I have this kind of love/hate thing going on with the licensed characters that completely bedeck the children's toy and clothing departments. I DO remember clamoring for licensed products as a child, as a hopeful Disney animator I had an obsession with all things Disney. I still appreciate it in small doses - We did the Nugget's nursery in Classic Pooh (the muted storybook illustrations not the yellow/red version), we proudly bought him an Optimus Prime t-shirt. I adore children's book characters on notecards especially.
I'm not sure why some of it bothers me so much. It could be the fact that the owners of the characters don't seem to care what crap they put their names on - from flimsy plastic choking hazards coated with lead paint to nightgowns that are already unraveling on the rack. It could be the way they market to children - buy me, you don't know what I am, but I have Lightning McQueen on me. It could be the fact that in mass quantities, they are just an assault on the senses and totally unnecessary - the Nugget does not need to drink out of a Dora cup that costs triple the amount of the plain blue one. Maybe it's just the disposable aspect of it all - you know that 12 year old carrying the Hannah Montana backpack will be horrified by it next year and will beg her mom for a new one with the latest and greatest. Yes, I think that's the clincher for me, that licensed characters are rapidly outgrown and need constant replacing. It bothers the core of my little tightwad heart!
However, I think the day is rapidly approaching approaching when the Nugget will insist on a character of choice. His vocabulary now includes "Curros George" and "Melmo".