Takara's 1985 G1 Megatron, designated 16, is a wonderful thing. It has no chrome and is so much noticeably heavier than its chromed Hasbro counterpart since it still retains the bullet firing mechanism. That's right, it comes with bullets. Basically, this is the Transformers release of the Micro Change Series grey MC-12 Walther P38 Gunrobo. You can see the complete lack of stock attachments, and instead the retention of MC-12's sword. The box artwork is unique, not too unlike the MC-12 artwork and nothing like the Hasbro Megatron/MC-13 UNCLE artwork. It's shown with red inner legs, but of course this version sports blue plastic.
So once you get past the unique artwork, the novel small box (if you weren't already MC-educated), the bullets, the extra weight, the grey plastic instead of chrome, the mini stickersheet, the sword and the blue innards, plus the complete lack of stock pieces, what else is there to be interested in? Well you've got the broken styro section just above where the safety catch sits in the tray where EVERYONE breaks the styro on first removal of Megatron. On this specimen you've also got the large Decepticon sticker actually placed expertly over the rubsign.
Marco Salerno provides some fascinating insight into the variants on this release.
"Beside the obvious differences related to the lack of the fusion cannon and the lack of the attachments for the extra accessories, we have to start from the mould description. 16 Megatron comes in two main mould variants:
-1st release: quarter circle safety switch
-2nd release: half circle safety switch (strengthened in the middle with a iron peg, due to the gray plastic of the first release bing prone to breakage).
Stamping marks are the same for both mold variants (Takara and Hasbro)"
"In the first release boxes, occasionally, you might find the grey MC-12 with a Decepticon sticker on the chest (light blue inner legs and arms plastic color; bullets have the same light blue color. Very high/perfect detail level on toy. Plastic prone to yellowing and/or breaks; toy comes without rub symbol and no Hasbro mark on toy).
The quality of the plastic on the 'legit' G1 16 Megatron is slighty different compared with the MC-12, especially when you observe the detail level (factory engraving on MC-12 is sublime). The G1 toy is great, but honestly it cannot be compared with the Micro Change toy. Even the blend of the plastic of the 'legit' 16 Megatrons appears different, and it is less prone to the yellowing but prone to becoming opaque".
If the instructions were never changed between the MC-12 early pre-rub version and later rubsign versions, could that explain why the previous owner saw fit to add the huge Decep logo over the rubsign? Maybe that's why the dinky stickersheet actually comes with two large Decepticon stickers when in reality, due to the later rubsign versions, it only needed one.
"Some factory differences can be found into the 16 Megatrons, related to the rub symbol positioning.
1 : quarter circle safety - no rubsign (rare)
2 : quarter circle safety - rubsign on right hip (uncommon)
3 : half circle safety and iron peg - rubsign on right hip (common)
4 : half circle safety and iron peg - rubsign on left hip (common)".
The packaging also shows variation, according to Marco:
"The first release box should always have on the lower left corner of the box: Takara CO LTD 1974 1983 (without the barcode on back).
The second release should always have: Takara CO.LTD 1983. Font used is slighty different as well. Barcode is present on back of the box".
There are fewer things that get my attention more intensely than moulding and packaging variants on pre-1986 Transformers and pre-Transformers, but in the case of 16 Megatron it's different. For this figure I would almost happily accept a mix and match between the above sets, for 16 Megatron is a figure I cannot help but take a step back to enjoy. It is by far - faaaaar - my favourite incarnation of Megatron as a P38, any mould, any box, any line (Takara MC, GiG MC, Hasbro G1, reissue, GBM, VSX etc). The fact that I have very rarely had a G1 Megatron or MC-12/13 in my collection means that it's always been a memorable novelty, and a fleeting one at that.
Many kind thanks to Marco Salerno for his contributions.
All the best