On the Venom Packs...
Yeah, it sounds like some people have good luck, some have bad luck with them. Overall, I've just heard a few too many negative comments, so I'd rather stay away from them.
It really didn't run that much $ to go LiPo, though. I got a new charger for $125 and an LVC for $25. After that, it's just batteries...and for the ***** 5000's, it's only $28 a pop. Compare these *****'s (which seem to have a good reputation) against $70 Venom NIMH packs (which have a questionable reputation...maybe good, maybe bad) - After purchasing 4 batteries, it's really come out pretty much even.
Don't want to bash the Venoms...just reporting my experience and the fact that I've heard several identical experiences.