Free version of softimage xsi. can import/export .x limited to 13,500 polies. Of course, "Where there's a will, there's a way."
Free version of cinema 4d (old version, but still it's C4D!) It's being offered by an Italian site. Either learn Italian or use google translate
Link removed - no proof that this site is authorized to offer this software for free; even software offered by its publisher for free often restricts its use and republishing - better to err on the side of caution - Ptrope
I must have missed where this was suggested, but gmax is virtually the same as 3Dmax 5 for free. There's even a workaround to export .obj now.
This is a UV mapping program that I use and it's amazing, IMO. It's free while it's in beta and it doesn't look like it's going final any time soon.
Blender has been suggested and is very good. It's interface is "different" though.
As far as a recommendation goes... Any of the top animation packages can do it all. It's really a matter of which one you can wrap your head around the easiest. I prefer Cinema 4D for it's features, and ease of use.