Phil and Tony Esposito’s Action Hockey Tabletop Game Print Ad

Sell_Sheet_FrontI found this picture of Phil Esposito and Tony Esposito in a pile of old sports memorabilia at a card show a few years back. It shows the famous brothers playing for Team Canada in the 1972 Summit Series, along with facsimiles of their autographs. On the flip side is an advertisement for a tabletop hockey game they endorsed.

Sell_Sheet_BackPhil and Tony Esposito’s Action Hockey was made by board game giant Parker Brothers (makers of Monopoly and Risk) and released in 1973. What made this different from other tabletop hockey games is that it used magnets instead of metal rods to control your players.

DetailUsing magnets to move the hockey players around was an innovative idea, as the players can go anywhere and you could knock into your opponent’s players. However, whoever controls from the top has a distinct advantage; they can see what they are doing, and the physical mechanics of moving your arm outward is usually easier with an overhanded grip.

According to the print ad, Parker Brothers held a contest, with two grand prizes: “a trip for two to Boston, Mass. or Chicago, Ill. to see Phil or Tony in action next NHL season.” I wonder if winners got to pick which city they went to.

The ad also suggests that you “tell your coaches that Phil and Tony Esposito’s Action Hockey is great for diagramming hockey.”

Now I know I need one of these. I’ll bring it to the bench at my next beer league hockey game. When we get a power play, I’ll call a timeout and awkwardly move the players around — in the board game, not my teammates — and diagram our winning play. It will consist of having a guy slam into the puck as hard as he can. 

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Author: Sal Barry

Sal Barry is the editor and webmaster of Puck Junk. He is a freelance hockey writer, college professor and terrible hockey player. Follow him on Twitter @puckjunk

7 thoughts on “Phil and Tony Esposito’s Action Hockey Tabletop Game Print Ad”

  1. i forgot that i had one of these, until your story jogged my memory, sal. my favourite feature was the way it introduced body contact to the table game — you could take long runs at your opponent. but i didn’t find the game to be as fast as depicted in this commercial — i see now that, even in the early ’70’s, production people had figured out that tight editing can make the game appear faster than it truly is. thanks for sharing.

  2. I thought I had given our game to my son for his kids, bit he says “no”. I can’t find it. How can I get one?

    1. Didn’t see this until just now, a year later!
      Do you still have it? Is it in good condition?
      Where are you? (I’m in Toronto)

  3. My brother and I had one of these when we about 7 or 8. We played is so much that the topside developed so many grooves in it that it took on an authentic real life milkie ice look. This helped to negate the advantage that the top side had. An additional draw back of the game beside the obscured top side vision was of and when if players fell over either through rough play abrupt movement of the game the entire thing had to be taken apart to upright your players

    1. Haha! I was looking this up because we have a fallen player. I’m also missing the legs if anyone has any ideas about that. My grandson plays hockey and was thrilled when he found this at our house. I’m going to work on making it playable again.

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