I could have written your post! My family went nutz at Christmas after I mentioned more than once to them, "we tend to go for simple toys, ones where he can use his imagination... " So much for that idea. We ended up with so many toys (many battery operated ones). It was chaos. The next morning when we got home, I put out all the toys and video taped them. I then walked with the cam corder into my kitchen and video taped the open cupboard where DS was playing with all my kitchen things. I said [on tape] that "this would be shown to all family members before next Christmas. That if they wanted to get something for us, kitchen implements would be nice. For we are always searching for all my wooden spoons!"
I thought about giving many of the toys away but opted to keep them, and use them on a rotating system. There are an array of toys on the shelves in his bedroom, and some in his cupboard in the living room. And then, there is a box in the den (an off limits to DS room) where I 'hide away' toys. Every few weeks, I rotate the toys bringing in new ones and taking out the old. This seems to keep them fresh for DS and as we live in Washington State, helps for those rainy days. Oh, and we keep the battery operated toys hidden away in a "special place." Once in a while, I pull one out (many are music oriented and DS loves music) and let him play with it. Not having them around on a regular basis makes them more tolerable and DS actually gets something out of them that way.
As for the plastic, I think there are a few reasons people don't like them. For the most part, natural toys are nice because they are well, made of natural materials. And then of course, there's the environmental facter--plastic bad, natural good.
I can't argue with either of these... however, we do have quite a few plastic toys here. Many were gifts or hand me downs. And on that last note, I figure most of these toys die a slow death, being handed down and then down again (recycled if you will). I suppose that makes me feel better about using them.
All the best.