Shapeways has been doing full 3D body scans at the Out of Hand/Hands On Interactive space at the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) in NYC for a couple of months now and I decided recently to go for one of my own. Upon arrival I was amazed by the Formlab Desktop 3D Printers and gallery of 3D Printed objects on display. The scanning process took no more than one minute where I stood still on a spinning circular apparatus which spun while what looked like a Xbox Kinect motion capture precisely scanned the details of my body. It was a fun and pleasantly surprising experience.
Afterwards you enter your email address where Shapeways sends you a email of the file of your scan where you can order a mini 3D printed figurine of yourself in any of the 30+ materials currently available on Shapeways. I ordered my scan in full colored sandstone and it arrived within a week of placing my order. The Out of Hand exhibition will run until April 2014. If you're in the city I highly recommend dropping by MAD to have a hands on experience with 3D printing or get scanned like I did.
The actual print came out well but the facial details could have been better. An alternative to a 3D scan would be to try our ShapeMe app where you can easily make a model of your head and add it to a body. Next time I would try putting a 3D print of my head on the body of a ModiRaptor Dino. The figurine makes for a great gift, paperweight, or just a instant conversation starter because you never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.
A NEMA 23 stepper with a capstan winch style pulley attached at the bottom of the column and a idler pulley at he top of the column with fishing line as the power transmission component. Might be able to go with a smaller motor depending on how much weight you need to lift.
I'd use a Pololu driver http://www.pololu.com/category/120/stepper-motor-drivers and I'd control it with an Arduino.
You could have a manual up and down switch that replaces the rope or you could program it to perform some kind of pattern that best suits the scanner.