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This is a "Underwater Scooter". It's a handheld device to propel a diver forward. Similar devices can be seen in the James Bond movie "Thunderball".
This is part is commonly found in the Divers theme back in the late 90's (http://brickset.com/sets/theme-Town/subtheme-Divers) The part in question is a minifigure accessory: http://www.bricklink.com/catalogItem.asp?P=30092
The sloped face of the 2x2 brick is 16mm across by about 11.3mm tall.
The best set from 2014 is Furry Creatures (31021) at $0.20 per plate. Here's one possible way to do this: Download the listing of all parts in all sets from Rebrickable. Join this data up with pricing data (perhaps from the Brickset API) to get yourself some pricing information for each set. Define which parts count as plates. Write yourself a little ...
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