I'll paste a response of mine below that I typed for another mom on the very lengthy scheduling thread awhile back. There may be a few ideas in there that may help a bit:
"I agree that we have also used Lakeshore toys for years with our boys. They are incredibly durable and each comes with its own box for storage. If you can purchase them at a local teacher store, you'll save a ton on shipping. Lakeshore charges a huge shipping and handling fee and tax too! If you can combine an order with another mom, you'll do better with shipping.
Beau is a gatherer, so he loves objects of any kind in a lidded container. The lidded container is for MY sanity. We cleared out a bottom cupboard in the kitchen for the toddler which contains his toys. He must put away one mess before getting out another one.
Beau has also enjoyed blocks in a plastic container with a lid, foam letters in a lidded tub, plastic bug counters in a lidded container, unifix cubes he can snap together and take apart, a markerboard with a variety of low odor dry erase markers, plastic easter eggs which can be put together sometimes with a cheerio or other object in them (we store them in a drawstring bag), a cheerio book to place cheerios on the insets in the pages, a variety of counters (such as rubber apples, fish, and ladybugs each in its own lidded container), and paper taped to the highchair tray with washable markers. In all honesty, Beau loved to get out the container, take off the lid and dump, count, arrange the objects. Then, he'll pick them up (with help from me) and get out a new set. This keeps him busy for quite awhile, and he goes to his cupboard all throughout the day.
During his crib time, he has loved a big set of Mega Blocks and an oversized magnetic rods and balls set. That just happens to be his personality though. He also has a plastic cash register with large coins and a singing Barney which he adores. A "Learn Through Music" sing along toy with touch screen and large "cassettes" you slide into the player has been a favorite of my last two boys. Different "cassettes" can be purchased to play in the player. Wooden blocks in a wooden tray is another favorite. He has a stuffed dolphin that he borrows from his oldest brother as his favorite stuffed toy.
When my other boys were his age, a set of racecars and plastic tractors were their favorites. A giant pegboard was also a hit. Other teacher store style items my boys have used and enjoyed include a lidded heart shaped box of "candies" in which the candies are shapes with chocolate "tops" that come off of each candy, stacking cups, large poppet style plastic beads that snap together, toys that nest one within the other, an Elmo to which the child can add ears, eyes, etc. (similar to Mr. Potato Head), and a wooden ball pounder with small wooden hammer (only used during crib-time or others get hurt
I'm not sure if that helps at all.