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Now people are fighting over which 3D design package is best; the contenders are 3ds Max and Maya. I personally prefer 3ds Max but they both have their advantages in their own ways.
I'll talk about 3ds Max. This software was made before Maya so it really knows it's stuff. Though not as easy to use for animation as Maya, 3ds Max really simplifies the creation process of Splines/Lines and NURBS objects. Just a few clicks and you're done. You also have more control over smoothing groups, mesh smoothing, material mapping and much much more!
3ds Max 2012 introduces new creative toolsets and also some improvements to the existing ones as well as a slightly new, more modern layout.
Though quite expensive for a piece of software, you can pick this up for free if you're a studying student. Just set up a student account on the Autodesk website and you get a free 3 years, non-commercial license.
So get out there and get this software! Happy modelling!