Let's say I have an idea about tape. This tape has always had the capability to be sold in color, but never into different shapes. It has always been sold in a straight line. I want to make them in many different shapes and sizes, but that could be as many as 50 different designs. Does this mean I would have to get individual design patents on each and every one I created or could I get some sort of protection that could cover all of them being sold together? I'm very confused as to what option to shoot towards.
It is a little unclear just what your tape does. However, if it has some pattern then that could be copyrighted. You may also be able to trademark the design. You could go down those paths even if you are planning to go forward with patent. Note copyrights and trademarks are cheap and the instructions are easy for anyone to follow. Don't pay someone more than $100 to copyright your stuff unless that fee is also including some patent research/consultation.
Without having a clear idea of what kind of product, and what kind of design/format/shape we're talking about, I think it depends on two things:
Whether there is a way of protection that is applicable for your case;
That may be patents, but also something like protection of a brand, or a design (as in a logo).
A tape could be a single sided sticky tape with a specific kind of chemical or physical glue, but also a digital recording tape for a kind of data backup recorder.
Then, you need to find out whether the change you make from the common existing product is relevant enough for the kind of protection to apply.
After clarifying this, there is a lot more to do of course; Like deciding in which countries you want to protect it, and doing the above again for each country (or possibly larger area, eg. EU).