Robert_Charlton - 5:26 pm on Mar 9, 2012 (gmt 0)
Yes, a PS to my comments above, lest they aren't clear... I agree with realmaverick. You definitely do need to have those product pages, and don't noindex them. Noindexing is a temporary bandaid at best, and I don't recommend it.
Keep the product pages, differentiate those that are for different products and perhaps combine some that aren't (eg, those that are for basically the same product but just different heights or colors)... and make the links to the product pages as accessible as possible from your category pages.
Ensure your product pages titles, are structured differently to the category pages, to ensure that a product page, won't be fighting for traffic against a category page.
An important point. I try to make pages more specific the deeper they are. The anchor text that's on category pages linking to the product pages should be less specific than the titles and headings on the product pages themselves. The product pages are where the greatest differentiation needs to take place.
At the same time, to address your intitial concern, make sure that you're not building separate product pages for things like different heights and colors, where the product is otherwise identical. Amazon may be able to get away with separate product level pages for different colors, eg, but most sites probably can't.
If your CMS lets you go a hierarchy level deeper than your product pages to target different minor differences, that's another story... but most CMSs generally don't permit such sub-product pages, and most sites don't have the link juice to support it.