Came across this excellent free NO STINGS ATTACHED tool for 3-D animation available here:
It's not comparable to the really high end animators/modelers however for free it's absolutely stupendous. The current low end application I'm using now, Ulead Cool 3-D is child's play and cost $130.
There's some samples here and here: http://caligari.com/Products/trueSpace/ ... ate=BIntro
Might be interesting for someone with a creative kid, note that this software is quite advanced and not a sit down and start making stuff type of thing.
Have fun and see you in week.