UPDATE: As an update to the ongoing investigation regarding the stolen Buzzy animatronic from the former Cranium Command attraction in EPCOT, it appears that NBA player Robin Lopez is once again involved, and this time as a potential witness in a criminal trial taking place next month.
According to the latest update from the Orlando Sentinel, Robin Lopez may be called to the witness stand in the trial against former Disney employee Patrick Spikes and his cousin, Blaytin Taunton. Both men face several criminal charges after allegedly stealing rare Disney items to sell. Both have also pleaded not guilty.
Among the other witnesses on the list released by the state attorney’s office include a close friend of Lopez named Brett Finley, a certified public accountant from Winter Park who also collects Disney memorabilia, as well as several Disney World employees who worked in animatronic costuming, character performing, or security personnel. Numerous law enforcement officials are also on the witness list.
Another piece in the unraveling case of last year’s stolen Buzzy animatronic from Cranium Command in EPCOT’s former Wonders of Life Pavilion has been unearthed. According to a report by the Orlando Sentinel’s Gabrielle Russon, NBA player Robin Lopez unknowingly purchased the animatronic’s clothes from former Cast Member Patrick Spikes under the impression that they had not been stolen.
According to interviews, Lopez purchased Buzzy’s clothes after getting in contact with him via eBay. While Buzzy’s complete outfit included a bomber jacket, headphones and green hat, it is still unknown what clothes specifically Lopez had. Lopez claims to have spoken with Spikes over the telephone before the purchase was finalized, and asked if the items were stolen. Spikes assured him that the clothes had not been stolen. Orange County Authorities side with Lopez as having been victimized by the perpetrators, and he is “100% cooperating” with the investigation.
The animatronic’s full outfit would be valued at $7,000. Disney claims that the clothes were meant to be sent to the archives, while many also believed that the animatronic itself had already been sent to the Walt Disney Archives. The handmade Buzzy animatronic is valued at $400,000 and has since also been confirmed missing by investigators. A friend of Lopez remembers seeing Buzzy’s headphones in the trunk of Spikes’ white BMW when they met up to complete the transaction.
One of the key investigators on the case spoke to the irreplaceable nature of these iconic theme park props:
“That ride has been there since the day the place opened … It’s iconic. The only one on the planet. It’s been there since 1980-something. You were the last one to touch it on the entire planet Earth. … Where is it? Where did it go?”
While Spikes has not been charged as part of the Buzzy animatronic incident, while under investigation for various Magic Kingdom thefts, he recently attempted to snatch his cellphone––which was packed with photos of the stolen items––from the authorities, and was quickly tackled to the ground and subsequently arrested. For a full copy of his arrest warrant, which lists further details on the various cases, click here.
He and his cousin Blaytin Taunton face charges of dealing in stolen property, grand theft, and burglarizing a structure at the Magic Kingdom between July 2018 and January 8th, 2019. In addition, Spikes is charged with burglary of a building at Epcot, according to court records. Both men have pleaded not guilty to criminal charges.
If you weren’t lucky enough to see Buzzy in action, you can watch our video of Cranium Command below.