UPDATED! Taking a Second Look at the Viva Full-Mesh Avatar: Why the Mesh Head and Body Wars Are Just Getting Started in Second Life

A month ago, I first wrote about the Viva Full Featured Mesh Avatar (Level 3), available for free on the SL Marketplace. After playing around with the Kalhene Ariadna full-body mesh avatar, and documenting its strengths and weaknesses (notably, a lack of alpha sections on the HUD and support for clothing alphas), I came back to the Viva mesh body with a renewed appreciation for all the work the creator had put into it. The HUD truly is amazing, allowing you to combine both alpha sections and clothing alphas to make just about any outfit fit!

For example, here is one of my alts, who wears an Akeruka Lulu Bento mesh head (one of their early group gifts), which I have grown attached to and wanted to keep. I originally wore it with a classic, SL system body; Akeruka had provided system skins to match the entire range of the Lulu head’s available skin tones. And for a long time I was happy with that.

But today, I decided to upgrade this avatar to a full mesh body, and while I was thinking about how best to do that for an inexpensively as possible, I remembered the free Viva Bento, Bakes-on-Mesh compatible mesh body and decided to try that again. (I wasn’t too crazy about the head that came included with the Viva mesh body, but that is a separate attachment, and you can use literally any head with it.)

Here is what she looks like now:

The only problem I encountered was that the system skins that came with the Akeruka Lulu head were older, and as a result there were white spots at the nail bases of the mesh fingers. To fix this, I used the free set of Bakes on Mesh feet and finger fixes available at League (exact SLURL):

This avatar is wearing:

Mesh Head: Lulu by Akeruka (L$1 group gift, no longer available; the Akeruka group costs L$150 to join).

Mesh Body: the Viva Full Featured Mesh Avatar (Level 3) from the SL Marketplace.

Skin: I used one of the system skins that came with the Lulu head in a matching skin tone, adding the League Bakes on Mesh finger fix in the pale colour, which was the closest match.

Hair: Chella by Analog Dog (I picked this hairstyle with scarf as a free gift at previous gacha event)

Necklace: Metamorpheses Temple Necklace (a gift from the 2019 BURN2 celebration of Burning Man in Second Life)

Top: Cream embroidered peasant blouse by Petite Mort (this is one of my favourite freebies, available from the excellent freebie store at Ajuda SL Brasil).

Jeans: Skinny jeans from Mara’s Mysteries (a free hunt gift, no longer available).

Flats: Amy flats by Hilly Haalan (free group gift from their freebie store; the group is free to join; I found that the Viva mesh body’s flat feet are compatible with both Maitreya and Belleza flat shoes, but the Belleza ones fit a bit better so I used those)

Bag: Boho Bliss fringe bag (with hold pose) from a previous Witchwood hunt (Witchwood is the sim where the Petite Mort and Oubliette stores are located, and they regularly hold small hunts; I believe I paid only L$10 for this delightful bag!)

TOTAL COST FOR THIS AVATAR: Only L$161! (L$150 to join the Akeruka group, L$1 for the Lulu Bento mesh head, and L$10 for the bag)


I am very pleased with the result of this makeover! After my experiences working with both the Viva and the Ariadna mesh bodies, I can say this: with the advent of competition from free or inexpensive Bakes-on-Mesh compatible, Bento bodies, we are getting closer and closer to the time when stores charging (and users paying) thousands of Linden dollars for a mesh head and/or body is going to become harder and harder to justify. Yes, I know it’s a bold statement; hear me out.

The Viva and Ariadna mesh bodies are just the first shots fired in a war for marketshare between the established, big-name brands (Catwa, LeLutka, Maitreya, Belleza, Signature, Slink, etc.) and the smaller, nimbler upstarts. For now, the big-name brands have better designer support and offer more options, but, as we see with the fully-featured HUD that the Viva mesh body offers, that gap is starting to narrow!

I’d strongly encourage you to take a look at the Viva and Ariadna mesh bodies on the SL Marketplace, and give them both a test run. Although they are not perfect, they do give an indication of the direction the market is moving. The days of paying L$10,000 or more for a full-body mesh avatar may be numbered!

UPDATE June 11th, 2020: The Kalhene Ariadna mesh body has just updated to version 2.0, with alpha layer support (SL Marketplace link). It now has a HUD with alpha cuts and skin shininess levels, addressing some of my most serious concerns about the product.

In these final two pictures, I have combined the beautiful head from the Kalhene Ariadna mesh body with the Viva mesh body, using one of the Bakes on Mesh skins that came with the recent Limited Advanced head group gift from Akeruka:

Looking fabulous for zero Lindens! The Viva mesh body offers many more features on their included superHUD (such as a better selection of alpha sections to choose from, five different fingernail lengths, and three foot height options), which the Kalhene Ariadna body does not have. Here I just picked the shortest nails, in a natural nail colour, to go with this makeup-free look.

One particularly nice feature is the option to alpha out the wrists but not the hands, as I did for this long-sleeved minidress (a gift from Little Fox at the recent Cosmopolitan shopping event anniversary round). Surprisingly few HUDs that come with mesh bodies allow this—even the expensive brand names!

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Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: Gimme Gacha Gifts

One of Ryan’s eight rules for freebie hunting in Second Life is: visit the monthly fashion and gacha events. You never know what freebies you can pick up!

Today, my main SL avatar, Vanity Fair, just felt like exploring the grid in her lovely new blue lingerie, stockings with garters, and sapphire jewelry—because why the hell not? (Hey, usually Vanity’s in a full-blown ballgown. If you think about it, traipsing around Second Life in a ballgown is just as ridiculous as it is in your underwear!)

The November round of the Gacha Garden is now upon us. Many of the vendor booths have a free gift (you do need to join the Gimme Gacha group for free in order to pick up these gifts).

The Analog Dog booth has a very generous gift, a full fatpack of Mali hair. Analog Dog tends to specialize in long, wavy or curly hair, and this free hairstyle is no exception. Here it is in fully pulled-back mode:

There’s a styling section on the included colour HUDs (nine HUDs in total: blacks, dark blondes, dark browns, dark reds, light blondes, light browns, light reds, mix, and splash), which gives you a few hairstyle options, to make it even more versatile:

Wow, now Vanity really has that fresh-from-the-boudoir look! 😉 In addition to the Mali hair, she is wearing:

Vanity Fair is also wearing:

Here are a couple of other gifts at the November round of the Gacha Garden I wanted to show you, the Agata over-the-shoulder ponytail hair by Limerence and the Sophia dress by Sorumin:

This avatar is also wearing:

  • Mesh Head: Giselle Bento head by Altamura (no longer available for free; this was an Altamura gift from Christmas 2017 at the eBENTO event, and you had to join the Altamura group for L$50 to get it).
  • Mesh Body: Jenny Bento body by Altamura (this was a free gift from the 2017 Women Only Hunt, and on this version, you can remove the head and replace it with any other mesh head, as I did here. Note that the Jenny free mesh body is now available at the Freebie Megastore at London City (more information here), but you cannot remove the head on the newer free version.
  • Shoes: the free Sonnet pumps available at the Hilly Haalan freebie store
  • Animation Override: Chubby Girl AO by [ImpEle] (free from the SL Marketplace). This is a nice, simple, calm, free AO with no crazy movements. 

TOTAL COST OF THE SECOND AVATAR LOOK: Only L$50! (the group join fee for Altamura)

Here’s your taxi to the Gacha Garden. Remember, there are new freebies put out every month, so come back often. Happy freebie shopping!

Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: The Shop and Hop Christmas Mall Is Now Open!

Have you joined the RyanSchultz.com Discord yet? You’re invited to be a part of the first ever cross-worlds discussion group, with over 150 people participating from every social VR platform and virtual world! More details here


Every year, Second Life hosts a Christmas-time shopping extravaganza called the Shop and Hop. This year’s Shop and Hop runs from Dec. 17th, 2018 to Jan. 4th, 2019, so you have plenty of time to come in, shop the sales, and pick up some fabulous freebies!

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The sims are absolutely jam-packed, sim crossings are a nightmare, and the lag is HORRENDOUS (particularly in the Halcyon sim, where everybody and their dog is trying to get into the Blueberry shop, which is giving away a sweater dress fatpack and a L$250 gift card). But it’s still worth the wait and the hassle to get in! Or you can choose to wait until late December/early January when it’s less busy.

Here are pictures of some of the many freebies available at this year’s Shop and Hop! Every store in the 5-sim mall has at least one free gift for shoppers.

First up is a complete fantasy outfit with wings by Lune Bleue/Silvan Moon Designs, paired with Snowy hair by Limerance (which comes with or without snowflakes, in a complete fatpack of ombre tones):

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(If you find the skirt to be a little too over-the-top, you can detach it, and the resulting dress still looks great! The matching sleeves are a separate item too.)

Next is the Isa dress in olive, the gift from Valentina E, with the Rowne Jai classic pumps (which come in a fatpack of 15 different colours!) and the Era hairstyle by Analog Dog (another fatpack of colours, shown is just the dark browns HUD):

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Here’s a close-up of the hair (Analog Dog has particularly nicely textured flexiprim hairstyles):

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And here’s a close-up of the pumps, which could become a wardrobe staple:

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This is the Blueberry gift, a low-cut sweater dress, which comes in both a tight version and a looser version, with a dizzying choice of colours in the included HUD (and it even includes the panties!):

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Next up is a wonderfully detailed black maxi corset from Atreum, paired with a stylish Homberg hat by ICONIC:

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Finally, we have another three Shop and Hop gifts shown together in one look: the cheeky “Sorry, Santa” red dress by Envious, paired with the fun Orra hairstyle by Elikatira, plus these awesome Clelia platform shoes from Phedora, which come with a 22-colour HUD:

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You can even tint each of the inside, sole, base and front of the shoe separately!

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And that’s just a small sample of what you can pick up FOR FREE at the Shop and Hop! If you want to see even more of the freebies from this event, longtime Second Life blogger Chic Aeon presents a completely different selection of Shop and Hop gifts in the latest post on her blog, Chic at Phil’s Place.