Retrocon 2024

'Over The Top' Action Figures That Few Knew Existed


Over The Top had action figures? Yes, the 1987 film starring Sylvester Stallone that made professional arm wrestling seem like an off-shoot of pro wrestling, had a line of toys. Who knew? I certainly had no clue and I vividly remember seeing Over the Top in the theater and LOVING it. It's actually the first movie I remember someone using the words "sucks" and my 10-year old brain would've thought it was worse than any swear I had heard up to that point. (It happens when "Bull" Hurley is being interviewed during the final rounds of the tournament and tells the camera "second (place) sucks."

What really sucks is there apparently wasn't any marketing strategy for the toys. I can't find a single commercial on YouTube or print advertisement that showcased the action figure line and branded arm wrestling gear. The only thing I can find is a half-page display in the 1986 JC Penney Christmas catalog, several months before the movie was released in February 1987.

Seems like JC Penney didn't even know what to do with them, sharing the page with Defenders of the Earth and not putting lead character "Lincoln Hawk" front and center. Take a look at the back of the Lincoln Hawk 12-inch figure box which shows all the characters and toys.

These 7.5-inch action figures were actually pretty unique. Each one had a wind-up feature that gave each character "arm wrestling strength" for when they faced each other at the table. Six characters were produced, four that I remember from the movie: Lincoln Hawks (or Hawk if you prefer), Bob "Bull" Hurley, Johnny "Ice Man" Walker, and John Grizzly. If Cleve "Armbender" Dean and Johnny "Golden Boy" Brzenk were in the film, they were not very memorable.

But outside of the arm wrestling table for the figures, just look at the other gear that was offered! There was an official arm wrestling table "scaled for the younger wrestler" and a workout set with dumbbells, hand exercisers, a jump robe, a headband and wristbands.

Here are my suspicions as to why Over the Top toys were never marketed in the USA. Knowing the history of Cannon Films and seeing their name all over the toy packaging, I'm sure they sucked any profit out of manufacturing the toys and thus leaving little to no cash for marketing. I can't find much on LewCo who also produced toys for Gumby and Sesame Street, but this blog alludes the company folded after Over the Top bombed at the box office. That would explain why you wouldn't want to market toys from a movie that almost nobody went to see. 

As we saw in the catalog, there was apparently little effort put into the toy design to provide any information about characters or story. Why aren't you putting Lincoln Hawk and "Bull" Hurley in the 2-pack with the table? Why didn't we get Hawk's son Mike as a figure and maybe a big rig vehicle that they could ride in? Maybe they could have produced the brand new tractor trailer and had a trailer open up into a tournament playset with tables for the figures. But the biggest question of all is why the hell doesn't Lincoln Hawk come with a hat you can turn around??!!

The cruel joke now is seeing these figures on eBay with a $2.23 clearance price tag that are selling for more than a house payment. Had I seen them on store shelves back when I was 10-years old, I know I would've had some in my collection. And with the market set for them now, I doubt I ever will.

This article is part of the Show & Tell blogging event hosted by Retro Ramblings. Click the link to get more information on how you can participate each week. Check out the other articles below featuring Movie and TV toys:

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