How about the polly mall *and* a reasonably-priced chess set? Rain loved pollies for years and still plays with them sometimes, I just wish the clothes didn't rip so easily!
I do try to keep a balance between things she asks for and things I think are cool and think she'd like, and it works out pretty well.
What she and her friends really love now (she's 10) are gift cards. At first I was sort of against it, because it seemed like giving just cash, but it's really more than that - there's a cool factor to "the card", and it's kind of like having a debit card and being like mom. I've noticed that she's very careful with her spending withe her cards, whereas with cash it just flows.
Single mom to Rain (1/93) , grad student, and world traveler