NEW YORK – Everyone from Nancy Drew to Joe Friday is getting a TV update these days -- so why not the judo-chopping, pizza-chomping heroes of a decade ago: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?
But for this time, the Turtles are more buff and more aggressive -- closer to the original spirit of the Ninja Turtles that made their debut in a 1984 comic book.
The four characters -- Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello -- are set to return to Saturday morning TV in February.
At its height in the early '90s, the Turtles craze sold more than $1-billion worth of toys, video-games and other merchandise including apparel, bed sheets and towels.
Back then, the Turtles' personalities were goofy -- dropping phrases like "Cowabunga, dude!"
In the new series, the Turtles will have their signature wise-cracking personalities, but be more like hard-core action heroes than adolescent clowns.
"We think kids today like a harder edge and more action, so we say this'll put the 'ninja' back in Ninja Turtles" said Al Kahn, 55, the chief of 4Kids Entertainment Inc., which also brought Cabbage Patch Kids and Pokemon to the U.S.
Last time, "the turtles were a little chunky. To older kids it became more of a parody," Kahn says.
"There's still going to be some humor in it, but the actual body styles of the turtles are much more muscular. They look like they can really protect themselves," Kahn says.