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Archive for August 2007:

Orange and Sketch Kyriis

I don't know if anyone was expecting anything interesting from this year's Kyrii day colours, but if they were, they will be disappointed. However, a look at the colours they already have will tell you that all the interesting ones have already been done- all the colours traditionally regarded as redraws and the ones with accessories.

Orange is very basic, as it should be. It is a slightly different shade of orange chosen to the usual- a nicer one, in my opinion, but then I have never liked orange. It works rather nicely with the pale chest and stomach and the darker fur mane.

Sketch is a bit of a disaster. Whatever it does look like, it isn't really sketch. My first impression was of ice, others have said it looks like snow. Either way, what on earth is shading doing on a sketch? It's supposed to be rough outlines, not a finished drawing. There are also some lines in a darker colour behind the mane which don't seem to belong to it- if they were supposed to be construction lines, then it's not very obvious that's what they are. The addition of a darker outline has not helped- this, I assume, is part of the customisation system, but it looks rather odd.

I suggest that anyone wanting something a bit more interesting should look to the Kyrii day clothes- the robe and cloak look promising, but I'd like to see them in a bigger image and individually.

What do you think? Have your say here.

Mutant Yurble

Another theme day and another theme colour- but this time, it's special. Why? Because this is the first pet released under the customisation system that can be considered a redraw- a significant departure from the outlines of the basic coloured pet. Mutant is one of the remaining colours which can be redraws, along with maraquan and baby pets. But is the art special?

Well, this certainly doesn't look like a normal yurble, which is good. The colours used are also pleasantly different- sludge coloured mutants are all very well, but it's nice to see some variation in the colour. The aspects of the pet which make it mutant seem to fall into three parts:

i) having only one eye. Amazingly, this is only the second mutant pet on the site to do this, the only other is the meerca. It is a nice touch that the usual almond shape of the eye has been retained, along with the differently coloured fur around it. The result is rather unsymmetrical but that adds to the freakishness of the pet, which can be considered rather appropriate for a mutant.

ii) the tentacles. These seem a little bit more random- after all, this is a mutant yurble, not maraquan. But the tentacle ear horns work rather well. The arms I'm not so sure about. They appear to be positioned unevenly and awkwardly and sprouting from the wrong places. It might have been better to have had additional tentacles than to have two positioned oddly. Of course, it is a mutant and doesn't have to be anatomically normal, but there is such a thing as too weird.

iii) the gormless expression, yellowed sticky out teeth and rather overweight and pudgy appearance. The expression is rather cute and the teeth will pass, although I think I would have preferred it without. But I don't like the pudgyness. I guess at least we didn't get that other mutant standby, excessive hairiness.

So, to sum up: it isn't awful, by a long shot. It is one of the cuter mutant pets, but a variety is always good, and certainly no mutant pet is going to appeal to everyone. For me, though, it is just a bit too 'random' to be a pet I'd want.

Discuss this pet here

Royal Grundos

I'd never have expected grundos to be the second species to get space-inspired royal paintjobs, yet somehow the shoyrus pipped them at the post. By a couple of years.

I'm having difficulty forming coherent sentences about the royalboy grundo which I think is the product of ambivalence. Bullet points ahoy!

Plus points:
- the markings are lovely, except for the one on the side of his face which looks like smudged makeup or really bad shading. Now that we can't have reposing I'm all for the addition of markings in what were traditionally redraw colours.
- the orange and purple are not quite obnoxious as they can be, perhaps as it's a fairly yellowy orange. And I suppose this combination was inevitable, since they decided grundos are the reason herple was inflicted on us all.
- I like the shape of his 'shirt' and even the Ming the Merciless collar.

Minus points:
- it's dangerously close to the basic blue colour. That's been annoying in royal pets from the start, but it's even less forgiveable now.
- the red eyes look dreadful and clashy and they're the first thing you look at. Which is a species trait. But that doesn't make it any better.
- the outfit doesn't quite come together. I can't entirely tell what's going on - are they gloves or sleeves, etc. I'd be interested to see it in customisation to work out what is a part of what.

The royalgirl I like a lot more, so hopefully I can come up with full sentences with conjunctions and everything.

Right off the bat, I think her colour is gorgeous. That shade of green is so lovely, the markings on it look fabulous, and it co-ordinates beautifully with the eyes/toenails/bits of space rock. It's slightly strange that her eyes should match those other things, but at least it stops her palette from getting too overcrowded. Especially since, by TNT decree, her outfit is also purple/orange. Sigh. At least the large amount of grey keeps those colours fairly peripheral. Unfortunately her dress does look rather conical to me, so it just doesn't work. The headpiece on the other hand is terrific. Just subtley there, with the bit of glowing space rock suspended in mid air. Brilliant stuff.

It's a bit hard to settle on an overall opinion. I suppose if you were looking for scifi inspired space royalty then they're not entirely objectionable, and provide a nice alternative to the shoyrus which, in my opinion, have absolutely awful colour schemes and no longer have the redemption of adorable poses. But I just can't imagine someone choosing either of these purely for their aesthetics. Maaaybe the girl, if you stripped her of her dress and put something else on instead. But I don't expect to see many of these around. Which is a shame, as grundos benefited greatly in the latest revamp. Gone are the ridiculous chorus-line and surf's up poses of the last revamp, and they even make the clenched fist look natural (though the girly eyelashes look as silly as they do on most species). So it's a little disappointing then that a colour which saw its basic design so much improved should get such blah royal colours. It's a brave attempt to do something different, but somehow it just doesn't come together.

As ever you can have your say on the forum.

Desert and Split Meercas

The desert meerca's face is downright goofy-looking. Not that the standard meercas aren't, but the addition of eyebrows makes it worse - though if you have a meerca in the first place, maybe you don't mind goofiness. They've always been on the chia end of that scale. Anyway, if you want a funny-looking brown meerca, here's your chance. The clothes aren't bad, on the other hand. A standard sort of tail ring, a rather cute headdress, a nice little scepter (which, however, looks very pasted on - seems to be going behind the outstretched paw), and a surprisingly well-fitting robe. Considering the meerca is basically a sphere, the tailor has done some good work. This seems like a decent candidate for a temporary painting just to get the clothes (unless you like goofy eyebrows, of course).

Split... what to say about split? Standard purple and orange. Blech. It's somewhat interesting to see how the pastels used on the face barely clash at all, I suppose. And one advantage of customization is that we'll no longer have to worry about the colors switching sides in battledome poses.

Have your say on the forum.

Grey and Speckled Blumaroos

On the off chance that you've got more money than sense, you can now splash out a few million on a light grey blumaroo with sad eyes and a wibbly mouth.

This is the first grey pet released since customisation and it's rather difficult to find something to say. Given the brief of "make this pet look utterly depressed without changing the lineart" then the artist has done a bang-up job. The eyes and eyebrows are suitably expressive and the mouth is... well they didn't have much space to change the expression, so it's not so bad considering. And thanks to the expression the left fist (which is not as bad as many species, but still could be better) does look like it's being raised exceedingly wearily. It's even a pleasant shade of grey with nice dull pink parts.

But none of it is worth 3 million Neopoints in my eyes. Of course, I have never thought grey was worth that money - I'm one of those odd people who don't like the colour at all. However I could at least see why (in some exceptionally good cases) some people would consider it worth it. But for a blumaroo with sad eyes and a wobble in its smile? Not really seeing the justification

In short, for the constraints the artist had to work within it's perfectly good. But for the pricetag pre-customisation gave the grey pb, I can't imagine anybody actually painting one of these. Of course, given that the grey pb is like this on most species perhaps the price will eventually drop to that of a colourfill. Time will tell.

Onto happier things, speckled has also been released. And it's lovely. I can't think of a single criticism to make, except that I'm not sure I like the coloured outline on the muzzle. About 50% of the new blumaroos have it and it just doesn't work for me amongst the otherwise black outlining. But that really is a minor complaint and a species design issue anyway.

I like the paler speckled pets we've had of late, with the speckles being very pale green. If you'll excuse the pun, it's a very spring-like pet. I'm sure it would be delighted to bounce through the meadow picking flowers.

It's a shame that the utterly unremarkable grey should get four paragraphs of comment whilst the utterly lovely speckled generates only two. But that's sadly the way these things work. As ever, you can have your say on the forum.

On the upside, the roos got some cute clothing today and the von Roo plushie is made of win.

Ice Quiggle

Another theme day and another theme related pet colour- it's good to see pet colours being released on days other than pet days. But is the ice Quiggle any good?

The ice of this pet is very smooth and shiny- not a problem, though, as ice sculptures often are like this if they've melted slightly, and the chisel marks stop showing. However, the knees and body are still rather more blocky than the standard quiggle shape- especially as the eyes are perfectly rounded, it is a little bit odd. To me, the eyes look like they have marbles in them which show up as the pupils. Overall, it is a very solid and three dimensional looking ice pet, which is good- it doesn't look anything like glass, which is a common criticism of ice pets.

Discuss this pet here.

Checkered and Robot Rukis

In comparison with most other pets, the ruki in its basic form is much more complicated- six limbs plus head and antennae. There are no long smooth flowing lines, like in the peophin, tuskaninny and flotsam, nor the spherical or ovoid bodies that jubjubs or kikos have. Naturally, this makes any colour seem 'busy'- but what do we get on ruki day? Two of the most busy colours that exist, checkered and robot.

I'm never that fond of checkered pets, as a whole. The ruki is not awful, but it isn't fantastic, although I'm not sure how a checkered pet could be more than mediocre. Its bright yellow eyes stand out against the cool white and grey shades used, and the effect is somewhat clashing and shouty. One big issue for checkered pets is the shading- it is okay here, far better than the moehog, although the ruki's body shape does help it along somewhat by breaking up the checks.

The first thing I noticed about the robot ruki was that it shares a colour scheme with the robot ixi. This isn't a bad thing- the green and dark grey/silver look good together and the red accents show up nicely. Here, the brightly coloured eyes look right when on the checkered ruki they don't. It manages to be a convincing enough robot, although perhaps the stalks that support the chunky legs and feet are a bit improbable. The overall effect is quite menacing and fierce, which is a nice change from the meek and smiling basic rukis.

Add your thoughts here.