You might want to look at Softimage Mod Tool.
It can only legally be used for free projects but they obviously have no way of checking on that. I think it's more or less a free version of XSI. It exports directx models which is a pretty accepted standard.
There's also Milkshape3d, but I find it quite hard to use myself. Then again, I picked up Blender fairly well so it's different for me than most people.
Some people that don't take to Blender's interface use Wings, another free modeler, and then import into Blender to do animation.
There's also a free version of Bryce around, which is a pretty nice landscape modeling tool. I'm thinking about looking at it, but haven't yet.
I was just working on a little Blender project and updated to their latest version. I couldn't get the textures to work because they had, as usual, messed around with it for no apparent reason, making it no better than it was. It does get frustrating some times.