If you're shopping for toys (and if you have kids or grandkids, who isn't) listen up - if it's a knockoff, second-hand or too noisy - don't buy it!

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That's the oversimplified conclusion of Illinois PIRG Education Fund's 36th annual Trouble in Toyland report, issued Thursday.

The PIRG Education Fund (I'd never heard of them, either) is a coalition of Public Interest Research Groups, whose stated mission is about educating consumers and protecting the public.

In their report, they say that, in spite of the toy industry's best efforts to make their products safer, we who are on collective missions this time of year to fill that certain youngster's wish list, still manage to buy toys that are at best, unsafe and at worst, dangerous.

The report covered five categories, which include:

Knockoff toys on the market - At one time, you'd only find these kinds of toys on street vendor's tables or maybe as a prize if you ring the bell at the county fair. These days, knockoffs and counterfeits are found everywhere, especially online, and these toy makers don't always follow U.S. regulations (think China).

Second-hand toys - the biggest issue with these kinds of toys is when someone tries to sell a toy (on eBay, for instance) that has been recalled by the manufacturer.

Choking hazards - make sure toys are as advertised when it comes to warning labels and small parts.

Noisy toys  - The study says these are not only a nuisance at home, but risks children's hearing. (The exception would be if you're buying for grandchildren, nieces or nephews).

Smart toys - If you buy a toy with built in cameras or recording devices, there could be a privacy issue.

You can see the Trouble in Toyland report here.

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