Blender modelling program is a pain in the butt to use, I tried to use it as a modeling program and I understood nothing, I prefer Milkshape 3D over it anytime, Blender is good for being free but it's far too hard to use, is gmax just as hard?
You know LavaWave I thought that too for the longest time. I was using big boy 3d apps at work and when I tried Blender I HATED IT! Very confusing, hard to work with, etc.
Then I gave it shot about 8 years also to take a look at the scripting and totally revered my opinion. Once you start to think like blender it all makes sense and is actually much easier than I thought.
It will never be as easy to use as Milkshape. I have used Milkshape and fond it quite easy to leanamd fun to use. You can do some amazing things in Milkshape. But as I recall Milkshape is not as powerful as Blender and hence the steeper learning curve. Milkshape is easier to use than lightwave, Maya, and 3ds MAx too, so no surprise that Blender is harder.
Though I view 3d tools like a golf bag use what you need for the application. Though it is better to me a master of one then a novice at them all.
BTW I would live to see you Milkshape stuff, I am a big fan of 3d modeling
*note* You do not want to use gmax for anything. This can be old information (so it can be wrong) but when gmax came out it was HIGHLY prioritized file structure. Made for you to try 3ds max with out being able to save in usable file.
But to answer you question. I used 3ds mad for about 7 years at work and it is REALLY showing it's age. MUCH harder than Milkshape 3D. and lots of little quarky roll out to use. I like Maya and Cinama 4d MUCH better than 3ds max, Maybe even Milkshape more too.
A nice thing about 3ds max is many older programs have plugins that support 3dsMAX. I am forced to till use it with another program I have.