Ilford say (though explicitly don't guarentee) that the new RC's are believed to be as archival as fibre - though they honestly admit that only time will judge that accuratly.
I've used mainly fibre. However as I'm working in a "home darkroom" (ie the sort with a toilet and shower in it) my proceedures aren't as rigiouros as perhaps they should be. Under these conditions I suspect that RC may well fair better: Fibre processed well may be better than RC handled correcly, but as its more porous fibre is more vulnerable to poor washing, or fixing. I suspect that poorly processed RC will last longer than poorly processed fibre.
Of course the correct answer is to be more carefull and process more carefully...
I recently had to print about 100 8x10 proofs to go with a set of Fiber prints from a collection of vintage negatives. The proofs could be RC so I took my time to re acquaint myself with the materials. I found the Kodak polycontrast RC F, (F=lustre finish) to give a look most similar to a fiber paper. The Ilford line is probably the best overall with the RC Cooltone a very good paper for cold image applications.
"Fundamentally I think we need to rediscover a non-ironic world"
I use Kokak Polycontrast III, Lustre of late, and I like it. The dull soft appearance is nice for certain subjects. I also use some Kodak Polycontrast II glossy and it's fine also.
I'm just back into a darkroom after about 5 years off, and have my own now. So like you, I just wanted to get back into it. I tried fiber a week or so ago, and I'm not saying that I won't change my mind in the future, but for they type of stuff I do, the speed and ease of RC makes me happiest!!
Does anyone know if there are any good RC papers that take to toning very easily? I've heard that most don't.
It will depend on what you need and want with toning RC papers. We have tested a few and as I remember Berggers RC in selenium had a very nice warm brown tone, Seagull will also make a strong color shift. Have also toned Ilford's RC in sepia and then in selenium and ended up with chololate.
ALso, have used copper and iron , separtely and split with success. Of course these last two are not archival but RC is still toning.
In fact as i am typing and thinking. In our toning class which covers the basic toners at least one or two people tossed in some RC with results.