Chasing Pixels: A Beginner’s Guide to Avatar Collecting
Also by kreepyjess
Have you ever found yourself wandering aimlessly around Neopia with nothing better to do than to sort through hair bows or read through random spam boards? Have you seen people posting with shiny avatars next to their usernames and wished you could have those shiny avatars too? Look no further! One of my favorite pastimes on Neopets is Avatar Collecting.
From my earliest days of being a Neopian, I have always found it exciting and fun to accidentally stumble upon a pop-up reading "Something has happened! You are now eligible to use... as an avatar on the Neoboards!" while visiting certain places or playing certain games. It's a little harder to come by those words now, as my avatar collecting has since become more advanced so to speak, but the good news is that I have more of them too! I would love to share a few things I have learned along the way in my adventures of avatar collecting.
They say that to be an avatar collector is to strive to master all of Neopia, and in some ways that is true! To collect avatars, you must try your hand at games, become proficient at earning neopoints, be social and friendly enough to receive item lends from your fellow Neopians, be quick enough to restock, and even to be extremely lucky for many of those randoms. Is it daunting? Heck yes! But that's also what makes it so very fun and challenging. But don't be discouraged - start small, work your way up, and before you know it you'll be able to sneak into the high score table from time to time and you'll be hooked. I will not attempt to list each and every secret avatar out there individually, as there really are quite a lot of them. Instead I will attempt to teach you about the different types of secret avatars. If it is a specific avatar you seek and you cannot figure out how to unlock it, I would suggest trying the Avatars/NeoSignatures chat boards - where you can usually find a useful Neopian who is willing to show off – err, I mean SHARE their expertise on the subject.
Avatars vary in difficulty - some avatars are very difficult to obtain taking weeks, days or even years of diligent efforts while others are based on luck and luck alone, while even others are just a mouse-click away. That's just how TNT rolls. New avatars will be usually be announced in the news for us users to figure out, unless it is a prize for having taken part in a site event. A lot of avatars can be collected on side accounts, without breaking the terms and conditions. You have to keep in mind that you are not allowed to earn any neopoints on your sides, so playing games or trying for avatars that could potentially earn points on your side are obviously out of the question.
Types of avatars:
Click-ables: These are the easiest to get, and therefore the most common to see around the boards. These avatars will involve visiting a certain place on the site such as a pet lookup or a Neopedia article, sometimes with an additional criteria such as certain (inexpensive) items in your inventory, or while wearing a specific avatar. If you are looking to boost your avatar count quickly, I suggest getting all of these first.
Game avatars: Loved by few and loathed by many, these are earned by scoring a specified minimum score in a certain game. These are usually easy to spot, since the avatar itself will almost always look like and be named after the game you must play to unlock it. You will find that some games may be easy-breezy-who-are-they-kidding for you, while others might seem impossible. But I can assure you that the cliché 'practice makes perfect' does indeed hold a lot of truth. If you find yourself stuck in a rut with your score not improving, try reading some game guides out there, or asking for tips from those wonderful show-offs, err – I mean HELPERS in the Avatar Chat.
Many games have "cheats" or "secret bonuses" built into the game that will give you an extra life or other advantages for typing in the secret code or following a secret pattern. Often I like to experiment with different game quality setting and game sizes. Some people find it helps to listen to music or television while they play, while others find it too distracting. Find out what works the best for you. Personally, I like to put the games I am working on in my favorite game list, so that it's easy for me to play them a few minutes at a time to practice. The key here is to never give up – keeping in mind that nothing really is impossible even though it may feel like that sometimes, and that sometimes you are just one "lucky game" away from getting that avatar score.
Seasonal: These avatars are only available during a certain time of the year, sometimes just a single day. Most are linked to a Neopian holiday.
Site events: Plots and other site events will often award avatars to those who complete or participate in them. These will usually not be available to get later when the event is over so make sure to read the news and read the boards to get the latest scoop on what is happening around Neopia! Some of these *may* be available on the following year which would make the avatar seasonal as well, but don't bank on that – Neopia is so unpredictable it's best to snatch it up as soon as you can.
Random/misc: Random avatars are perhaps the most frustrating ones since luck is the key factor involved in getting them. Sometimes quite a lot of luck and quite a lot of patience! These include spinning various wheels and landing on that lucky square, visiting various dailies day after day, or simply refreshing on a page until you finally get that coveted "SHH" event.
Pet/petpet/petpetpet: These avatars involved having a specific color or species of pet, petpet or petpetpet on your account, sometimes past a certain age. These pets can be borrowed from Neofriends through the pound or transfer system, or painted/aged by hand.
Item: Item avatars involve having a specific item in your possession. Some of these may require using or feeding the item to a pet, while others just involve having it in your inventory long enough to refresh. For those that do not require consuming the item, many opt to "borrow" these items instead – especially for the more expensive and hard to find items. And still others will require collecting stamps, completing a map, spending a token, or some other sort of collecting the various items you find around Neopia.
Battledome: You'd best start training those pets of yours, because there are a lot of avatars out there that require you to enter the Battledome and do some serious battling. Fun! There are opponents ranging in difficulty from easy to very difficult.
There are also some avatars that don't fit into any of the categories listed here, or that even fit into several at once. For example: Chef Bonju avatar is both a seasonal and an item avatar, while SuAP is both a pet avatar and a item avatar. TNT can be pretty creative like that, to the chagrin and delight of us all!
Borrowing for Avatars:
When it comes to pet or item avatars, you can of course save up to buy or create the item or pet you need for the avatars yourself, but borrowing can be a great option for you if you are not wanting to keep the item or pet in question. The Avatar boards can be a great place to begin your search for lenders. For item avatars, keep in mind that many lenders will require collat/collateral for the full value of the item being lent for them to hold while you are using their item. The collateral works as a security for both you and the lender. Typically the lender will put the item you wish to borrow on the trading post and you offer Neopoints or items that are about the same value as the item you are borrowing. When you are done using the item, you put it back up on the trading post and the lender will offer your Neopoints or items back. This way the lender knows he or she will be able to replace their item in case something bad should happen.
Some people are kind enough to lend items and pets "for free", but this is a bit trickier than it sounds. It is NEVER okay for a lender to ask for compensation for lending, or to offer to pay someone to borrow something – so technically, ALL lends are "free". But what is commonly referred to as a "free lend" is when the lender is not asking collateral and is willing to send you the item as a gift. However, collateral or not, a lend is still a lend and you are not allowed to keep the item. You should also keep in mind that this is risky business, though, since an item can wind up stolen from the Pant Devil or lost to some other pesky random event, so be careful! Also keep in mind that although it is just a "pixel", you are still asking to borrow someone's hard work – please remember your manners (please, thank you, and the like) when asking for or dealing with a lend, and be sure you respect the other person by not disappearing in the middle. If you fail to return their item in a reasonable amount of time, they can report you.
Borrowing pets can also be a great way to earn avatars, for those avatar pets you don't own yourself. This is not against the rules, but keep in mind that you can not ask for collateral for a pet, or offer someone Neopoints or other compensation for lending you their pet. Do not forget while borrowing that someone else is showing you a lot of trust by sending you their beloved pet, so act accordingly! It is not nice to zap, re-lend, paint or in any other way alter the pet unless the lender told you it is okay with them to do so. Send the pet back as agreed with the owner.
It can be nice to know some of the most commonly used abbreviations, so that you don't feel like totally lost reading and talking on the boards. I listed some of them here.
- The AC is the avatar chat (Avatars/NeoSignatures board)
- FQD stands for Faerie Queen Doll
- BCG stands for Bony Grarrl Club
- ITTPD stands for I taunt the Pant Devil
- ZDAP stands for Zafara Double Agent Plushie
- MSPP stands for Malevolent Sentient Poogle Plushie (TCG)
- SuAP stands for Super Attack Pea
That's it from me this time around. I hope this helped and inspired you to work on your avatar count some more. Maybe one day I will see you on the Neoboard Avatar Collector high score table! There are spiffy trophies to be won, for the top 17 avatar collectors on the list, as well as a super-exclusive "Avatar Collector" avatar. Good luck!