I've been dabbling in 3D graphics since 1999 or so. I've tried Animation
Master, Maya, Realsoft 3D and blender.
I really like the Realsoft 3D interface and output, but it crashes too much when you try to animate anything.
I took a course on Maya and was not impressed. Obviously it can be used to do great things, but it was not easy or intuitive to me, and it costs a bundle.
So now I'm concentrating on Blender. It's free, doesn't crash, and can already do more than I'll probably ever master. Plus, I think it's only a matter of time before it surpasses the commercial packages thanks to open source development.
Click here to see Blender samples
Click here to see Realsoft3D samples
Click here to see Maya samples