img

Random Thoughts & Pictures

I acquired this game on Monday, January 22, 2018 after catching a lead on Pinside. The game came from a private seller around Gaithersburg, MD. So it was pretty easy to go get. I was looking to add another System 11 to my collection. I wasn't necessarily looking for any specific title, but Taxi was probably at or near the top of my wish list.

The game came to me in clean working condition. There's some wear in the non-Mylared areas of the playfield. Otherwise there's not much to complain about. Cosmetically, the game is comfortably above average.

img

GO FOR THE DRIVE -- OF YOUR LIFE -- PLAY TAXI

The cabinet exterior is great. Not perfect, but no gouges or missing chunks. No structural issues or lockdown holes. The paint and graphics are bright. It's a sharp looking package. I can't think of many yellow pinball machines. As an afterthought Williams added a bunch of trademark decals to the cabinet wherever the word "Taxi" appears. They're not carefully applied and haven't aged well.

img

Cabinet detail.

img

Cabinet detail.

img

Cabinet detail.

img

One of the silly trademark decals.

The translite is in good shape. Someone pulled the mirror off the insert panel and glued it right to the translite. The mirror could have been cleaner before it was glued on, but it still achieves the proper effect. Note that the game's name does not appear on the translite. The game has what looks to be an original topper with just a bit of yellowing. I think it's just the right shade of "character" so I can't see pursuing a new reproduction. One of the accent decals is missing which I may try to replace.

img

Taxi topper.

img

Mirror glued to the translite.

img

Translite detail.

img

Translite detail.

img

Translite detail.

The playfield is reasonable. The areas under the original Mylar look great. Otherwise there's a bit of noticeable wear at the Santa and Gorbie inserts and around the jet bumpers and a few other places. And this is one of those games where the color shades in the non-Mylared areas have become significantly different from the same colors in the Mylared areas. The plastics and ramps look good. I believe they're all original. You have to stop and look to find any cracks or imperfections. The game had been "LEDed". My first order of business was to restore the game to incandescent bulbs. The pictures on this page are from after most of the LEDs were removed. I kept many of the insert LEDs. Everything else is incandescent.

img

Gorbie is the low point of the playfield's condition.

img

Note the color difference between the Mylared and non-Mylared areas of the playfield.

img

The Spinout skill shot ramp.

I bought my Pin*bot way back in 2006. It's still one of my favorite games. The Pin*bot references on Taxi are great!

img

Pin*bot playfield detail.

img

Pin*bot playfiled detail.

img

Pin*bot playfield detail.

img

Playfield detail.

All the boards are matched throughout except that I believe the bonus display has been replaced. All connectors are bright and unhacked. The batteries have been remotely located. This is a system 11b. The insides of the head and cabinet are quite clean. Taxi is equipped with a bell which is a neat feature. I believe Taxi was the first or one of the first games to move the lane change switches from the flipper mechs to the flipper buttons. They're implemented as micro switches. Later games use a stacked leaf switch arrangement at the flipper buttons. I also believe Taxi was the first system 11 pin to implement a pair of 16 character alphanumeric displays.

img

A look inside the head.

img

Clean under the hood.

img

The bell on the left inside wall of the cabinet.

img

Lane change switch at the flipper button.

If you've looked around my website you've seen that I'm a big fan of System 11 games. My only complaint with System 11 is that there's usually little to no integrated strategy. Many System 11 games comprise a collection of unrelated features. The features might be thematically related, but not really related from a playability point of view. Once the most lucrative shots are discovered, there's little scoring motivation to tour the rest of the playfield. Taxi is a bit different. The strategy involves collecting (or picking up) five passengers. Each of the five passengers is collected from a different area of the playfield by way of a variety of mechanisms. There's little that can be ignored. One must explore most of the playfield in order to have a shot at the jackpot. This in of itself makes Taxi a great game.

This particular Taxi is a Lola. Given the choice I would have picked a Marilyn because it seems a bit more "iconic". But it's not something I was much concerned about. People like to say that there were only about 200 Marilyns built as a sample run. That seems to be some sort Williams-backed rumor. Maybe they were trying to downplay their liability for using Marilyn in the first place. It's more likely that there were thousands of Marilyns produced. Many folks insist that the Marilyns are no less common than the Lolas. There are also a few examples of "transition" Taxis with both Marilyn and Lola components on the same game.

img

Shown above is the two page promotional flyer for Taxi. Click image for larger picture.

img

Promotional plastics.

img

Promotional plastic.

img

Promotional plastic (spearker cutout).

Check out the website www.pinballclicks.com. You'll find pictures from a 1988 Williams factory tour when Taxi was on the production line.

Issue #4 of Pinball Magazine features game designer Mark Ritchie and includes several pages (74-81) of information about the development of Taxi.

img

Around 2014 the people at Pinball Magazine produced a set of postcards to promote their book "Pinball" by Santiaga Ciuffo.

img

A Taxi appeared in the 1992 Madonna book "Sex".