I'm mostly out of the loop, I don't know many people in SL, and I spend a lot of time with tourism and building odd little random nothings. So I just sort of stumbled across the RelayForLife builds.
Incredible. Some of these are absolutely fabulous builds, many in a fraction of a sim, designed to be seen just walking by the road or with a bit more of a detour to explore. And they're all short term (I'm not sure they're even still there now- the walk was yesterday, and I don't know how long they stick around)- it's an astonishing amount of work to go into something that will be gone soon. It's very amusement park-y with going from one theme to another (some with rides or other diversions), and reminds me of the Universal Studios tour. The old one, with the real cylons, where I attempted to jump out of the tram and run away with my robot masters when I was about 3.
For instance, the giant wooden Pinocchio that dominates one build, dwarving houses, with a Punch and Judy show at his feet. Back down the path is the great fish, with a raft in his open mouth.
The Block has a fabulous Godzilla build, with everyone's favourite radioactive lizard, and some of his friends, trashing a city (Mothra circling overhead!). It's gritty and beautiful, just like their official sim, and they manage to stuff a lot of awesome little details in a very small space (they have a fraction of a sim, squeezed between two other builds, and it still works perfectly).
There's a fabulous little Aztec temple devoted to Peng-Ra, the great penguin god. You enter through an enormous mouth gate. To get to the temple you have to leave the road and climb up a mountain to find an altar, under which is a hidden little area with a throne you can pose upon. It isn't the only ancient temple themed build, there's another with a mining car ride that takes you around and is very Indiana Jonesish. And the Great Escape build also has a ride- a little sled you have to find the tunnel for, under one of the buildings (it's great in mouselook, a bit cramped otherwise).
The official Caledon build was rather surreal- you enter into an overscale Victorian house, and exit through the (lit) fireplace, the road running through the middle of it. On the other side a winter wonderland with a giant squid attack and dancing elephants in tophats awaits you.
Transylvania has a graveyard with a massive mausoleum on one side, I am guessing honouring one of their regulars who died of cancer. It's very sweet and fitting with the sort of build that Transylvania is (especially considering the permanent graveyard). They also have a fully "furnished" freak show house for sale for Relay for Life on display as part of their build. (It's a pretty good freak show, as well as all the proceeds going to charity!)
One of Caledon's residents has a build separate from the winter elephants, and created a 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea tunnel. It was quite disconcerting to actually be walking down the stairs into the water, and it left me feeling the whole thing was murky because I knew that I was under water as well. Once I adjusted, the murkiness, even inside the tunnel itself, was perfectly fitting. It was just that kneejerk "this is wrong" that got me at first. However even that didn't dampen my enjoyment of this build, the tunnel is fabulous (and has posters with quotes from the book at corners, as well as a conclusion about the unexplored deeps that may hold more jewels for science than the rainforests). There are jellyfish, a laboratory, sealife, and, of course, giant squid, that one can see from inside the tunnel. I fell in love with this build. I want it forever and always. And more.
Pixels in Pink created a film noir build, with greyscale textures- with the exception of pink accents. It was highly reminiscent of Sin City, although not as strong a colour. I got to speak briefly with one of the people who made the build (I assume- she was at least officially connected to PiP, but I know nothing about them beyond stumbling across this build), and she matched it herself- a completely desaturated skin and clothing, with the exception of pink lips and a pink sweater. The UFO in the background is from a neighboring build (that I'm assuming had references that I didn't get, not being familiar with the source material).
There was a massive Journey to the Centre of the Earth build, that you enter into twice. It spanned a number of styles, I quite enjoyed the simple cave that was towards the beginning, but there was also a cave full of crystals of all sorts of shapes and colours, as well as a section with dinosaurs and lava and ruins! Also, you can dynamite rocks onto unsuspecting people on their way up.
The Wizard of Oz build was based on the movie, which, well, honestly disappointed me, but did not surprise me. Everyone is all the movie, not the books, and the books are awesome. It was still a very neat and in depth build- you can follow Dorothy's travels, from her home in Kansas, to the tornado, to Munchkinland with Glinda waiting for you, picking up her companions on their way to see the Great and Powerful Oz (at which point I donned my green spectacles that I take everywhere with me, but that's just me), and being attacked by the most adorably awesome flying monkeys on the way to the Wicked Witch's castle, where you can make her melt into a puddle! before returning home.(The above random selection of screenshots are what I took to show Max, as he couldn't make it.)
There's also a dead fabulous Zelda build that I didn't have a chance to really explore- it even includes a free HuD with a starter weapon (you buy better swords and such), so you can play the game! Unfortunately they don't currently have a sim for it to continue, so once RFL is over, the game goes back to limbo until they set it up again somewhere. And they have a lego Link avatar(!) And lots more things- the beginning and end was Lord of the Rings themed, and had some really great builds (that were very obviously movie inspired, but that's one that I don't mind, that movie was just about exactly as I see it in my head reading it), there were psychadelic things, and a cartoony Final Fantasy build (that was verging on the terrifying!), and Scooby Doo, and, well, really too much to mention. New Babbage had a build over an entire sim that made me say to myself "dear god, why haven't I been there yet? Must go!" Also, there was fishing (not at new Babbage), with another under the sea tunnel, that featured looking into the whale living room where the whales are sweating to the oldies on TV and getting ready for bed.
It's sad that something so vast and beautiful and complex will all be gone.