We had been thinking of a marble run, but DH thinks it will be better in a year or two when he can built it himself, and really, something cheaper would be better this year.
I have been looking at a nice wooden garage, a wooden crane, and a wooden tool box set, with some spanners and nuts and bolts.
DS would like any of the above, but nothing really jumps out...I'm just wondering if anyone has any other ideas. Budget is about £50 ish - DS loves cars and trucks, also pretend food and cooking, footballs and riding his balance bike.
Any of the above would be good, even a doll's house he can threaten with a dinosaur, or rescue with a fire engine... Marble runs require patience and dexterity (or a parent on constant tap) and so I think your DH is right about that. Big lego of course - do you have yet? I'm guessing you have a birthday coming up, so if you get something like the wooden garage, you could ask grandparents if they'd like to get wooden cars/fire engines/police cars etc to go with? And you can get little wooden ovens too.
playmobil! tried and tested (too many times my ds is 4 now and it still keeps coming... they have fantastic planes and airport where you can start with one thing and add more if he likes it. also there are a lot of small and cheaper bits his friends and family can buy for him so it works out for everybody. They make great boats (bathtime) and remote controled cars and animals and pretty much everything you can think off - girls love it too! Its brilliant a friends ds is 10 now but still plays with his sets i would say money well spent as the toys do last
I'd second Playmobil. Bought DS a bin lorry and a camperven on ebay for his 3rd birthday in November and it gets played with a LOT by both DC and the grown-ups! DD (who will be 6 soon) has asked for the ambulance for her birthday.