i think they look pretty nice. its good to see someone making an updated, less bulky cocker...i really like the frontblock/va integration that puts the reg farther forward, and looks cleaner than a big square block on the front. ive grown to like guns that "feel" longer, seems to help point and shoot easier.
i agree $550 is a bit steep, but it does come with a good barrel kit which is worth like $150 on its own. i bet if they offered it without the kit at $400 it'd fly off the shelves. empire's been cranking out a lot of good products the last couple years, it should be pretty well made at least.