As far as pure modeling goes, Wings3D is vastly superior, in terms of both usability and efficiency, to the professional versions of max, maya, xsi…basically everything except Mirai. Also, the Wings3D website has tons and tons of tutorials, covering everything from engineering models to human/anatomy work. They are linked from the front page of the Wings site. Puzzle Paul’s tuts are particularly helpful!
I introduced my buddy at work to Wings3D a few weekends ago and he was able to create a very cool-looking anime figure in just a few hours, with almost no modeling experience and reading a couple tutorials from the Wings website. The Wings3D forum here on CGTalk is a treasure trove of info as well, and the posters there are very helpful.