From The Mesh Project at The Shops comes the long-awaited beta of the male mesh avatar that they have been working on for quite awhile, according to all indications, and the fact that The Shops! have been jam-packed since the release a few days ago suggests that they’ve come not a moment too soon. The Mesh Project’s male avatar is, I think, the first really serious attempt at a male avatar aimed at the widest possible market, including support for third-party appliers, complicated alpha setup, and more. Alongside the release of the body was the release of their male mesh head in five different variations, another much sought-after accessory, and no less than seven brand new male skins. For this review, however, I’m using a somewhat older skin, Prince from The Skin Shop (part of the The Shops! collective, who are known to have included the prolific designers behind some of SL’s most well-regarded brands over the years: Naughty, ARMIDI,and Abyss.)
Seen here alongside the female Slink Physique avatar, the Mesh Project’s male body looks easily comparable in quality. Of particular note are the arms, which now feature actual muscle definition rather than simply depending on texturing to create the illusion of musculature.
Although I initially had severe difficulties getting the body, hands, and feet to look right under advanced lighting (aka shadows), today this rather magically fixed itself. I believe that the issue was that, for whatever reason, the hands, feet, and body were loaded with corrupted or partial maps, and today the cache finally flushed out and things looked as they should. Which means that I now have absolutely no reservations about recommending these.
There really is nothing out there that really matches the Mesh Project’s male body. I’ve long felt that the designers behind Abyss/The Body Co. have made some of the best male skins out there, and it’s no surprise that they’ve designed such an exceptionally good male body. Tweaks to shapes to make the avatar look “right” are fairly minimal—in my case mainly adding a touch more body thickness, then tweaking love handles to get a somewhat more realistic/less idealized waist, or lengthening hips to get a somewhat more realistic rear—and you’re generally good to go.
The included HUD makes it quite easy to use, and will automatically come loaded with any of The Shops! skins that you’ve purchased. There does seem to be an issue with trying to get the old “soft” versions if skins working right, but I suspect this, too, relates to the issue noted above.
Last of all, pricing. The basic model is entirely free, but does not come with alphas at all and is only suitable for nudity. The opposite end of the spectrum is the deluxe, a good L$5000 in price, with a robust alpha system. In between are the L$1000 and L$2500 options, which do not provide an alpha HUD: the starter will include free updates, while the Basic has added clothing and tattoo layers. All of them include the full range of 36 skin tones, and several base skins (for the body, hands, and feet; faces will have to be purchased). At L$5000, the Deluxe is definitely a big investment… but I believe The Mesh Project will have a winner on its hands.