How to organize animation sequences

Right, now I am in 2.5(but this question concerns Blender in general, also versions 2.3/2.4 so keep reading even though you are not using the latest version), and using the toggle View is not that much of a revolution, since it affects the entire layer in the scene. I would like to toggle in and out, so that I can render an entire scene and find different groups at different times…
Could someone please suggest alternative ways of achieving the following task:
I want to show a Robot doing various movements. I will be using these movements in many scenes.

My own idea was to “convert” the movements into groups, and add these groups into the relevant scene. I would place group1 in frames 1-200(robot moves left hand), and group2 in frames 200-400(robot nodds head). etc. The groups would be place in the exact same location, so no one would notice that they were acutally different groups.
But since my robot is very heavy in terms of polygons, I need to “skip” the groups that are not shown, and honestly I must say that it is a surprise that I cannot do this in blender, or hide it someway. Toggling visibility in 2.5 removes the groups from the entire layer. The only way to get rid of a group not used, would be to add a keyframe and move its location away from the camera, but then I would end up by the end of the scene with 10 groups hiding in the “backstage” and that would slow down the computer.
Any solutions???How do other people do?/solve this?

It sounds like you really want to use the NLA Editor to put together predefined actions.