The Relics were pretty good, and some were downright amazing, but some, like Bard, were worse than you could get from a triple meld.
I've heard the same stories about relic length...
But I did attempt to get a relic myself. I joined a Dedicated Hamlet LS, I farmed up 25k Grand Company Seals to buy "About Beastmen" or whatever, and went on repeated hamlet runs.
After about a 9 hour session of hamlet, I walked away with 1/9 seals needed to start the quest. Another 6 hour session and I was lucky enough to get 1 of the 3 seals that dropped that day.
At this point, I decided to wait until ARR to continue this quest because 8 hours of hamlet is the most boring thing you could imagine, as a gathering class, running between 2 points gathering and dropping off resources..
I would say it would take at least 1 month of hard core dedication, and this is assuming you already had a dedicated group who knew how to speed run all the dungeons, and were able to kill Ifrit and Garuda extreme.
You would also have to be very wealthy, because the base weapon that you need to double meld with 2 tier 4 materias cost 2 mil easily, and then each tier 4 materia costed around 1-1.5 mil. All three items were lost when failing the synth, which had about a 15% chance of success.
The melding was the biggest hurdle, one that will be easier in ARR, because from now on, failing a double or triple meld only destroys the materia.