My primary amp is a VHT D-50 - which is a riff on a Dumble ODS. It does the edge of breakup thing fantastically. I also use modelers from time to time, with my current being a Pod Go, and I find the Vela sound marvelous with Plexi models.
I'm not sure when the birds were available/discontinued. Beyond that, the only changes of which I'm aware have been mentioned - the finish switching to nitro along with everything else, and the recent (cosmetic?) change in the neck pickup.
The Vela will give you a voice that doesn't overlap heavily with your other guitars. It's lightweight, and an absolute ergonomic joy to play. The sound can best be described in traditional terms as the love child of a Tele and an SG that was raised by a Gretsch. Try one, you won't be disappointed :D