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I'm just wondering if I'm getting this right, it's achieving the result I want but feels like overkill. I have lots of products that need drop downs like in the image below. However they all have different requirements for what the dropdown contains. So for each configurable product I create a unique attribute.

I then create an attribute set for each product based on the default attribute set but with the unique attribute I created for that product added. Is this correct?

I tried to create products with the default attribute set after adding the unique attribute to the default set but then when I created subsequent configurable products, I couldn't remove the previous attribute from the default set. So I was ending up with an increasing list of attributes in the default set that I would only use once.

The bottom image is of all the attribute sets for each individual product.

Appreciate any help.

enter image description here enter image description here

UPDATE

Appreciate your comments Steve.

Okay, so I created a color attribute unique to an individual product. I added that to the default attribute set which is the kind of thing I think you were suggesting. That's okay when I create that configurable product but when I then try to create subsequent configurable products I get this...

enter image description here

but I don't need that attribute for the second product and I can't then remove that attribute from the default attribute set because I get this...

enter image description here

That is why i went down the road of creating a unique attribute set to go with the attribute. It seemed like a lot of duplication but I see no way round it. For each of my configurable products the configurable element is going to be unique rather than a general small, medium, large etc. They will generally not be reused. What do you do differently that allows you to get round what you suggest I'm doing wrong?

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No, attributes and attribute set can and should be shared. Otherwise you won't be able to use layered navigation, for example. I suggest downloading the sample data and looking at how they set it up.

For instance, my attribute set "Pants" can have an attribute pant_size which is a list of inches.

My attribute set "Shirts" can have an attribute shirt_size with is a list of S, M, L, etc.

All of my pant products can use the "Pants" attribute set and have different pant sizes. That way, when I filter by Pant Size = 32" on the frontend, Magento will be able to locate all products that have a pant_size value of 32

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