As per my previous thread, I just bought one of these recently. What I can say about this guitar, and guitars in general is this... if you can afford a better guitar, then buy it (within reason, of course).
There is aboslutely nothing wrong with taking a less expensive guitar and fixing it up. I've done it countless times, and I have still got three of them from my childhood that I will never part with because of the sentimental value. I've had zillions that I have sold or traded over the years. The philosophy I have taken from all these cheap guitars I've bought and sold is that they can be great, but there is so much time/work and money involved with making them great (lutherier work, new pickups, etc.). All that stuff adds up, and then often times you still don't get decent tone due to soft or inferior woods and/or a poor build.
I am not an "American Made", "Custom Guitars Rule" fanboi or "cookie-cutter" guitar snob, by any means. The vast majority of my main guitars are Ibanez, and I think their Japanese made guitars are fantastic... and I also think my Chinese made Artcore is unbelieveable (and still would be at 3 times the price I paid for it new).
I have just been down that road so many times and I guess I am just tired of buying cheap and fixing it up. The Malmsteen is a real quality instrument. I have not been as impressed with a guitar build like this one in a long, long time. The tone is awesome, and it plays and stays in tune like it should with a proper setup (rare for an unmodified Strat).
The scallops are a great thing to have in your collection if you like variety, like I do. I love having different tones with all my guitars (none of them have the same pickups) and having different neck radii and profiles. That way, when I pickup a certain guitar it has it's own special mojo. I like that. Scallops are something I wanted to have in my collection, and I'll likely do it again. Either another Malmsteen or a customization of an existing or future new guitar.
I think scallops make playing easier.
My Blog: http://funguitars.blogspot.com