Conventional wisdom would have us believe that the marketing of popular children's characters is aimed at children. Seems reasonable. However, my theory is that much of the marketing is actually directed toward parents. Case in point: Thomas the Tank Engine outfits from Wal-Mart. I bought three sets (shirt and pants) as winter clothes for the Little Bug. True, they cost $1 or $2 more per set than would a more generic non-branded product. HOWEVER, from a parenting point of view, this relatively tiny markup is MORE THAN WORTH IT. If the Bug has Thomas on his shirt and pants, his resistance to getting dressed in the morning is greatly reduced. It's worth $2 to me just to have one easy morning. Amortizing this cost over an entire winter? PRICELESS!
VALUE isn't just a question of how much something costs in money; it's a question of how much money and effort and some other intangibles are required in outlay, versus utility (and even enjoyment) you will obtain from it, and the appropriate cost-to-use ratio that you yourself are willing to assign. Nobody else can assign value on your behalf. And that's a beautiful part of being a wise and responsible consumer.