The older bricks that were made back in the day, "pre-2K", seem to be made out of a harder and more durable brick that would hurt your feet when you walked on them. Now it appears that since the other brother of the LEGO family took over, things have changed and you are seeing tons of themed sets coming out, (which is awesome), but at the same time they seem to have changed to a softer mixture of plastic.
Some AFOL's think that this is due to the fact that the bricks are now being made in China; they used to be made in Mexico.
If you compare a sword piece made in 1995 and compared it to the new stuff, you'll notice that even the color is different. The old Medieval swords were bright and shiny and hard as a rock. The old pirate swords you could be used like a tooth pick. Now they both seem to be made out of an entirely different plastic and bend with no effort.
I personally have not spent more than $200 in this last year down from $2000 the prior year for this reason. The only reason I bought anything at all was the new Friends sets. I loved LEGO until they took out the main reason I was buying their toys; their durability aspect. It was one of the only toys on the market that didn't turn towards profit and become mass produced in China, now I will have to start buying Playmobil.