As I learn how to modify 3D models for use in Element 3D, I have reentered the world of 3D apps. I dabbled about 15 years ago with Lighwave which had a lot to offer and gave me a reference point for Blender.
But I was not prepared for how blown away I am by Blender. Its a rare honor to use software that is a very powerful labor of love. The newest incarnation looks like a CS6 app and has the versatility as well.
Its a shame I just need it as a utility to convert files for Element.But I prefer my 3D text and models to be "live" in AE.
But for those folks needing software that can rival C4D (just look at the work thats been done with it) it seems a great option to explore.
I use Blender a lot. It's amazingly capable but a little funky to use. There is a great support community and integration with AE is quite good.
As with any software I learn, tutorials are key in understanding and getting comfortable with them. Even after only 3 days I see that it has lots to offer and a very flexible GUI.