Bandai America's Zatch Bell! Trading Card Game, which features an innovative spell book game system, ships to hobby dealers in May, which should give them a 90-day head start over the mass market, which won't receive the game until August.  Zatch Bell! is a multi-media property that is extremely popular in Japan, where the anime series, known as Konjiki no Gash Bell, ranks consistently in the top five with ratings that are comparable to those of Naruto, Inuyasha, and Full Metal Alchemist.  The Zatch Bell! anime series makes its debut in the U.S. in March on the Cartoon Network  (see 'Naruto Heads to Toonami').


In Japan the Zatch Bell! TCG, which was launched a little over a year ago, has swiftly climbed to the second position right behind Duel Masters.  The innovative game uses a 'spell book' game system that is unlike any other TCG yet the Zatch Bell! TCG can be played by kids as young as six and enjoyed by anyone. 


The Zatch Bell! Starter Sets, which retail for $9.99, include 32 cards, a spell book, a Zatch Bell! collectible coin, a two-sided playmat and instructions.  The Zatch Bell! Booster Packs contain 10 cards and retail for $3.99, but the Zatch Bell! game also includes another sku -- Zatch Bell! Spell Books, which can be purchased for $3.99.  Players build the ultimate deck by inserting their best cards into the spell book and unleashing spells by turning the page -- and each spell book comes with a unique holographic card not found anywhere else.