Hello Kitty-readers! I’ve not written a long, rambling blog-post in ages but get ready, because there’s one coming up right now. I wanted to share some thoughts on the latest must-have item that has got the grid trembling with excitement, the GENESIS LABS ALEX MESH HEAD.
Mesh heads aren’t anything new and it’s to be expected that since mesh bodies have cemented themselves firmly in our virtual environment that mesh heads should do the same, but there are some fundamental differences. The main one is that most mesh heads are very limited with regards to customization options and it’s for these reasons that they’re not something I’m very keen on. However, I do expect that we will see mesh-heads take off in a massive way when the designers start to build them with gusto and the skin makers start to fully embrace them.
But just because Kitty doesn’t wear a mesh head it doesn’t mean that Jez can’t wear one. Even though Jez isn’t my avatar (nor is he my alt, I don’t actually have one believe it or not!) I do make the decisions about how he looks, mainly because if he were to dress himself he would look like Uncle Knobby at your ugly cousin’s wedding! (You know what I mean: gravy down his shirt, socks that don’t match and lots of velour. I shudder at the very thought! ) For that reason alone I refuse to be seen in Second Life with a train-wreck on my arm. I don’t have many standards but that one this Kitty is sticking to!
Because this mesh-head looked interesting I decided to treat him to it. This is as much an experiment in learning about mesh heads for me as it is about a change of appearance for him, so off I trotted to the COSMOPOLITAN SALES ROOM and picked up a demo with beloved in tow. We zoomed back home and began the process. Now, first of all, I want to say that demoing this product isn’t easy because of the way the demo is packaged out of the box; when you wear it there’s a huge opaque band that sits on the head and it is very difficult to get an accurate ‘feel’ for the head because of it. I can’t say I was especially impressed by it, but I understand why it is there. There’s a genuine requirement for demo objects to have layers of security built into them. I know there are some rotten types out there who think nothing of ripping off content creators and performing some sort of magical jiggery pokery that turns the demo into the actual product, thus stealing precious, hard-earned cash from the creator.
That sucks, I wouldn’t do it and I wouldn’t associate myself with anyone who did it either, but I do take issue with things that I cannot demo properly. To recap, at today’s exchange rate L$2500 is about £7.05 and to be honest that’s money that I really cannot afford to throw away in Second Life, so I need the demo to be an accurate representation of the product that I’m considering purchasing.
Needless to say, the experience that the demo was providing was putting me off. What also put me off was the enclosed notecard which seemed tailored towards the range of existing GENESIS LABS female heads, rather than this male one. (It was also obviously translated but not so badly that I couldn’t get the gist of it.) Already this initial demo was leaving me feeling there was considerable room for improvement with the whole demo package and I wondered if that would be reflected in the actual ‘Alex’ Mesh Head itself, which Jez was eager to purchase regardless…
So we took the plunge. It’s straightforward enough if you’ve worn mesh products before (which I do, frequently) to understand what needs to be done, starting with an alpha-layer that covers your head (and eyes) because you’ll be replacing everything up top.
The head fitted well against THE SHOPS DELUXE MALE MESH BODY that Jez wears (looks amazing but don’t get me started on their whole shopping ‘experience’ or I’ll never finish!) but immediately I started to realise the shortcomings of such an item.
For a start, you are considerably limited to the changes you can make to your appearance; you can change the length of the head, and the size of it, and the depth to some degree, but that’s it. Everything else is static, so you can’t change the shape of your nose or mouth which means that you’re going to see lots of alternate versions of you walking around the grid. There are ways you can change your look though, or example, Jez is a member of the IKON update group which meant he’d picked up the recent June group gift of a pair of rather fabulous eyes. (They’re from the stunning ‘Odyssey’ range in ‘Clarity’) Because these are mesh eyes he can wear them with the head, so that’s something that we can do to make our look slightly different to all others. (Note: The ‘Alex’ HUD does include a rather comprehensive selection of eyes to choose from though, in case you don’t already have mesh eyes in your inventory.)
The rest of your appearance changes are dependent upon the HUD then, which is very straightforward to use. The novelty of Alex is that there are a multitude of facial tattoo options (beautifully documented HERE by Mokatana) that you can select from and these look quite good suggesting that he had a great time during amateur hour at the local tattoo parlour! You can also go for a Hangover-esque tribal style around the eye area should you so wish. There are scars and moles that you can select from too and all of these can be used to add character to your face and they do so really well (at least until you encounter someone in-world who is sporting exactly the same options as you).
Alex’s brow game is strong and they’re styled well. You can opt for solid brows or the urban types with the Vanilla Ice shaved bits (which never looked good in 1990 let alone 2015) but I digress; the point is there has been some thought that has gone into the physical production of Alex and on the whole it works really well resulting in a very attractive visage indeed.
But here’s where it starts to fall apart for me. I don’t like the fact that Jez can’t change his expression. I get fed-up with our avatar inability to smile in-world. Of course, I know that you can make facial expressions in-world but they’re hardly attractive and more novelty than anything else. I always think that I end up looking gormless when I smile, so to my mind a strength of any mesh head should be facial expressions but nope, ‘Alex’ just comes with the one look, which is glum. To be fair being a moody chuff suits him but I would have absolutely killed for a selection of expressions to play about with.
The other thing I don’t like is he has no eyelashes. I know it may seem a trivial point but I think it’s important; people have eyelashes so to my mind ‘Alex’ needs some too! I hate to see avatars without eyelashes; lashes frame the eyes and make such a difference to your appearance which can look incredibly flat without them. Besides, ‘Alex’ is pretty flat from the side anyway, unless you’ve managed to change the depth of his face with your slider settings but even then it does feel like he’s been hit in the chops with an iron skillet! Because he’s a mesh and 3D I want to see depth and dimension so anything that can provide that is worth adding to the package. Those minor criticisms aside, he still looks better in profile than many regular avatars you see on the grid, so he has that going for him I guess.
Facial hair is another area that offers HUD options for you to try, and I appreciate the fact that the basic shades of black, brown, blonde and red are accommodated here. The facial hair appearance is actually really well done; it looks the part and I’ve no complaints regarding it at all, in fact the hairbases that are included are really lovely and Jez can wear them pretty confidently on their own, as the main picture shows, and with regards to the facial hair and embellishments you can tell that these parts of the appearance were well considered before application and the quality of creation does shine through when these elements of design are taken into account.
The skin tone Jez is wearing Alex in is 3, and that matched relatively well with tone 16 from the Style Mode HUD for his THE SHOPS body. The addition of a tattoo also helps hide any discrepancies in tone, and we found Jez an absolute beauty at the latest round of ANYBODY from WHITE WIDOW called ‘Tombstone’ (more on that label later!)
Oh, another quick point, ALEX comes with really dinky little ears as part of the package which Jez opted to change for his AITUI favourites (Ear system Gen. 4 Pierced) which were pretty easy to skin match courtesy of the epic AITUI HUD. These ears are pretty awesome actually with tons of options, not least the little tattoos that you can wear on them and if you go for the facial tattoo options in Alex they match quite well indeed!
Despite some of my more negative points there’s no denying Alex’s credentials; this is indeed a quality mesh head, but for me it doesn’t offer enough in the package to warrant the L$2500 price-tag. Personally speaking for that price I want to see more functions and feature options and clear, concise instructional notecards. My hope is that further releases are going to build upon the solid foundations that Alex offers. Don’t forget that there aren’t any appliers out there yet for him, so you have to mix it up a bit if you want to wear him with your existing skin or mesh body. I was dreading this task but we actually found this to be quite successful, which I think the photograph proves.
To sum up then I think both Jez and I agreed that Alex has a LOT to offer and it’s always exciting when something as special as this mesh head is launched in-world, but I’d caution against getting swept up in the tide of enthusiasm just yet. If you can afford to splash out then go for it and enjoy, but if you’re hesitant I would say hang on to your Lindens and wait for the GENESIS LABS team to build upon Alex’s very solid foundations. It’s a great product, but it’s not a fantastic product yet although it definitely has tonnes of potential.
Mesh head: Genesis Labs Alex @ The Cosmopolitan Sales Room
Mesh Body: ‘Deluxe’ Male Mesh Body by The Shops
Eyes: Odyssey Eyes in ‘Clarity’ (June Group Gift) by IKON
Tattoo: ‘Tombstone’ by WHITE WIDOW @ ANYBODY
Clothing: Denim Shorts by PUMPKIN @ The Mens Dept
Pose: Poses from the ‘Willie’ range by POSEOLOGY