Best Human Skeleton Models

Updated April 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

24 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
385 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best human skeleton models

Last Updated April 2020

Did you know the adult human skeleton has 206 bones? If you think that’s a lot, then you’ll be surprised to hear that we’re actually born with almost 300 bones; some of them fuse as we mature. The human skeleton is nothing short of fascinating, which is why it’s time to invest in a human skeleton model.

Students and educators alike benefit from having a scale model in the classroom. Being able to see and feel bones adds a new dimension to your study of human anatomy and physiology. A human skeleton model with moving parts illustrates range of motion, while removable parts allow for more in-depth examination. There are even some models that are marked to demonstrate how other parts of the body, such as muscles, interact with bones.

If you’re ready to invest in a human skeleton model, keep reading for our comprehensive buying guide. We compare the different styles of models, share helpful tips to keep in mind as you make your choice, and offer a few of our top picks.

If someone you know is studying to become an orthopedist or physical therapist, give them a human skeleton model as a gift. Not only is it an educational tool, but it will serve as a conversation piece in their future office.

Key considerations

Types

Educational: Human skeleton models meant for educational purposes are detailed to serve as a three-dimensional learning tool. Not only do they have all 206 bones, these models are also anatomically correct. Some educational models go beyond just bones and include nerves, arteries, and intervertebral discs, as well as labeled areas for insertion points of muscles.

Prop: These human skeleton models are more often used for theatrical and performance purposes. While they resemble an actual skeleton, especially full-size ones, prop models aren’t usually anatomically correct. They typically don’t have the definition and detail of educational models, so some bones are fused together or not even present. With that said, prop models have their own perks: you can pose them, they’re affordable, and one is fun to keep around for Halloween.

Size

Desktop: Many human skeleton desktop models are less than 24 inches tall, which means one can fit on virtually any desk. They’re ideal for classroom environments, as well as for dorms. Desktop models are usually the least expensive.

On the downside, since desktop skeleton models are on the smaller side, it’s harder to view all the nooks and crannies of bones compared to larger models. Not all desktop models have removable parts, and some are not very durable.

Compact: Compact human skeleton models are between 30 and 48 inches tall. They’re ideal for classrooms if a full-size model won’t fit, as well as physicians’ offices for patient education purposes. Compact models are typically more cost-effective than full-size models.

On the downside, compact models are affixed to a stable base, which means you need to pick up the entire apparatus to move it around. While they’re not heavy (they usually weigh less than 10 pounds), the model can be somewhat cumbersome.

Full size: Full-size human skeleton models are as realistic as it gets, especially since they’re usually between 60 and 72 inches tall. These are the top choice for medical school classrooms, and because they’re frequently handled, they’re designed to be sturdy. These models often stand on a rolling base, making it easy to move around a room.

On the downside, given their larger size and better quality, it’s no surprise full-size skeleton models come at a premium price. Most of them require assembly, too, and it can take an afternoon to screw together and mount all the pieces.

Base

Stationary: A stationary base is designed to stay put. It has a low center of gravity that prevents the skeleton from being knocked over easily. Human skeletal models with this type of base tend to be less expensive.

On the downside, a stationary base means your skeleton is stuck in one place. In the event you have to move it, it’s quite an ordeal that might require more than one person.

Rolling: A rolling base is ideal if you’d like to move your model around a classroom or office for demonstration purposes. It’s also popular if you’re studying the vertebrae, because it’s easy to turn the skeleton to multiple viewing angles.

Unfortunately, models with a rolling base tend to be a bit more expensive. If the wheels don’t have brakes, there’s a good chance your model could roll away from you and potentially knock into other items or fall over.

EXPERT TIP

If you teach anatomy and physiology, invest in a human skeleton model that can be taken apart. Divide students into rotating groups to examine specific bones or joints.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Articulation

Some human skeleton models have movable joints to help illustrate range of motion. Articulation is also a helpful feature for demonstration purposes, because the skeleton can be manipulated for better viewing.

One thing to keep in mind when comparing human skeleton models is the quality of the mechanics. Like anything with moving parts, the model is susceptible to more wear and tear since it’s frequently handled. To assess durability, check that each part is adequately reinforced with appropriate hardware.

Removable parts

Certain human skeleton models can be taken apart for further examination. In some models, it’s easy to remove and reattach entire sections, while in others, you need to use tools to do it. One of the most sought-after removable parts is the skull, especially one in which the cranium can be removed. Since this feature is mostly seen in full-size models, expect to pay a premium for it.

Labels

If you’re interested in a more in-depth study of the skeletal system, it’s worth considering a labeled model. These don’t necessarily imprint the names of bones and joints on the model itself, but they have colored sections that coordinate with textbooks or educational posters. The most commonly labeled areas are points of insertion between muscles and bones, vertebrae, and cranial bones.

Materials

Most educational human skeleton models are made of quality polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which isn’t pliable or easily crushed. For the most part, the bones are hollow to keep the models lightweight and easily mobile. Prop models, on the other hand, are typically made of lower-quality plastic. These are often flimsy and bendable, so if you apply enough pressure, you can permanently dent or break them.

EXPERT TIP

Science teachers can host a game-show-inspired activity with their human skeleton model. Besides identifying bones, students can be quizzed on how the body moves or how the skeletal system interacts with the muscular system.


Staff  | BestReviews

Accessories

Skeleton poster: Palace Learning Muscular and Skeletal System Poster Set
When studying the skeletal system, having a color diagram is a helpful supplemental tool. We like this poster set from Palace Learning, which details the anterior, lateral, and posterior views of the skeletal and muscular systems. These laminated and tear-resistant posters make a perfect addition to any classroom.

Skeleton cover: Bags for Less Garment Bag
It’s important to keep your human skeleton model clean when it’s not in use. We recommend this protective bag from Bags for Less, which is long enough to cover even a full-size model. This dust-free bag is also water resistant and rip-proof, qualities that definitely come in handy in science labs and classrooms.

Human skeleton model prices

Human skeleton models cost between $20 and $200, mostly depending on size and level of detail.

Inexpensive: For $80 or less, you can find some desktop models and some build-a-skeleton kits for kids. Many prop skeletons you can bend into various poses are also found in this price range.

Mid-range: Compact human skeleton models typically cost $100 to $150. These models are made from high-quality PVC and are anatomically correct.

Expensive: Full-size human skeleton models cost as much as $200 and have the most detail, as well as movable and removable parts. They also come with high-quality stands and occasionally bonus educational materials like posters.

EXPERT TIP

If you’re posing a human skeleton model on stage in a seated position, place it in a chair whose seat tilts backward. It will prevent the model from toppling over or sliding forward.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Use a skeleton as a STEM tool. Human skeleton models are versatile STEM tools in science classrooms. While they’re a big-ticket item in schools with limited budgets, these models are worthwhile investments that last for years.
  • Keep the skeleton away from high-traffic areas. To make sure your human skeleton model doesn’t get knocked over, keep it near your desk or in the corner of a room.
  • Choose a desktop skeleton for budding scientists. If your child expresses an interest in pursuing a career in the medical field one day, invest in a desktop model for them to enjoy as a study tool.

Other products we considered

Don’t see what you need in our matrix? We have a couple more for you. We also like the Axis Scientific Mini Human Skeleton Model. This model is designed for focused study on extremities. It’s also painted and numbered to designate 111 areas of muscle insertion and origin points. At only 31 inches tall and weighing less than 4 pounds, this human skeleton model is ideal for classrooms of all sizes.

If you’re looking for a compact desktop model, we like the Shop Anatomical Petite Plus Human Skeleton Model. This PVC model is about 17.25 inches tall and comes with a sturdy plastic base. The arms, legs, and jaw are movable. If you’d like to further examine the head, you’ll like this model’s removable skull cap. Despite its small stature, this human skeleton model is incredibly sturdy and receives high marks from medical students.

When assembling the base for the human skeleton model, make sure it’s completely balanced before mounting the skeleton on it.

FAQ

Q. How can I keep my human skeleton model clean?
A.
Some human skeleton models come with their own dust covers, which is perfect for when it’s not in use. If yours doesn’t have a cover, you can purchase an oversize garment bag to cover it. Wedding gown storage bags work well, especially for life-size models. In terms of cleaning, a PVC model should be regularly dusted, and you’ll want to occasionally wipe it down with a dilute solution of water and gentle soap.


Q. Should I label the bones on the human skeleton model in my classroom?
A.
You could, especially if you think it’s helpful to students who want to immediately identify bones. If you don’t want labels to remain on the model during exams, you could use sticky notes, which are easily removable and won’t leave a residue. On the other hand, you can leave your skeleton label-free to encourage students to observe and identify bones from their textbook or notes.
 

Q. Will keeping a human skeleton model in my science classroom scare students?
A.
It depends on the age of your students. If you’re teaching grade school kids, it might frighten a couple of them when they see it for the first time. To acquaint your class with the model, you could begin by keeping it covered and then introducing its role as a learning tool. Many science educators report that the human skeleton in their classroom becomes a conversation piece, and in some cases is even dubbed an honorary student.

The team that worked on this review
  • Amber
    Amber
    Writer
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Sian
    Sian
    Writer

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