We have previously glanced at some of the little backpacking and hiking minifigures released by Lego over the years. The company has also produced quite a few climbing characters. Three Points of the Compass looks at one of the best of these- Mountain Climber, released in 2013.
Mountain Climber was one of the Lego minifigure 71002 Series 11 released on general sale 1 September 2013. There were sixteen different minifigures in this series and the identity of each was not easily ascertained from outside the individually sealed bags. Every minifigure in this series came with accessories and a display plate. Many collectors and sellers have been able to determine which minifigure a blind bag contained by identifying particular components by feel. In 2020 Lego announced that they would cease packaging products in single use plastic bags and would use recyclable paper bags instead. As I write this (July 2022) Lego are finalising the blind boxes that will replace them. This sustainable packaging will initially lack package content identifiers to preserve the uncertainty of what minifigure might be unveiled. This omission will also, obviously, maximise the profits that frustrated extra purchases create. Or am I being cynical?
Mountain Climber’s torso, more a red hoodie gilet, with black arms, has quite a bit of attractive printing- zipper front and pocket, coiled grey rope with blue carabiners. His chest also has a blue, six-pointed star on a white background. This represents the Star of Life, an internationally recognised symbol for emergency medical services. This symbol originated in the US and is not patented to encourage widespread use. The white background on the blue star seen on Mountain Climber badge represents snow-capped mountain peaks. There is no printing on the rear of the torso, though it should have been included as he wears no backpack. He has red legs and black-toed feet and is wearing a black belted climbing harness with carabiner. This is an attractive, busy and effective printing. It doesn’t stop there, Mountain Climber has the standard minifigure yellow hands and face. His face has a wide smile with cheek lines and chin dimple. He is wearing brown tinted shades with brown eyebrows above.
Mountain Climber comes equipped with three accessories, one is a protective climbing helmet. Because he is wearing this there is no separate hairpiece, though it could have been included. Nor is any hair detail printed on the head. The grey ice axe is the second accessory and is massively over-scaled, it is more a pickaxe than ice axe. With this, he can be ‘posed’ in various attitudes by hooking the axe over objects. It should have been a smaller accessory however as it does appear extremely odd and overly large when just gripped in one of this hands. The final accessory is a grey, coiled climbing rope. This is slightly flexible and was a new Lego accessory at the time. It is a pathetically short rope, but hey, are we really going to get hung up with the accuracy portrayed on a child’s plastic brick plaything? There is also the black display plinth, much appreciated by collectors of these characters.
“The Mountain Climber doesn’t just like to climb – he’s also a highly-trained and skilled rescue worker! If anybody gets stuck on a mountainside, he’s the one who gets called in. Whether he’s rappelling down from a helicopter in high winds or scaling up a snowy slope with medical supplies, he never gives up and he never loses hope.
And it’s not just his fellow citizens that he helps, either. In his years of experience, the Mountain Climber has rescued stranded mountain goats, birds that have gotten lost in mid-migration, and even the Yeti once when a particularly loud yodel buried the creature in snow. After all that hard work, he’s always got hot chocolate and soup waiting for him when the rescue’s done!”Lego description for Mountain Climber minifigure
There are sixteen minifigures in Series 11. Mountain Climber was number nine. Lego titles for these minifigures were:
- Bavarian Lady
- Evil Mech
- Tiki Warrior
- Gingerbread Man
- Holiday Elf
- Mountain Climber
- Jazz Musician
- Diner Waitress
- Lady Robot
“With 16 all-new, special minifigures in Series 11, the LEGO® Minifigure Collection continues to grow. Each minifigure comes in a sealed “mystery” bag with its own special accessories, display plate and collector’s booklet. Inspired by movies, sports, history and just everyday life”Lego
In 2017 UK supermarket chain Sainsbury’s released a promotional set of ‘Create the World’ promotional Lego trading cards. Further series followed and each series had 140 cards to collect. Each card featured a Lego minifigure character or buildable Lego model. Customers received a free pack of four cards for every £10 spent.
Lego’s 2013 Mountain Climber appeared in the “Africa” section as number 046, on page 22/3, in the series 1 collector’s album from 2017. Each pair of pages in an album featured natural and man-made wonders of the relative continent. The cards were a niche product and had an extremely limited global collector base. But still, kids have been swapping this type of trading card for decades and it is perhaps unsurprising that Lego and Sainsbury’s got together with this free and fun product as an alternative to the ubiquitous football cards and albums perennially released by the likes Panini.
Mountain Climber is a fun little figure and I sure many younger owners have hung him from every vantage point imaginable around their home. There have been quite a few climbing minifigures released by Lego but this little chap has additional interest that he appears to be prepared to provide emergency medical help too, even if he has forgotten his backpack!
Amongst the many hundreds of minifigures released by Lego since they were first introduced in 1978, few have been associated with general pedestrian outdoor activity such as camping, hiking or backpacking. Three Points of the Compass has had a brief glance at most of these: