I got my start with MF using a Holga (which I bought for $12 including shipping) and from there I found this place and from there...well let's just say my cabinets have been lined by much nicer equipment and I've easily put through 500 rolls of 120 in the last two years. I say whatever oddball contraption or novelty experience can spark people's interest is only a good thing and the ones that fall in love will obviously move to explore other equipment, techniques, etc.
I say let the hipsters have their fun - if one out of every one thousand decides to pursue photography then it'll be good for film and great for them that there is a cheap enough toy out there (even if they over-pay) to try it all out before they get too serious. After all it should always be about playing around...this is how we learn...and a plastic camera just demands a good time.
The only potential downside I see about the Holga phenomena is if those who get interested in it start thinking that Holgas et al are the only option available when using film.
A modern roll film P & S camera offering auto and manual exposure, as well as auto and manual focus, might be very popular.
If these people are buying 120 film and having it processed let them buy whatever they want to put it in at whatever price they want to pay.
I know that $100 for a Holga is a rip off, you know that $100 for a Holga is a rip off, but the people that are buying these cameras are probably getting more than $100 worth of fun out of them, and if they aren't leave them alone until they shoot enough film to get $100 worth of fun out of them.
I have some really nice equipment that is probably far better at photography than I am, I have medium format, 35mm, The D word, and at the very least I would call most of my gear really nice. That said, I have some really nice photos that I have taken of my children, and of local landscapes on display in my home, these are not photos taken with high end equipment but with 90 year old Kodak Brownie Autographic #2 folding cameras that I paid about $10 each for. These are valid good looking well composed photos and I could reproduce them easily with any higher end equipment with a lot less work, I just really enjoy shooting with the brownies so even if I spent $100 each on them they would have been worth it for the joy they bring me. Shouldn't it be more about the joy of producing and viewing the photo than what you paid for the camera?
Better a Holga than $100 of drugs !
Another good thing about the Holga/Lomo fad is that it's providing business for film developers, usually the small local shops who still handle 120 film. When people have no place to get their film developed, that will truly be the end of our hobby as us home developers will not be enough to prop up the film companies.
I wonder if it's right to call the popularity of Lomos and Holgas a fad. I can remember a friend of mine buying a Lomo and getting into that 'scene' more than ten years ago now. For a fad, the Lomo thing seems remarkably durable.
I bought my holga new on the 'bay for less than €20 shipped.
Like you, I would have a real problem paying more than the cost of a few rolls of film, for one of these plastic fantastics.
If other people want to spend such money, I have no problem, and if it boosts film sales, then great!
I have fun with my $24 holga I bought a few years ago. It's just a fun one to toss in the bag when going to around sometimes instead of hauling the hassy or mamiya when it is just play. I just put a few rolls through mine this week (been at least a year since I've used it) it will be fun to see what a mess I've made LOL!!!!!!
There are some really nice Holga photos in the Gallery. I know Thomas Bertilsson has some excellent photos that were taken with a Holga.
I must confess I have considered buying this Freestyle Holga Kit:
(1) Holga 120N - Black
(1) Holga Plastic Fisheye Lens 120
(1) Holga Telephoto Lens
(1) Holga Wide Angle Lens
(1) Holga Manual
(1) Swan Lab Mailer (Easy access to have your memories processed, additional charge applies)
Special Kit Price = $49.99 You save $24.97
Eh, if they're keeping film moving off the shelves, the better for all of us.