Checker Motors Corporation was a vehicle manufacturer and main subcontractor for the manufacturing of taxicabs used by the famous Checker Taxis, as well as other companies, in both New York and other major US cities. Checker made the iconic American taxi cab, valued by taxicab companies for its durability in heavy use. So they were everywhere back in the day! They made a variety of models but settled into the one you will probably recognize:
After a time, the Checker company couldn’t afford to retool to bring out new models and so produced the model above almost to the last day of production, long after it had gone out of style, and been left behind by more modern vehicles available from the Big Three. But no other taxi cab is as loved and remembered as this one! And so it is the basis for the exclusive “Hey, Taxi!” New York Disney Store Vinylmation figure I am sharing in this post:
Note the New York skyline on Mickey’s head along with the iconic TAXI sign with lights on the ‘roof ‘. Also, we see the windshield on his tummy and the grill with headlights on his feet.
We visited New York City in 2012 and made it a point to visit the Disney Store in Times Square:
It was two stories tall and packed full of great merchandise. But the best piece was this exclusive New York taxi Vinylmation! You can only buy it there. And hey, it came with a collectible tin:
It sold for $12.95 US or $16.95 CAN which I thought was a fantastic price for such a unique item! I just love the tin with its level of detail. It’s like a crushed taxi! And note that inside the tin you have a view of the New York skyline as you would see it looking up through the sunroof of a taxi. If a taxi had a sunroof.
And how did I find such a small piece of merchandise in such a huge store? Well, this enormous Big Fig kind of caught my attention:
Once I opened the tin I found the information card you see below. It helps us to confirm that this Vinylation figure is indeed modeled after the Checker Company taxis, and not just the generic yellow taxis you see in New York today:
Note the front of the card on the left, above. You can see the taillights of a taxi. Do they match a vintage Checker Taxi Cab? Why, yes they do:
You can see the signature triple lens taillight fixtures on both the card and on the actual taxi itself. We can say with confidence that this was definitely the inspiration that Jim Valeri used when designing his Vinylmation figure.
Let’s have a look at it from the back side to see more interesting features:
More of the New York skyline is visible with the TAXI sign again, but look who the passenger is: it’s Mickey himself with Lady Liberty! I think she is a reflection in the glass and not actually in the taxi with him. And we have the triple lens taillights again. And what car is complete without a personalized license plate?
From the side views you can see that each hand has the word TAXI on them, which would be on the doors of an actual cab. We have the checker strip on his arms. And we have the wheels of the taxi that go round and round.
Checker Motors had trouble competing with fleet discounts offered by the larger manufacturers, as well as economies of scale in procuring components. The final models were produced in 1982. After 1982, Checker invested significantly in the third party manufacturing business, serving GM and Chrysler. It was an end of an era when this company ceased producing the iconic Checker Cab!
FUN FACTS: Many believe that the Checker Cabs got their name from the black and white checker pattern that ran in a stripe along the side of the vehicles. But it actual comes from the name of the manufacturer of the car itself, the Checker Motors Corporation. This company did operate one of the countries largest taxi fleets under the name of the Checker Cab Company, but the start of the name comes from the parent company.