What about books (always a hit here), chunky wooden blocks (dd got a Ryans Room set & they're SO nice), a baby doll, shape sorter, musical instruments (xylaphone, drum, shakers)(Christmas Tree Shops had a set w/a tamboreen (how ya spell that, LOL), bells & a triangle for $9.99, all wooden & nice), a music cd to listen to, bath toys. Those are all things my dd would/did like.
I 2nd Oatmeals suggestion of BRIO trains... I think they are better than Thomas (way more variety) and young kids LOVE them. My 3.5 yr old son still plays with his Thomas set (he can take it out of a plastic bin when he wants).
My DD was 14 months last Christmas and we gave her a wooden tabletop stove (ordered it from Lillian Vernon on sale for $15). It's a simple wooden two burner play stove that came with a couple of wooden pans, a wooden fried egg, a pot holder, and spatula. She absolutely adores it and has played with it every single day the past year. Very creative and fun. Definitely her favorite toy.
The biggest hit for us at 12mo (turned 1 two days after christmas) were some stacking/nesting cups. They make a lot of puzzle like and interesting wooden ones too...would find many uses for them in older play too.
Mine loved mega blocks at that age and still plays with them every day....every 6 months or so we add another bag because his buildings keep getting more elaborate. Wooden blocks would also be good, but probably the bigger ones at that age...ds is just now playing with the little ones. Maracas, drums, and other musical instruments are a big hit too. Little tykes makes a set that is rated for 3yo, but I got one for mine at 1yo and he has loved it. (I can not tell why it is rated for 3yo). Mine wouldn't have gotten into the toy stove idea, but that is might just be him...he is much more into things he can bang or build.