There's been some talk about shaking up the standard races lately. It ranges from a Sorcerer's Skull blog post on reskinning the standard race (elves as insectoid people, halflings as satyrs) to forum threads about how to replace or introduce new iconic races. It seems everyone feels the standards are too cliché, but players don't really latch onto new races. The problem is that a race that doesn't resonate deep in our cultural unconscious has only one way to appeal to players: promise them that they will "win" by piling up "cool powers".
Trey's reskinning suggestion often avoids the "munchkin race" problem, but it's best to pick one of the iconic four (in their stripped-down, original forms, without ability score fiddling) to use as a template. Each race has one main power (Elf: "can use magic swords and armor, and yet still cast spells".Dwarf: "four-level saving throw bonus".) They also have a handful of minor abilities that act more like flavor than strategic character-build choices. If you stick to swapping out one ability for another of a like power, you can avoid the more terrible errors of the crappier races.
But making a race that resonates? That's harder. Personally, I doubt you can make a completely new race with broad appeal. The closest any fantasy writer has come is possibly Tolkien and his hobbits -- except they are really just old house-spirits (hobs, brownies, etc.) respun to seem like a stand-alone culture. Similarly, Moorcock's Melnibonéans are cruel, decadent elves. Can anyone name any new fantasy race that has escaped the narrow appeal of an author's fanbase to gain broad appeal? A new race, that is, that isn't really a redesign of something already part of our cultural background?