Avatars (also known as avvies) are different images that users can associate with their postings - both in the guilds and on the Neoboards. Some avvies are available for anyone to use. Others must be earned by performing specific actions. These are known as secret avatars and the number of them you've obtained can be viewed on your User lookup.
For those interested in having a nice-looking account, having lots of avatars is considered important and there's a board on the neoboards dedicated to Avatars.
How to Change Your Avatar
To change the avatar that appears next to your ID when you post, go to the board preferences (use the board menu across the top). The first choice on the chat preference is your avatar. Here you will find a drop down list of different avatars to choose from. The newest avatars you have will be at the bottom of the list. Pick the one you want, and then at the bottom of the page click on the button that says "submit".
There will always be a selection of avatars for you to choose from. You start off using the default avatar which is simply the yellow neopets logo but there are many basic avatars which anyone can use. These include one of every single neopet type as well as one for the six basic types of faerie. Other avatars have to be earned by doing something. The rest of this page explains how to get a variety of avatars.
This refers to secret avatars that can be obtained by achieving a score on a certain game. There are several of these and many will likely take time and dedication to work up the skill to gather the required number of points. Flash games either require you to get a certain score or to be on the high score list (like, say in the top 50) . Scores are taken into account at 11:50NST and the score boards are reset on the first day of each month which is your best opportunity to obtain one of these.
The other types of game are non-flash games which have their own requirements to win but will also usually require some time and dedication.
Trades and Collateral
Objects are required to unlock certain secret avatars. Some of these objects are very expensive (in neopoints) due to being so sought after or they're simply rather hard to find. So, neofriends and guildmates sometimes help each other by sharing these objects if they're not used up in obtaining said avatar. This is referred to as 'lending'.
People lending are often rather wary about it as there's a very serious possibility that they may lose their very precious object through lending.To mitigate this risk equivalent neopoints or objects worth approximately the same amount may be required for the trade. This is referred to as a collateral or simply 'collat'. (This also ensures that if the avatar object is lost or the user gets suspended, that it can be replaced for future trades.) Once the item has been safely returned the lendee will get their collateral back.
The main items which collateral is usually demanded for are the MSPP (TCG), the Bony grarrl club and the Super attack pea. The Zafara double agent plushie and the Queen Fyora doll are other possible items.
Sometimes the trades are restricted to only neofriends or people who have been in the same guild for a certain amount of time because the lender doesn't trust just anyone. Having an account that it's clear effort has been put into might also encourage someone to lend you, this includes having an already fairly high avatar count, having several trophies, site themes, stamps and cards in your neodeck, a custom userlookup, well customised and well-named pets, having a stocked shop and a gallery with substance.
Avatar Collector Avatar
Yes, there is even an avatar related to avatars! Be in the top 50 for avatar collectors and you can get the avatar collector avatar. Like any other game this resets every month and to have a chance to get onto the high score list you need to have just obtained an avatar as well as having your total count be really high already. It's likely that you'll need over 300 avatars already to have even a chance at qualifying. For newer accounts, some retired avatars that older accounts have will work to you advantage.