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Tuesday, 22 February, 2000, 16:02 GMT
Cyberbabes: A babe new world
Lara, T-Babe, Ananova...virtually real
They used to be dismissed as gimmicks for spotty stay-at-homes, but now it appears cyberbabes are changing the face of the web - if not the world.

The latest cyberbabe - that is, a virtual 3D model usually meant to sum up the creators' idea of female physical perfection - is T-Babe, a virtual pop star from independent music label Glasgow Records.

Blonde, voluptuous, and of course leggy, she is also supposed to be 18, single "but lonely", multi-lingual and a big fan of shopping, athletics and "cybo-funking".

T-Babe: A fan of "cybo-funking"
Tessa Hartmann of Glasgow Records says T-Babe was originally created to win the attention from the music business.

Interest was so fierce, however, that she is now treated as an "artist" in her own right.

Hartmann says her virtual creation has TV interviews lined up, releases a single and video next month, and has a website on the way. Hartmann is even looking for a licensee for a range of branded clothes and accessories.

T-Babe will have to battle for fame with Ananova - the green-haired virtual newscaster created by news agency PA News earlier this year.

Ananova: Would you marry her?
Allegedly based on Posh Spice, Kylie Minogue and Carol Vorderman, Ananova has already received thousands of emails, column inches and even a marriage proposal. Not bad since she doesn't begin broadcasting until April.

Since she was announced, PA has changed the name of its New Media division to Ananova Ltd, and is auctioning off the whole lot to the highest bidder.

Bids are expected to be in the region of 250m and above.

Ananova was possibly inspired by Diki, otherwise known as DK-96, a Japanese/Korean virtual singer who vies for the title of the first ever cyberbabe.

Lara: Most pneumatic. Most famous
She released a pop song, Love Communication, in 1996, and still has her own website where you can watch her videos.

She is currently in Korea promoting Japanese culture, which has been banned since Japan occupied the country during WWII.

Then there's Webbie Tookay, launched last year by Elite Model Management's new Illusion 2K division.

She, and her stable of fellow virtual models, host a virtual "planet" of a website, including a clothes shop, a digital magazine and a leisure area.

The models, as with Ananova, are designed to take advantage of the brave new integrated technological world, with plans for future appearances on films, TV and communications platforms like mobile phones.

Diki: One of the originals
Of course, you couldn't have an article on cyberbabes without tipping your hat to Lara Croft.

The virtual heroine of the Tomb Raider computer game has appeared on more than 80 front covers worldwide, including USA Today, The Face, FHM and Loaded.

She appears in the current Nike TV ad, alongside a virtual Ronaldo, Michael Jordan and Pete Sampras, before being saved from a horde of attacking dinosaurs by Nike's own cyberchap, Leo.

A range of Lara C clothing has been launched, and there is also a new range of Playmate dolls.

Webbie Tookay: Model without the tantrums
The government uses her as "an ambassador for British scientific excellence".

That's understandable when you consider she has sold more than 20 million copies of Tomb Raider to date, and made Eidos, the software house which brought her into the world, the fastest-growing technology firm in the UK.

Future plans for Lara could similarly include mobile phones, information kiosks, pages and in-car navigation systems.

In the meantime though, she is about to earn the highest accolade for any cyberbabe - transformation into a living, breathing human being.

Sandra Bullock, Elizabeth Hurley, Catherine Zeta Jones and Victoria Beckham have all been tipped to play the pneumatic heroine in a forthcoming Paramount movie.

See also:

18 Jan 00 | Business
Is Lara Croft losing her touch?
03 Dec 99 | Entertainment
Cyberbabe Lara's back
15 Jul 99 | Sci/Tech
Lara saved from Playboy
19 Mar 99 | Sci/Tech
'Nude Raiders' face legal action
02 Dec 98 | Sci/Tech
Licence to thrill
17 Jan 00 | Entertainment
Cyberbabe to read the news
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