You're kidding, right? Aesthetically, they're way more stunning. The drum set I found to be a bit better than the rb2 kit and the bass guitar still works for me - nearly 2 years after I bought it. No other RB guitar has lasted me more than 4-6 months... And I'm pretty sure that I used that bass even more. Also, the button configuration is much better. $125 seems okay seeing how unless you find this in store somewhere on clearance, it'll be much higher. For me, at least, they've been impossible to find.
No, I'm not. The drums have a tacky fold out bass drum with a band logo and they have a zebra swirl pattern around the drum pads. Not really stunning...? The bass looks alright since it has that retro look, but the hard edges that aren't rounded make it uncomfortable for long sessions if you play seated and rest your arm on the body.
Not sure what you're doing to kill guitars that fast since none of my friends or I have ever broken one. Maybe it's harder on them at higher difficulties? I only play on hard, so that might explain it. I've played on various Guitar Hero generations, Rock Band 2 guitar and the Beetles bass and the Beetles bass doesn't have any better "quality feel" to it. Cheap plastic just like all the others. For a high priced "premium" set they could have made it feel a little better, sturdy maybe. I didn't expect it to be like one of those Fender life size ones or anything, but for a special edition it feels like the same cheap guitar with a new look.
As far as button configuration, I assume you're talking about the d-pad and start/select button locations? That's never bothered me on any of the guitars, never even thought about it to be honest.