UPDATED! Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: Free Freya Unisex Bento Mesh Head from Catwa!

Shots fired!

Well, Catwa has officially entered the thick of the battle of what in what I used to call the Bento Head Wars, but which I am now officially dubbing The Great Bento War of 2020. Never can I remember a time in Second Life when so many great Bento mesh heads and bodies are being made available for free or next to free!

Catwa has just released a free group gift of a Bento mesh head, called Freya! Please note that despite the name, this Bento mesh head is intended to be unisex, usable for all genders of avatars. Like all Bento mesh heads, you should be able to use the sliders to get as masculine or feminine (or non-binary gendered) a look as you desire.

To pick up this group gift, you must join either the Catwa store group (^;^CaTwA^;^) or the CATWA HEAD Friends group. Both groups are free to join.

To pick up your free group gift, you then must teleport over to the Catwa store, and click on the black circle with the name of the corresponding group:

Once you unpack it, here is what you receive:

The Freya head comes with two recommended starter shapes (“boy” male, or female) an eyebrow shaper, some talking animations, a face light, and three HUDs: a master HUD, an animations HUD, and an eyes HUD (the package comes with rigged mesh eyes).

The “BOM Skin A Makeup Alpha Pack”, when unpacked, contains a complete set of alphas in various combinations (head, eyes, body, full avatar), plus a huge set of Bakes-on-Mesh blush, brows, eyeliner, freckles, hairbases, lipstick, and neck and ear tattoos. The folder includes a complete set of Bakes-on-Mesh skins from TheSkinnery (in a range of eleven skin tones, with and without eyebrows) and a couple of skins from Deetalez (again, with and without brows).

Note that there are no male skins included in this package; if you want a male look, you’ll have to go do a little shopping around! However, if you want a female avatar, you should be able to use these included skins with any Bakes-on-Mesh compatible mesh body (such as the still-available dollarbie Classic body from Meshbody) to get a good look without having to buy anything else!

The “HD Lips Pack Freya” package includes high-definition lips and a lips HUD.

Here is what the Freya head looks like straight out of the box, with the included default female body shape and eyebrow shaper, default skin and eyes:

After applying my favourite Daria skin applier for Catwa heads from TheSkinnery, and adding the HUDs, here’s what we’ve got:

The HUDs on the Freya are the full-blown versions you would expect to find on the full-price Catwa heads. The eyes HUD gives you twelve different colours (here, I picked one of the brown ones). The Catwa HUDs are quite complicated, with many features, and I would strongly urge anybody who is new to them to read through the comprehensive user documentation available on their official Catwa website. There’s even a “crash course” video on Catwa Bento mesh heads by former mesh body über-blogger Strawberry Singh, now better known as Strawberry Linden since she got hired by Linden Lab!

According to the group notice that was sent out, this is a limited-time offer, so I would try to get down to the Catwa store as soon as possible! Here are the SLURLs provided in the original group notice:

As you might expect, the Catwa sims are absolutely jam-packed with avatars picking up the Freya head, so I would advise you to either wait a while for the crowds to die down a bit, or use a tool like the handy free Teleport Hammer to fight your way in. (Also remember that Premium accounts get priority access to sims that are full.) Good luck!

P.S. I forgot to mention that, if you are looking for some free skin appliers to use with the Freya head, there are currently generous group gifts available at both Amara Beauty and at Essences for skin appliers for Catwa Bento mesh heads. Happy freebie shopping!

IMPORTANT UPDATE May 4th, 2020: Due to extremely high demand, the Catwa store has sent out the following announcement:

[LIMITED OFFER 3rd to 24th MAY 2020]
The gift is is NO LONGER at CATWA mainstore!
Activate any of the CATWA groups before going.
Detach meshes so you can rez quicker.
Please give chance to other by leaving the sim after getting the gift.
Gift locations:

1. Sensual Romance
2. NoYourOtherLeft
3. LV Designs

Also, I spent some time playing around with the Freya head and the dollarbie Classic mesh body from Meshbody. I found that, once I was able to match the included skin tones between the Catwa Freya head and the Classic mesh body as best I could, I was able to use the included neckfades in the Classic Meshbody package to achieve some pleasing results without any noticeable neck seam (and there are clear, step-by-step instructions on how to apply the Classic neckfades to Catwa heads).

She is looking fabulous at Frank’s Jazz Club tonight! This avatar is wearing:

Mesh Head: Freya Bento mesh head by Catwa (free group gift; group is free to join)

Lipstick: HD Lips Pack Freya (included in the Catwa Freya head package)

Mesh Body: Classic mesh body by Meshbody (dollarbie group gift; group is free to join; more information here)

Hair: Gigi hair by Yomi (free group gift; group is free to join)

Dress: Kay dress in blue and gold by Tiffany Designs (free gift at The Free Dove; you must join The Free Dove group for free to pick up gifts there)

Shoes: Scarlett shoes in gold by Nala Design (free gift at the excellent freebie store at Ajuda SL Brasil; the shoes are meant for Slink feet and I had to adjust them a bit to fit the Classic feet on this avatar, but they worked)

Animation Override: Lessie AO by GoldSquare (free group gift; group is free to join). The ankle lock, an essential add-on, is a free gift from Baby Monkey (just grab the blue bag at the reception desk).

TOTAL COST FOR THIS AVATAR: Only L$1! (for the Classic Meshbody)

UPDATE May 6th, 2020: I have been tinkering around with the Freya gift head over the past couple of days, and I must say that I am impressed at just how versatile this head is! Here’s a couple of completely different looks I put together.

This princess look consists of the Freya head paired with a Maitreya Lara body, using the starter female eyebrow shaper and female shape that came with the Freya package, and the Madelyn skin applier in olive from Amara Beauty (a free gift!):

And this completely androgynous drag queen look uses the Freya head with the Altamura Romeo mesh body, with the high-definition Freya lips and some makeup from Dotty’s Secret! The male eyebrow shaper and male shape for the Freya head were a free, full-perms gift from the NoYourOtherLeft gift pickup spot listed above (just look for a large box opposite the row of kiosks).

And finally, here is a male avatar I created using the free Freya head with the dollarbie Classic male body from Meshbody. I used the same male eyebrow shaper and male shape for the Freya head from NoYourOtherLeft as my starting point, only making the jaw a little more square, and using one of the Bakes on Mesh male skins from Digital Nude Art (DNA) that I picked up here (a store which, unfortunately, appears to have now closed):

So, as you can see, you can pretty much take this free gift head and go in any creative direction you want with it! Be sure to pick up the Freya gift head before this offer expires in May 24th, 2020. In addition to the three pickup spots I listed above, you can now also buy the Freya gift head, for free, from the SL Marketplace!

Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: Free Skin Appliers from Amara Beauty for Catwa, Lelutka, and Genus Project Bento Mesh Heads

As part of the week-long #TogetherAtHome promotional initiative by a number of Second Life retailers, Amara Beauty is giving away several skin applier gifts, for Catwa, LeLutka, and Genus Project Bento mesh heads:

The Brielle skin applier works for all Genus Project heads, including the free Strong Face group gift that the store recently gave out! In addition to the Brielle, Madelyn, and Ivy skin appliers in six different skin tones, you can also pick up the so-called Slender body appliers for Legacy and Omega-compatible mesh bodies for free, as well as additional Bakes on Mesh layers to fix the hands, feet, and cleavage on your skin.

Here is the Brielle skin applier in the beige skin tone on the freebie Strong Face Genus Project head and the dollarbie Meshbody Classic body (each skin comes in a Bakes on Mesh version with three eyebrow options—dark brows, light brows, and no brows—and the Genus head skin applier comes with four eyebrow options—dark, brown, light, and no brows, for you to apply your own preferred eyebrows separately).

I think you’ll agree that this is truly beautiful skin, and it’s well worth the trip down to Amara Beauty to pick up this generous, free group gift before it’s gone! You don’t even need to join the Amara Beauty group.

This particular avatar is wearing:

Mesh Head: the Strong Face Bento mesh head from the Genus Project (a former group gift which, unfortunately, is no longer available)

Mesh Body: the Classic mesh body by Meshbody (a dollarbie group gift; more information is about this body can be found here)

Skin Applier: Genus head skin applier and Bakes on Mesh body skin Brielle in beige, from Amara Beauty

Hair: Iris by D!va (free group gift located on the other side of the wall behind the front counter; the group is free to join)

Dress: Lucia dress from Ello (previous hunt gift; this store now appears to have left the grid, but they are still on the SL Marketplace)

Shoes: Wales pumps from Essenz (the group gift for April; the Essenz group costs L$350 to join; the Classic mesh body has Legacy-compatible feet; more information about the shoes is here)

Animation Override: This is a graceful, old AO for empire-waist gowns by PixelDolls (remember them?), a store which has been long gone from the grid, but still exists on the SL Marketplace (it comes included with the Innocent Dans L’Amour gown for L$150, and I find I pull it out of my inventory and use it all the time with wider, “poofier” dresses and skirts).

TOTAL COST FOR THIS AVATAR LOOK: L$501 (L$150 for the PixelDolls AO, L$350 to join the Essenz group for the pumps group gift, and L$1 for the Classic mesh body)

Here is your taxi to the Amara Beauty store! Happy freebie shopping!

The Latest Skirmish in the Ongoing Second Life Bento Head Wars: Genus Project Receives a DMCA Complaint, and Shuts Down Their Store as a Result

UPDATE Sept. 3rd, 2020: The Genus Project won! More details here.

The Genus Project has been highly successful with their recent line of Bento mesh heads, and even went so far as to recently give away a free gift edition of their Strong Face head in-store and via their store group, which proved to be phenomenally popular.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA for short) is American copyright law which includes a complaint mechanism which, some say, is routinely abused by those parties who want to harm or “take out” their competitors.

It would now appear that someone is doing just that. Yesterday, the Genus Project sent out the following message to their user group:

Forgive the spam if you’re already aware of the issue. For those who have not been around, the mainstore will be closed due to the DMCA situation announced here:

The Strong Face gift head is no longer available and re-deliveries will not be possible at this time. With chat being broken, we are encouraging anyone who needs help to come on to our Discord and join us there.

The above image was first shared with the Genus Project group on April 12th, 2020, and that bombshell announcement has sparked intense speculation as to the identity of the competitor who filed the DMCA complaint against Genus Project, so much so that the company quickly issued another announcement two hours later, saying:

Just a quick reminder that we do not know who filed the DMCA (read the other notice from Anna), and Catwa Clip has confirmed it wasn’t her. We are also on good terms with the wonderful people from LeLutka, and a few of us work with the good people at Meshbody. Please do not point fingers at others and while we appreciate your fervent support? Please keep the pitchforks down.

As info comes to light it will be shared. We’re not going anywhere. <3

Many people, however, automatically leapt to the conclusion that it was Catwa who had filed the DMCA against the Genus Project, which has led to further strong denials by both Catwa and Genus Project, who posted this image to their group:

Sadly (but perhaps not too surprisingly), the rumours took on a life of their own, which led to some extremely difficult times for Catwa’s customer support reps, who have been bombarded with hateful messages (please click on “Reveal Hidden Elements” in Skell Dagger’s post I just linked to). Such behaviour is absolutely shameful and reprehensible. People should be ashamed of themselves.

Other people have speculated that it was rival head store Genesis Lab who pulled the trigger, since after all the Genus Project was founded after a split from that particular brand, but they have also issued a statement that they didn’t file the DMCA, either:

So, if it’s not Catwa or LeLutka or Meshbody or Genesis Lab, who did it? Nobody knows. All we do know, is that Linden Lab received a DMCA complaint against Genus Project heads, and were obligated by U.S. law to take down the offending content.

The Genus Project company can, in turn, file a counterclaim to the original DMCA complaint, and in the following 10 to 14 days (while the offending content is removed from sale), the original complainant must file a case in court against Genus and provide Linden Lab with information on their court case. With the complaint moved to court, LL will keep the Genus content down pending the court’s decision. If the complainant fails to follow up on the DMCA claim with a court case, Genus Project heads can go back on sale (which is what some hope will happen).

So, assuming that Genus Project has filed a counter-notice, their heads could be available for sale again in a couple of weeks. We’ll see.

But this incident is indicative of the intrigue and drama that seem to erupt regularly in the world of the mesh head and body makers of Second Life. Every mesh head and body brand has its passionate adherents and just-as-passionate detractors, who do not hesitate to take pot shots at each other in such gossipy venues like Virtual Secrets (the National Enquirer of Second Life), which of course has had no shortage of submissions this week with commentary on this recent controversy, attacking various vendors and brands:

This is getting downright nasty, folks. For the love of God, behave like responsible, reasonable, sensible adults here for once. People’s livelihoods are at stake. I’m quite sure the skin, makeup, and shape makers for Genus heads are wondering what to do under the circumstances; are they suddenly out of a job?

We may be facing a new and much more intense battle, not only among the various Bento head makers, but also the mesh body makers, too, now that The Meshbody has decided to give away the fully-featured, updated version of their Classic male and female mesh bodies as L$1 group gifts to anybody who joins their group for free and visits their sim. Who knows what will happen next?

There is probably no shortage of companies who look with envy at the top-selling models of heads and bodies, and would dearly love to knock Maitreya Lara and Catwa off their lofty pedestals, and thereby potentially gain a bigger slice of this lucrative Second Life market. Stay turned for further dispatches of skirmishes to come, in what I jokingly used to call the Bento Head Wars, but which I am now officially dubbing The Great Bento War of 2020. (Chapters in history books will be written about it…documentaries will be made… 😉 )

One thing that I can guarantee is that it will not be boring. Stay tuned!

P.S. I am not a lawyer, I have never filed a DMCA complaint, neither have I ever been the recipient of a DMCA complaint. What I have written here is my best understanding of what’s going on, based on this very informative discussion thread on the incident over on the official Second Life community forums.

UPDATED! Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: The Meshbody Offers Free Versions of Their Classic Mesh Bodies for Men and Women

On the first anniversary of the release of the Legacy male and female mesh bodies, The Ultimate Meshbody creators (formerly known as The Mesh Project or TMP) posted the following message to their website:

We’re nearing the first anniversary of the official Meshbody system, we can’t thank all of you enough for your kind support, and for helping to bring it to life. It all started many years ago when a few of us helped design one of the first bodies on the grid as a contribution to the original mesh project when we were just beginning to learn and explore mesh. And though we’ve branched off on our own since then, the road has been a continuous learning experience. We’re grateful to be here, celebrating a year of being able to finally share our creations with you in the way we originally wanted to, and we’re extremely grateful to be able to do so thanks to your support.

As a thank you, we’re pledging to give our Original Classic Meshbody for men and women to the entire grid, free. They remain our personal favorites, perhaps sentimentally, and we hope they will bring a little happiness, joy, and inspiration to the grid! Many designers are coming out with brand new content for them as well!

Just join The Shops! group for free (just cut and paste the group link from the Meshbody website into the chat box of your SL client to join the group), and check the group notices for one called New sim online! In it will be an attachment SLURL that will take you directly to the location on the sim where you can click on either Men or Women to be taken to the right place to pick up your free Classic mesh body. Please note that this is the older, original Classic mesh body (formerly known as the TMP mesh body), not the new Legacy mesh body, which is still full-price.

Once you have made your selection, you have your choice of Classic body: the Free Edition, and the Creative Edition (which includes the Advanced Mesh Editor). Both cost one Linden dollar to purchase. The Creative edition appears to be a limited-time-only freebie, while the Free Edition looks like it will be available for free going forward. (Then again, this company has been well known for changing things around unexpectedly in the past, so don’t expect anything to be cast in stone.)

I did have one male alt who had the freebie version of the original TMP Classic body, so I dropped by to pick up the Creative Edition of the Classic body as an update. One nice new feature is that it now supports Bento hands. Here’s what he looks like (I paired the body with the Aron Bento mesh head, a past group gift from Akeruka):

This has always been one of my favourite male mesh bodies, so having an opportunity to get the upgrade for to it for only one Linden dollar is a bonus. Any clothing made for The Mesh Project (TMP) bodies should fit it well, although you may have to use the alpha sections on the included HUD to get clothing designed for other brands of mesh bodies to fit. You also have quite a wide range of built-in skin tones to choose from, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding one that matches your mesh head. (A reminder that these bodies do not support the Omega system, so you won’t be able to use Omega skin, tattoo, or makeup appliers on these bodies.)

As you might expect, the sim is absolutely jam-packed with avatars picking up free bodies, so I would advise you wait a while, or use a tool like the handy free Teleport Hammer to fight your way in. Good luck!

UPDATE 3:44 a.m.: Well, the vendors of the female version of the Classic body seem to be overloaded at the moment, and don’t appear to be working at all. As for the men’s mesh body I described up top, for the women’s body there are both the Free Edition (which appears to be a permanent freebie), and the Creative Edition with an Advanced Material Editor (which appears to be a limited-time freebie). As with the men’s body, the update includes Bento hands and a wide variety of skin tones:

This sort of glitch is to be expected whenever a brand initiates such a big giveaway, so my best advice is to come back later, once things have been fixed. Right now there are just a lot of really frustrated avatars clicking away on the vendors, to no avail.

UPDATE 12:16 p.m.: O.K., they fixed the vendors, and I was finally able to purchase both the Free Edition and the Creative Edition of the Classic women’s mesh body. This avatar originally owned the then-free Classic body, which was free only for a short period of time, and then The Mesh Project suddenly began charging L$500 for it again, but made all the clothing for it free from The Shops!, a truly horrible point-and-click HUD-based shopping experience. (Here’s an older blogpost outlining the ordeal. There’s a reason that The Mesh Project was not that popular.)

Here is what that avatar looks like now, with the updated Classic female mesh body (note that she is wearing a choker to hide the slight mismatch between this body and her head, the Lulu Bento head by Akeruka, a former group gift):

Compared to the previous freebie version, there are some very welcome additions to this updated Classic body: a wider variety of skin tones, Bento hands with five different nail styles, and five different foot heights: flat, kitten heel, medium heel, high heel, and what can only be described as Ouch! heels 😉

So, what’s not to like? Three things about this dollarbie Classic mesh body may make you want to reconsider before you buy:

  • These bodies do not have any Omega support, so you will not be able to use any Omega skin, makeup, tattoo or clothing appliers. This is a deal-breaker for many.
  • Even though there are a wide variety of skin tones included in the HUD, it is unlikely that you will get an exact match to your mesh head. As far as I know, there are no mesh heads appliers that come in the matching Meshbody skin tones, and (as I mentioned in point one) there are no Omega appliers, so getting a match at your neck line will be a process of trial and error. Both versions of the Classic bodies do include a box of neck fades, and the Creative Edition package does include an Advanced Mesh Editor (which I have not tried). Your mileage may vary.
  • While there are stores on the grid which still sell clothing for the Classic mesh body (look for The Mesh Project logo on the vendor before you buy), the fact remains that there is much better clothing support for the “Big Six” mesh body brands: Maitreya Lara, Belleza Freya/Isis/Venus, and Slink Physique/Hourglass. Also note that clothing created for the new Legacy mesh body is not designed for the Classic mesh body, and may not fit very well. Again, your mileage may vary.

However, for the two alts I own that had already picked up the older version of the TMP Classic body when it was free, and then later picked up all the clothing for it from The Shops! when they were free, this upgrade is a no-brainer. Otherwise, if you can live with the inevitable neck seam problems and lack of Omega support, these are beautiful, well-designed male and female mesh bodies and well worth your Linden dollar.

I don’t know how long the Creative Edition of the Classic mesh body will be available as a dollarbie, so don’t wait too long to pick these up.

UPDATE 2:25 p.m.: One of my regular readers, Brinlea, left me the following comment:

This body takes Bakes on Mesh, and the current Akeruka gift head comes with a box of Bakes on Mesh system skins that will work. Voila, no neck seam.

Thanks, Brinlea! I had somehow overlooked the fact that this updated Classic mesh body supports Bakes on Mesh (there’s a button on the HUD under Settings to enable it, see image on the right). In fact, here is exactly that combination, pairing the Akeruka Limited Bakes on Mesh head and included skin tone #5 with the Meshbody Bakes-on-Mesh enabled Classic body:

Looking good! And, as Brinlea pointed out, there’s no neck seam!

And, of course, the Second Life vloggers are already all over this! Here are just three YouTube videos explaining how this mesh body works:

UPDATE April 18th, 2020: I’ve had a chat with someone who does customer service work for Meshbody, and I have a few important updates to share.

First, The Mesh Project is shutting down its original shopping region for purchases and redeliveries tomorrow, Sunday, April 19th, 2020. Moving forward, it will be the Meshbody.

However, I dropped by The Free Dove to outfit an alt, and all the product vendors refer to “The Mesh Project”—and that is not going to change anytime soon. Getting vendors to change their signage from the old name to the new one is not going to happen, so please do keep that in mind as you search for clothing to fit your free Classic mesh body.

Also, Meshbody has a new avatar queue system set up to get into the sim where they are giving away the free Classic mesh body, and have implemented a six-minute time limit for you to do your shopping quickly, and get out. They have asked people not to use tools like the Teleport Hammer to get into their sim. (I have been loading up alts all day to get into the sim, and I have noticed that it is, indeed, much easier and faster to get in than before.)

The Classic mesh body (the basic package, without the Advanced Material Editor) is going to be free “forever”, in the words of the person who reached out to me this evening. However, the Creative Edition of the Classic mesh body (with the Advanced Material Editor) is only going to be free until the end of April 2020, after which it will be priced at L$2,500.

So remember: The Mesh Project is dead (except for when you’re shopping for clothing and shoes for your new freebie Classic mesh body). Long live Meshbody! The more I play with it, the more I like this body.