Plush just the start for Dumb Ways to Die

Vinyl figures, games and blind bags in the pipeline for cult brand which started life as a train safety advert.
Publish date:
Social count:
Dumb Ways to Die plush.png

Underground Toys will soon be distributing a range of Dumb Ways to Die plush toys, says licensing agent for the brand Evolution, and this is just the first in a series of toy moves for the brand.

Dumb Ways to Die started life as a safetycampaign by Metro Trains in Melbourne, Australia, but its song and video went viral, its YouTube account has over 70 million views and its app has now mustered over 35 million downloads.

A plush range is on the way from New York-based manufacturer Commonwealth Toy and Novelty and Evolution believes that it is just the start.

“There’s an appetite for the characters and Commonwealth has developed a phenomenal range,” Evolution’s president, licensing and retail, Travis Rutherford told ToyNews.

“The product is beautiful. As long as it’s priced right and in the right stores, I think it will sell very, very well.

“The Commonwealth line is multiple skus. They have a plush range and vinyl figures. You’ll see vinyl skus probably stage two, they just haven’t had them tooled yet but they are in the plan. Then, as the brand grows, we’ll look into blind bag opportunities and there certainly could be game opportunities and novelty.”

The plush range will be launching in specialty stores first, with the first product shipments expected Q2 2014.

Rutherford believes the brand should prove lucrative for toy stores due to already enormous popularity of the videos, and its characters.

“The characters are beloved by millions and millions of people,” continued Rutherford.

“Metro is investing and we’re spending a lot of time developing new content strategies for the brand so there will be on-going entertainment as we make the transition from a safety message to an everyday character initiative.

“They’re funny, quirky and a little macabre but it’s taking a fun twist on what is normally a boring subject matter and making it more innovative, interesting and different. Everybody loves to think up different dumb ways to die.”

The brand sees characters die in ways ranging from the cartoonish to train-related incidents, but all are presented in a light, irreverent manner.

Despite this, Evolution is aware some stores unfamiliar with the brand may approach with caution, but Rutherford believes the brand offers retailers something different than anything else currently around.

Rutherford added: “Retailers may be hesitant. Mass-market retailers are a pretty conservative sort of bunch. We’re starting the distribution plan at specialty and mid-tier to start with. We’re letting it find its consumer base and letting it find a home, and we’ll expand from there.

“If you take a step back and think about this, we’re not promoting dumb ways to die.

“We’re poking fun at a story angle that reinforces train safety. That message is a global message and can be delivered in many many languages around the world.

“They’re cute characters, they’ve got personalities and backstories and that’s it. With Dumb Ways to Die, there are great looking characters, they’ve got a reason for being, there’s a backstory here, there’s a good message for parents and kids and we think it’s commercially viable. We think the characters are great.

“When you look at what the intent was, and if you talk to parents, you understand this is a fun way to get a train safety message and a good public service communication tool out into the marketplace. It makes sense.”

And despite the macabre nature of the brand, Evolution has already seen Dumb Ways to Die fully embraced by children.

“Kids have immersed themselves in the brand,” revealed Rutherford.

“Look at the impressions on YouTube, the game stats and the user content generated with schools creating campaigns, stories and songs. Just look at Tumblr or on Twitter and everything else that’s gone out there in the social space. It became irreverent and quite broad reaching.”

The next step for the brand will see the original safety campaign repurposed around the world in multiple territories to push mass media reach for brand awareness and consumer impressions.


Featured Jobs

Vivid Job Logo 620 x 349

Digital Marketing Executive - Toys & Games

Vivid is Britain’s biggest toy company and the 20 largest in the world. With offices across the globe, they sell an amazing portfolio of toys and games to over 60 countries. Vivid is best known for its association with blockbuster brands and is very excited about future opportunities around the world.


UK Sales Agents

Liberty House Toys have been appointed as the exclusive UK distributor for the BiOBUDDi brand, and we are pleased to introduce this new unique, innovative and exciting range of 100% environmentally-friendly toy building blocks. We are seeking experienced sales agents with existing network in the toy retail market.

Gameplan Job Logo 620 x 349

Head of Product Development & Marketing

Our client is a privately owned French toy and games manufacturer which sells through distributors in forty countries. The company develops and sells innovative electronic interactive toys and games for the educational and gaming markets, and also takes suitable licenses. To progress its successful business development a Head of Product Development & Marketing is to to recruited.

HIT Entertainment Job Logo 620 x 349

Licensing Systems Administrator

The Contract System Coordinator is a newly created role to support the deal term entry process into Mattel’s new Contract Management System for its Licensing business. The role will support the Business Teams at the Deal & Amendment phase of the contracting process and act in conjunction with the System Administration team.