When I was a kid, an Action Man and Subbuteo kept me busy, with music courtesy of a small radio. But it's no longer the 70s and kids want toys and gadgets as cutting edge as their older brothers and sisters. I don't think the Maxfield MAX-JOY MP3 player is that, but it does the job and has a few parent-friendly features too.
Looking more Fisher-Price than Apple, the MAX-JOY is a 256MB player, which can be expanded to 2GB via SD/MMC card expansion. It features an extra-luminous two-colour OLED display and a variety of functions younger kids will probably ignore - an integrated microphone for voice recording, six equaliser stages and support of Windows DRM, so it's capable of playing music fron restricted download sites.
Parents should be pleased with an audio output restriction to a maximum of 60DB to protect ear-drums, tough external headphones that come with a 15-year guarantee and a dirt, water and impact resistant outer casing. Battery life is 19 hours from one AAA battery.
You can pick it up now for around £48.