My parents had me on technic sets before I hit third grade. Back in the days where a tv couldn't watch your kids that was the best way to keep them occupied for weeks on end. It was either that or puzzles, in which I had the horrific adventure of putting together a 1000+ piece space puzzle... the kind without any nebulae or anything that could give you a reference point. The only thing that was "easy" was the edge pieces. Now that I look back on that, it seems pretty evil, but that was fun for the times.
I came across these lego sets recently (the hero factory or something ones) and it cost 30 bucks for 300 pieces. Most of it was "pre-assembled" (a head was just a head piece, a shield just a shield piece, an arm was 3 pieces just because they wanted an elbow and a hand) - it was for ages 8-16... That's a goddamn joke.