So what kind of toys do you buy for the mainstream kids in your life?
I don't like to buy blinky flashy stuff. My nephews and nieces like that stuff. I try to find things that play to their interests outside of that, but it's become really hard with a couple of them (the nephews above) and I gave up. I don't want to get them something they won't like. I avoid anything with batteries for my sister's kids, because she's really broke, and that just adds batteries to the list of stuff she "needs" to buy.
Generally...craft supplies, books, puzzles, games...check out Klutz books - they have some fun rocket and airplane ideas.
Oh - four might be too young (I don't think so, but maybe), but PlayDoh makes an ice cream shop set. It's plastic, which I don't like much, but my kids love it. They've played with it for 3 hours straight, without any squabbling, requests for snacks or anything. This qualifies as a miracle toy...seriously. It might be worth a shot.
And, he may be a bit young, but I bought one of thsee for a nephew who loves to read a few years ago, and it went over really well:
...and I'm thinking of getting this one:
for ds2 this year.