Lightwave is not really the flagship of 3D modelling, but it is in the top group.
Lightwave is extremely powerful…extremely. It has a fully functional modeller app with so many tools, scripts and features it is just overwhelming to the uninitiated. It can do Vertex and point modelling, additive/reductive modeling, spline cage modeling, nurbs and metanurbs, and so much more. It can export to a variety of other 3D formats, and import a variety of 3D formats, including OBJ.
Plus, it has a fully featured layout and animation program with camera, lighting, volumetrics, atmospherics, and compositing and effects that blow DS, Poser, Carrara, Blender, and so many other programs not only out of the water, but out of the universe. It’s render negine is not only capable of photo-real results, but far faster and more efficient than Poser or DS in every way. Lightwave also features full character rigging and animation tools far more advanced than either Poser or DS. Lightwave is intended for, and used by many of the industry proffesionals. In fact, it and VUE were among two of the programs used to make Avatar.
The down side is, Lightwave has a very steep learning curve. The manual is essential, and in order to use all of it’s features it could take some time to master.
Do I think it’s worth it? Heck yeah. It is the best 3D package I have used and I really need to use it more. Is it for everyone? No.
Maya is the proverbial flagship of 3D though, and it is far more expensive than Lightwave, 3DS Max, or Cinema 4D.
In fact, one of the Reasons Daz Studio 4 is a non-starter for me is no Lightwave support or hosting plugin at all. Since DS 4 itself lacks important features and capabilities to me, also lacking a way to host it in my other 3D applications renders it useless to me. Maybe they’ll address this some day, maybe not.