Are you new to collecting Lemax Villages? If so read on... We hope to help guide you in your collecting journey. You will learn some pitfalls to avoid, and some easy practices to make the experience drama free.
The important first step is deciding what Lemax village pieces to collect. My best advice is to decide on a theme first. Do you like Carnival, a North Pole theme, a Winter Village theme, or maybe a Halloween theme of just Haunted Houses? The ideas are endless, so think about what you want to focus on, it will help you when you're at the store or online shopping for your village display.
Once you have decided on a theme, start thinking about where you want to buy. What are the pro's and con's of buying from the mom & pop shop vs. a big box retailer? As a mom and pop shop, most will take great care from the time they receive their products to when it lands in your hands. They have skin in the game, because this is their livelihood. Whereas, employees of big box companies as a rule are not vested in the product. More than likely a mom & pop retailer (like us) will inspect products and take great care in getting the product to you. Many big box retailers simply do not have the time and resources to inspect products. They also most likely won't take care in packing village pieces properly for shipment. There is nothing more discouraging than receiving your Lemax Village order damaged with a box that has no cushioning which results in your merchandise taking a bumpy ride all across the country. It is our advice to shop in person with these companies and pick out village pieces with the boxes in the best condition and listen for any rattling in the box. Inspect immediately upon getting home, and if you do encounter any damaged or malfunctioning products, return it immediately to the retailer. There are pro's of shopping big box retailers. One that comes to mind is they have larger buying power and may stock larger quantities of what you are seeking and at the end of the season they do drastically slash prices to liquidate all their stock. Be aware however, by this time many pieces can be damaged from consumer handling and shelf wear. Do not count on these retailers carrying over prior stock year to year, whereas a mom & pop retailer will be more likely to have new-old stock from prior years.
Interested in finding a rare Lemax piece that has been long retired? My best advice is eBay, Mercari, and other online auction websites. But use caution! Lemax village houses are delicate and over the years can stop functioning and have small pieces break off. Do your research on the retired item. Find out what most commonly breaks and be sure to ask the seller all your questions prior to buying. It is also very important to ask them how they package and ship. Don't assume they will package it properly. There is nothing worse than spending the big bucks for that rare piece to have it arrive broken because they didn't bother to ship it in a larger box with extra cushioning. INSURE INSURE INSURE. I cannot stress enough to have all retired items insured in shipping. I also strongly encourage you to check the seller's feedback. See what other buyers are saying about this seller. If you see negative feedback regarding quality of items, and packing/shipping issues, think strongly about moving on to another seller. Some very rare pieces only come up once in a blue moon. Instead of watching listings daily, set up an auto-watch and get notified when a new listing comes up. It will save you time. I know eBay offers this service. I personally wanted the Spookytown "Chuckle's Fun House", a super rare piece. I set up an auto notification and when one came up I was able to add this very very rare house to my Spookytown collection.
Want to know what Lemax Village houses were produced in years past to create your wish list? Lemax's website has PDF's from 2013 to current of all new products. See this link to access all the PDF's. They also have a database on their website of over 4000 pieces that have been retired. While not fully complete, it is a wonderful resource guide to see what was produced. Every year Michael's puts out a color pamphlet of items they currently carry, they have done this since the early 2000's. You can buy past years pamphlets on eBay.
Now that we have the basics out of the way, let's take a dive into the types of Lemax Village houses that may interest you. You can go from a basic porcelain house that is lit by a light bulb, to a full-on sights and sounds animated village house that has a soundtrack and many moving parts. Basic houses are usually porcelain with a small hole in the rear of the house to insert a light bulb that is corded and plugs into the wall outlet. These houses sometimes have a lighted scene inside, but always have cut-outs in the house (eg. window panes) for illumination. The next type of house is a resin house with an interior LED light inside the house with an on/off switch mounted the the back of the house. These types of houses usually will have an inside scene to enjoy. The next step-up is just like the prior village houses discussed but with the addition of outside LED lights in a variety of colors (eg. green, purple, pink, blue, yellow). As the cost of the village pieces increase you will graduate to fully animated sights and sounds. These usually have animations running in unison and possibly a smoking feature for a chimney, LED lighting that runs constant in addition to timed lighting running at specific moments of the soundtrack. The soundtrack is professionally created for that specific house. No two styles of Lemax Village pieces will have the same soundtrack. Another difference to note between the types of village pieces is, the more features and abilities a village house has the larger the piece will be and usually it will be made out of resin instead of porcelain. I have shown below the different styles of Lemax Village houses. Also take note that the box will tell you what the village piece does.
As you can see above the boxes are marked. Note the LED houses can take either batteries, or you can opt to purchase a power adapter to avoid using batteries. Be sure to purchase an authorized Lemax power cord if you do want to bypass the batteries. The image to the right is a full sights and sounds village piece. The circle indicates animation, the 4.5v means a power cord is supplied, the notes indicate it has a soundtrack. Note that a soundtrack can either be music only, or voice overs with music.
Types of Village Houses
The village house "Over the Top Sweater Shop" shown first is an example of a "light bulb in the back" lit house. It is made of porcelain. The second house named "Cranberry Hill Christmas Boutique" is an example of a village house made of resin with interior and exterior LED lighting with a on/off switch in the rear of the unit. "Tea With Mrs. Claus" shown last is a full on Sights & Sounds village piece. It is made of resin, it has rotating teacups, it smokes out the chimney and it has a unique soundtrack.
It is our wish that you have many fun-filled years collection Lemax. We hope our advice will be beneficial to you!
Scooter & Sissy
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