Well, I haven't been around here in a while and didn't even notice this topic. It's been a very interesting read.
I'll say upfront that I'm also a "Duffy fan" thanks, in no small part to DuffyDaisuki. It's been a couple years now. I am also a fairly cynical Disney fan, so mixing the two has been...interesting.
There has been quite a bit of negativity directed at Duffy and his fans over the years. Not just in this topic, but generally any place he's talked about. It's definitely eye-opening, considering how rabid Disney fans can be about any given park, character, film, etc. It's kind of ironic that there is so much vitriol for something they don't quite understand or care about.
That's not to say people can't dislike something. It's just strange, considering how normally tolerant people are of other's collecting habits, especially among fans. Personally, I can understand quite a lot of the criticism aimed at Duffy. It's the outright hatred of him and disdain for people who do that I don't quite get.
I agree with what DuffyDaisuki said, in that it's not really Duffy to blame for any poor handling, but Disney itself. In Japan, it's a phenomenon and it seems, from the outside looking in anyway, that the marketing team gets it, and cares about the character and his surroundings. It's the same kind of attention to detail that Tokyo DisneySea is full of. However, I can completely understand the US Disney fan's reactions to the US launch of Duffy. Disney here is much more blatant when it comes to marketing, and I can guarantee that there are people in charge who couldn't care less about Duffy. This is not limited to just the bear though, I think Disney as a whole has problems caring about it's legacy these days. There are lots of people in the company who do, but overall, I think they just use things to make a quick buck, Duffy included.
That's why he seems more crass and commercialized here, because the company itself just doesn't care enough to make it work properly, or create a truly compelling story for Duffy. It will take a cult following to take him beyond what Disney has done so far, if he's to be a success here. It is kind of like the TRON example, where something is a sleeper hit and then builds enough of a following over the years to warrant a relaunch of the "brand".
I also think Duffy could be compared to another Disney character with not much story. Figment. Ok, I know a lot of people would scream at me, but think about it. The only difference between Figment and Duffy, is that one was featured in an attraction. Both of them were born out of creativity, both are adventurous, both have a sense of fun and mystery. It's just that Figment was not released as a plush first...his demand slowly built up, and he also has a cult following. However, outside of his signature attraction, Figment doesn't actually have any more "story" than Duffy does. He's pretty much anything you want him to be, after all, he is a "figment of the imagination". Duffy is quite a bit like that himself...only he's a lot less talkative, LOL.
I would be willing to bet that if Duffy had been the star of an attraction at DCA (or any other park) first, then appeared as a plush, nobody would be so up-in-arms about a teddy bear.