Here's What I Want To Do - Which Arduino To Get?

I like Christmas lights. I came across something they call Blizzard Light Tubes. See the end product in action here LED Blizzard Tubes Christmas Lights - YouTube

I bought a kit, it has a microprocessor in it ATMEGA88PA-PU and an LED driver TLC5940NT (I think to step the brightness down as the lights "move" downward).

The chips in the kit come pre-programmed, but I would really like to make more of these bad boys and stick 'em in the trees in my backyard. I'm assuming that I can gather parts less expensively than buying the kit (~ $30 bucks a copy), but maybe not. It has 48 LED's in all and you can adjust the speed of the falling motion and the delay between each sequence.

So, my question is, if all I wanted to do was to learn how to program this project and have the hardware to do it, which Arduino board do you recommend I get? I realize that I'm probably going to get hooked on this after conquering this project, but this is my first goal.

Any ideas?

PS - I'm figuring on my blizzard light premiere NEXT Christmas.

Where do you live & how much do you want to spend?
http://www.solarbotics.com/products/kardw
or the RBBB from modern devices.
That and a breadboard for prototyping

can do lots of experimenting

Can get a regular arduino, but you only get one contact point.
I have a duemilanove, screwed onto a plastic clipboard, with 3 protoboards stuck on it (they come with double sided tape on the back).
Couple bags of these, can hook up all the stuff you want for experimenting.

Hi Crossroads - Thanks for your reply. I live near Cleveland, OH. I'm not sure how to answer your cost question. I can buy the kits for about $30 each, that includes all the parts and a printed circuit board, aven a clear plastic tube to stick it all in to protect it from weather. Maybe the kit is the way to go $$ wise, but where's the adventure in that?

I know the programmer, books and time needed to learn would probably buy a bunch of kits, but again, I'm the curious type.

I'll check out the links you provided.

It would be cheaper to use an RBBB, you can get 5 for $50
http://shop.moderndevice.com/products/rbbb-kit

you (might?) need one of the higher power regulators for another $1 each
You can use one RBBB to control many shift registers, so you wouldn't need another RBBB for every set of lights.

So you can save 15 or more dollars, but maybe with the time spent wiring everything you'd rather earn 15 dollars and spend it on the kits