Zurinadrg, MMORPGs are competitive that way, people like to be the first to get max level, first to get some shinies, etc etc.
The sooner you reach cap, the more you can monopolize on certain content that will make you quite rich for a long time to come, as well. Which ultimately gives you a huge advantage for the rest of the game.
I am quite well aware of this... seriously no one read my disclaimer did they? I have been playing MMOs for more than a decade, I know how stupid people get over meaningless pixels they think will give them an excuse to not actualy play useing the skills they might have.
As for it developing into a large advantage for the rest of the game... since the game has yet to release we don't actualy know how much of an advantage these may or may not provide, the first few months are not likely to give anyone a large enough advantage over others to unbalance the game twards any one person. If there is a large enough advantage provided by an exclusive item then they are likely to fix it without telling anyone.
All that matters is that there is enough of an effect that the people with them feel that they are somehow better than everyone else, it ussualy just leads to people acting like jerks... A few will go on to be wonderfull people and do alot for the comunity, but anything that lets people think they are the "haves" and new people are "Have Nots" ussualy ends poorly for the comunity as a whole.
The elitest type attitude you describe is one of the greatest negitive driving forces in MMO gaming..... *sigh* sorry didn't mean to rant.