UPDATED! Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: The CATWA HDPRO Queen Bento Mesh Head Is L$1, But TODAY ONLY!

PLEASE NOTE: My blog is still on indefinite hiatus; I have made a single exception for this blogpost. After this, I will be going back on my self-imposed break from blogging.

CATWA has announced that the one-day giveaway of their HDPRO Queen Bakes on Mesh, Bento female mesh head has been extended by ONE DAY ONLY, so you have until 11:59 p.m. SLT/Pacific time TODAY, March 26th, 2021, to visit one of the following four special promo sims to pick up your head for only one Linden dollar. After today, the Queen head will retail for L$5,910, so this is a truly exceptional bargain that you should not pass up, even if you already have a favourite Bento mesh head! Pick one up anyway today, when it’s 99.98% off, and stash it away in your inventory for a rainy day when you feel like switching your look!

QUEEN will be available for one linden purchase price until [26th MARCH 11:59PM SL TIME]. We thank you for the overwhelming response to this offer. We also thank Linden Lab for their help in setting up the additional sims. Landmarks are in CATWA groups. We have set up 4 sims for the promo, Landmarks were sent to both of CATWA groups. Make sure to use those LMs as it’s the only way to get in because all of the sims are NEW!

Each promo sim has 9 vendors; simply pay the vendor L$1 (it will not be refunded). The vendors all look like this (you do not need to join any group to use them):

If you are impatient and have received the message that you can use the delivery terminal, feel free to use the redelivery terminal on each of the promo sims or at the CATWA main store to get your HDPRO Queen head delivered (I found I had to do this for several of my alts).

Please note that all four sims are jam-packed with avatars trying to pick up this freebie today, so please be patient. You might want to use a tool like the handy free Teleport Hammer to fight your way in. (Remember that if you are a Premium member, you get priority access to overcrowded sims.)

Below is what theHDPRO Queen head looks like, with the included mesh eyes, and using one of the included head skins (a BoM tatto layer) and the default eyebrow shaper and body shape, without any adjustments to the sliders (you will have to find system/Bakes on Mesh skins to match the head tattoos included in the package):

Here is what the head looks like with the Elvira skin by 7 Deadly S[k]ins, paired with the Kalhene Ariadna mesh body (a freebie which is unfortunately no longer available):

Happy freebie shopping!

UPDATE 11:15 a.m.: Cat Pink SL has posted a 40-minute livestream on YouTube about the CATWA HDPRO Queen head (it’s in Spanish with some English):

Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: An Updated Review of Version 3 of the Free/Dollarbie Viva Female Mesh Body

Have you joined the RyanSchultz.com Steals, Deals & Freebies group yet? I will be posting EVEN MORE news and tips on finding fabulous freebies and bargains in Second Life than I post here on the blog! More information on this brand new SL group here.

Last year, I wrote about a free, Bakes on Mesh compatible, Bento female mesh head and body called Viva (here and here). There’s been a bit of chatter about this body lately, including a video review (see below), so I thought I would update my review of version 3 of the Viva mesh body.

There are two ways that you can get version 3 of the Viva female mesh body. You can purchase it for only L$1 on the SL Marketplace (which gives you a completely unpacked version in your inventory). Do not be dissuaded by the rather poor imaging used in the Marketplace listing…you can do a lot with this body! Alternatively, you can teleport to the Elegance & Style store in-world (exact SLURL), click the vendor panel for the Full version/version 3, select Deliver from the blue pop-up menu in your SL viewer, and get the body for free (although you will have to unpack several boxes).

Now, unlike other mesh bodies (such as the free Minou body I reviewed the day before yesterday, which you basically just wear and go, with zero options), there is a rather large learning curve associated with this body, and a somewhat overwhelming HUD with a great many options! In fact, I will say that this is one of the most complicated HUDs I have seen for any product! So my recommendation is that you find a quiet spot in Second Life, unpack everything (there are nine boxes/subfolders!), and read through all the documentation. There is a Read Me First notecard, which states:

I’ll keep this short. Let me pass on two important things . . .

1 . . . First, you’ll find a wonderful and easy-to-use “Quick Guide to Viva.” It’s on-line and has lots of illustrations. Look for this prim in the Viva Main Folder: “**Rez Me & Click Me for Viva Support.” Rez it and click it. It will take you right to the support page. (If you can’t rez where you are, you can also wear it and click it.)

If you do not use the above “rez-and-click” prim, here is the URL of on-line help that you can copy to your browser: http://vivasystem.altervista.org/Support3.htm

2 . . . The following information is covered by the above link, but if you don’t go there, here are some brief instructions:

(a) If you look in Viva’s Main Folder in your inventory, you’ll see a series of “*Sub Folders…” These are packages that haven’t been unpacked yet.

(b) To unpack, WEAR each of the *Sub Folder packages, and they will automatically unpack.

(c) You’ll end up with a series of Viva SubFolders in your inventory. They all start with “Viva:” which keeps them all together. Now, TAKE EACH and DRAG THEM into Viva’s main folder.

(d) Afterwards, if desired, you can delete all of the *Sub Folders…” You won’t lose anything. You’ll still have a copy of them in the original package.

As I said, it might be worth the L$1 to get a fully unpacked version from the SL Marketplace, with all the subfolders already in place in your inventory (remember that they will be located in the Received Items section).

To keep things simple to start, you can wear a fully-assembled version of the Viva mesh body from the main folder. Attach the Master HUD, click on the Bakes on Mesh tab, and enable Bakes on Mesh for this body as shown below:

Here’s what the default body looks like, paired with the recent free group gift of the Chelsea head by LOGO, with the Hope skin in dew by 7 Deadly S[k]ins (a gift from their Advent calendar), and using the shape included with the Chelsea head as my starting point.

What the Viva body looks like after enabling Bakes on Mesh

(Although the HUD says that the Bento hands would be automatically Bakes-on-Mesh enabled when I clicked ON next to Enable BoM for Body in the HUD, I found I had to double-click the green hand icon below the button, to get Bakes on Mesh to apply to the hands properly. Just a small bug.)

Now, I will be honest: I have a problem with the hands on the Viva body. Last year, I was able to get such beautiful-looking, graceful hands when I first tested it on an alt (see the proof here), but then I did something wrong, and no matter what I do, and no matter which avatar I try it on, I always get this as a result, and I nothing I do seems to fix it! I find the hands are rather misshapen, with these horrible, stubby-looking thumbs! If somebody can tell me what I am doing wrong, I would dearly love to know.

When I wear a Bento animation override for the hands, I also find the the middle sections of the fingers are rather strangely elongated, and the result is a bit unnatural looking to me. It looks like my avatar has arthritis! Then again, I usually set my hand size in the body sliders to somewhere between 25 and 40 for most mesh bodies, so you might want to keep it set at a low 13, which is what the default, included body shape has. Even so, I think that the hands are definitely a weak point on this mesh body.

The feet are quite nice, though, and there are certainly lots of options in the HUD to tint your fingernails and toenails! The feet come in three heights: flat, mid-height, and high, and I have found that shoes designed for Belleza feet seemed to fit best overall (again, you might have to adjust the foot size in the body sliders to get the best results).

One option which I have never seen before in a mesh body HUD is the ability to set an image as a pattern or texture on your fingernails and toenails. Note that I had to remove the pattern shown here, using the button on the HUD, before I could select a nail polish colour for the high-heeled version of the mesh feet. Another small bug.

Here is what my avatar looks like, with the LOGO Chelsea head, wearing the red dress included in the Viva package (which you can retint or retexture as you wish):

One of the definite strengths of this body is the wide variety of clothing layer options, which are built into the HUD and available under the Layers tab: tattoos, bra and panties, pantyhose, a sweater and blue jeans, even socks! All clothing layers are infinitely tintable using the HUD.

Now, there is also an optional Bento, Bakes on Mesh-compatible head included in the Viva package, located in the Modular System folder. Unfortunately, there is no included starter shape for this head, which made it very difficult to obtain the best possible look. I found that this head did not respond very well to the various sliders, and in particular, I had problems around the mouth and chin area with the various Bakes on Mesh skins I tried on it. Here is my best result, which I am still not quite happy with (I couldn’t remove the slight chin cleft, no matter what I did):

The included Bento, Bakes on Mesh Viva head (wearing the Hope skin in the dew skin tone from 7 Deadly S[k]ins, a recent Advent calendar gift)

For the price (free or L$1, depending on how you got it), this is a perfectly serviceable head, but you will probably find a more beautiful head elsewhere, that perhaps responds a bit better to the head and body sliders. I would suggest pairing the Viva mesh body with your choice of a brand-name Bento mesh head (including, of course, the recent gift heads from Catwa, Akeruka, LOGO, LeLutka…last year certainly had no shortage of free group gifts of female Bento mesh heads!).

Also, the Makeup Choices tab on the Viva HUD is currently empty, with a promise to include makeup options in a later version. But of course, you can use any existing Bakes on Mesh makeup with this head, so you shouldn’t have any problems there!

If you want to wear mesh clothing with this body (other than the included red dress, which is designed to fit this body perfectly), there is an extensive array of alpha sections on the HUD, although I wish there were some finer selections in certain areas, like the upper arms. You should be able to get most clothing designed for other, more popular brands of mesh bodies to fit fairly well on the Viva body.

So, in summary, the Viva mesh body is a good Bento, Bakes on Mesh female body with lots of options, a few quirks, and a few bugs, for a great price—free (if you get it in world) or L$1 (if you buy it on the SL Marketplace). It’s a great bargain! Here’s my final look, once again pairing the Viva body with the LOGO Chelsea head, and adding a few accessories to liven up that plain red dress:

The YouTube vlogger Novata Second Life recently posted a one-hour video about the Viva body, which you might find of interest, if for no other reason than to see how she and her friends have styled this body (this video switches back and forth between Spanish and English). Novata also remarks on how complicated the HUD is!

The Viva mesh body already appears on my ever-expanding list of free and inexpensive mesh heads and bodies for female avatars, but I will update it with a link to this review of version 3, which goes into a bit more detail.

Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: End-of-Year Freebies for Male Avatars

Well, Advent calendar season is almost over, and I have spent most of it focused on fabulous freebies for female avatars, but I wanted to blog about some men’s freebies that you can pick up today.

First, please meet Silver Quick, my handsome male alt who will be modeling today’s finds:

Silver Quick is wearing:

  • Head, Eyes and Eyebrows: the recent group gift of the Alain Bento, Bakes on Mesh head from LeLutka
  • Body: Romeo by Altamura (a Valentine’s Day group gift a couple of years ago; to use Bakes on Mesh skin on this body, you must first purchase an Omega system kit for Altamura for L$99 at this exact SLURL, and obtain the free Bakes on Mesh kit from Altamura (at this exact SLURL in their in-world store)
  • Bakes on Mesh Skin: Delphinus by Altamura (included with the Bakes on Mesh kit mentioned above)
  • Hair: Jamie by Firelight, a free gift available here
  • Shorts: Alejandro shorts from the starter avatars in the Library folder of your SL inventory
  • Animation Override: Tuty’s Daily sLIFE Free Bento AO (free from the Tuty animations store)
The Altamura Bakes on Mesh kit includes a BoM Omega relay and the Delphinus skin

Our first stop today is NERO N7 menswear store, where (if you join their store group for free), you can pick up a free L$500 gift card, good for anything in the store:

Next, we hit a couple of Advent calendars that are still up!

Donni’s Dollies has an Advent calendar where the odd-numbered dates (plus Dec. 12th and Dec. 24th) have gifts of menswear as well as womenswear (no group is needed). Here is the black and gold tuxedo from December 24th:

No Shot still has their 12 Days of Christmas calendar up, too. Here is one of the 12 menswear gifts you can pick up, a camouflage outfit with boots:

Here’s another nice outfit from the No Shot calendar, which also includes the shoes:

And here’s a business suit outfit from the same calendar, with shoes:

The ACCESS shopping event has many lovely gifts for both men and women (you have to join the ACCESS group for free to pick up these gifts).

Here’s a pro tip to help you quickly find the gifts you want at this and at other events: if you are using the Firestorm viewer, select Area Search under the World menu, then enter a keyword you are searching for (e.g. “varsity”). Then, from the list of search results, right-click the one you are interested in, and select Zoom from the pop-up menu as shown here:

Your camera will then zoom in on the specific giftbox you have selected! All you have to do is click on it and it’s yours! This tip can save you a lot of wandering around at crowded sales events where there are dozens and dozens of vendor booths.

Do a keyword search for “GRAILED” to get this Zion hoodie fatpack by GRAILED, which includes a HUD with 30 different colours and patterns:

And do a keyword search for “Varsity” to pick up this Randon jacket and long sweater combo from Varsity, with two HUDs to change the colour of both the jacket and sweater. You’ll need to alpha out your arms and hands for this hands-in-pockets look!

Our final stop is the Shop and Hop event, where there are a few men’s freebies to pick up. The gift from Etham is this shirt-and-hoodie combo, which comes with a HUD to change the colour of both the shirt and the hoodie individually:

The gift from Mossu is this cheerful Christmas cardigan:

The present from Lapointe and Bastchild’s SWEAR store at the Winter Shop and Hop are these wonderfully-detailed tundra patrol boots, in a camouflage snowflake pattern:

Happy freebie shopping!