You can buy packs of basic building blocks (LEGO classic). The creator, technic, city and even Minecraft sets also have a lot of generic bricks.
It's not really fair to compare a space ship against a dragon either. The dragon is very specific and has a lot of specialty blocks due to its organic nature. The Jedi interceptor for example still has plenty of generic blocks.
Besides all this, I play with my kids' LEGO almost as much as I played with my LEGO when I was a kid and I love the specialty blocks. It is still easy to dream up new creations and the "specialty" pieces aren't. They get repurposed just fine, but add a lot of variety.
And what's most important, my children have just as much fun with their LEGO as I had, and are just as inventive/creative, so I don't think anything of value was lost.