Choosing A Ski Lift Or Cable Car For Your Christmas Village

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Lemax Ski Gondola

Lemax Ski Gondola

See here for cable/street cars, trolleys and trams.

If you’re looking to build the ultimate Christmas village display, it would’t be complete without the addition of a model ski lift or cable car/gondola. More than any other unit that could be included, nothing else quite compares to the grandeur that is provided by the appearance of gondolas traversing the skyline of your model winter wonderland scene. So what models are available and which would make the most suitable choice for a Christmas village display?

Christmas village manufacturers have long been aware of the appeal of adding cable cars to a village scene and a number of brands have introduced ski lift and gondola models of their own to fulfil this need. Lemax produced the somewhat cheap feeling Lemax Ski Gondola, which consisted of two plastic terminals and two gondola cars, with adjustable speed control. It was lightweight and appeared somewhat flimsy but it served its purpose.

Animated Gondola

Dept 56 Animated Gondola

Department 56 introduced their much more robust Department 56 Animated Gondola, which was a far more substantial model. This again consisted of two cable cars that moved back and forth between one lower station building and another atop a mountain unit. Images we’ve seen of this model in use makes the two cable cars look quite heavy for their cables, resulting in a slightly unnatural bouncing motion as it moves along the line.

The St Nicholas Square brand produced a variation on the theme for their village collection, with the St Nicholas Square Ski Hill. This large, single piece unit consists of a mountain ski slope, again with a building both at the top and bottom of the unit with individual skiers on skis being pulled up the slope and others skiing back down the other side.

Mr Christmas, who are perhaps best known for their animations, also entered the fray with their Mr Christmas Cable Cars, a similar single piece unit and this attractive animated model has skiers coming down the slope while two gondolas go back and forth above, between the two station buildings.

For us though, whilst some of these are quite attractive and fun items, none quite achieve the overall effect we are looking to create with our own display. If you really want to crank up the style and create something with real impact for that wow factor, then it has to be a cable car system from Jaegerndorfer.

Jaegerndorfer (Jägerndorfer) are manufacturers of scale model trains, cable cars and associated accessories. The models they produce, while not as cheap as some other options, are serious pieces of kit. A Jägerndorfer cable car will take your Christmas village display to a whole new level.

This brings us back to the question of scale. Jägerndorfer produce models in two different scales, 1:87 and 1:32. Christmas village brands do not usually work to scale so there is no definitive answer as to which size to go with and you should go with whatever you feel fits with your display best. As we discussed in our article, Choosing A Train Set For Your Christmas Village, we like On30 scale trains, which is the equivalent of 1:48. If you are using a train of this or similar scale, then your best match for a cable car is probably to go with 1:32. However, if you are using a HO scale train (1:87) then it might make sense to use the same for your cable car. Even if it is a little smaller than ideal, you may find it looks better than if you were to introduce another new size.

The videos below show Jägerndorfer cable car models in use within a village display, the first is 1:87 scale and the second is 1:32.

14 thoughts on “Choosing A Ski Lift Or Cable Car For Your Christmas Village

  1. Good day, my name is Don and I am sending this email to you from the United States. In searching for a Ski lift set up for my “O” gauge Lionel train set set up I came across your store and the Jagerndorfer model ski lifts. My train only goes up at the holidays and it is build on a rather limited size hard surface approximately 2.1 meters by 2.4 meters. Don’t think you have an “O” gauge set up so would the HO work do you think and would I be able to use with the current we have here in the US? Any ideas and suggestions would be appreciated. And if I were to decide on one would you ship to the US? California to be exact. Regards Don

    • Hello Don, thanks for getting in touch.

      With the Jagerndorfer models you have two choices of scale 1:87 which would be broadly similar to HO or 1:32. My personal preference for use with an O gauge set up would be the 1:32 though you might feel it is a little large. I find the 1:87 too small but if you were doing something like a mountain backdrop it is possible that distance/perspective might allow you to get away with it and in fact it might be necessary given a limited space.

      US current would not present an issue as Jagerndorfer have a US office and if you use one of their recommended outlets then it should come equipped for use in the US. You can find a recommended list of US suppliers here: and many of these will have the option to buy online if there is not one close to you.

      Hope that helps.

  2. I have a large Lemax collection (49 pieces). Always wanted a ski lift or something similar. Space is NOT a problem. What do you have that would look good with The Lemax Village Collection. I have 2 Lemax Trains currently, a boat scene, a North Pole, and the village. Would LOVE to incorporate a mountain scene with bells and whistles. MOVING IS A MUST. Thanks.

    • Hi Suzanne, sounds like quite a collection! Lemax did once produce their own ski lift but it is now quite hard to come by and tends to be priced beyond its worth. In terms of scale, my preference would be for a Jaegerndorfer model and these certainly meet the bells and whistles requirement. It depends though on which village style you are going for as the Jaegerndorfer ski lifts are very modern and may not sit well alongside Caddington village models for example but could work with Vail village.

  3. Hi,
    I hope you are doing good. I was wondering how can we buy it and how much is it sold for? Dept 56 Animated Gondola.
    We are from Quebec, Canada.

    Thank you


    • Hi William, unfortunately this model is no longer in production which is a shame as it is one of the nicest I’ve seen. They do come up on ebay occasionally and tend to be quite expensive.

  4. I am looking to purchase the JC 1:32 ski gondola for my Christmas village in the states. Can you help guide me in finding one?

  5. I live in US and currently I am looking for ski lift and with the cable cars like your product. Where can I purchase this product and is the outlet and power voltage compatible with the US.

    • Hello Effie, all of the products shown here have been produced for the US market at some point. The Dept 56, St Nicholas, Lemax models are older items for which you would have to try the secondary markets such as ebay. Jaegerndorfer specialise in these and always have a current range. They do operate in the US and produce models with US compatible power supply. You can find a list of stockists here:

      Hope that helps.

    • Hi Martin, if purchasing a simple DP56 lighted building I would usually recommend switching the light cord for one from a brand produced for the UK or short term adaptor maybe an option. For a motorised item such as these, if it is from a US store (the UK DP56 store has a currently very limited range), it is likely you would need a suitable transformer, yes. Even then you may find that the motor runs at a slightly different speed than intended.

      Hope that helps.

  6. Hi I ma EFFIE, I emailed you a while ago regarding your skii cable car I just ordered it and I am so excited and expecting to get it soon, but, one thing do I need transformer or adapter from UK system to US power system. If yes, what kind. Please let me know since I am not capable or knowledgeable in term of power or electrical. I do not want to damage the electrical system after paying so much money for this sets.

    Thank you so much.
    Looking forward hearing from you.

    • Hi Effie, you may be able to use a simple travel adapter for short term use but I recommend waiting until you get it, see the details on the plug or adapter that comes with it and then look for the UK equivalent. Check with an electrician if necessary or pop into an electrical shop with the adapter and ask. You may also find that when you have it up and running that it runs at a slightly different speed.

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