Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: I Test-Drive the Free Viva Full-Body Mesh Avatar

Sometime in the past month, somebody alerted me to a free mesh full-body (i.e. head and body) female avatar on the SL Marketplace, called the Viva Full Featured Mesh Avatar (Level 3):

The creator writes in the product description:

I had originally set the price at L$3,500 and you’ll see why when you look at the Master HUD, but Viva really needs to develop a solid user base and it needs creators to make skins, clothing and other items for her.

Because the market is almost exclusively dominated by a couple of brands, it’s almost impossible for someone new to establish any sort of presence. So . . . for the time being, I am giving away the avatar free. Sometime down the road, I will need to charge. Right now, the Level 3 package is available at no charge.

Trying to launch a brand new female mesh body against the “Big Three” (Maitreya Lara, Belleza Venus/Isis/Freya, and Slink Physique/Hourglass), which is rapidly becoming a “Big Four” with Meshbody Legacy also becoming popular among designers, is a truly daunting prospect.

Throw in the monkey-wrench of Meshbody releasing their fully-featured Classic female mesh avatar body as a high-quality dollarbie. Add in eBody, Altamura, LucyBody, and countless other female mesh body creators offering various kinds of giveaways in an effort to steal even a small part of the leaders’ marketshare, and you can see how hard it is for any newcomer to gain any traction.

I bought the Viva mesh body from the SL Marketplace (link up top), and I was pleasantly surprised to see a neatly-organized series of file folders in my Received Files inventory section. No need to unpack anything at all!

So, I started trying things out. Thankfully, there’s a link to a Quick Start Guide on their website, so I started there (they even helpfully included a pose stand!). Everything seems to be controlled using one Master HUD, which takes up a lot of on-screen real estate, but can be easily minimized to a single button.

If you are already familiar with topics like skin appliers and Bakes on Mesh, what you have already learned from using other mesh bodies pretty much applies here too. One interesting feature of the Viva mesh body that I have not seen in other products is that you can you can actually add designs to your fingernails and toenails, in addition to changing their basic colour:

The Viva mesh body (with Bento hands) and Bakes-on-Mesh-compatible Bento mesh head both adjust well with the body appearance sliders, and take most Bakes on Mesh skins well (I did have a few problems with some Bakes on Mesh skins from Amara Beauty around the mouth area, so your mileage may vary).

Here, I used one of the BoM skins included with the recent Akeruka Limited head, with good results after a bit of tweaking with the face and body sliders and the eyebrow shaper:

This strapless dress came with the package, and you can even tint it using the Master HUD, using the instructions in the Quick Start Guide! I paired the dress with my trusty wardrobe staple, the free Sonnet heels from Hilly Haalan; the feet appear to be Slink-compatible, although the included foot height made the base of the feet turn white, so I had to set it aside and just adjust the shoe heights by hand.

The Master HUD includes a full component of alpha selections, which is good, because you are quite obviously not going to find a lot of clothing to fit this mesh body exactly! But, if you are prepared to invest some time and patience learning about all the features this full-body mesh avatar has to offer, I think you’ll find it compares quite favourably with other free and inexpensive options out there on the marketplace (and yes, even those that charge thousands of Linden dollars!).

For more information about the Viva mesh body, you can check out their website, including some user forums and a creator’s kit and resources. So, if you’re feeling creative, perhaps you might want to design and create some clothing for this body?

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UPDATED! Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: Free Mesh Heads and Skins from Genesis Lab, and the Free eBody Classic and Curvy Mesh Bodies with Bakes on Mesh Support

One of the Second Life vloggers I follow is Cat Pink SL, whose videos are in Spanish, but have English subtitles, so it’s pretty easy to follow along. She covers hunts, events, and freebies, and in a couple of recent YouTube videos, she talks about the free versions of the eBody Classic and Curvy female mesh avatar bodies (which now support Bakes on Mesh), and the free mesh heads, skins, and cosmetics from Genesis Lab:

I had talked about the three free Genesis Lab static (non-Bento) female mesh avatar heads before here (scroll down to the Genesis Lab section), so I am not going to repeat all that information here. But what I did not know is that the Genesis Lab group is once again free to join; there is a small black panel on the Group Gifts wall in the store (SLURL) you can click on to join the store group:

So I decided to experiment a little with one of my alts, using the Kenna head from Genesis Lab (still my personal favourite static mesh head, which comes with a HUD with lots and lots of options), paired with the eBody Classic mesh avatar body. As you can see from these pictures, she turned out looking really good!

I did have one problem: the Genesis Lab Cream skin I applied to the BoM eBody avatar did not work on the feet! However, this is not a serious problem when wearing a long ballgown such as this, and you can get around it in other outfits by using boots which replace the eBody feet completely (they are a separate attachment, along with the hands). I am not sure if this was a problem with the eBody mesh, the eBody BoM relay HUD, or the skin appliers I used (I tried several from the Genesis Lab group gifts, all with the same result). It’s a weird bug.


UPDATE Jan. 20th, 2020: I have now found the cause of the strange white patches on the feet of the eBody mesh avatar. It was the result of a classic, system shoebase I applied to the foot. You can get around this problem by removing any shoebase that causes this, and using the avatar hover height instead when wearing high heels. You can ignore my complaining later on in this blogpost about not being able to wear certain types of shoes; any Slink-compatible shoes should now work!


This avatar is wearing:

Mesh Head: Kenna by Genesis Lab (includes the mesh eyes shown here; free group gift; group is free to join)

Mesh Body: eBody Classic from the eBody Shop (pay the vendor in the store L$1 and it will automatically be refunded; these mesh bodies do not have Bento hands, and they only have “thick” alpha selections on the included HUD, which means you have to be somewhat careful what you wear with them)

Skin Applier: Cream skin by Genesis Lab (part of the Lakki skin package from Genesis Lab; free group gift; requires the eBody Bakes on Mesh relay HUD which you can get from the eBody store, just pay the vendor L$1 and it will automatically be refunded)

Gown: Holly gown by JUMO (a recent Advent gift which comes in a size specifically for eBody Classic mesh avatars)

Shoes: black flats by Garbaggio (part of a free sample pack of Slink-compatible shoes from Garbaggio, available on the SL Marketplace; eBody mesh bodies have Slink-compatible feet)

Hair: Bella by Alli & Ali, an elegant updo with a colour-changeable comb in the back (a freebie I picked up at a recent virtual conference; it pays to check conference sims in Second Life for any freebies provided for presenters and attendees to outfit and style their avatars!)

Animation Override: Chubby Girl AO by [ImpEle] (free from the SL Marketplace). This is a nice, simple, calm, free AO with no crazy movements. (Note the freebie versions of the eBody do not come with Bento hands, so you don’t have to worry about animating them.)

TOTAL COST FOR THIS AVATAR: FREE! (All you need is L$1 to pay the vendors in the eBody store to get the eBody Classic mesh body and the eBody Bakes on Mesh relay HUD, which is automatically refunded.)

Note that I do not know how long you will be able to join the Genesis Lab group for free (they used to charge for it), so if you are interested in picking up their free group gifts, I recommend you don’t wait to do so.


UPDATE 6:20 p.m.: You know what? I am actually going to do something that I’ve never done before on this blog: I am going to NOT recommend (un-recommend?) a freebie. And that is the latest freebie version of the eBody Classic and Curvy mesh avatar bodies. They are dreadful. The problem with the feet not taking Bakes on Mesh skins is bad enough, but it gets even worse.

I went over to The Free Dove freebie store, and picked up a few outfits that said they came in versions designed specifically for eBody, like this minidress from Hilly Haalan, and even the eBody stuff doesn’t fit properly!

Look:

The previous version had slightly more workable “thick” alpha sections than this new one, especially in the chest/bust area and the back, and it’s a absolute pain in the butt to find something—anything—that works with them, short of a gunnysack where you can alpha out your whole body (and I’m not even sure about that anymore, either!). I also tried adjusting the body sliders to get rid of the skin breaking through, but to no avail.

The brutal truth is that even the Holly gown I showed you up top had some problems with certain poses in my freebie AO, where some skin would break through at the sides of the gown, a problem that the included alpha sections on the freebie eBody Classic mesh body can’t fix.

Perhaps the paid-for eBody version (with the full complement of smaller alpha sections) would fix the problem, but I don’t think that even that would fix such issues as I found with the Hilly Haalan minidress above. I am discovering to my dismay that many “eBody” versions of garments simply don’t work as advertised, particularly for the freebie version (here’s their HUD showing you the alpha sections; the top part is all greyed out and cannot be used):

(Note: I do have an alt with a paid-for version of the eBody Classic avatar, and I might just go back and try all these dresses from The Free Dove on again with that body, to see if they work out any better.)


UPDATE Jan. 11th, 2020: I tested the Hilly Haalan minidress I mentioned above on my paid-for full version of the eBody Classic mesh body, and it fits perfectly, without any issues! So something is up with the latest freebie version.


The best I could come up with was this outfit, consisting of the Faythe dress by GeMyles, paired with the Lita Lolita shoes in ochre, which include the socks and allowed me to completely alpha out the feet:

There was only one other pair of free shoes I found at The Free Dove that I could wear with this mesh body, the Paper Sparrow Alice heels which also came with socks (worn here with a free red minidress from eBody, which I had picked up in December as an Advent gift at the eBento event):

Here’s a better look at them in a place that’s not all black-on-black:

So, after over an hour on unpacking and trying on garments and tossing them aside in frustration, I found exactly two mesh dresses and two pair of shoes that I could wear with the freebie eBody Classic mesh body (and one of those dresses was already in my inventory). Every other dress specifically designed for eBody that I picked up at The Free Dove would not work properly with the “thick” alpha sections.

Nope, sorry, pass. Consider the freebie eBody Classsic and Curvy as demos only, not for actual wear.

However, if you are looking for a nice static (non-Bento) mesh head, I can certainly still recommend the free group gifts at Genesis Lab, especially if you are down to your last Linden dollar!

UPDATED! Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: Fourteen Free Full-Body Male and Female Mesh Avatars from Altamura, Plus a Free L$500 Altamura Gift Card!

What would you think if I told you that you could pick up no less than fourteen full-body (i.e. head and body) mesh avatars, at one place and one time, for absolutely free? You can do that as of today at the brand new Altamura store, which has moved to a new sim (here’s the SLURL).

Also, Altamura has announced that you can join the Altamura Design/Mesh Avatars group for free over the holidays! Normally the group costs L$100 to join, so I would very strongly urge you to join now and stay a member of the group, as Altamura often has special bargains and freebies for group members at various events during the year. Last February they gave away full-price, fully-featured versions of the Romeo and Juliet mesh full-body avatars as free group gifts to their members, for example.


You are probably already aware that you can pick up free, fully-adjustable versions of the following Altamura full-body mesh avatars from the following freebie store locations:

  • Valentina and one version of Max at the excellent freebie store at Ajuda SL Brasil;
  • Emanuele and a second version of Max at the freebie store at UniHispana Crea; and
  • Jenny and Robert at the Freebie Megastore on the London City sim.

But now you can pick up no less than fourteen mesh full-body avatars for free, from the new Gifts room in the Altamura store. Some are identical to the six listed above; others were limited-time freebies that Altamura has decided to bring back for Christmas. You can pick them all up in one place at one time!

Just head in the main entrance, turn immediately to the right, and you will see a large black-and-white sign that says GIFT. Enter that room.


In the Gift room, there are nine free, fully-adjustable, Bento-enabled full-body mesh avatars (four for men and five for women):

  • Max
  • Tommy
  • Robert
  • Aaron
  • Jenny
  • Clodet
  • Estephania
  • Emanuele
  • Kim

All you have to do is activate your Altamura Design/Mesh Avatars group membership, and click on each panel, then select Deliver from the blue menu that pops up.

These free avatars have all the features of the full-price versions, except that you can not change the included skin tone that they come in. Neither can you use any Omega skin or makeup appliers with them. However, they do have Bento heads and hands, they are completely adjustable using the full set of head and body sliders, and they also offer a HUD with a complete set of alpha selections to be able to fit just about any clothing you wish on them. They even thoughtfully include a hands-only AO, to use with your regular non-Bento animation overrider!

Here are just a couple of examples of what these nine Bento avatars look like.

This is Aaron, who is wearing a free pair of men’s shorts from the Altamura clothing collection at the Freebie Megastore in London City:


Here the Kim full-body mesh avatar is wearing a free dress from the Altamura clothing collection at the Freebie Megastore in London City:


On the opposite wall there are also five free, older, non-Bento full-body female mesh avatars:

  • Tanya
  • Francy
  • Africa
  • Sarah
  • Andrea

To get these, activate your Altamura group membership, and pay each panel L$1 (your dollar will automatically be refunded).

It is very important to understand the difference between these five bodies and the nine I mentioned earlier. Please note that these five bodies are non-Bento bodies, without Bento hands or heads; you have only three possible hand static hand shapes to choose from on the body HUD (and you won’t be able to animate the fingers using a Bento hand animation override). Also, you also will not be able to make any changes to the facial features using the sliders, as you can with the first nine. (You can adjust various aspects of the body, however, and they do come with an alpha HUD.)

I’m going to show you what two of these five non-Bento mesh avatars look like. Here is the Africa full-body female mesh avatar, again wearing one of the free dresses from the new clothing collection for Altamura avatars from the Freebie Megastore in London City:

As you can she, she is quite beautiful!

UPDATE Dec. 15th, 2019: I am so taken with the Africa mesh avatar that I have taken a few more snapshots of her! She is so strikingly beautiful that she stands out in any crowd. In the first picture she is wearing a free outfit from Artizana, known for their bold African designs:

And in this shot she is wearing the free Dec. 14th gift from the 12 Days of Christmas calendar at JUMO, the stunning, shimmering Nice ballgown:

And this is what the Tanya non-Bento full-body female mesh avatar from Altamura looks like, again wearing a free dress from the collection of Altamura clothing at the Freebie Megastore in London City:

The heads on these non-Bento bodies do come with limited makeup options in a separate HUD, but I have removed all the makeup so you can see the shape of the head and the face more clearly:

(Note that all the eyes I used in these four pictures came from the new set of Linden Lab starter avatars which are already in your inventory: Leonard, Gretchen, Ashton, and Bitsy. You do not need to spend a penny to have great-looking, realistic eyes!)


There are also a few more freebies located in the centre of the room: the Maya static (non-Bento) mesh head, a full-body female Halloween avatar, and a set of full-body female fantasy avatars in different colours.


But wait, there’s more! In the store near the entrance there is a Christmas tree, with a new gift laid out under it for every day of the 12 days of Christmas. The gift box for day number 2 contains a L$500 Altamura gift card! (You will need to activate your Altamura group to pick this gift up; only one per customer.)

Now, it would appear that you can apply this L$500 gift card only towards the full price of an Altamura mesh avatar head, body, or full-body (i.e. head and body) package; the card did not seem to work at any of the clothing, accessories, or nail vendors I tried it on. But if you were in the market for a deal on a full-priced mesh avatar, this will certainly be a great help!

UPDATE Dec. 17th, 2019: It would appear that the L$500 gift card offered for day number 2 has now been replaced with a L$100 gift card. But this new gift card now works on any of the vendors in the Altamura store, including clothing and accessories.

Be sure to check back every day until Christmas Day for even more gifts from Altamura! (Last year, the gifts included basic but fully-functional Bento mesh heads for men and women, plus some skin appliers.)

Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: The Davide and Sascha EXMACHINA Full-Body Male Mesh Avatars Are 50% Off!

You might remember that I recently raved about the Sascha special edition of the Davide version 6.0 EXMACHINA male mesh head and body package that I bought for just L$2,900—a real bargain compared to other male mesh head and body combinations.

Well, guess what? I discovered today that EXMACHINA is having a 50% off sale, both in their in-world store (here’s the SLURL) and on their SL Marketplace store:

So both the original Davide full-body avatar and the Sascha special edition of the Davide full-body avatar are only L$1,500 each! Now that I have had mine for a while, and tried out all the options, I can recommend this body very highly. And if you want just the body (no head), that is just L$800! It’s a stupendous deal.

I have no idea how long this half-price sale will last, so don’t wait! Here’s a few pictures of my Sascha avatar:

Even better? The entire outfit I am wearing today—right down to the socks and shoes—is free from the Kauna menswear store (SLURL). This grass green plaid jacket and pants, the sage green dress shirt, and the black socks and Oxford dress shoes are just some of many free wardrobe items you’ll receive when you click on all the vendor panels in the tiny Kauna store! There are literally dozens of high-quality menswear items, mostly formal wear and suits, but other men’s clothing, too! It’s the best deal in menswear on the grid!