Anybody remember the old Electric Company show on PBS? If you do, you probably remember what a big deal it was when Marvel Comics licensed Spider-Man to appear on it, with his lines presented only as speech balloons comics-style so that children had to read them to understand the storyline.
It may seem hard to believe now, but in the 1970's comics were still not a respectable artform, but were derided as trash by authorities on child development. Not just a waste of time, but something that would actively degrade your taste. So using Spider-Man as an educational tool was highly controversial, and more than a few educators condemned the Children's Television Workshop as pandering to puerile tastes.
What a long way we've come since then. Spider-Man is big-budget now, hitting the big screen with a bang in three movies that have gotten not only the attention of leading critics, but a powerful buzz in the blogosphere as well.
And of course plenty of spinoff toys to cash in on his popularity. Toys which may well become collectors' items as many of them are played with a little too vigorously and broken, or left behind somewhere and lost, then discarded by someone for whom they mean nothing.