Hi Blue blue 141
Welcome to the furum and glad to see you're giving modelling a second chance. Basically your friend is correct, but most modern 72nd scale models are a far cry from the offerings of years ago. Most modern tooling include quite a lot of interior detail that can be very fiddlley especially at this scale.
As for figures the 32nd scale ones were about 56 mm tall and even the older moulds included some fine detail and required some good painting skills to get the best from then and were moulded in the usual hard poly-styrene plastic; 72nd scale figures are only about 25 mm and as such are not really suitable as stand alone models being more suitable for dioramas. Also the sets are usually made in a soft poly-vinyl type of plastic which seems to hold detail better but is very awkward to work with and very difficult to paint, as the paint easily flakes off unless a primmer is used.
Most 72nd scale set sold by the likes of Airfix & Co are quite now old and are starting to show their age, plenty of flash. Some of the newer makers like Zvezda from Russia & Armourfast from the UK do some very fine sets in 72nd scale that have to be see to be believed. I've just finshed some fro Zvezda and even though they're done as game pieces the fit and detail is unbelievable. ( Unfortunately I'm not allowed to show them on this forum) Even though these are also moulded in a soft vinyl plastic it is much harder than the one used by Airfix & Co and as the moulds are newer flash is kept to a minimium ( On my examples being non exsistent.) but you'll need some very fine brushes and very goooood eye site. I've seen historic sets from these makers and one called HAT, or you might try the toy solder company.
If you check through the Figures, Dioramas & Scenery forum you'll see what other on the forum have achieved especially in the 72nd scale their work is very impreesive and could be a source of inspiration to you. whatever you choice good luck and yould love to hear of your adventures.
Remember we do this for fun John the Pom