As a kid, I had a box of Legos under my bed. Back then the movie tie-ins didn't yet exist and a Lego person was just a Lego person, mini-figures weren't the rage. I had a couple of the big sets for building houses or airports, and a space police set. This still resulted in hundreds if not thousands of little pieces, but they were all I needed to build just what I wanted.
The shame with Legos today is they are so tied into movies and cartoons that each box contains primarily “special pieces” that are really only useful for that particular set. If I wanted to build a boat as a kid, I'd be painstakingly putting together the hold from standard blocks. My son just whips out the all-in-one hull piece from his Pirates set. Sometimes the boys want a particular $100 set for just one special piece it contains that you can get nowhere else, such as a snake, Lego fruit, or “rare” mini-figure.
While I still advocate that Legos are one of the more creative toys that also guarantee hours of playtime, I'll admit the movie tie-ins seem to have taken some of the heart and soul out of them. I miss the days when Lego blocks were for a kid to bring their imagination to life, instead of just something to recreate a scene out of a movie.