The real advantage to all these patterns is that they provide item level 264 gear without having to do the 25-man raid content. That's going to make these Icecrown craftables highly valuable to exclusively 10-man raiders, but the gear will still be somewhat attractive to the 25-man raider who's trying to get caught up to a gear curve.
The limiting factor for most of the recipes is the same currency that you used to buy the patterns in the first place: Primordial Saronite. While a few recipes don't require any Primordial Saronite, like the Iceblade Arrows, most of the Icecrown recipes require either 5 or 8 Primordial Saronite per creation.
Okay, so let's break that down. Without any raid drops bolstering your supply, it's going to take at least two weeks to get each Saronite. You can pick up 19 Emblems of Frost a week. (That's by using all of your Emblems of Frost in this fashion, we should note, as well as your weekly raid quest Emblems.) In a month, then, you'll be able to pick up 3 Primordial Saronite. That's enough to make absolutely nothing.
For this reason, level 80 alts have stormed the Dungeon Finder tool. I don't have the insight to know whether this was a purposeful dynamic by Blizzard to help keep PUGs full of people. If it were a purposeful action, though, it was a pretty clever one. I don't know anyone who isn't doing their best to pick up as many Emblems of Frost as possible, and then turning surplus Emblems into Primordial Saronite.
Very few Auction Houses have much (if any) Primordial Saronite available. I did a quick survey of 30 servers to get an idea of how much Saronite might be out there. Of them, only 1 server had more than one Primordial Saronite on the Auction House at the time of my snapshot. About half the servers had one Primordial Saronite available. The average price for Primordial Saronite was about 5,000 gold across these 30 servers. The highest was 15,000 gold. And, what's more, I'm pretty sure it sold -- I watched the Saronite disappear from the Auction House while doing the survey.
(Edit: As a note, since the time of the original writing, this price has come down significantly, with many servers reporting between 2k and 5k.)
I suspect many 25-man guilds will be using the rare material to fund guild banks, providing their raiders guild repairs and similar perks from selling the drops. However, like I said, the quality of these Icecrown craftables will make many 10-man or 5-man players quite willing to part with cash to get them.
Being an old tank fan, I'll evaluate the general idea of the new gear by looking at the plate tanking pieces. Like all the other "types" of gear available as Icecrown craftables, the plate tank items are for feet and legs. (Apparantly, Tirion's drawing the line at turning the blood of an old god into any gear worn above the waist.) The two magic items here are the Boots of Kingly Upheaval and the Pillars of Might.
Both items are made with Titansteel, Eternal Earth, and Primordial Saronite. If you're picking up both items for your plate tank, you'll be spending a total of 20 Titansteel bars, 32 Eternal Earth, and 13 Primordial Saronite. Farming up the Eternal Earth is pretty much a breeze, and many players have stacks of Titansteel sitting around anyway. But 13 Primordial Saronite is one heck of a task (representing 16 weeks of dailies and weekly raids.) What do you get for this kind of investment?
Both the Boots of Kingly Upheaval and the Pillars of Might are item level 264, which is the equivalent of gear drops from 25-man Icecrown Citadel. (Eventually, you'll be able to do Heroic 10 mans which also drop item level 264, but you'll have to have killed Arthas at least once before then.)
Comparing the Pillars to the Legguards of Lost Hope, which drop from Lord Marrowgar, we can see both leg items carry similar stats. While the Legguards sport quite a bit of defense and hit, the Pillars are much more streamlined in their interest toward Dodge and Parry. Now, everyone's going to be looking to make their own gear choices, but I think this shows that the Icecrown craftables are going to be worthwhile to everyone -- at least until they start seeing 25-man gear dropping.
What does all this mean for the enterprising crafter? In summary, it means that the craftable gear is pretty nice, but it's not going to long-term replace 25-man gear drops. This gear is (like I've said) mostly going to be useful to people who never go into 25-man Icecrown raids.
With Primordial Saronite being such a premium item, I can't see it making much sense (from a profit perspective) in burning even a single Saronite to learn the recipes. Instead, once you do have Primordial Saronite, I'd turn around and sell it to the people who actually want to use it. At 5 Primordial Saronite for the "cheap" craftables, that could easily be 15,000 to 50,000 gold in your pocket.
My final advice, then, would be to fire up your level 80 alts through the Dungeon tool, and get the Saronite out on the market. Later in the patch, when the prices have dropped and stabilized after 25-man raiders no longer are finding the patterns remotely attractive, you might want to re-evaluate whether the final, crafted items are going to be worthwhile.
An obvious exception to this rule is the arrows and bullets. Since you don't use Primordial Saronite to make those final items, I think that those patterns will still be a solid investment. At only a couple Crystallized elements per stack, you can churn those out very quickly. Even if you only make 5 gold a stack, you'll make up the cost of a single Primordial Saronite over time.
Each week, Insider Trader takes you behind the scenes of the bustling sub-culture of professional craftsmen, examining the profitable, the tragically lacking, and the methods behind the madness.