My buddy in Hungary sent me Maya Unlimited 2.5, LightWave 7, 3D Studio Max 6, Bryce 4, and some other one.
If you're looking for a good one (not by my opinion, but by popularity), 3D Studio Max is a good one, though rather limited compared to Maya. Bryce 4 is EXCELLENT for beginners, but that's if you are either not interested in actual modelling or have an external modeller that can save in .3ds format.
If you want to just play around with shapes and make really neat looking pics, I believe Bryce 5 (owned by Corel, now supports multi-PC rendering, and more advanced rendering capabilities) goes for $120-$200 US. I've seen some real nice stuff come from Bryce, though I just like to play with it. Maya has some excellent documention, and you can buy a book from Amazon that teaches you all it's functions, in case you decide to go looking for a full version.
I wish I could help more, but I wouldn't want to get in trouble. Maya is the most advanced. Lightwave has a learning curve to it. I just plain ol' didn't like 3D Studio Max, and Bryce is just plain fun and easy to play with.
Have an awsome day. Cya.