I stumbled onto Jeff Duntemann’s “Tom Swift, Jr: An Appreciation” and it really brought back the memories. I remember looking over the shelves of yellow-spined books at Bargaintown (which turned into Toy’R’Us at some point), studying the covers to choose which one to read next.
I was born in 1964, so the timing worked out that I got to read all of them before growing too old to enjoy them. Many of the inventions really stuck in my little pre-teen mind. I always thought the Flying Lab was a sensible, practical workhorse of an invention. On the other hand, I had forgotten the Ocean Arrow completely, which seems odd given how amazingly cool it was.
I remembered the Challenger, of course, because of its propulsion system. Even at that age it bothered me that the Challenger rebounded when its Repelatrons fired at the Earth, but the shoulder-fired Repelatron Gun didn’t knock its user back on his ass.
If you were a fan, Duntmann’s article is definitely worth reading.