Well, youll proably want to be going with freeware to learn the basics, and for a modeler, i suggest Wings 3d
. Its great to learn, and you can model some really great stuff with it. For animations and advanced rendering, modeling, and texturing, theres nothing better than blender.
Trying to learn blender will discourage you from ever touching 3D again, but it is WORTH IT. Make sure you REALLY want to learn this and you will stick to it.