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

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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:

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.

UPDATED! Taking a Second Look at the Viva Full-Mesh Avatar: Why the Mesh Head and Body Wars Are Just Getting Started in Second Life

A month ago, I first wrote about the Viva Full Featured Mesh Avatar (Level 3), available for free on the SL Marketplace. After playing around with the Kalhene Ariadna full-body mesh avatar, and documenting its strengths and weaknesses (notably, a lack of alpha sections on the HUD and support for clothing alphas), I came back to the Viva mesh body with a renewed appreciation for all the work the creator had put into it. The HUD truly is amazing, allowing you to combine both alpha sections and clothing alphas to make just about any outfit fit!

For example, here is one of my alts, who wears an Akeruka Lulu Bento mesh head (one of their early group gifts), which I have grown attached to and wanted to keep. I originally wore it with a classic, SL system body; Akeruka had provided system skins to match the entire range of the Lulu head’s available skin tones. And for a long time I was happy with that.

But today, I decided to upgrade this avatar to a full mesh body, and while I was thinking about how best to do that for an inexpensively as possible, I remembered the free Viva Bento, Bakes-on-Mesh compatible mesh body and decided to try that again. (I wasn’t too crazy about the head that came included with the Viva mesh body, but that is a separate attachment, and you can use literally any head with it.)

Here is what she looks like now:

The only problem I encountered was that the system skins that came with the Akeruka Lulu head were older, and as a result there were white spots at the nail bases of the mesh fingers. To fix this, I used the free set of Bakes on Mesh feet and finger fixes available at League (exact SLURL):

This avatar is wearing:

Mesh Head: Lulu by Akeruka (L$1 group gift, no longer available; the Akeruka group costs L$150 to join).

Mesh Body: the Viva Full Featured Mesh Avatar (Level 3) from the SL Marketplace.

Skin: I used one of the system skins that came with the Lulu head in a matching skin tone, adding the League Bakes on Mesh finger fix in the pale colour, which was the closest match.

Hair: Chella by Analog Dog (I picked this hairstyle with scarf as a free gift at previous gacha event)

Necklace: Metamorpheses Temple Necklace (a gift from the 2019 BURN2 celebration of Burning Man in Second Life)

Top: Cream embroidered peasant blouse by Petite Mort (this is one of my favourite freebies, available from the excellent freebie store at Ajuda SL Brasil).

Jeans: Skinny jeans from Mara’s Mysteries (a free hunt gift, no longer available).

Flats: Amy flats by Hilly Haalan (free group gift from their freebie store; the group is free to join; I found that the Viva mesh body’s flat feet are compatible with both Maitreya and Belleza flat shoes, but the Belleza ones fit a bit better so I used those)

Bag: Boho Bliss fringe bag (with hold pose) from a previous Witchwood hunt (Witchwood is the sim where the Petite Mort and Oubliette stores are located, and they regularly hold small hunts; I believe I paid only L$10 for this delightful bag!)

TOTAL COST FOR THIS AVATAR: Only L$161! (L$150 to join the Akeruka group, L$1 for the Lulu Bento mesh head, and L$10 for the bag)

I am very pleased with the result of this makeover! After my experiences working with both the Viva and the Ariadna mesh bodies, I can say this: with the advent of competition from free or inexpensive Bakes-on-Mesh compatible, Bento bodies, we are getting closer and closer to the time when stores charging (and users paying) thousands of Linden dollars for a mesh head and/or body is going to become harder and harder to justify. Yes, I know it’s a bold statement; hear me out.

The Viva and Ariadna mesh bodies are just the first shots fired in a war for marketshare between the established, big-name brands (Catwa, LeLutka, Maitreya, Belleza, Signature, Slink, etc.) and the smaller, nimbler upstarts. For now, the big-name brands have better designer support and offer more options, but, as we see with the fully-featured HUD that the Viva mesh body offers, that gap is starting to narrow!

I’d strongly encourage you to take a look at the Viva and Ariadna mesh bodies on the SL Marketplace, and give them both a test run. Although they are not perfect, they do give an indication of the direction the market is moving. The days of paying L$10,000 or more for a full-body mesh avatar may be numbered!

UPDATE June 11th, 2020: The Kalhene Ariadna mesh body has just updated to version 2.0, with alpha layer support (SL Marketplace link). It now has a HUD with alpha cuts and skin shininess levels, addressing some of my most serious concerns about the product.

In these final two pictures, I have combined the beautiful head from the Kalhene Ariadna mesh body with the Viva mesh body, using one of the Bakes on Mesh skins that came with the recent Limited Advanced head group gift from Akeruka:

Looking fabulous for zero Lindens! The Viva mesh body offers many more features on their included superHUD (such as a better selection of alpha sections to choose from, five different fingernail lengths, and three foot height options), which the Kalhene Ariadna body does not have. Here I just picked the shortest nails, in a natural nail colour, to go with this makeup-free look.

One particularly nice feature is the option to alpha out the wrists but not the hands, as I did for this long-sleeved minidress (a gift from Little Fox at the recent Cosmopolitan shopping event anniversary round). Surprisingly few HUDs that come with mesh bodies allow this—even the expensive brand names!

UPDATED! 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). Here is the image used to illustrate that Marketplace listing, which I do not think shows off the body in its best light:

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?

UPDATE June 10th, 2020: I have taken a second look at the Viva mesh body, and you can see what I did with it, paired with an Akeruka Bento mesh head, here. I am quite pleased with the results! (I wasn’t too crazy about the head that came included with the Viva mesh body, but that is a separate attachment, and you can use literally any head with it.)

The Viva mesh body paired with the Lulu Bento mesh head by Akeruka