I own a Gamo Shadow Sport that I use for both small varmits and plinkimg. It will get it up to 1200fps with PBA pellets. It's a lot of fun to shoot. The rifle is awesome, but the scope that came with it stinks. I believe that I paid well over $100. Bought it at an Academy here in Houston.
I have one of these Trail NP XL725 .25 caliber break barrels. I like it. It's very heavy but powerful and accurate enough for me. I added a laser sight and light on the scope.
These kinds of guns have come a long way since you were a kid. I guess since there aren't as many hunting and shooting opportunities in some European countries, these guns are particularly popular over there. As a result, you'll find the best made guns coming to us from across the pond. The good ones, just like with a quality deer rifle. have good triggers and great accuracy. You can spend a bundle on them, but here's one that is quite affordable and will shoot lights out: http://www.pyramydair.com/s/m/Diana_...O5_Trigger/396. I bought one like this a couple if months ago and it's awesome.