But they all share a defining feature that could be dangerous for children: push a button and a flame bursts out.
Yet the Tribune recently was able to buy lighters that appeared to violate state law at a specialty cigar shop in Old Town, two convenience stores in the Loop, three Chinatown shops and a Northwest Side distributor.
The Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal reviewed photos of the Tribune's purchases and said nine of them were novelty lighters under state law. The Illinois Fire Inspectors Association, which helped craft the state ban, said 13 met the definition.
"I'm not afraid to stand up and say, based on the way it looks, that those are novelty lighters," said George Michehl, executive director of the inspectors association. "Those are the ones we have identified as in need of being taken off the shelves, and obviously this has not occurred."
In interviews, most store owners and managers said they didn't know about the law and would remove the lighters.
The Tribune's findings surprised and frustrated legislators and fire officials, who acknowledge they are still adjusting to the new law. But they said it appears enforcement by state and local agencies must improve.
Illinois Fire Marshal Larry Matkaitis, whose office is authorized to enforce the state law, said he supports the law, but novelty lighters should be defined better, his office needs stronger enforcement authority and fines must be higher than $500.
"For most folks, they'd pay it off and go right back to it," he said. "I think it ought to be very stiff, and that'll wake people up."
State law prohibits the sale of lighters that look like "a cartoon character, toy, gun, watch, musical instrument, vehicle, animal, food or beverage, or similar articles" or that play music, flash lights or have "other entertaining features."
When reviewing photos of the lighters, the fire marshal's office and the inspectors association didn't always agree on which would be illegal, and officials acknowledge opinions can differ over whether a lighter would appeal to a child's sense of play.
For example, the inspectors association said the lighter resembling a tiny flip-flop sandal would qualify as a novelty lighter, but the fire marshal's office did not.
Some fire officials said designs not specifically mentioned in the law also are dangerous and should be considered novelty items. One common example, they said, would be a lighter resembling a cellphone, which could easily be attractive to a child.
"They look just like toys kids are normally told to play with," said Tim O'Dowd, a fire program specialist with the U.S. Fire Administration, who has assisted states in banning the devices.
At Up Down Cigar in Old Town, a large variety of lighters that played music or resembled cellphones were available for purchase.
"It's amazing how close that looks like a cellphone," Michehl said of one lighter that produced a flame when an antenna was pushed down.
Diana Silvius, who has owned the store for nearly 50 years, said she didn't know the lighters were likely illegal and she would have them removed. She said she bought them at "junk stores" in New York a few years ago and wasn't aware they were on display.
"I didn't even know we had any left," she said. "I sell tobacco so the last thing I want in my store is something that's illegal."