re: salvaging - just because I can!
Anway... I find that any electrical items you can get your hands on are worth opening up. You will find old items are best as they don't use as many surface mounted components (the realy small components that you can't use).
If you are after gear motors, try buying a robosapien from Ebay, if you get it for less than £30 in totla then you have saved some money. The gear motors in one of these cost 5 each, and there are 7 in a Robosapien. Not only that but you will find some other useful componetes in there too.
The symet isn't a bad place to start, if you are new to soldering then it is best to try a simple project first, it also uses a low component count which is easy to obtain. The main thing that you will need to buy is the solar panel, these are not easy to find from salvaging.