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Frank Micelota/Nickelodeon

Trained in ninjutsu by a rat and named for Renaissance artists, the world’s favorite band of anthropomorphic reptilian brothers known as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is back in an eye-popping new CG-animated series airing Saturdays on Nickelodeon.

The turtles, who were introduced in a 1984 comic book and spawned TV and big-screen incarnations, are voiced by some big names this time around, including The Lord of the Rings’ Sean Astin, Jason Biggs of American Pie fame and Rob Paulsen, who provided the pipes for Raphael in the original 1987 cartoon series but now lends his vocals to Donatello.

Rich Magallanes, senior vice president of current series at Nickelodeon animation, says the characters remain relevant because they teach teamwork and brotherhood. “It’s a great show for kids because these characters are teenagers and relatable, still young enough to be perfecting their skills and learning about life,” he says.

American Way asked the men behind the turtles to tell us what kids can take from their characters.

Sean Astin > Raphael
“He is a turtle of action. While he may be too quick to act, he never shies away from a righteous conflict.”

Jason Biggs > Leonardo
“His selflessness. His priority is helping others — most especially his family.”

Greg Cipes > Michelangelo
“Live in celebration, approach every moment with innocence and gratitude, and never give up no matter how many people make fun of you or doubt you — because you will succeed if it’s from the heart.”

Rob Paulsen > Donatello
“Whether you’re a turtle, brother, sister, mom, dad or friend, nothing’s more important than being there for those who count on you when life gets tough.”