Why so many different programs? I look at programs as tools in a tool chest. Even when it comes to modelling, I'll work with the best, or my favorite, features of each.
Whenever you are recreating a character or person that has, or does exist in some form (even as a puppet), it's important to collect as much reference material and images as you can. While the Internet yielded some decent pictures of Hoggle, the best images came from viewing the "Labyrinth" DVD and taking screen captures. I tried to find good front and side views to use the orthogonal windows of the modelling program.
Below is a collage of reference images I used.
Instead of launching immediately into creating a full blown animation mesh, I like to create a digital maquette first. This allows me to work out all the details, proportions without worrying about topology, which would slow down the process. First, I made a low resolution mesh in Modo. I didn't even get into any specific precise details of the eyes and mouth since I didn't want to be influenced by the topology at this stage.