Once a week or so (don't pressure me), I'll update an ongoing chart, breaking down key statistics of the ongoing collection...
I'm not going to scan every individual sticker in the collection (that would be the kind of thing a weirdo would do), but I'll include the pages of the album as a blank canvas, here at the start. As well as the ongoing statistic infographics, I'll scan completed pages*2 as the collection progresses.
A few stats to warm up with:(For the purposes of this post, I'm going to assume the 'sheet' stickers are the same in each version. Topps issued an album in 2012 to tie in with the Phantom Menace 3D release, and this featured a similar six-sticker-sheet stapled into it. I bought two of those albums, and the stickers were the same in each, so it'd make sense for them to be the same for the Rebels collection, too. Again, if you know differently, hit me up in the comments section or over on the WoB Facebook page.)
• The Star Wars Rebels 2014 Sticker Album comprises of 40 regular pages and 198 numbered sticker-spaces.
• In the centre-pages there's a removable four-page poster, to hold a further 10 stickers.
• For the uber-collectors present, there are at least two versions of the album. The first one comes in a soft-cellpohane 'starter pack' and has a regular barcode on the back-cover in the bottom-right corner and the product number SWRS-A1003. The other comes free with the UK Star Wars Comic #11 (cover-dated Nov 2014), has a 'Promotional album' message in the barcode's place and the product number SWRS-A1001. Other than this there are no other printing-differences that I can see. I'm sure you'll let me know if you find any, though. Something tells me there's an album ending with 1002; a loose standalone printing?
• The starter-pack comes with six packs of stickers, and a sheet of a further six stickers stapled into the album. These are numbers 11, 27, 53, 71, 91 and 109.
• The comic-gift version doesn't come with any packaged stickers, but does include a (loose, unstapled) sheet containing numbers 20, 51, 68, 76, 140, 149.
Here's the empty album. Click for bigger*3...
Of course, what's any experiment without a control mechanism of some sort? In a false-bid to create one, I wrote a VBA code to populate a version of my tracking-spreadsheet with randomly generated numbers, working on the principle that there are five stickers in a pack and you don't get duplicates in the same pack (not in my experience, anyway).
There is of course the famous get-out clause with sticker albums. No manufacturer in their right bloody mind expects you to buy pack after pack of stickers chasing that one remaining, elusive holy-grail of gummed paper. There's a thing they do in the back cover where you can send off for the last few you need to complete the collection (they used to be at a slightly inflated price, but top-ups are 10p each in this album, which is the same as buying them in a pack. Yes, it's seriously 50p for a pack of 5 stickers. It wouldn't have happened in my day, etc...). The order-limit in the Star Wars Rebels album is 25 stickers, so instead of buying until you reach the 208-mark, you only have to hit the target of 183 before you can mail away for the rest. Or, y'know, get a parent/guardian to mail away for an extra 25 as well. With this in mind, my test-runs only calculate an approximate number of packs needed to reach 183 stickers (or 88% of the overall collection).
Anyway, here are the results of four separate, automated 'dummy-run' collections, processed through the simulator...
As you can see (and as guessed), the initial 45°line of the completion-percentage gradually becomes a slight incline as fewer slots in the album become available for filling. This is only to be expected, and it's this approximate curve I'll be comparing my actual progress against.
So, according to computer-calculated probability (assuming the stickers are packaged in a 'random' way which can be simulated by a machine), I'm looking at somewhere between 88 and 96 packs of stickers to get me to the 88% line, and in the process generate around 280 duplicates (far more than the entire album).
Knowing this, I'd have to be some sort of idiot to actually start the endeavour, wouldn't I?
Fortunately for you, dear reader, I am some sort of idiot. Although I suspect you've worked that one out already.
So, your journey begins here. You don't have to collect the 2014 Topps Star Wars Rebels sticker collection... I'll do it for you.
*1 Okay, it's what I say. For the purposes of this conversation, I am 'they'.
*2 Schedule permitting. Yeah, I know I've 'got the time', but my home-scanner isn't big enough to do the album page in one hit; I have to use the one at work for that. And as much as I'm proud of being a geek, frequently scanning completed sticker-album pages for my blog in an office full of actual grown-ups, many of whom are welders, is a bit far over the line, even for me. Me mordere.
*3 Although, only slightly bigger, admittedly. Hey, I'm not made of server-space.