ok this is gonna sound wierd. but, whats the cheapest, nastiest Explorer copy? i mean something with reasonable wood, but everything else is as good as poo. then doing a total overhaul of it and putting new everything on it

would this be cheaper than buying, say an ESP EX or Snakebyte?
yeah, it'd be cheaper. But if you buy a crappy guitar, you really should look at the wood/neck. It's the one thing you won't be able to change. I've bought crappy guitars, some were perfect to upgrade, some were crap.
The problem with cheap knock-off guitars and upgrading:
You can only upgrade it so much.
You can put a flag on a pile of shit but in the end, it's still just a pile of shit.

If the guitar doesn't feel good when it's stock, it isn't going to feel good with a hardware upgrade. You could reshape the neck.
..I was watching my death.
I'd take a look at Tokai. They make excellent copies from Gibsons.
Vision is the art of seeing things invisible to others.
what about a Warmoth Neck? i was hoping to get an ESP Eclipse/Viper backwards headstock cos i hate the standard explorer head :P

Eddeh i think the Tokai EX55 is the best option ive seen so far
I personally find Warmoth's prices to be too much for what they are selling.
They are good quality, but you can get a neck for cheaper.
For an Explorer neck you will pay $173 minimum provided you skip out on tax and shipping.

You can get used Epiphone Explorers for cheap. I see them often on the local used listings.
..I was watching my death.
Best route would be to try and upgrade a Epiphone Explorer, the only real difference is the body is made of Korina on all of the models instead of Mahogany. Swap out the electronics for something of your choice be its Gibson pups or something as wild as EMGs. Whip some decent Grover tuners on there, Replace the bridge/tailpiece and you will have a pretty damn good replica. Best thing about the Epi's are they are pretty much made to the exact same specs as the Gibson (Gibson owns Epi) so it will end up being the closest to the real deal.