Yes, a retail price of about $286 for what is actually six sticks of black crayon does seem absurd.
Of course, you do not want to pay the retail price. At the date of this review, you can get genuine Xerox ink for roughly $200 a box if you search for the best price.
Why so costly?
Xerox's business model is to sell the printer at a very low price (given the quality and complexity of the machine) and then make their money by selling expensive ink. Under some Xerox programs they will actually give you a Xerox solid ink printer if you sign a contract to buy ink directly from Xerox.
You will need to use genuine Xerox ink to maintain your warranty. I recommend the extended warranty.
My one brief experiment with third party ink (on an old model 850) was that it produced inferior results. The price break (third party blank ink costs about 30% less) was not worth jeopardizing my warranty and the loss of quality.
When the total cost of machine plus Xerox ink is figured over the machine lifetime, the Xerox 8860 is a great bargain. A full set of my company's technical manuals has nearly one thousand color images on black background. Our customers love the color pictures, but we use a LOT of ink. We can only afford to print these on the Xerox solid ink printers. Laser printers would cost many times more and are slow.
The net 8860 lifetime cost is the best for a high end color printer, both black and colors are strong, the machines work reliably, and the speed is excellent. Xerox printer support people are the very best.
Yes, those black crayons are really expensive; but I do buy the genuine Xerox ink after first searching for the best price.