While I am away on vacation from work, I am currently working on a special project with my fellow freebie fashionistas of the Freebie Queens Discord server, where we are drawing up a comprehensive listing of Second Life stores with free gifts. (Trust me when I say this: it’s like herding cats, people! Stores open, move location, and close with alarming regularity.)
And in my travels across the SL grid, I came across an unusual freebie which I wanted to share with you, from a store called Twilight (SLURL). Click on the sign shown below to join their store group for free:
There are a couple of gifts available here. One is a mobile phone with a Bento hold pose (just click on the panel indicated by the red arrow in the image below). However, this is not just any old SL cellphone, with a static screen or a HUD with a selection of static screens; it actually has a working web browser built into it!
In the picture below, I have it set to the homepage of the RyanSchultz.com blog:
According to the included documentation:
Double-Click on white screen to start the browser. Search for any website on web with Google search. Or enter the URL you want to access in the search bar to open the website. You can scroll on the prim too and click links and watching videos and so on, like on your own Google or Firefox browser.
This phone also comes in a separate, rezzable version to use as home decor (say, to leave on a desk or an armchair). It also has a working web browser. The documentation notes:
*** Having multiple phones or web browser screen item in the same parcel can cause bugs. Use with care.
This mobile phone itself is Copy/Mod to enable multiple ones to be rezzed and [resized].
The Bento hold pose affects your avatar’s right hand and head, so you are looking down at the phone. It’s a high-priority animation which seems to work quite well with my animation override /AO.
This is a cute freebie, and I really like the fact that you can customize what you see on the screen! It’s actually a gift from the old Stay at Home Club program, launched in the spring of 2020 as the pandemic lockdowns started, and Second Life’s monthly active users (MAU) count jumped from 600,000 to 900,000. The program ended in September 2020, but some stores like Twilight are still making their gifts from that program available (for which we thank them!).
And how’s about this for a final, meta image? Looking at this very blogpost while I’m in Second Life!
The popular Second Life program called The Stay at Home Club, created to help those SL users stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic by offering high-quality apparel, home decor, and many other fabulous freebies, will be closing its doors on its six-month anniversary, September 25th, 2020.
We have decided to close the Club for multiple reasons and we want to be open about this difficult decision. Firstly, we have dealt with over 1,000 incredible, generous, and outgoing designers. Many of which have gone above and beyond to help and provide gifts, some of which regularly updated and added more to help support us all. As of today, the in-world group has hit nearly 16,000 people, the Discord has over 900 members, the Facebook page has 2,600 likes, and the website has well over 2 million page views! With this comes a lot of maintenance, the team has sunk much of their personal time and money into the Club to keep things running smoothly and up to date. Although we have worked with many incredible people, we have also experienced negativity.
We have sadly had to deal with abusive designers and residents, copyright infringement, hate speech, and even personal attacks in-world, on Discord, and on Facebook. This was not what the Club stands for, we wanted to bring a bit of light to a dark time by helping to provide gifts, support, and a place for people to not worry about ongoing real life situations. That being said, it was the minority causing those issues, but they did greatly affect us as we were also going through the same real life issues that many of you were also facing. We feel at this stage, the Club has served its purpose and has been an incredible experience for many of us involved, but now is the right time for us to say goodbye. Thank everyone involved and wish you all the best for the future. Times may be difficult, but stay strong, we will get through it!
While I am saddened at how the bad behaviour of a few SL residents has spoiled something wonderful, I am also not surprised. And I am also well aware at how something like The Stay at Home Club can grow beyond anybody’s initial expectations, and take up time, money, and energy that the organizers might want to invest somewhere else. Every project (yes, even this blog) reaches points where difficult decisions need to be made: what to keep doing, what to stop doing, and when to call it quits.
I do want to thank Freya (Childofpreservex Resident), Zac Remex, and Alex (AstaraBonnibelle Resident), the owners and organizers of The Stay at Home Club, for all their hard and sometimes thankless work in setting up and running the club.
And as a freebie fashionista, I would very strongly urge you to take advantage of all the fabulous free items that so many stores have donated to support The Stay at Home Club, before they shut down their website, in-world group and headquarters, and Discord server on September 25th.
Now, as I said before when I reviewed the Ruthie body, I am obsessed with the dumpster-fire-train-wreck of the Botched Surgeries subReddit community, where I am routinely appalled by the horrible, botched plastic surgeries that people put themselves through in real life, including breasts that land up looking like floatation devices, watermelons, or even worse. (WARNING:If you visit, you might need eye bleach afterwards. Consider yourself warned! I constantly come away from that community feeling much better about myself and my own body, though.)
Now (despite my misgivings about large-busted mesh avatars as a result of the mental scarring from regularly perusing this particular subReddit), I do honestly admire people who know how to create content in Second Life; they have a skill set that I envy. Imagine how wonderful it would be to be able to create and rig your own custom mesh avatar, for instance!
Well, HeatherD Tungsten is one of those people (in fact, I do vividly remember meeting her at an event in SL a couple of years ago (when we was wearing an earlier prototype of this mesh body) and thinking “Wow, she knows how to make her own mesh body! Cool!“.
Heather’s personal profile states:
I’ve been on and off with Second life a few times, mainly due to lack of confuser power, and ugly avatars. Then came the mesh revolution. I started playing around with Blender (3D creation) during the fall of 2016. Learning Blender is an ongoing challenge, but when you look across the sim at me, this avatar is the fruit of my work.
If you come to Heather’s store (here’s the SLURL), you might be lucky enough to find her avatar parked up on the rooftop lounge area, dancing while she is away from the keyboard, doing something else. Heather is her own best advertisement for her female mesh body! This picture also gives you an idea of how large your breasts can be with the Ultra Vixen II mesh body, which is…quite large, indeed:
When you arrive at the Ultra Vixen II store, there are four panels to your left which have three free gifts from The Stay at Home Club, and one free gift (a set of two dresses) which you can pick up if you join the Fabulously Free in SL group in Second Life (this group is free to join):
Next to this, you will find another vendor panel for what appears to be the standard version of the Ultra Vixen II body with some starter clothing, which retails for only L$15, so I picked that up as well (hey,it was a bargain!):
The remainder of Heather’s store consists of clothing which Heather has created specifically for the Ultra Vixen II body (which is where she obviously earns her money). Most items appear to be clothing fatpacks in the L$175-L$300 range.
Anyway, here is what the first of the three The Stay at Home gifts (the one labelled the Introduction Mesh Body Kit) looks like when you unpack it and put it on, without making any adjustments to the sliders (the head and hands on this body are Bento, but it does not support Bakes on Mesh; I chose the smallest, B-cup breast size of the three included shape options):
The hair is another Stay at Home Club gift, the Sugar hairstyle from Miss Canning. The red dress was in the FabFree gift package, and the shoes came from the third Stay at Home Club gift, a package of bikinis and shoes.
The second Stay at Home Club gift is a package called the Introduction Black Girl Kit, which comes in with different, darker skin and six different starter body shapes. I chose one of the starter shapes and played around with it a lot, and discovered that this mesh body responds very well to adjustments to the sliders, including making her much less busty (the breast size slider on this image is set to 25; any less and her bust collapses into her dress):
So, as you can see, this is a large-breasted avatar which you can actually adjust if you just want a somewhat less busty shape! You are never going to get a toothpick thin, starving supermodel look on this avatar, however (and if that’s what you’re looking for, you wouldn’t be in Heather’s store anyway).
Now, here are some of the limitations of this mesh body:
There is no HUD that comes with this body, so you cannot alpha out any sections of it to wear any clothing that is not specifically designed for this body. If you choose this as your mesh avatar, you are locked into Heather’s store for your clothing options (I checked on the SL Marketplace and I could not find any other creators making apparel for the Ultra Vixen II body).
The feet come in only one height (high heels), and they do not support any shoes other than the ones you buy at Heather’s store.
Your skin options are limited. As far as I could tell, there were only two skin tones (the ones in the first and second Stay at Home gifts; the skin in the L$15 package was the same as the first gift). There is no HUD to change the makeup and nails. Apparently, alternate skin tones are available, although I did not see them for sale in the Ultra Vixen II store; you can IM HeatherD Tungsten in Second Life for further information.
This body does not support Omega skin appliers or Bakes on Mesh skins.
The areolas on the breasts are huge and the nipples on the breasts are quite perky! (I’m sure this is quite intentional on the part of the designer.) Anything you wear on this body will show that (again, intentional). This is not a body you want to wear if you are a wallflower, or trying to be subtle 😉
In summary, between all four gifts, this is a nice, curvy Bento mesh body which comes with a good free starter wardrobe, and definitely an option if you want a C-cup or D-cup breast size—there’s even a G-cup shape included (helloooo, Botched Surgeries!!!). If that’s your style, then you might quite like this free mesh avatar.
Hair can be expensive! Today, inspired by the new hair wall at The Free Dove and by Cat Pink’s new video (appended to the end of this rather long blogpost), I decided to compile a list of all the places I like to go when I need to pick up some fabulous free tresses for my female alts! Some you might already know about, but some you might not.
The Free Dove
Palomma Casanova has completely revamped the free hair wall at the back of her venerable freebie store, The Free Dove (here’s the exact SLURL), so if you haven’t paid a visit in a while, why not pop in? It’s still the single best collection of freebie hair for men and women on the grid!
Firelight has generously donated different eight hair gifts, including the Leslie long hairstyle, which comes with a HUD with six colour options, plus a separate tinting HUD to adjust it to any shade you desire:
The Dolly hair, another gift from Firelight, comes in a sand brown colour:
The Marilyn hair, a gift from Alli&Ali Hair, comes in a light brown colour:
The blunt-cut Olivia medium-length hairstyle by Sintiklia is extremely versatile! It comes in a complete fatpack of colours, and a styling HUD with nine options:
The Rina hair-and-fedora combo by Lara AC is cute (it comes in just the brown shown, however, and you cannot change the colour of the hat, either):
One of my favourite places to go for free hair is D!va. Join the D!va store group for free and you can pick up this lovely Aria hairstyle from the panel right behind the front counter, which comes in a full fatpack of colours, plus a styling HUD:
And, if you walk around the narrow wall behind the front counter, on the back of it is yet another fabulous free gift from D!va: the Iris hairstyle, which again comes in a complete fatpack, with a styling HUD, and separately wearable parts for the long fall in the back, the front fall over the shoulders, and the braids! There are just so many ways you can wear this hair. The Iris package even includes the gown you see in the picture below!
The Stay at Home Club
Another wonderful place to pick up some free, high-quality hair is The Stay at Home Club website (check the Accessories section, and just click on the pictures to get the SLURLs of the stores). Here I show you three of the free hairstyles available for female avatars.
The curly Sugar hairstyle by Miss Canning comes with a HUD with 40 different colour choices:
Versaci, among a generous selection of other Stay at Home Club gifts, offers you a complete fatpack of this shorter, bobbed hairstyle called Beckie:
The long, wavy Rhea hair by Sintiklia comes in a full fatpack of colours, and includes a styling HUD to wear each side forward or back as you desire. The Rhea hairstyle package also includes two styles of bangs, which are separate attachments.
Note that, in addition to the Olivia hair at The Free Dove (mentioned earlier), and this Rhea hairstyle, there are a number of free hairstyles on the Free Gifts wall at the Sintiklia store, so be sure to take a good look around once you’re there!
Visit NYNE, join their group for free, and you can pick up no less than thirty-nine free hairstyles from the shelves behind the front counter! Six newer hairstyles are in the bags on the lower shelf, and there are another 33 hairstyles from 2018 and 2019 in the gift boxes on the upper shelf. Seriously, no other store on the grid offers you so much free hair! (There’s also a Stay at Home Club hair gift nearby too, to make it an even 40 free hairstyles!)
Let’s look at a couple of the hairstyles, all of which come with a HUD with six or seven colour options, plus separately colourable streaks.
First up is the long, straight Anissa hair:
Next is Tivi, a fun, crimped hairstyle:
Finally, here is the Kim hairstyle:
In addition to the free Firelight hairstyles you can find at both The Free Dove and the excellent freebie store at Ajuda SL Brasil, head on down to the Firelight main store, join the Firelight group for free, and pick up the current and all the past group gifts:
The Emma braided hair comes with a HUD with nine colour options:
Lamb has five free hairstyles as group gifts (the Lamb group is free to join).
This is the Angel hair, which comes in a fatpack of colours:
Navy and Copper
If you join the Navy and Copper group for free, you can pick up three free hairstyles from their store (here’s the SLURL):
Here is one of those three gifts, the Green Tea ponytail, which comes in a complete fatpack of colours:
Olive Hair has a wall with fifteen lucky boards, which do not require a group join. The letters change frequently, and there is usually a crowd of avatars waiting for their initial to appear, so your chances of picking up a free hairstyle are pretty good:
This is the White Rabbit hair, which comes in a blonde fatpack, with optional bunny ears:
Finally, Cat Pink SL (bless her heart) has just published a brand new YouTube video, with no less than twenty different places she goes to for free women’s hair in Second Life! Some of them I have mentioned up top, but many I have not.
If you visit the video page on YouTube (be sure click on “SHOW MORE” in the description text located below the video), she even provides a very handy list of the SLURLs to all the stores she mentions!
So, as you can see, lacking in Linden dollars does not mean you have to go bald in Second Life! Happy freebie shopping!