This is going to be a rather complicated answer, because I have main male and female avatars and an army of alts 😉
My main female avatar has a Catwa Kimberly head, with a Maitreya Lara body. But I also have a female avatar with a (freebie) Akeruka head and a Maitreya Lara body, and another avatar with a LAQ head and a Maitreya Lara body. As you can see, I tend to prefer Maitreya! I also have a female avatar with a (freebie) Akeruka head and a Belleza Freya body, which I use as a dancer to earn tip money 😉 I like the fact that the Belleza Freya body is more voluptuous, curvier, than the Maitreya Lara body.
My main male avatar has a Catwa Daniel head and a Belleza Jake body. But I also have a male avatar with a Catwa Stanley head and a Signature Gianni body. I have been very happy with both.
My alts all have freebie/dollarbie heads and bodies as outlined in my blogposts about where to find free or inexpensive mesh heads and bodies for male and female Second Life avatars:
Anyway, no big surprise, Maitreya Lara is by far the favourite mesh female avatar body at 42.3% of poll respondents so far, followed by Belleza Freya at 10.62%. I swear, the creator of the Maitreya Lara body, Onyx LeShelle, must be carting home money by the wheelbarrow! For male avatar bodies, it’s pretty much a tie between Belleza Jake (27.46%) and Signature Gianni (31.7%).
As for Bento mesh heads, Catwa heads are by far the most popular for both female avatars (35.46% of poll respondents) and male avatars (a whopping 47.96% of poll respondents, almost half the market!). Other popular female mesh heads are LeLutka (20.76%), LAQ (10.98%), and the brand-new Genus Project heads (10.09%). LeLutka is also a popular male mesh head (13.87% of poll respondents).
Head Price: LAQ bento heads are all L$1500 each and are available at the LAQ mainstore. The main bento HUD and the skins for the heads are both sold separately.
Main HUD Price: The main bento HUD is L$3000 and only needs to be purchased once for all Laq Bento heads.
Skin Price: The skin for each head is sold separately for L$990 for all tones.
But, only from now until Sunday, November 25th, you can buy any female LAQ Bento mesh head for only L$1,000 (a 33% saving). In addition, the main control HUD, which you only need to buy one time to use with any current or future LAQ head, is for sale for L$1,500 (a 50% discount). Note that the skins of LAQ heads are also sold separately, and these are not on sale (L$990). Also, you will need to buy LAQ body skin appliers to match your head (Maitreya, Belleza, Slink and Omega versions are available for L$300 each). So, if you were a first-time buyer, your cost for new LAQ Bento mesh head and add-ons would be L$3,790, but only until the end of this weekend. If you already own the main HUD, then your cost for a new head, head skin, and body skin is only L$2,290!
Akeruka is also offering a great deal on all its Bento mesh heads. Both male and female mesh heads are 50% off during their Black Friday sale, running from now until midnight on November 25th. How it works is that you pay the vendor the full price (L$4,999), and it automatically refunds you 50%. So you can pick up a very nice Bento mesh head package, including the HUD and a choice of skin tones, plus body skin appliers, for only L$2,500! The all-in-one-package approach is actually a better deal than the piece-by-piece approach used by LAQ.
So, if you are in the market for a new Bento mesh head and don’t want to spend L$5,000 or more (the new Genus Project Bento mesh head that everybody is raving about costs L$5,500), you should definitely come on down to Akeruka and LAQ and check out their weekend deals!
And, if you can’t afford even the Black Friday deals, there’s always free and inexpensive options for male and female mesh avatar heads. There are plenty of good options available even if you don’t have a lot of Lindens to spend!
PLEASE NOTE:For a current, up-to-date list of free options for male mesh avatar bodies, please see this blogpost.
Mesh heads can be very expensive! This blogpost is my attempt to summarize all the options available to you if you can’t afford a pricey Bento mesh head, but still want to replace your old system avatar with a fully mesh one.
First, let’s just recap all the options for free or inexpensive mesh avatar bodies for women:
the Jenny Altamura mesh avatar head and body at the Freebie Megastore at London City (free; one skin tone; has Bento hands and head; more information here); you can remove the head and replace it with any other head,only if you got the freebie Jenny body from last year’s Women Only Hunt; however, you cannot remove the head if you picked it up now at the London City Freebie Megastore)
the Valentina Altamura mesh avatar head and body at the freebie store at Ajuda SL Brasil (free; one skin tone; has Bento hands and head; more information here); note that you cannot remove the head on this particular free body
the Emanuelle Altamura mesh avatar head and body at the Altamura mainstore (free; one skin tone; has Bento hands and head; more information here; to get this free group gift you must join the Altamura Design/Mesh Avatars group for L$50); you can remove the head and replace it with any other head
the dollarbie versions of the Classic and Curvy eBody mesh avatar bodies (L$1 each; 12 possible skin tones; vendors are available at the freebie stores at Ajuda SL Brasil and UniHispana Crea, and also at the eBody mainstore; these mesh bodies do not have Bento hands, and they have “thick” alpha selections on the included HUD, which means you have to be somewhat careful what you wear with them)
the Afrodite mesh avatar body by LUCYBODY (free Midnight Madness gift; 256 possible skintones; has Bento hands; you must join the Lucyshoes group for free to get this gift; more information here) UPDATE Nov. 4th: It has been reported to me that the Afrodite mesh body is no longer available as a Midnight Madness gift at the LUCYSHOES/LUCYBODY mainstore, and I can confirm this. It costs L$1,000 now. Thank you, LittleMe Jewell!
UPDATE Oct. 21st: There’s a new free Kim Altamura mesh avatar head and body available at the UniHispana Crea Gateway Community sim (more information here); note that you cannot remove the head on this particular free body
UPDATE Nov. 3rd: Altamura has graced us with yet another free body gift in the First Annual SL Frees & Offers Hunt: the Estephania Altamura mesh avatar head and body! (more information here; note that you cannot remove the head on this particular free body.)
UPDATE Dec. 11th: Another free option for a mesh full-body avatar is the Ruth Too RC3, scroll down to the end of this blogpost for more details!
Here are step-by-step instructions on how to remove the heads from the Altamura freebie bodies:
Attach the included Altamura HUD.
Click on the white head in the HUD once to remove the head (this works on last year’s Women Only Hunt version of Jenny, and on the Emannuelle gift available at the Altamura mainstore, but noton the Valentina freebie avatar from Ajuda SL Brasil, the Kim freebie avatar from UniHispana Crea, or the London City Freebie Megastore version of Jenny);
Remember to also click the eyelashes, teeth, and hairbase buttons to remove those as well!
Then everything from the neck up should be removed, so you can add your own mesh head.
Now, let’s talk about free or inexpensive mesh heads to go with those bodies!
If you haven’t yet joined the Akrueka group (called [AK] Heads News & Support) for L$150, you should really consider it. If you had joined the Akeruka mesh heads group a year and a half ago, you would have picked up no less than six fully-adjustable Bento mesh heads (three female and three male), all for a single group join fee of L$150. That works out to only L$25 per Bento mesh head, a truly outstanding deal! So join the Akeruka group and keep your eyes peeled for announcements of free mesh heads every six months or so 😉
Now, let’s look at freebie non-Bento mesh heads. First up are two free mesh heads from Curves (here’s the SLURL):
If you join the Curves Shapes & Skins group for free, you can pick up the following free mesh head by clicking on the panel at the entrance (I have paired it with the eBody Curvy mesh avatar body):
And if you join the SL Frees & Offers group for free, you can pick up this mesh head for free:
(Note that you cannot adjust the Curves mesh heads or change the makeup. They are static mesh heads.)
Now, here’s a mesh head from from Boatoam for only L$10, which comes is six different static versions with different facial expressions, and which you can change the lipstick, blush, and eyeliner on, using the included HUD:
(It’s got a bit of a Japanese anime look to it, which is not exactly to my taste, but it might suit your needs perfectly!)
Eve & Adam
Another option for a static mesh head is the dollarbie Eve mesh head (model N1new) from Eve & Adam. Join the EVE *New SL Avatar* group for L$1, and buy the head for L$1, for a total cost of L$2:
The Eve head comes with a HUD with 6 skin colour options, 2 hairbases (blonde or brown), 3 eyelash choices, 10 eyeshadow options, 4 lipstick options, and 3 cheek blush options:
There’s also an option to custom-tint any of the head, eyebrows, eyelashes, eyeshadow, lips, blush, hairbase, and neck. Here’s a look at the Eve head in one of the darker skin tones:
Now, I am not overly familiar with the Eve head, but Genna (of the blog SL Freebie Addiction) uses this head for many of her pictures, and she reports:
Limited HUD and no updates. Omega compatible (must buy relay kit), but not all make-up works.
If you go to the Genesis Lab mainstore and join their group (called GenesisLab, all one word) for L$99 (there is a group join panel on the Group Gifts wall at this SLURL), you can pick up three lovely mesh heads as free group gifts: Makena (an albino head), Lara, and Kenna:
The Lara head comes with a HUD to control the included mesh eyes (4 different eye colours), plus 4 options for the eyebrows and hairbase (red, blonde, brown and black), 4 options for eyeshadow, 4 options for skin tone, and 8 options for lipstick. Here’s what she looks like:
The Kenna head, which is probably my favourite static mesh head, comes with a HUD to control the included mesh eyes (8 different eye colours), plus 8 different eyebrow and hairbase colours, plus 8 choices for each of the head’s lipstick, eyeliner and eyeshadow. Here’s what she looks like:
The Makena albino mesh head from Genesis Lab comes with mesh eyes, but it does not have any other options. As you can see, she’s quite striking:
Perhaps the best option for a free mesh head is the Maya head, available from the Altamura mainstore. This is a totally free gift (you do notneed to join the Altamura group to get it), but it’s kind of tucked away in a remote corner of the store, so use this SLURL to locate it (just use the Map feature in your SL viewer, click on the Show Selection button, and follow the red arrow). This is a static mesh head with one HUD to change the skin tone to one of four options, plus two HUDs for makeup options (again, I have paired it with the Curvy eBody mesh avatar body). This is the Maya head with all the makeup options turned off, so you can see the features more clearly. I think it’s quite attractive!
So there you go, all your best options for free and inexpensive Second Life mesh avatar heads and bodies! You do not need to spend a small fortune to have a good-looking mesh avatar in SL!
So, have I missed any bargains in mesh heads? If so, please leave me a comment, thanks!
But when I tried it on, I found that it wouldn’t work with the default system avatar eyes. And (despite the assertion on the product listing that it has Copy/Modify permissions), I found I could not resize the head to fix the problem. So you will have to use the Amra head with a complete body alpha which removes the system eyes, and use mesh eyes instead (such as the ones which are part of the Genesis Lab mesh head packages). Make sure you take a copy of the mesh eyes first and use the copy, as you will have to adjust them to fit this head. The free Amra head comes with a HUD with six static facial expressions, but it does not come with eyelashes, so you’ ll have to buy those separately. Here’s the result, with the mesh eyes from the Kenna head and the Curvy eBody mesh body:
As you can see, it’s quite a striking look, and definitely an option for those of you who wish to have a darker-skinned mesh avatar but don’t have a lot of Linden dollars to spend.
Someone on the official Second Life community forums sent me a message:
Safybelle has a mesh head you can “earn” by playing her in-world traffic game. All you would need is some time, a group slot, and L$99 for the Omega plugin.
So I went to the Safybelle store in-world (here’s the SLURL), joined her group for free, and started playing her game:
You can play the roulette-wheel game up to 10 times every 24 hours to earn points:
You can find other locations to play this game on the Safybelle website. (There only seems to be the one location at the moment.)
Once you earn 30,000 points, you can get this Jessy 3 Bento mesh head for FREE! (I only earned 2,110 points in my first ten tries at the roulette wheel, so it’s probably going to take about 15 days of playing to earn 30,000 points.)
If amassing 30,000 points seems like too unattainable a goal, there are also two other prize vendors within the store itself (here’s the SLURL), where you can get the Jessy 2 model Bento mesh head for only 16,000 points, or the Elwing elf Bento head (with animated ears) for only 19,900 points:
After that, all you will need is the Safybelle Omega relay applier (available on the SL Marketplace for L$99), and you will be able to use any Omega-compatible skin with your Jessy 3, Jessy 2, or Elwing Bento mesh head!
Thanks for the tip, Fionalein! 🙂
UPDATE Oct. 7th: Well, I finally collected the 30,000 points to get the free Jessy 3 Bento mesh head from Safybelle, and it is definitely worth all the work to earn those points! Here’s what the head looks like, along with the HUD:
The Jessy 3 head comes complete with:
12 hairbase tones
9 skin tones
8 eyebrow styles and colours
5 styles of eyelashes
mesh eyes in 27 different colours, with a reflections option
a choice of human or elf ears (with an elf ear animation)
a choice of angry, sad, sexy, happy, or standard facial animations
and it even has 8 different settings for eyeblink animations!
For a free, fully-adjustable, Omega compatible Bento mesh head, this is truly a super deal! The Jessy 3 head compares quite favourably with Bento mesh heads costing L$5,000 or more! So head over to the Safybelle store and get that roulette wheel a-spinning! And, even better, if you’ve already used up your 10 turns for the day, you can still play the sploder pig to earn more points!
UPDATE Oct. 9th: Well, I’ve had a few more days to play with the Safybelle Jessy 3 Bento mesh head, and I am going to have to retract my statement that the head is “fully-adjustable”. It turns out that many of the head appearance sliders (particularly those under the Head and Chin sections) do notchange the features of this head, as they would with a fully Bento mesh head by Catwa or another maker. You can still make some adjustments to the eyes, nose, and mouth, though. I still think that this is a great deal for a mesh head, I just wanted to add that clarification to my earlier enthusiastic comments.
Here’s a picture of the Safybelle Jessy 3 head with the elf ears enabled. The ears can be animated, and it’s fun to watch them move and twitch!
UPDATE Oct. 23rd:
This last head is a true case of lost and found!
Earlier this year, I had found an inexpensive Bento mesh head called Alice, from a store called .xxx (that’s right, the name of the store consists of a dot, followed by three “x”s), but then I lost the landmark and couldn’t find the store again, so I decided to forget about it.
Well, wouldn’t you know it, the blog SL Freebie Addiction came to my rescue with a working SLURL! (Thank you Genna!) So now I can tell you all about the free Alice Bento mesh head, which you can pick up along with 26 other group gifts from the .xxx store.
Here’s the SLURL. Join the .xxx group for L$50 (there’s a black group join panel at the entrance desk), and then head over to the far black wall where you can pick up the Alice Bento mesh head as a free group gift:
Here is what the head looks like (I tried, but I could not get rid of the rather pouty lips):
This head comes with a HUD with 4 different hairbases, blush, and 5 lipstick colours:
The sign says that the Alice mesh head will only be available until the end of this year. For only L$50, this is a pretty nice, fully-adjustable Bento mesh head with a rather distinctive (almost petulant!) look.
UPDATE Dec. 11th:
Another option for those of you without Linden dollars to spend is the entirely free, open source female mesh avatar head and body package, called Ruth Too RC3, which is available on the SL Marketplace by Heavy Industries. There are three packages available, which include not only the mesh head and body, and HUDs for 9 different skin tones and alpha selections, but even starter hair, a dress, and shoes!
With the included alpha HUD, you can pretty much make clothing designed for any other mesh avatar body work with Ruth. Here is Ruth wearing the free Clover dress from the Baby Monkey capsule wardrobe available at the Free*Style store (more details here) as well as the free Sonnet pumps from the freebie store at Hilly Haalan (more details here). I had to adjust the pumps a bit to feet the feet, but it worked out okay. I added the free Alli & Ali Marilyn hairstyle from the selection at The Free Dove, and here’s the final look:
UPDATE Sept. 28th: For a current, up-to-date list of free or inexpensive options for mesh avatar heads and bodies for female Second Life avatars, please see this blogpost. For a current, up-to-date list of free options for free and inexpensive male mesh avatar heads and bodies, please see this blogpost.
Vampire roleplay is a very popular pastime in Second Life, so today I decided to do a 15-minute makeover on a vampire avatar. Here’s the “Before” look, the now-familiar Iliana vampire avatar from SL’s Fantasy starter avatar collection:
And here’s the “After” look (please click on each picture to see it in a larger size):
This avatar is wearing:
Mesh Head, Vampire Teeth, and Facial AO: Maia Bento mesh head from Akeruka (this was a time-limited free group gift which is no longer available for free; the group join fee was L$150). More details here.
Mesh Body and Hands AO: Jenny Bento mesh body by Altamura (available for free at the Freebie Megastore at London City). I removed the included head to replace it with the Maia head. More details here.
Gown: Well of Souls gown by Silvan Moon Designs (free gift from the recent SL15B shopping event).
Shoes (Not Shown): Black flats by Garbaggio (part of the free sample pack for Slink feet; available on the SL Marketplace). Altamura mesh avatar bodies have Slink-compatible feet.
Jewelry: Daphne collar, earrings, and Bento ring by Beloved Jewelry (three free hunt items from the September Free Dove mini-hunt at the Beloved Jewelry mainstore). The included HUD gives a choice of 12 different metals and 33 different gemstones!