Before I started using Blender as my main 3D program I used a program called Anim8or. Anim8or is a small 3d modeling suite written by R. Steven Glandvill. Although it is not open source it is provided for free. The latest supported version is v0.95 although you can get the "preview" of v0.97d which is the latest released development build. In v0.97d you can use three renderers the openGL renderer, a Scanline renderer, and the newly added Anim8or Ray Tracer(ART) which allows reflections, ray traced transparency and other cool features.
Anim8or also has an animation system which allows you to make an armature(skeleton) and then animate it. As well as a scene system where you can place your cameras, lights, animated models, stationary models, ect.
Anim8or has a friendly forum on the main website, as well as an external one called Animators Anonymous(AnimAnon).
On the website there are a number of galleries showing work from as far back as v0.1 all the way to the latest v0.97d. The two best(IMHO) are here and here.
You can download the program and learn more about it's features here. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.