Thanks for the feedback and advice.
(and thanks for the great update to Java3D!)
It's still version 0 due to rounding error of very small floats
I chose Java3D (old version) because I didn't know anything about 3D in Java, and it just worked out the box, but I'll definitely implement the latest, greatest, best solution as I learn more and discover more documentation.
Collada format is quite complex, especially for character animation, but I'll use it as the native format.