I read most of this thread, all 8 pages...one interesting thing I would add.
I used to brew Muntons Connisuers series of kits. I always added 1-3 lbs of DME and avoided sugar like the plague. I also boiled the whole thing for close to 60 minutes. I have since backed off of boiling kits for such a long time as the LME tends to carmalize easy and it makes just as good a beer IMO.
The thing that I remember is that the guy at the LHBS always gave me a packet of Coopers gold pack yeast because the Muntons pack would not handle the added fermentables. I thought this strange because Muntons was a fairly reputable brand I thought.
I have also brewed several Coopers kits and found the wheat and ales DO seem to taste a lot alike. The Muntons wheat however turned out really good....darker, crisp and heavy head, which I like in a wheat.
All in all, if you are brewing extracts you can't beat Coopers for the price, and as a base to build on, they lend well to personal innovation, which we all are familar with.