But, oh, how times have changed.
With the release of a new set of action figures, they may soon be living vicariously through manly TV commercial characters, such as the "Old Spice Guy" and Dos Equis' "Most Interesting Man in the World."
According to Emil Vicale, owner of Herobuilders, the figures -- which he emphasizes are parodies of the actual characters -- come in response to a glut of emasculated male characters in television advertising.
"I'm tired of all this sensitivity in men," Vicale said in a phone interview. "As soon as the Old Spice guy came out, I said, 'I gotta do it.' And, along with the Mayhem guy, these are men finally acting like men."
The Old Spice Guy, played by actor Isaiah Mustafa, is perhaps best known for his velvety smooth epigrams, as well as a penchant for going shirtless no matter the backdrop.
Among his better-known catch phrases are "Ladies, look at your man ... now, back to me. Sadly, he isn't me," and "Hello, ladies. Where can you go when your man smells like me? Close your eyes and I'll show you."
It's this sort of bravado that Vicale has sought to capture by enabling his three action figures to talk.
Mayhem -- a shifting metaphor for the many types of auto accidents -- declares, for example, "I'm a filthy rich executive and I hear the market's down a million points. I freak out. I spill my large espresso and the searing pain makes me slam on the breaks. Uh-oh. Your fault."
The third figure in the bunch, the Most Interesting Man in the World, wits, "Beware of a woman who only shows up when you're winning."
While the three dolls talk the talk, however, only one walks the walk. According to Vicale, Mayhem and the Most Interesting Man in the World were created to be what one would call sexually amorphous.
The Old Spice Guy is a different story.
"I didn't skimp in the anatomy department with the Old Spice Guy," Vicale said proudly. "He's anatomically correct. You can see him flaccid. You can see him erect."
Vicale hopes that his macho triumvirate, which retail for about $50 apiece, will help counterbalance the weak and buffoonish male roles in television advertising.
And of all the emasculated characters on TV today, he reserves particular disdain for the Geico caveman. "You're a cave man!" he said. "You're supposed to be clubbing people over the head and [expletive]."
For all the chest thumping done by Vicale and his three muses, though, there may be an unlikely impetus: fear.
David Leonard, associate professor of comparative ethnic studies at Washington State University, believes that Madison Avenue is trading on deep-rooted insecurities in the American male.
As evidence, he referenced Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell who, in commenting on a Eagles game canceled because of inclement in the fall, called America "a nation of wussies."
Leonard added that the theme of the American male losing his mojo has a long and distinguished history. The Boy Scouts, he says, formed in part because of fears that modernization had leeched the vitality from American males.
For now, American men can either hand-wring over their bygone masculinity or, as Vicale would have it, start playing with dolls.
Whatever the choice, the goal is clear: Stay manly, my friends.