Who Are You Calling Plain?
RAINBOW POOL - I've received many different questions in my time here at Neopets,
but there's one in particular that's always made me stop and think: "Why is
your Lupe MaxKanine plain-coloured" Can't you afford a paint brush?" Well,
yes I can afford it, thrifty as I may be. That's why all of Max's siblings are
painted. Specifically, they're painted in ways that reflect their personalities.
Achilles81, whose head is always in the clouds as he loves to read and write,
is naturally a cloud Gelert. Moeioe's a faerie Moehog because he's always wanted
to fly--it means more chances to get into mischief! And then there's Rooruon--sweet,
sensitive, eager-to-please, mutated... well, you get the idea.
But Max is a simple guy--calm, quiet, contemplative. So, it's not that I'm
neglecting him, but that his "simple" green colour just fits him, and he and
I both find it quite handsome also. While I like many of the colours that Lupes
can be painted in, none has yet managed to impress me more than the one that
first charmed me into saving him from the pound. I never think of Max as being
any less special than his brothers, and certainly not because he is a so-called
So I wondered why some people seem to have the idea that a pet has to be painted
or else it isn't special. A poll of owners with plain pets on the chat boards
seemed to confirm my suspicion that this general opinion existed. Twenty-four
percent of the people polled said that they liked their pet the way it was,
and would not paint it whether they could afford to or not. Still 20% more stated
various other reasons for their pets' unpainted states, ranging from a belief
that it is cruel to paint pets, to saving Neopoints for other purposes, from
the effects of the lab ray, to not liking the available colours enough. Yet,
the majority of people with plain pets, a full 56%, stated that their pet was
unpainted only because they couldn't afford the paint brush, and many of them
lamented this perceived problem.
To counteract the belief that plain is just plain, I decided to look at five
particular plain pets and speak to their owners about them. These people all
offer different reasons for why their pets are not painted, but they all have
one thing in common: they all think their pets are quite special anyway, and
most of Neopia would have to agree.
The Neopian Times Hero
You've probably at least heard of Al_the_chia, possibly the most famous
character in The Neopian Times. But have you ever considered that Al is just
a "plain" blue Chia" Perhaps not, since Al is so distinctive with his thick
glasses, exclamations of "Oh Piffle," and penchant for Lupology. As Al_the_chia
(the owner) says, "Your pet isn't special unless it has character." And he has
certainly managed to create a character with character through his writings
about his famous pet. Al the author points out that even painted pets have many
pets out there who look exactly like them, but, "Al is special because he is
(in a sense) alive. He's different from every other blue Chia in Neopia."
Al the author admits that practical reasons have a lot to do with Al remaining
a blue Chia; Al was and always has been blue in the stories about him, as well
as the images of him that have been created, so "If he weren't blue it would
do a lot of damage to his character." But his "plain" colour also seems to fit
him better than any other could. Showing his characteristic sense of humour,
Al the author points out the disasters that might occur if Al were painted any
of the more fancy colours available to Chias: "[If he was Tyrannian] can you
imagine him clubbing Lupes over the head and dragging them into caves to conduct
DNA tests? Or if her were an avocado, he'd be too tall to walk through doorways!"
In the end, Al the author says, his Chia is too busy to care about the fact
that the other pets in his owner's account are all painted. He's pampered instead
by training, battle equipment, and a great-looking petpage, not to mention his
starring role in most of Al_the_chia's stories. "Plain-coloured as he is," Al
the author reminds us, "he can really kick tail." The Lupologist himself has
the final word: "We're Stayin'! We're Plain! Get used to it!"
The Comic Star
Chances are, you'll recognise Tinello from The Neopian Times also. His well-loved
comic even features his "plain" colour in its name: "L*U*P*E* Blue!" Some might
find it strange that while Tinello is his owner's oldest and most famous Lupe,
he is the only one in his family who is not painted. But his owner, and artist,
Oasis21, explains: "Tinello is my first pet and by far my favourite, so I am
reserving his colour to be painted striped when Lupes are available striped.
I like him blue though, and he doesn't have to be painted all fancy to be my
Clearly, Tinello is special to Oasis21 then, and through his starring role
in her comics, his uniqueness has been shown off to the rest of Neopia as well.
And Tinello himself recognises that he's special too, thanks to the love of
his owner and fans. Says Oasis21, "He knows that he doesn't need to be painted
special to know he's unique." So, this "plain" Lupe suffers from no sibling
rivalry but just revels in the attention that he receives from other sources
than just his looks. "You have to love 'em for who they are," Oasis21 insists,
"not what they look like."
As for the idea that being painted alone can make a pet special, she points
out that, "If you think your pet can't be special in a "plain" colour, then
it will never be truly special in a fancy colour." And she goes on to offer
tips from an artist's point of view on how you can make your own pet special
without spending Neopoints: "You can pretend they have markings, or jewellery
and things. You don't need to stick to the guidelines of the painted pets."
Tinello happily chimes in with one last comment on the matter: "That's right!
Plaint pets rule!"
The Lab Pet
"Just because it's plain doesn't mean it's bland." Those are the words of
Neopian Times author Sarakrindel as she speaks about her pet, Taylorkrindel
the blue Acara. Of course, Taylor may not necessarily be a blue Acara at the
moment, because, like many other Neopets, Taylor has been experimenting with
the Secret Laboratory Ray. But Taylor is unique among many of the lab pets out
there in that Sarakrindel plans to turn her back into a "plain" blue Acara once
all the experimentation is finally over. She likes Taylor's normal appearance--"In
my opinion, blue *is* the best colour for Acaras. Just look at it! It's a nice,
pleasant hue."--and is just visiting the lab ray for the stats, not the
possibility of getting a fire, faerie, or robot pet.
In explaining her preference for the look of a "plain" blue pet when there
are so many painted options, Sarakrindel says, "Just because it's a lot cheaper
doesn't mean it's by default worse... fancy colours are a lot rarer... as well
as having a great potential of looking *really* good. But plain colours are
more simple, which means they are, in many cases, less likely to be hideous
like some of the fancy colours."
Since she likes her Acara's blue colour and her "wealth is already expressed
by Taylor's stats," Sara doesn't feel the need to show off by painting
her pet as she thinks some people do. According to her, being special is not
just about how a pet looks, but "it's also how they feel, what they like
to do with their time, and their temperament." Sara compares Taylor to
"a romantic image of the war-like, yet practical, female." She is
the most aggressive of Sara's pets, and her time spent and success in the Battledome
aptly demonstrate that part of her personality. "[Taylor] also likes looking
casual, but the nicer side of casual," Sara adds. "Blue is a simple,
yet nice, colour which fits her." So, Taylor likes her simple blue Acara
look as much as her owner does, and feels no jealousy about her brother Butterfingerbeak's
fire paint job. Described by her owner as "not brilliant" but "not
stupid either," Taylor has these simple but effective words to end with:
"Just because it's "plain" doesn't mean it can't look good."
The Beauty King
"Many of my friends thought that their pet needed to be painted to be handsome
enough to win the Beauty Contest," says Philodice, owner of Phi1odice the blue
Koi, or Phi1 as his family calls him. "So I wanted to prove that Phi1odice is
a winner regardless of his colour." And prove it she has; Phi1 is proud to have
earned four beauty contest trophies and all without a fancy paint job. His owner
attributes his success to a supportive guild and to asking people to rate her
artwork and vote if they liked it, which obviously they did.
Although some of Phi1's siblings are painted and limited edition pets, Philodice
says he isn't jealous at all. All of her pets are spoiled in different ways,
because they all have different personalities. And besides the fact that blue
is Philodice's favourite colour, it also reflects Phi1's personality. "He
loves water and aquatic plants," Philodice explains, "so his blue
colour reflects his passion for the peaceful pond he created on his petpage.
He says the garden inspires meditation and learning for the family." Phi1's
Koi pond even won his petpage the Site Spotlight not long ago.
Philodice also offers some practical advantages to having a plain-coloured
pet. "Pricey colours catch all the wrong attention from scammers and Chia Flour
users," she points out. Also, whereas an expensive paint job may warn Battledome
opponents that your pet probably has good weapons, a plain pet has the advantage
of the "element of surprise." Blushing, Phi1 adds one more reason for liking
plain pets that his owner forgot to mention: "Mum says she loves us just the
way we are, and no coat of paint is going to change the way she feels."
The Split Personality
"Snowfrost is pretty famous, some tell me," says Bytail of her
well-known green Gelert. "You don't need a brush to make that Neopet special,
as she clearly shows." She describes her Gelert as "a loving goof-ball,"
modest, and down to Earth--traits that are reflected in her green coat. Bytail
has developed Snowfrost's personality and uniqueness through her artwork. "I
added snowflakes to her rump--" Snowfrost says, "only fitting since
her name is "Snowfrost." The Gelert's uniqueness continues to shine
through in the petpage that her owner has created for her, which shows off pictures
of her, tells her story, and introduces someone else... her "coal black"
sister with "poisonous green eyes," Dark Snowfrost. "She is just
the opposite of Snowfrost in all aspects," says Bytail. "You don't
get more unique than having a darker entity that you bore from your own inner
hatred, a soul sister."
So, it's the unique look and story that Bytail has created with her imagination
that make Snowfrost special--no fancy colour needed. "Everyone wants all
the hottest colours to paint up their Gelerts, which makes them all boring,"
Bytail argues. "These hot colours become the common ones because everyone
wants or has 'em." So, both Snowfrost and her owner are quite proud and
attached to her *uncommon* green colouring. Snowfrost has even managed to win
a couple of Beauty Contest trophies in her time, and Bytail points out that
Snowfrost's painted siblings have not had the same success in their attempts.
To her, it's not colour that matters in the Beauty Contest, but skill or friends.
"I think it's dumb not to love a Neopet... just because they don't have that
new, expensive coat," Bytail concludes. "It's just a colour that costs you to
empty your NP wallet." Bytail and Snowfrost, like many other owners and plain
pets, have found more creative ways than simple spending to be special. As always,
the Neopet herself has the final words in this interview, and words of wisdom
they are: "Every Neopet should be loved for who they are, not what colour they
come in. colour is colour, it can change and fade... but love for us can never
So, if you've got a "plain" pet for whatever reason, don't despair.
Instead, depend on your imagination, creativity, and love to make your Neopet
special, not just on your bank account. As the examples of these five pets and
their owners have shown, it's not a fancy coat of paint that makes a Neopet
exceptional. There are plenty of "plain" pets out there who are really
anything but plain. In fact, perhaps like the old "Plain M&Ms," plain
pets need a new, more suitable, name. Reading over this finished article, MaxKanine
had only this to add: "Hmmm, that's a pretty good idea, Tdyans. But somehow,
I just don't think "milk chocolate pets" would fit us very well either..."