I think it helps to focus on that phrase you used "award winning curriculum." So many of the things we pass over may be WONDERFUL choices, we're just searching for new things. It's fine to want the new versions, but if you're really needing to save money, then searching for the older version of a wonderful curriculum can save big money.
You know the right choice for your kids, but I can't help giving my opinion. As a nurse, my vote goes for the microscope :-) I had SO much fun playing with our microscope when the kids were in high school!
Yes. I use TOG as our main curriculum. They are in the process of redesigning it, which is great. The redesign is much more user friendly. I notice on the boards and email groups there is a frenzy about only buying the new. When the Classic is still an award winning curriculum.
We have two years of classic. I will buy two more year, redesign. We'll have to see if I become spoiled to the new after using it two years and buy Redesign for the years I already own, or if I will put curriculum money toward a really nice microscope