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WARNING! This is a long, looong blogpost, which I constantly keep as up-to-date as possible as I come across new products.
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 pick 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 UPDATE: This gift is no longer available at the Altamura mainstore, sorry!
- 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!
- UPDATE Dec. 28th: Altamura has released yet another free mesh avatar head and body package, called Clodet (more information here)
- UPDATE Feb. 14th, 2019: If you were on the ball, you were able to pick up the free, fully-featured Juliet mesh head and body package as a Valentine’s Day gift from the Altamura booth at the eBENTO Event. More details here.
- UPDATE Feb. 20th, 2019: I have found a new inexpensive mesh body I had not heard of before, called the Sahara Mesh Avatar.
- UPDATE April 25th, 2019: I talk about the inexpensive Ocacin Standard and Voluptuous mesh bodies.
- UPDATE May 3rd, 2019: I talk about the custom full-body mesh avatars by NI9HT at the very end of this long blogpost!
- UPDATE June 6th, 2019: Akeruka has a new group gift of a female Bento mesh head called Cleo, for only L$1 until June 20th, 2019! Details are here.
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 only works on the Juliet gift, the 2017 Women Only Hunt version of Jenny, and on the Emannuelle gift formerly available at the Altamura mainstore, but not on any of the other free Altamura bodies);
- 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 😉
UPDATE Feb. 11th: Unfortunately, the two mesh heads from Curves are no longer available.
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 not need 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!
UPDATE Sept. 25th:
There is a vendor on the SL Marketplace called 300mg, who is selling 6 free mesh heads, of which one is a female head called Amra. Here’s the picture from the vendor:
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.
Yabusaka sells a kit which allows you make your own customizable mesh head for L$9,999, but she also sells a demo version of the kit for free on the SL Marketplace, which includes the following free sample mesh head, which you might want to try out:
Strawberry Singh blogged about this head, and also created the following video:
UPDATE Sept. 26th:
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
- 8 colours of lipstick
- 4 tintable blushes / 4 styles of freckles / 4 facial tattoos
- 12 kinds of eyeshadow and eyeliner
- 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 not change 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! Heavy Industries also sells
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:
Looking good for zero Lindens!
Heavy Industries is not the only vendor selling the Ruth 2.0 mesh body. You can also get one for free from Vlad Blackburn, or for L$1 from The Body Studio Store. Duck Girl also sells a Ruth RC3 hands, feet and nails update for L$1. I’m sure there are others if you search on “Ruth” or “Roth” on the Second Life Marketplace.
The Ruth and Roth mesh avatars are already quite popular on the various OpenSim virtual worlds, so it is no surprise to see them make an appearance in Second Life. Here is a link to the Ruth and Roth Avatar Project page on GitHub.
UPDATE Dec. 19th:
UPDATE Dec. 19th: The 8th day Advent gift at Altamura is a fully-adjustable, Omega-compatible, female Bento mesh head called Leila (you do have to join the Altamura group for L$25 to pick up this gift; more information here):
This head is only available until Christmas, and then it’s gone, so hurry down!
Here is what the Altamura Leila head looks like with all the default makeup removed, the free LAQ Joline Omega skin applied, and a dollarbie Omega lipstick by Poema added, with a Maitreya Lara body (LAQ body appliers to match the LAQ skintones are L$300 per tone):
Looking very good!
Sahara Mesh Avatar, Skins and Basic Mesh Head
I discovered that I had overlooked yet another option for an inexpensive female mesh avatar, called the Sahara Mesh Avatar body. At this SLURL (warning: adult-rated sim), you can pick up the following items:
- the Sahara Mesh Avatar for L$29;
- a Basic Mesh Head for L$1; and
- a package of 5 skins for L$1
The sign indicates that the Sahara Mesh Avatar is Maitreya Lara compatible, and I found that clothes and shoes designed for Maitreya did indeed work well with this mesh body. The Basic Mesh Head is non-Bento, and it does have some flaws around the neck seam area, although an included
Here is what the final result looks like, along with the HUD to select alpha sections:
Actually, not a bad result at all for a Maitreya-compatible body for only L$31 total! Here’s what the body looks like with the Akeruka Maia Bento mesh head that was available last June as a group gift:
The hands on the Sahara mesh body are particularly lovely (especially compared to the hands on the freebie eBody mesh bodies), but they do have one small problem: although there is a fingernail texture applier HUD included in the package, there are no fingernail textures! So the default fingernails on this body are a grey colour.
However, I was able to use the fingernail texture applier HUD with a light pink texture already in my inventory, and it worked out okay.
Ocacin Standard and Voluptuous
One inexpensive mesh body that I have not yet talked about is by a company called Ocacin. They don’t seem to have an in-world store, but they do sell both the Ocacin Standard Mesh Bento Body version 2 for L$250 and the Ocacin Voluptuous Bento Fitmesh Body version 1 for only L$100 on the SL Marketplace.
The Ocacin mesh bodies come in only one skintone, and they have only one HUD, to control the alpha selections, which are arranged rather strangely. While both Marketplace listings say that these bodies have Bento-compatible hands, I found that neither would work with my Bento AO. In this picture you can see the alpha HUD and the Ocacin Standard body, paired with the Akeruka Lulu Bento mesh head (a choker hides the slight seam at the neck):
I did find the toes on these bodies to be a bit ugly. You can use the HUD to hide the default high-heeled feet, and replace them with four other kinds of the feet from the Add Ons folder: flat, mid heels, and killer heels, plus a pair of feet which are compatible with MAP brand feet. Oddly, when you remove the default feet and replace them with another pair, the red toenails of the original feet are not removed! Adjusting your avatar’s hover height should fix this irritating bug, though.
I can’t figure out how to change the toenail or fingernail colours, or adjust the fingernail length (which by default is rather long).
When I first came across the Mrs. Philips avatar in-world, I did a complete double-take. She looked so real! The texture work is amazing!
And when I discovered that you could buy the Mrs. Philips full-body mesh avatar for only L$300, I snapped one up right away! The body comes with Bento hands, and includes the outfit, jewelry and hairstyle. All I did was make the arms a little longer, and the head a little smaller, and I added a free purse, a group gift from Belle Epoque at the 7th anniversary of the FaMESHed event on now.
Of course, there’s a catch. And that is that the clothing is part of the avatar mesh and cannot be removed. (The nacklace and bracelets are a separate attachment.) So if you’re not too fussy about what your avatar is wearing, but you want a completely different look from all the young-looking people around you, this might be your thing. It’s my new favourite avatar to slip on when I wander around the grid exploring!
NI9HT also sells custom full-body nude avatars. Again, you won’t be able to dress them (no clothing will likely fit the custom mesh bodies and there’s no HUD with alpha selections available), but if you’re just wanting to use one for dancing/stripping/escort work in SL, or you only hang out at nude beaches, they might be perfect for you.
Here’s a link to their store on the SL Marketplace, if you are interested to see what other custom full-body avatars NI9HT has to offer. Warning: some of the images of the nude avatars are NSFW!