Maybe I should chime in alittle.
I own a Star SL8 and as you know Star and ARES parts are.. interchangeable. However, most ARES products are out of stock in most shops.
So like any diligent HKer, I found their office and went up to their showroom to buy some stuff in December 2011. It has a very family-runned feel there. I asked some questions regarding parts, and one of the more experienced sales staff came out from the office and started chatting it up with me (I was the only customer there on a Saturday morning)
Some notable points in our discussion were:
1) They know that there's a negative image of them. Case in point is that almost all of the HK airsoft stores don't actively promote or re-stock their products.
2) They noted they have improved the quality of their guns and parts. For example, they have redesigned parts of the SL8/9 (finally).
3) Apparently there is a store in Canada that is dealing with ARES, and ordered a huge shipment of guns and parts recently.