“Bento equipped” starter avatars for Second Life

The new Rhiannon avatar from the Lab standing and with optional Bento horse

First hinted at during Patch and Dee’s Meet the Lindens session at SL14B, the new set of Second Life avatars from Linden Lab appeared on Wednesday, July 5th, and were announced via an official blog post.

There are eight avatars in the new range, referred to as the “Renaissance” set – a term more akin to the capabilities provided with the avatars than the actual historical period, perhaps. They are paired into four sets of male and female avatars which might be described as: angel, demon, warrior and (as the Lab calls them) “mystic heroes”.

Three of the pairs – angel, demon and warrior – are “Bento equipped”, meaning they make use of the Bento skeleton for their wings (angels / demons) or horse (warriors). Note this does not mean the avatars themselves are Bento; they are system avatars, but are supplied with fitted mesh clothing and mesh accessories.

The new avatars are best accessed via Me (/Avatar > Choose an Avatar)

To make use of any of the new avatars, display the Choose an Avatar picker, scroll to the one you wish to try, and click on it. Your avatar will wear the outfit, which is also transferred to your Clothing system folder under the avatar’s name, one of:

  • Anna or Marcus for the angels
  • Elleria or Sauin for the demons,
  • Kara or Feng for the “mystic heroes”
  • Rhiannon  or Thomas for the horse riders.

There can be some short-lived oddities when wearing the Bento equipped avatars using Replace Current Outfit. For example, as the riding animation for Rhiannon and Thomas is an attachment, depending on how things load, it can briefly look as if you are standing “in” the horse, rather than sitting in the saddle.

Also, as the horses use the wing bones for their forelegs, swapping to a winged avatar after using one of the horse-related avatars at any time in a session, can lead to your wings appearing in front of you  at thigh level to you and those around you. Walking forward should fix this in all views (if not, right clicking on your avatar and using the Reset Skeleton option may be required – if other still see your wings oddly placed, advise them to do the same with your avatar).

The Kara “Mystic Hero (and non-Bento equipped) avatar (l)  and the Elleria avatar with Bento wings

You can obviously mix’n’match the avatar elements should you wish. For example, want to have the (nominally) “non-Bento” Kara avatar to ride a horse? Just copy the horse mesh and riding AO from Rhiannon’s folder to Kara’s folder. Detach Kara’s default AO and then attach the riding AO and horse.   and attach.

Be aware that a little care is required if you wish to use a horse with one of the winged avatars. As the horse forelegs use the wing bones, you will need to remove the wings before attaching a horse (and vice-versa), or a conflict will occur. Note, as well, that you can rez the two horses in-world as static objects, should you wish. They have an LI of 26 (male horse) and 31 (Female horse).

As system avatars with editable shapes, you can obviously apply skin, tattoo and clothing layers to them if you wish and change their shape (the fitted mesh clothing should all follow shape changes within reason).  All of which makes each of them a nice little package if you’re looking for something different for an alt or something.

The new avatars on the SL sign-up page

That said, these avatars aren’t designed for the established user per se – although their low render cost is obviously a boon to those on lower-end systems. Really, these are more geared to new starters in SL, and as such, they have all taken their place on the sign-up page avatar carousel. In terms of their render costs, seven of the eight sit between 12K and 18K in their default look, and the most expensive in terms of rendering – Kara –  is 30,059, which is still more than reasonable.

In terms of general looks, these avatars compare very well with updated Classic avatars released in 2015 and the last set of mesh avatars released by the Lab. However, a little more in the way of ethnic diversity might be nice (Asian, for example?).

My alt avatar using the new Elleria demoness avatar, sans wings (so as to avoid conflicts with the horse), the Rhiannon avatar AO, and the Bento horse from the Thomas avatar – note my avatar is also wearing my preferred system skin for her, applied to the Elleria shape

Overall, a decent set, which increases the range of starter avatars and which are pretty cost-effective. I certainly like the Elleria avatar enough to now use it as the default look (again, sans wings for now) for my alt avie. As she is simply a CTA (Crash Test Avie) when fiddling with viewers, and a stand-in for me when I’m busy in-world elsewhere and cannot always attend a meeting, I’ve never really invested in outfits for her. So I think she appreciates the occasion change of look like this 🙂 .