What Is The Latest 3D Development Tool For Rapid 3D Model Creations

For some time now I've been using Cinema 4D for a while along with VUE and Poser to create 3D models and backgrounds for use in 3D artwork.  I always wanted to try something like 3Ds Max or Maya but they were out of my price range.  A few years went by and now I would like to create 3D models of characters and other such things with animation for games and promotional videos.  3Ds Max and Maya are still out there but so are a few other products.  I don't know if 3Ds Max and Maya are still the best tools for this kind of work.  They were always known to have a long learning curve.  

What I am wondering is if some new technology has been developed and therefore new 3D development tools that make the creation process faster in such a way that 3Ds Max and Maya are old school?  What's out there today that rivals 3Ds Max and Maya with a smaller learning curve, faster creation process, and equal or better product results?
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For rapid organic 3d model creation, ZBrush and Mudbox are the best hands down. With practice, you can create highly detailed characters in a matter of hours.
If you need a software that can handle other things such as animation, I would recommend either 3DSMax, Maya or Modo. Have a look at those, they are all great apps.
In video game dev- Maya and Max are kings.
If you are after something cheaper, Blender is freeware and still very nice ;)

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Here's a great tutorial for creating characters in blender.

The GUI is rather 1980's ish and a little cumbersome to muddle through at times, but once you get the hang of it its really not so bad : * )


For some demos on what blender can do, have a look through


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