Funny Business with Jane Wells

Would You Spend $5,000 on This ‘Life-Like’ Band?

Hillbilly Animatronics
Source: Ebay

You know the classic Twilight Zone episode where the talking doll is a killer? Talky Tina gave me nightmares. Or maybe it was Telly Savalas' performance.

Ever since I’ve never been comfortable around dolls with movable parts. This is why a "life-like" animatronic hillbilly family band for sale on eBay is the creepiest thing I've ever seen.

The seller says the band was designed and built by "someone who used to work in animatronics at Disney World.” Really? This thing isn't exactly Country Bear Jamboree quality. The seller originally purchased the contraption for around $14,000, but the asking price is now $5,000. "Faux porch included if buyer wishes to dismantle and arrange for transport."

The band has been a fixture at a petting zoo and amusement park outside Boston, an area not known for hillbilly music. The robotic musicians are now on the chopping block "due to changed business model." A thoroughbred horse operation now occupies the location. Perhaps the band scared the horses. They'd scare me.

(Related Link: Ragu Commercial Has Everyone Talking and Cringing)

“There are certain things in this life that you just can’t put a price on,” wrote Earnest Cavalli at Digital Trends. “For instance, love, or the sensation of snuggling a tiny kitten. A musical troupe of robotic hillbillies however is not one of these things.”

Here's the video of the band in action.

Mom is a little too reminiscent of Tony Perkins in "Psycho", and that banjo player? Give me the kid in "Deliverance" instead. The video caption describes the item is "used". Used how? Don't answer that.

I emailed the seller with a series of "What the...?" questions, and Charles Sternaimolo kindly wrote back. I asked him if the hillbilly band ever scared the bejeezus out of anyone. Oh yeah, it has.

"When the hillbilly band is put away for the winter it is stored in an old apple farm warehouse," Sternaimolo wrote. "Most employees and guests on the farm are reluctant to go into the warehouse when the sun starts to set as the hillbilly family freaks them out. We put blankets over the figures to protect them from dust, but either the blankets somehow wind up on the floor or they blow gently when the wind blows."

Oh, they just wind up on the floor all by themselves, eh? "You won't catch me in that warehouse alone with the hillbillies at night," Sternaimolo admitted.

The farm and amusement park was a little too far off the beaten path to be profitable. Sternaimolo said it was bought by Ken Posco, who now breeds racing stallions on the property. They've been selling off all the old amusement rides and other equipment. "Until recently, 'the World's Largest Rat' — actually a Caprubara — named 'Cappy' was a famous resident of the farm but has since passed away."

Great. Not only did they have a scary Chuckie-like robotic hillbilly band, they also had the world's largest rat? I just don't understand how this thing wasn't making money! Who wouldn’t travel off the beaten path for that?

In any case, as the stallions moved in, the hillbilly band had to move out.

I asked Sternaimolo if he's gotten any offers. "Absolutely," he claimed. One offer allegedly came from a producer of the show "World's Dumbest" who wanted to put the band in his New York City office. "Man, this would look sweet!" wrote the producer. Then there was the guy from Texas. "He wanted to put it in his yard for his grandchildren to 'enjoy. 'Enjoy' is his word - not mine," wrote Sternaimolo.

Sternaimolo has settled on a price to sell, but not on a price that he’s been offered. "It started up by itself one early morning when I was photographing it to post on eBay." he wrote. "The music suddenly started and the old man's foot kicked me while at the same time the bassist's arm brushed the back of my neck. I nearly had a heart attack."


"After some investigation," he added, "I learned that the main plug was loose and when I tripped on the chord the band started." Sure it did.

To me, the only conceivable buyer would be someone with an intense desire to create the ultimate House of Horrors on the front lawn this Halloween. Fork over $5,000 and become an instant neighborhood legend. Scare a new generation of children.

Personally, I would pay someone $5,000 to keep the band away from me. I'm never getting to sleep tonight.

-By CNBC's Jane Wells

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