Lemax Collections and Sets
Christmas Village Displays
Founded in 1990 to make the most of the growing market of Christmas villages, decorations, collections and collectables, the Lemax company really has taken this hobby to a whole new level and this has resulted in thousands upon thousands of avid collectors throughout the world. Some even buy entire sets of houses for their model railway set-ups and use them throughout the year.
Each year, Lemax sells huge quantities of hand-painted porcelain houses, sets and buildings, endless figurines, landscaping accessories (bridges, fences, display mats, ponds, mountains and trees), and enchanting moving table pieces, such as a number of ice skating rinks, which quickly get sold. However, these items are rarely what you could call cheap and therefore it does pay to shop around or get your local supplier to price match the best websites. And to make the pieces even more collectable, many are discontinued at the end of the holiday season, with new pieces being designed and added as the year progresses towards the next Christmas.
In the United States, Lemax Christmas village goodies are sold in many major department stores, such as Ace, Kmart, Michaels and Sears, with a complete listing of retailers being available from the official Lemax Collection website. In the UK, popular websites selling this range of goods include Christmas at Dawsons, Webbs Direct and Long Acres, amongst many others. For the best prices, try buying your village items out of season, such as at the beginning of October, when items usually come on the market at discounted prices to encourage early sales. And of course, if you can be patient, there are often big discounts during the January sales.
As the company began to grow and expand its choice, the villages and sets started to be categorised and themed, with many collectors choosing to mix and match from these different styles. Currently, these include:
This collection manages to reproduce the elegant character of the Victorian period in history, from impressive cathedrals and churches, to charming decorated homes, shops, theatres, town halls and pubs. Popular buildings and sets include the Chatsworth Railroad Station, the Deck the Halls Christmas Shop, the Fairbanks County Court House, the Hartford Falls Town Hall, the Hillside Post Office, Michelle's Village Bakery, the Regency Ballroom, Mrs. Applegate's Bed and Breakfast, the Thompson Tudor House, the Wayside Cottage (a traditional thatched cottage) and Ye Olde Town Hall.
The Municipal Clock Tower is also a firm favourite in the Caddington Village collection, as is the Medical Building and facade buildings (thin buildings that have no back and can actually be hung on the wall). There are a growing number of Lemax facades, with some of the most popular being the Christmas Lane, the Essex Corner Market, St. Patrick's Cathedral, St. Stephen's Bell Chapel, the Toy Kingdom, the Toy Palace, the Village Garden Shoppe and the Wesley Pub.
Many avid Christmas village collectors don't consider their layout complete without the addition of a fairground ride or two.
This growing category includes classics such as the Sunshine Carousel, the Cosmic Swing, Crazy Cars, Round Up and the very eye-catching Starburst Ferris Wheel.
The addition of moving fairground pieces always manages to capture the imagination of young children, particularly when these are lit up at night and displayed in a landscaped diorama-type winter wonderland setting, complete with sound effects.
This growing category tends to concentrate on classical and traditional American architecture, comprising pieces such as suburban houses, typical farmhouses, homely shops and a number of restaurants.
Amongst the bestsellers are the Barn House, Earl's Farmers Market, Gibson's General Store, the Hillside School, Holly's Day Care Centre, the Little River Church, Meadowlark Farm, the McIntosh Cider Press, the Meadowbrook Stable, Rosa's Family Restaurant, the Sunset Valley Cheese Factory, the Union Station and the Winslow House. The East Moorland Windmill also deserves a strong mention here, with its revolving sails adding some very visible movement to any village (powered by an AC electrical adaptor), especially when the windmill is perched on a hillside.
This collection offers a different style of building, inspired by the seaside villages along the coastline of New England. These buildings are perfect to complement waterfront scenery with boats and include a choice of very realistic lighthouses, such as Cape Hope, North Point, Seal Point, Snug Harbor, Swordfish Point and Whale Point.
Particularly notable houses within the Plymouth Corners collection are the Bridgeport Inn, Captain Jack's Chowder House, the Harbor Restaurant and Apartments, the Harbor View Bed and Breakfast, the Hill of Beans Coffee Shop, Jesse's Boat Supplies and Restaurant, Pearl's Ice Cream Parlour, the Shell Cove Cottage, the United Church and the Village Corner Market.
The aptly named Santa's Wonderland collection contains a number of all-singing, all-dancing animated buildings and plenty of moving table pieces, which add real interest to any Christmas village. Since its introduction, the Holiday Merry-Go-Round has become one of Lemax's biggest sellers within its price category, while the more subtle Santa Swing is equally charming.
The lighted buildings within Santa's Wonderland include the Christmas Trim Shop, the Christmas Wonderland Toy Store, Santa's Storytime Cottage and the Tip Top Toy Factory. And you may also like to check out the 'Twas the Night Before building - with Santa Claus and his reindeer perched on the roof, and the towering, fully lit revolving Majestic Christmas Tree. Moving 'sights and sounds' pieces within Santa's Wonderland are in good supply and include the Nutcracker Suite (with dancing ballerinas), the Sock-Hop (with rotating dancing couples), the Starlight Express (a very seasonal train set) and the Village Skating Pond (with eight moving ice skaters, music and a background 'chattering' noise).
Offering a noticeably more rustic character, the Lemax Vail Village depicts log / timber buildings that would fit in nicely within harsh mountain settings.
This is a large and growing collection of slightly different pieces, such as Buck's Hunting Cabin, the Camping Tent, the Granite Peaks Family Restaurant, the Hidden Trails Nature Centre, Lawson's Winery, the Lookout Mountain Visitor Centre, the Miner's Shack, the Mountain Weather and Rescue Station, and the Wildwood Theatre. Also popular within the Vail Village collection is the electrically powered Stony Brook Windmill.
Juke Box Junction
Designed by the Lemax team to offer a really colourful taster of the holiday season, the Juke Box Junction set comes with many brightly coloured buildings, packed with Christmas cheer and Yuletide charm, often with a strong American retro vibe.
This is a fairly small collection and is made up of porcelain buildings such as the Adam's Five and Dime Store, Astro Burgers, Bobbies Poodle Parlez Vous, the Comet Bike Shop, Gordy's Cycle Shop, Madge's Beauty Parlor and Springfield Groceries.
The haunted buildings and Halloween-themed accessories of Spooky Town came along in the 1990s, when Lemax decided that it was time to tap into a different market during the quiet period leading up to Christmas.
The imaginative Spooky Town collection allows you to create your very own Halloween Town, using lighted porcelain buildings such as Crowley Hall, the Forgotten Soul's Cathedral, the Haunted Hall of Fame, the Haunted Manor, the Horror High School, Pet's and Potions, the Trick or Treat Candy Shop, the Vampire Bat Aviary, and the Werewolf Grooming and Night Spa. If you choose your purchases carefully and avoid anything too themed, then many will fit in nicely at the back of a Christmas village, or even near the front, particularly when frosted with snow spray.