World-renowned cigar smokers Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger dominated Thursday’s Comic-Con panel for The Expendables 2 as they regaled Hall H attendees with war stories.

Stallone recalled how he first set eyes on Schwarzenegger at the Golden Globes ceremony in January 1977. Rocky would win the best dramatic picture award that night but Sly was more interested in / perturbed by the sight of a new challenger on his macho horizon.

“He was as big as the table and as I looked at him he got bigger and bigger,” Stallone told the crowd. Drunk on a cocktail of dread and fascination for the Austrian émigré, Sly said he felt compelled to act and so he picked up a bowl of flowers and emptied them over the bemused bodybuilder. True story.

“And then his mother came over,” Schwarzenegger said to much laughter, “and told me I looked like a piano mover.”

The pair become firm friends and went on to dominate the action landscape in the 1980s and early 1990s before one of them left to answer a higher calling and play Toymaker in Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over while Schwarzenegger became the Governor of California.

The duo have just wrapped shooting on The Tomb and joined several of their pals to talk up Expendables 2. The testosterone-soaked cast includes Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Bruce Willis, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Jet Li, Chuck Norris, Liam Hemsworth, tennis champion Novak Djokovic and Chinese starlet Nan Yu.

“The genre’s changing,” Stallone said, looking in urgent need of a pipe to suck on wistfully. “Action is becoming more technical, more sci-fi and that’s wonderful. So I said I would love to go back to doing what we used to do, but I couldn’t do it alone.”

And then, perhaps with an eye on a career at Hallmark once the action roles dry up, he added: “Everyone here is a star in their own world. You put it all together and you get a galaxy.”