My village has expanded with my residents now having a place to do some shopping. These are all based on actual stores seen in Mali and other French speaking African nations.
All of the shops started life as MDF kits produced by GameCraft Miniatures. The kits have minimal detailing and do not include windows, doors, and the like. As such, my first step was adding architectural elements created from plasticard, brass rod, and O scale modeling details (now produced by San Juan Details).
To hide that the buildings were MDF, I textured them with Liquitex Ceramic Stucco, and also added Liquitex Natural Sand to the sidewalks.
Once dried, everything was sanded down to a smoother texture that looks more in scale for 28mm.
For the small shop awning, I originally only pinned the bottom of the posts with brass rod, which ended up not having the strength I hoped for. When moving to the larger building, I decided to pin the awning from top to bottom. To make sure the post holes lined up, I taped the awning base to the sidewalk and drilled all the holes at the same time.
Here is the awning under construction, with the brass rods encapsulated by thicker styrene tubing. The same construction method was used for the billboards.
The first shop is a small grocery. The iron bars on the windows were built from sections of O scale railing. I felt the door openings looked too tall for regular 28mm miniatures, so I created an overhead window out of more railing and plasticard. The added roof was also plasticard, and has been painted to imply that it is made from smaller sheets of corrugated metal.
The second shop is a money transfer agent, with additional office and mobile services. Mobile phone money apps seem pretty common in Mali, and this independent shop supports a wide variety of systems. It was built from the same MDF blank as the grocery, but with the front flipped and the awning added. The kit comes with a roof opening to assist with removing the roof, but I didn't think it looked appropriate for a modern building and covered it over with a metal door. To get the roof off, the billboard on top now functions as a handle. The security gates were made from additional railing sections.
For the large building, I decided to subdivide it into 4 smaller shops, using foam core to create the inner walls. The door openings are the same height as the smaller shops, but are double-wide. I though the proportions looked ok here, so left off the over door windows. The downside to the bigger openings is that it's easier to see further back into the shops. I wanted the interiors mostly empty for placing miniatures, so decided to add additional details near the doors to help block line of sight and keep the back areas open (and when you only have have normal overheard lighting, the back of the shops are much darker than you see in these photos). Security doors/gates are a mix of San Juan elements or are scratch built. The roof lifts off using the billboard as a handle, same as the previous shop.
The fist two shops are a mobile phone supplier and a hair salon. The mobile shop is a copy of a a real one in Bamako, but the coiffure is created from a composite of materials from various African salons. The salon chair is a leftover O scale train seat I had from another project.
The Islamic bookstore is based on another real shop in Mali, though I don't know the city. The detail elements, including the display case, mimic what is seen at the real location. My only disappointment here is with the sign; for some reason my home printer really struggled with cyan variations in the texture and the result is pretty monochromatic. The pharmacy sign is taken from one in Chad, though I added some more descriptors to the bottom. Pharmacies in French-speaking Africa are often white and green, so I have used that color-scheme here.
Lastly, I have a test build of a roadside billboard. It's made from an 60x90mm MDF base, brass rod, and styrene elements. It can display advertising on both sides for additional variety. I'll make a few more when I have time.
This was a really fun build and I'm extremely happy with the final results. I think the added details really give it a lived in feel compared to the basic MDF starting point, and will hopefully make games more immersive.
If you would like to use any of the signs I collected or created for non-commercial use, they are freely available below. For any of the business owners from whose property these were adapted, please let me know if you would like them removed and I will do so.