Re: "a pain when using the pieces to create something new"
> The number of custom pieces in Lego
Why, you still can buy the generic pieces, don't you? The "sets" are just more publicity-worthy. There is obviously more "wow" factor in a Lego ISS than in a heap of bricks.
I don't think they are aimed at the same public either: Generic bricks are for inventing and building all kind of stuff, but not everyone is able to invent cool-looking things out of a random heap of multicolored plastic rectangles. Some clearly prefer to be told "connect piece A to piece B - look what a nice thing you're building here".
Just saying. (I personally would prefer the heap of generic bricks, but I admit that's me. I've been building all kind of crazy stuff with them when I was young.)