Any 3-D designers here? Got opinions of Maya's free version?

I’m looking into downloading the free Personal Learning Edition of Alias|Wavefront’s Maya and I was wondering if any of you had any experience with it, or the Full version.

Maya seems to already be, or is becoming, a standard for high-end 3D Computer Graphics work. Ice Age “was modeled and animated entirely in …Maya.” And “at Weta Ltd., the Wellington, New Zealand-based production, post-production, and visual-effects facility creating the effects for the film versions of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the main 3D modeling and animation software the facility chose is …Maya.”

…and now I have the opportunity to learn this application for free?!? Dam’ right I’m gonna jump on the bandwagon.

I first got interested in 3D modelling when my first job out of graphic design school just happened to have a copy of RayDream laying around. Well, with Corel having bought up the company that published RayDream and leaving that title to be picked up by some tiny, no-name company, my confidence in the long-term prospects of that app. have dropped to nil. I learned enough from it (texture-mapping, kinematics) to feel ready to move on to a powerhouse app.

So, if anyone here has used it, let me know what you think about Maya. Versatility, learning curve, capabilities of the free version, anything you can tell me.

Or, if you use a different 3D app, tell me about it.