I completely sympathize with your woes. I think I went through 8 AAA with a power-hog toy in 2 weeks once and decided that was enough. I recently switched over to Energizer PowerPlus and have found them to be favorable in all aspects!
I purchased a 4 pack AAA (for about $10) and the Basic Recharger
, which was actually right about $20 (and comes with 2 AA), if I remember correctly.
The batteries charge seemingly quickly, last a long time and have a simple light on light off indicator of whether or not they still need charging. I've even found, surprisingly enough, that they even give quite a kick to some of my toys power-wise. Good for me, maybe not so for others though.
Happy (green) pleasuring!