AMAPI      3D version 4.1 free
first test in amapi after 24 hours :)
ok this little gem is a wicked modeller and texturizer.
it can import and export 3ds files no sweat plus it has a direct MAX link
and many other file formats including wrl and dxf.
animated files are still being tested, 
first look was that it imported every object 
into the same frame,  EARLY DAYS! :) 
24 hours research so far:)
The only confusion is that amapi 3 files are also .x so dont get confused.

The other trick is a rotating sidebar of tools 
on the right hand side out of screenshot
rollover it fast and the tools change like a 3 sided sign but vertical. nice!
I got a free copy in Australia off the PC Authority Jan2001