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By Thomas Wheeler

I've been a longtime fan of the WWE, but only recently decided to start bringing in some of the action figures of these popular sports entertainment superstars, produced by Mattel.

I'm really not quite sure why I waited so long, since Mattel's product line is excellent. I suspect the reasons are two-fold. I had other action figure priorities, and quite honestly, any of the wrestling action figure lines in recent years, both from Mattel and previously Jakks Pacific, have been so extensive that it's difficult to know where to start.

Currently, Mattel offers three core lines, along with some other lines that feature built-in action features and the like. But their three most straightforward lines are the Elite Collection, the Legends Collection, and the Superstars Collection. It is this third, most basic line, where I have focused my attention. The Superstars collection is dominated by currently-active WWE superstars, and also has the most agreeable price point.

Some of the more popular Superstars turn up more than once in this line. There are several versions of Rey Mysterio, for example, as well as John Cena, and a number of others. One WWE Superstar that I was interested in adding to my collection, which I am not even trying to be a completist with, just picking those individuals that I am personally interested in having, that was actually something of a challenge, was RANDY ORTON, for reasons which I will explain when I review the figure. First, however, let's have a look at the man himself, and his professional wrestling history:

Randal Keith "Randy" Orton, born April 1, 1980) is a third-generation professional wrestler; his grandfather Bob Orton, Sr., father "Cowboy" Bob Orton, and uncle Barry O all competed in professional wrestling.

After signing with WWE, Orton became a member of the group known as Evolution, which quickly led to a WWE Intercontinental Championship reign, his first title with the company. Orton also acquired the moniker "The Legend Killer" during a storyline where he began disrespecting Hall of Famers and physically attacking veterans of the industry.

At age 24, Orton became the youngest person ever to hold the World Heavyweight Championship. With this win, Orton departed from Evolution and a feud with his former stablemates began. In 2006, Orton joined forces with Edge in a tag team known as Rated-RKO. Together, Orton and Edge held the World Tag Team Championship. After the team disbanded, during mid-2007, Orton gained two WWE Championship reigns in one night. Orton formed the group Legacy with Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase in 2008, however, they would disband in 2010 with Orton returning to singles competition. Overall, Orton has won eleven total championships in WWE, including being a nine-time world champion, having won the World Heavyweight Championship three times and the WWE Championship six times. He is also the winner of the 2009 Royal Rumble match.

Orton made his wrestling debut in 2000 at the Mid-Missouri Wrestling Association-Southern Illinois Conference Wrestling in St. Louis, Missouri. There, he was trained by both the promotion and his father, "Cowboy" Bob Orton. He wrestled for the promotion for one month, and also refereed a few matches with World Organized Wrestling, a promotion where his uncle Barry Orton worked.

In 2001, Orton signed a deal with World Wrestling Entertainment and was sent to its developmental territory, Ohio Valley Wrestling in Louisville, Kentucky, where he continued his training. During his time in OVW, Orton wrestled the likes of Rico Constantino and The Prototype and teamed with Bobby Eaton during a tag team title tournament. He won the OVW Hardcore Championship on two separate occasions.

One of Orton's first official WWF appearances was March 16, 2002 at WrestleMania X8's Fan Axxess, where he was defeated by Tommy Dreamer. Orton's first televised WWF match was against Hardcore Holly on SmackDown! on April 25, 2002. Soon after, Orton became a fan favorite and was placed in a series of matches with Holly. In September 2002, Orton was drafted to the Raw brand, where he defeated Stevie Richards in his debut on the show. Within weeks of his debut on the Raw brand, Orton suffered a shoulder injury, leaving him sidelined for months. While recovering, Orton still appeared on Raw in his own Randy News Network segment, a weekly vignette featuring him talking about his condition. The show interrupted other segments of Raw programming, which caused Orton to slowly transition himself into a narcissistic and self-centered villain.

After his injury healed, Orton joined the Evolution stable, which consisted of Ric Flair, Triple H, and relative newcomer, Dave Batista. The group was pushed on Raw from 2003 to 2004, with the height of their dominance occurring after Armageddon in 2003 when all of the men's titles on Raw were held by the members of Evolution. In 2003, Orton spent much of his time helping Triple H overcome challenges for the World Heavyweight Championship. Orton joined Triple H in a six-man Elimination Chamber match for the World Heavyweight Championship at SummerSlam, involved primarily to secure Triple H's title defense, and was eliminated by Goldberg, but the stable managed to fulfill its purpose and Triple H went on to eliminate Goldberg and thus retain his title.

Afterwards, Orton proclaimed himself "The Legend Killer", a young upstart who was so talented that he touted himself as the future of professional wrestling. He embarked on numerous storyline feuds with "legendary" wrestlers and gained infamy for his blatant disrespect of many older, well-respected names in wrestling history. With the help of his mentor Ric Flair, he defeated Shawn Michaels at Unforgiven in the first of many high profile matches billed as "Legend versus Legend Killer."

During this time, Orton began using the move that would become his signature finisher, the RKO, a jumping cutter named after his initials. Orton soon defeated Rob Van Dam for the WWE Intercontinental Championship

Orton began an on-screen relationship with Stacy Keibler and briefly feuded with Christian in February 2005. On the February 28 episode of Raw, "Superstar" Billy Graham made an appearance, in which he advised Orton to "go where no wrestler [had] gone before". Orton then produced a copy of SmackDown! magazine, which featured The Undertaker on the cover. Heeding Graham's advice, Orton claimed that he would set himself apart from all other wrestlers by ending The Undertaker's undefeated streak at WrestleMania. Throughout March 2005, Orton taunted The Undertaker, claiming he was unafraid of him. On the March 21 episode of Raw, Orton turned into a villain once more after he delivered an RKO to his unsuspecting on-screen girlfriend.

In the weeks leading up to WrestleMania, Orton became more defiant and unafraid of The Undertaker, taunting and assaulting him in the ring following distractions from his father, "Cowboy" Bob Orton. At WrestleMania 21, however, the heavily hyped match was unsuccessful for Orton, as he lost despite his father's interference.

On the July 23, 2006 episode of Raw, Orton was named as the number one contender at SummerSlam for John Cena's WWE Championship. Weeks before their scheduled bout at SummerSlam, Orton attacked Cena on three separate occasions by performing RKOs on him. At SummerSlam, Orton lost the title match to Cena, who pinned Orton.

Orton was granted his title rematch against Cena at Unforgiven and won by disqualification when Cena refused to stop punching Orton in the corner; however, Cena retained the WWE title because a title cannot change hands by disqualification. At No Mercy, Orton was awarded the WWE Championship by Mr. McMahon after Cena was stripped of the title due to an injury the previous week, which also ended the Orton-Cena storyline prematurely. Orton then lost the title to Triple H in the opening match of the show, making Orton's reign the fourth shortest in WWE history. Later in the night, Orton defeated Triple H in a Last Man Standing match to regain the title, thus becoming a two-time WWE Champion in one night.

Following No Mercy, Orton feuded with Shawn Michaels, who made his return on the October 8 episode of Raw. The two met in a title match at Cyber Sunday after a match was made in which the fans would get to vote on either Michaels, Jeff Hardy or Mr. Kennedy as the opponent. As a result, Michaels was voted to face Orton. In the match, Orton was disqualified when he performed a low blow on Michaels, but Orton retained the title. In a scheduled rematch, Orton successfully defended the title at Survivor Series against Michaels when he performed the RKO on Michaels for the win.

After weeks of intensity between the two, Orton defeated Jeff Hardy to retain the WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble. Following this, he re-engaged in his feud with John Cena, who had returned from injury and won the 2008 Royal Rumble match. Instead of cashing in his title opportunity at WrestleMania XXIV, Cena decided to face Orton for the title at No Way Out. Orton lost the match after getting himself intentionally disqualified, thus retaining the title. At WrestleMania, Orton retained the WWE Championship in a Triple Threat match involving Cena and Triple H. The following month, at Backlash, Orton lost the title to Triple H.

Orton later faced Triple H in a Last Man Standing match at One Night Stand for the title. Orton lost the match and legitimately broke his collarbone. During this time, Orton dropped his Legend Killer gimmick and replaced it with his new gimmick known as The Viper and debuted his new entrance music, Voices.

Just before he made his return, Orton re-injured himself in a motorcycle accident, and, to keep on-screen exposure, he made an unexpected return to Raw at the beginning of September, criticizing all of the champions on the brand. Heel tag team Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase took exception to this and tried to gain his respect. The three would later form the team known as "Legacy", since all three were sons of former wrestling superstars.

On the January 11, 2010, episode of Raw, Orton won a triple threat match, with the help of Rhodes and DiBiase, to challenge Sheamus at the Royal Rumble for the WWE Championship. At the Royal Rumble, however, Orton failed to win the championship when Rhodes interfered, causing a disqualification. After the match, Orton attacked Rhodes and DiBiase. On the February 15 episode of Raw, Orton was again disqualified in a rematch after Rhodes and DiBiase interfered. At WrestleMania XXVI, Orton defeated Rhodes and DiBiase in a triple threat match, turning him into a fan favorite in the process for the first time since 2005.

Following his departure from Legacy, Orton faced Jack Swagger for the World Heavyweight Championship at Extreme Rules in April, however, he was unsuccessful in defeating Swagger. He would subsequently feud with the likes of Edge, Wade Barrett, Chris Jericho, Sheamus, and CM Punk.

At WrestleMania XXVIII, Orton was defeated by Kane in a singles match. Orton would then defeat Kane on the following episode of SmackDown in a No Disqualifications match and at Extreme Rules in a Falls Count Anywhere match to end the feud.

Orton returned on the July 30, 2012 episode of Raw, following a suspension, defeating Heath Slater. Orton began feuding with Dolph Ziggler, after hitting him with the RKO when trying to cash his contract on a vulnerable Sheamus on the August 24 episode of SmackDown. The following week on SmackDown, the two faced off in a match that was won by Orton. Three days later on Raw, Orton was defeated by Ziggler in a rematch, after Ziggler pinned him while holding his tights. Orton and Ziggler faced each other again at Night of Champions where Orton won.

On the September 28 episode of SmackDown, Orton was scheduled to face Big Show in a number one contenders match for the World Heavyweight Championship. However, a pre-match assault from Alberto Del Rio would cost Orton the match and start a feud with Del Rio. Orton returned to SmackDown two weeks later, attacking Del Rio and his ring announcer Ricardo Rodriguez. The rivalry built to a singles match on October 28 at Hell in a Cell, where Orton emerged victorious.

On the November 6 episode of SmackDown, Orton defeated Del Rio again in a Falls Count Anywhere match, after hitting the RKO. The two were then on opposing teams for the traditional five-on-five elimination tag match on November 18 at Survivor Series. Del Rio's team, led by Dolph Ziggler, ended up defeating Orton's team.

On the December 3 episode of Raw, Orton began a feud with the rogue group known as The Shield, after he was attacked by them following a victory over Brad Maddox. On the December 14 episode of SmackDown, Orton was once again assaulted backstage by The Shield.

Orton returned on the New Year's Eve Raw, helping Ryback and Sheamus fend off The Shield. On the January 4 episode of SmackDown, Orton announced his entry in the 2013 Royal Rumble match. On the January 11 episode of SmackDown and the January 16 episode of Main Event, Orton would again suffer attacks by The Shield during his matches with Antonio Cesaro.

Believe me when I say that's a very basic overview. One challenge in reviewing some of these WWE Superstars is that they've had such lengthy careers that it's hard to know what to include and where to edit. If you're interested in further details about Randy Orton, there's plenty of information to be had online.

So, how's the figure? Really excellent -- and I am pleased to have found it. Randy Orton was more of a challenge than some of the figures I have brought in, because honestly, I had a heck of a time finding one that was a decent likeness.

My primary criteria for buying a WWE figure is, as one would expect, how much does it look like the actual individual? This isn't DC Universe or Masters of the Universe, where there's a certain amount of leeway given that the figures are based on entirely fictional characters. The WWE Superstars, however moderately fictional their "ring personas" may be, are real people. It helps that the package cards for the WWE Superstars figures feature a photograph of the actual individual.

I'd seen several Randy Orton figures, and none of them were especially good likenesses. Typically, the eyes were far too big. Looked like Orton had started his day with half the inventory of a Starbucks.

Additionally, Randy Orton's hair can be a challenge to duplicate on an action figure, especially given that he's been known to change it with greater frequency than the average WWE superstar. Typically, Orton wears his hair very short. But he's also been known to show up with his head very nearly shaved, or maybe mostly shaved on the sides but very slightly longer on the top. And then there's the matter of facial hair. He might be clean-shaven, have a couple of days growth, or slightly more than that. It's the sort of thing that probably inspires the toymakers to want to walk up to Orton and say, "Pick one, willya!?"

Finally, I found a Randy Orton figure that was a vastly better likeness than I had seen to date -- and I had very nearly given up -- and as far as the hair was concerned -- well, it's about as agreeable a compromise as I think Mattel could manage.

Randy Orton has what I consider to be relatively small eyes, underneath a slightly prominent brow. This particular Superstars figure is an excellent likeness. The eyebrows have been well painted, designed to look like they're comprised of individual hairs.

The figure has a fairly serious expression on his face. This is one of my other criteria for WWE Superstars figures. I'm not interested in weird or extreme facial expressions, even if it's one that the individual himself has been known to use from time to time. I've passed on several figures because of this.

As for Randy Orton's hair, this is a case where I think Mattel did the best they could. There is a very slight sculpted texture on the top of the head, and Randy Orton's hair, as well as a mustache and beard, have been painted solid brown. The intended effect was to make it look like the hair and beard were present, but very short. It almost works. It might have been a bit better if the hair and beard could've looked a little thinner somehow, but short of spraying the hair and beard through a paint stencil with an airbrush at about six feet away, and hoping for the best (and probably not getting it in a mass-production environment), I don't know how you could've accomplished this. Under the circumstances, I think Mattel has managed Orton's hair very agreeably.

This wasn't the only painting challenge on Randy Orton. The man has extensive and ornate tattoos down both arms. As a matter of fact, you can watch the tattoos multiply over the course of his career. He also has a large tattoo on his upper back, that more or less joins the tattoos on the arms.

Fortunately, imprinting technology on action figures being what it is these days, this was carried out very effectively on the figure. This despite the fact that among the various ornate decorations are several tattoos with script printing, including one with several lines of script that has been very neatly done. I'd tell you what it says, but I'd rather not give myself eyestrain.

Randy Orton is slightly taller than average (the average WWE Superstar, that is), and Mattel has done a good job maintaining scale within the line. Orton comes in among some of the somewhat taller figures, such as Sheamus and a few others, although his physical build, while very muscular and superbly defined, isn't quite as massive. Again, credit to Mattel, they've come up with quite an extensive variety of body types for these figures. In fact, among those I have, I'd have to say that the number of distinctive parts is far greater than the number of multi-use parts.

Randy Orton is wearing black trunks -- as do a great many WWE wrestlers these days. Sometimes I wish this line was just a little more colorful. There is an ornate blue-green pattern on the back of the trunks, that also includes the name "Orton".

The figure has thick black knee pads, which were molded separately and attached during assembly. These are flexible and do not overly hinder the articulation. And Randy Oron has black boots, superbly detailed, with intricately sculpted laces.

There really isn't a lot of painted detail on the figure, apart from the head. The wrists have narrow bands of black around them, representing narrow wristbands or athletic tape.

The figure is very nicely articulated, and is fully poseable at the head, arms, upper arm swivels, elbows, wrists, legs, knees, boot tops, and ankles. Some might criticize the fact that the figure doesn't have mid-torso articulation, nor do the legs move in an outward direction, but as I said earlier, these WWE Superstars are the basic line. If you want those additional points of articulation, you need to head into the Elite Collection. These are perfectly fine figures, but they also cost about 1-1/2 times as much as the Superstars Collection. For my money (literally), that's a bit much for that level of articulation difference. I'm entirely content with the Superstars.

So, what's my final word? The WWE is one of the most popular outlets of entertainment around today, and certainly Mattel is doing a superb job with these action figures. Randy Orton is a well-established and highly popular part of the WWE, and I'm pleased that I was finally able to find a figure of him that was an overall excellent likeness. The design is superb, the detail is excellent, and I am certain that any fan of Randy Orton will be very pleased with this figure.

The WWE SUPERSTARS figure of RANDY ORTON definitely has my highest recommendation!